2014      Toward a Science of Consciousness Conference



Dates:      Tuesday, April 22 and Wednesday April 23    -      Location:  Hotel Ballroom


Tuesday, April 22, 2014  

10:00 - 10:30 PM       Doug Wolens - The Singularity       

Abstract Submitted by Wolens, Doug (TSC20083098)

Account Number: TSC20083098
Decision: Art-Tech Film
Section: 1
Sort Order: 0
Author(s): Wolens, Doug
Publishing Email: doug@thesingularityfilm.com
Abstract Title: Consciousness and The Singularity
Pri Class: [06.08]........Information technology
Sec Class: [06.11]........Miscellaneous
Abstract: The Singularity is defined as the point in time when computer intelligence exceeds human intelligence. This notion of superhuman machines has long served as fodder for tales of science fiction. Yet many scientific leaders argue that these changes are inevitable, based on the great strides being made in fields such as nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and molecular biology. However, singularity advocates generally overlook the role that consciousness would play in creating super-intelligent systems. Ray Kurzweil, pointing to Moore’s law and various information technologies that are advancing at an exponential rate, tells us that if we extrapolate the number of calculations-per-second a computer would have to meet in order to be on par with a human brain then machines with greater-than-human intelligence are just the corner. This reductive logic fails to address the complexity and nuance of consciousness as it regards the mind. While it may be possible to create systems with the speed and accuracy of the brain, it begs the question as to whether or not it could be conscious, in the way that we are conscious (without which, by definition, such intelligence cannot be greater-than-human). For this reason, the exploration of consciousness is a focal issue in THE SINGULARITY documentary. To that end Wolens attended Toward a Science of Consciousness in 2008. His interviews with leading scholars help shape the film’s narrative, providing a rich discussion of the role consciousness would play in creating intelligent systems. Through interwoven conversations with David Chalmers, Christof Koch, Wolf Singer, Andy Clark, and Alison Gopnik (each on location in Tucson), juxtaposed with Kurzweil and others in the Artificial Intelligence field, THE SINGULARITY addresses the complexity of the questions the film seeks to answer, including the distinction between intelligence and consciousness as it regards creating a mind. Singer laughs at the idea and argues that building human consciousness would be impossible noting that there are too many possible states of the brain to recreate. Chalmers discusses the hard problem and measuring consciousness, conceding that were a robot to opine about feeling what it is to be a robot, then that may be enough for him. Koch explains that although we really know very little about consciousness we can now point to correlates of consciousness in the brain and that such efforts help us solve the problem in favor of a theory of the mind. Clark reminds us that we may not need to actually create consciousness for the singularity to occur but instead that the singularity can result from augmenting our minds or working closely with machines. Finally Gopnik talks about the quality of machine consciousness, suggesting while that we may be able to create another conscious machine (reminding the viewer that we are conscious machines ourselves) but because they would not be “us” their consciousness would be different. Wolens’ THE SINGULARITY further addresses the moral and social implications were the singularity to occur, inviting the viewer to participate and come to his or her own conclusions regarding the future of science and humanity. Ultimately, if we become more machine-like, and machines more like us, will we sacrifice our humanity to gain something greater? Or will we engineer our own demise? Even if the answers are impossible to know, THE SINGULARITY makes clear that we cannot postpone addressing the questions. All Content © 2014 Doug Wolens
Key Words: the singularity; consciousness; artificial intelligence; documentary; film;


10:30-  11:00 PM       Patrick Palucki      


Account Number: TSC20083601
Decision: Art/Tech/Health Demo
Section: 1
Sort Order: 0
Author(s): Palucki, Patrick
Publishing Email: datapalucki@mac.com
Abstract Title: Consciousness and Signification - Contemporary Human Sign- and (Digital) Toolmaking
Pri Class: [06.02]........Art and aesthetics
Sec Class: [06.07]........Anthropology
Abstract: Line of work of the artist and communication designer Patrick Palucki that deals with consciousness and signification processes. Palucki observes contemporary human sign- and (digital) toolmaking. He has gathered various artefacts from that field and has created works about such. A central idea is that any communication-technology, such as language, must reflect the conceptual systems of its maker(s). Therefor the semiotics of our artefacts will contain information about the status and the transformation of 21st century human views of the world and of the human position within it. As we are (successfully) striving to ever extend and transcend our physical reach and as we are continuously transferring communication and activities into the virtual realm and processing agency through it, we may look at what kind of signifiers are in use. While our digital tools often suggest a functional horizon of endless possibility their semantic suchness, i.e. design, displays anthropo-morph and -centric perspectivity as well. On the other hand we find an amount of symbols and signs that refer to holistic, philosophic or spiritual concepts or to extended inter-relatedness (being used to f.i. promote technology and commerce, propagate lifestyles or illustrate creativity and possibility). The semantic effect of signs and tools represents the potential to recursively shape our concept of reality. So, it is of interest how ideas are created and perpetrated through the semiotic suchness of the things we create - aside to a readiness or inevitability of progress or evolution. Therefor the question of reality and belief systems is central to this cyber-anthropological work. The work specifically aims to raise questions about primordial content, changes and novel items within consciousness. Some instances offer the occurrence of emergence or quantum properties able to be witnessed in the realm of signification.
Key Words: anthropology; cyber-anthropology; semiotics; evolution of consciousness; subconscious; collective subconscious; emergence; quantum properties; singularity; signs; symbols; visual communication;


