What is the “Hard Problem” of Consciousness?

Thoughts on one of the most contentious problems in philosophy of mind today

The classic anime Ghost in the Shell’s title comes from philosopher Gilbert Ryle’s critique of cartesian dualism — the idea that the mind and body are separable entities.

The Hard Problem

Suppose you and I look at the same apple. How can I be sure what I see as red isn’t what you see as green or vice versa?

A quick detour: What do we mean by “exist”?

“Disqualifying” the Hard Problem

Computing the “Easy Problems”

Deep Mind’s AlphaStar in action. Notice how the game is real time, the AI needs to shift its attention constantly, and build a model of the world around it (the map). Source

Philosophical “Zombies”

The model translates scans from an fMRI into images of the subject’s perceptual experience Source
Different subjects reconstructed conscious experience of 6 different images. Note that the images here are in ImageNet dataset used to train the model, so they’re a bit higher quality than arbitrary images (however, arbitrary images work too). Source

Hunting for Neural Correlates

The white circles in the intersections of this grid clearly don’t correspond to reality. They also shift based on where on the grid we pay attention to. Our neural correlate must also explain the illusions a subject is seeing.

The Limits of (My) Understanding


An excerpt from the paper on the generative process for finding the perceptual image. Source

I write about technology, philosophy, and their intersections. Subscribe at thinkoutloudnews.substack.com! My articles are also on evankozliner.com.

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