There’s an interesting post at The Physics arXiv Blog on the work of neuroscientist Giulio Tononi in coming up with a rigorous characterization of consciousness. Here’s the nugget from the post:
The central part of their new work is to describe the mathematical properties of a system that can store integrated information in this way but without it leaking away. And this leads them to their central proof. “The implications of this proof are that we have to abandon either the idea that people enjoy genuinely [integrated] consciousness or that brain processes can be modelled computationally,” say Maguire and co.
Since Tononi’s main assumption is that consciousness is the experience of integrated information, it is the second idea that must be abandoned: brain processes cannot be modelled computationally.
One of the virtues of rigorous description is that it defines the limits of the possible. They become tautological. If Tononi is right, machine consciousness is not possible. That includes computer programs to implement machine consciousness.