11:00  -11:30 PM    Linda Cherry - Press Pause: Reset Your Life     

Account Number: TSC20083203
Decision: Art-Tech Film
Section: 2
Sort Order: 0
Author(s): Cherry, LInda
Organization: California Institute of Integral Studies
Publishing Email: yogaforce@hotmail.com
Abstract Title: "Press Pause: Reset Your life" - An experiential 10 minute docudrama taking the viewer on a brief journey into how one's perceptions can shape one's day, and how to shift this perception.
Pri Class: [04.09]........Evolution of consciousness
Sec Class: [01.13]........Philosophy of perception
Abstract: Have you ever wondered if there was some magic spell, some grand recipe that could reshape your life or in some way allow you to just start over? "Press Pause: Reset Your Life, " offers a glimpse into how this is possible. The gift of a strange city and challenging circumstances forced the filmmaker to retreat into stillness and find her way back to herself. This film is a brief journey into how she and others have been able to shift out of the stress and chaos of life by simply taking time to pause, feel and be. Science, as well as personal accounts, demonstrates that one's state of mind affects the state of one's day. Highlighting certain tools, such as Western-Floatation/Sensory Deprivation Tanks and Eastern-Mindfulness-Based Meditation, results show that these, like other practices that allow one to pause, can help center and calm the mind and body, allowing for a shift in focus and consciousness. "Press Pause: Reset Your Life" takes the viewer on a brief journey into how the filmmaker, and others, have reset their lives, and how it is continues to be a work in progress. As we move further and further into a digital world and a digital way of communicating, students of today and of the future need more experiential forms of instruction. Although I feel very strongly that face-to face teaching is invaluable, it seems to be going the way of the horse and buggy, less and less effective for the fast-paced, multi-tasking generations. I have chosen to use documentary filmmaking as an important tool in my teaching; I feel a well-done piece of digital media is an effective form that can reach many people, as it is engaging, experiential, visual and portable. Experiential learning is key, as it helps one to learn kinesthetically, interactively experiencing what is being taught. Along with kinesthetic learning, film engages the viewer visually and auditorily, increasing one's level of absorption. Since the viewer will be engrossed on multiple levels, particularly visually, there is also a possibility of stimulating the 'mirror neuron,' sensory neurons within the brain that fire to help one experience what it sees another experience, thereby allowing for the stimulation of the neural pathways for empathy. As the world changes, it is vital for academia to change with it. I believe integrating my research findings into a documentary format, that is engaging and informative, will allow it to reach more people and be more accessible to a broader scope of people.
Key Words: Meditation, Sensory Deprivation, Documentary Film


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

10:00-11:00 PM    Nick Day & Sascha Seifert - Evolution of Storytelling

Account Number: TSC20082030
Decision: Art-Tech Film
Section: 1
Sort Order: 0
Author(s): Day, Nick Also by Sascha Seifert
Organization: Conscious Pictures
Publishing Email: nick@conscious-pictures.com
Abstract Title: From the Campfire to the Movies… and Beyond! Consciousness and Storytelling in the Digital Age
Pri Class: [06.08]........Information technology
Sec Class: Select A Numbered Category...
Abstract: Nick Day & Sascha Seifert, filmmakers. So, what’s the story? Or to be more precise, what’s the story of the story? How might telling stories be connected to consciousness? The emergence of language and the capacity for oral storytelling can be considered fundamental to becoming human. Our brains cannot help but seek the “story” of everything we see, hear or sense. Story favors survival by activating a powerful inner world of association and meaning. Storytelling itself is adaptive, having evolved over time, rewarding good stories, good story structure, and good storytellers. Humans also tell stories visually, from the earliest cave paintings to Michelangelo to Instagram. Cinema was the first form to truly integrate these modes, making a really good movie one of the richest experiences we can have. When we watch a movie, we readily enter an altered state akin to hypnosis, a waking dream. While neuroscience is discovering more about how what goes on in the brain when we watch a movie, it is our appetite to be engaged by story that keeps us coming back for more. In part one of this presentation, award-winning filmmaker Nick Day discusses the evolution of storytelling and how it might relate to consciousness. He also looks at the formal language of cinema and the transformational nature of film, with reference to selected movies, including his latest film on consciousness, Mindville. In part two, producer Sascha Seifert explores the evolution of storytelling in the digital age. Mindville is a motion picture in development, but while once it might have been only a film project, in 2014 it’s also considered a transmedia project. Today’s filmmakers post, tweet, share, pin, integrate and connect, as well as making their movie. With secondary content, line extensions, crossmedia and intermedial formats ranging from mobile to tablets, from flat rates to 3D event films, from social media to the internet, the ways audiences consume, perceive and interpret content multiply every year -- yet sometimes it seems as if we’re simply discovering more ways to consume. Will the premiere screening of Mindville be simulcast in theatres, on pay-per-view TV and Google Glass? Is Facebook now the primary launch pad to build a global audience? Could the diversity of delivery channels influence how we produce the film? Or do we affect and influence our audience by the way we present consciousness on film? Online we perceive the world through the eyes of the media. And we mirror this by our reactions. Sophisticated algorithms monitor and influence our behavior and emotions in ways we may not even recognize. Has story itself become lost in the plethora of channels? Using examples from his daily work, Sascha provides an overview of the changing landscape for storytelling through media and how this might affect consciousness.