Sunday, November 12, 2023

Christof Koch talk at #SfN2023

 I attended the talk by Christof Koch at #SfN2023. A great take on the state of the art on the neural correlates of consciousness. Discussions on the no report paradigm and the need to dissociate between NCC per se and processes temporarily prior or posterior to it, e.g., attention modulation, motor response etc. were extremely interesting. 

It was heartening to see Dr. Koch intellectually still committed to Integrated Information Theory (IIT). I was there at the #ASSC26 in New York earlier this year when the rivalry between global workspace theory (GWT) and IIT was declared to be over in favor of the latter. In view of the turmoil that followed regarding the validity of IIT, it was audacious on the part of Dr. Koch to stick to his principles, although this author does not necessarily agree with the views put forward by proponents of IIT. 

The different ways that correlations between consciousness and intelligence appear in theories of consciousness is particularly interesting. I stood up and asked the first audience question to Dr. Koch, as regards his view on the biological constraints on the relationship between intelligence and consciousness, which, as was mentioned in his own presentation, seems to be roughly linear in actual biological systems. Dr. Koch seemed to imply that there could in general indeed be dissociations between them. IIT would assign low consciousness values to AI systems such as AlphaGo and ChatGPT, although they do exhibit sparks of intelligence. 

Another audience question also addressed the possible biological constraints between intelligence and consciousness. As Dr. Koch suggested in the questions and answers session, there could be dissociations in artificial systems, but in biological systems intelligence would be associated with consciousness in typical states of mind due to evolutionary constraints. I thank Dr. Koch and the organizers for this interesting session.

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