Bay Area Artificial Intelligence Meetup

Bob Blum: Consciousness - What, Who, When, and Why

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Consciousness is critically important to our sense of the world and of ourselves. It is also one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of science.

WHAT is the definition of consciousness? I will focus here on perceptual awareness. WHO is conscious? We accord that status to our fellow humans and to certain other animals. I introduce comparative neuroanatomy and then discuss the WHEN of consciousness - when did it evolve? WHY did consciousness evolve? What's it good for? (It confers great evolutionary advantage in a fiercely competitive and changing world; fight of flight, feed or fornicate, friend or foe?).

As preparation I recommend my essay The Mystery of Consciousness.

This is a non-technical lecture suitable for the general public. Subsequent lectures will cover exciting new research on the neuroscience of consciousness as revealed by fMRI, cortical electrode arrays, and microelectrode studies

Bob Blum was an undergrad at MIT in math/neuroscience and continued his studies of neuroscience in medical school at UCSF. He then completed a PhD in computer science (AI) and biostatistics at Stanford and was on the research staff for ten years.

His team at Stanford developed the RX Project, which automated the discovery of clinical causal effects. RX garnered numerous NIH, NLM, and NSF grants. Bob then returned to clinical medicine as an emergency physician for Kaiser Hospitals. Since retirement he has returned to the study of cognitive neuroscience and its intersection with AI. That is the focus of his website,

These video recordings are sponsored by Syntience Inc. Recording Copyright © 2010 Syntience Inc.
Presentation copyright © 2010 Bob Blum.