Towards a Science of Consciousness
 A Review of the
Presented by Stephen Jones
reporting on the Tucson II Conference, Arizona, 6-13th April, 1996
Sydney, Australia ... August 14th-18th, 1996
Upon return to Australia, the six 14 hour days of video were edited down to a comprehensive kernel of six hours, thematically indexed for presentation of various multi-disciplinary threads and then placed on a huge video intranet server called dAVE, which was used by the forum to interactively reference keynote addresses and interviews as outlined in the following tabulation. Additionally, access to the web and to the unedited video material was provided.
Extending over a period of five days, the public forums reported on the preceedings of the Tucson II conference "Towards a Science of Consciousness" in a comprehensive manner. This web page is provided as an independent review of the public forum - which the author attended. I found these presentations to be of the highest quality - as will be outlined below - and can recommend the re-presentation of these forums for other interested researchers in the future.
In this third section I am pleased to review these local developments in Australia - late in the southern winter of 1996 - which provide the opportunity to glimpse almost first hand, the nature of the more recent conference preceedings of Tucson II. And I am pleased to be able to congratulate Stephen Jones on his efforts and reporting.
Finally, I would conclude this introduction by noting the following. About 500 years ago, when the "modern western world" man Magellan circumnavigated the planet, he did so in the belief that the planet Earth was at the center of the cosmos. With the emergence of curiousity and the scientific discoveries there came about the glass lens. When this lens was turned upon the sky, the mind of man became educated as to the cosmological environment of the planet earth. And when this lens was turned upon the substance of the Earth itself, the mind of man became educated as to the nature of the terrestrial composition and environment of the planet. During the intervening 500 years to the present day, many of the "ancient mysteries" of the "hidden world" as known by our ancestors were made known.
In the evolution of these various "knowledges" of the earth and cosmos, the ontological nature of "natural science" has exponentially specialised into a myriad of forms, and in the closing few decades of the second millenia, the interdisciplinary nature of mankind's specifications of the earth and the comos and man's relation thereto have diversified and expanded into a multitude of new fields, sciences, cultural expressions and environmental and ecological concerns.
It has become apparent - to many of the researchers in these interdisciplinary fields of science (and of "cultural science") - that the nature of human consciousness is a common ground of research ... for it is that which - independent of scientific discipline or culture - unifies and integrates the knowledge of the world, and its environment, and man's relation thereto.
Mountain Man Graphics
Newport Beach, Australia
Late August, 1996
Sydney, OZ - In the Southern Winter of 1996
The informational resources available to the Public Forums held in Sydney firstly included the web site prepared by Stephen Jones:
The Brain Project - PUBLIC Forums reporting on the conference - Sydney, Australia.
In conclusion, the website and forum offers an enormous and independent resource concerning the contemporary and background material in this field. Of exceptional worth is the site's list of Links and other references, which is extensive.
OnLine Video Server - dAVE (digital audio/video disk recorder) - from Digiteyes
Public Forum Presented by Stephen JonesInterActive Video Towards a Science of Consciousness by Intranet
|Philosophy||The Basic Package||Robert Kirk|
|The Hard Problem||David Chalmers|
|Physiology||Neural Assemblies||Susan Greenfield|
|The Global Workspace||Bernie Baars|
|The Enigma of Science||Michael J. Lockwood|
|Consciousness in Quantum Theory||Henry Stapp|
|Is a New Physics Necessary?||Paul Davies|
|Neural Nets and|
and the Cultural Milieu
When one examines the content of the Tucson II conference, as reviewed in the previous section, it is immediately apparent that Stephen Jones has reported upon the keynote addresses given by the major presenters within the mainline scientific disciplines. Perhaps it may be useful to itemise a number of issues which were raised and clarified by the Tucson II presenters:
The brain consists of over 10 billion neurons which exhibit
patterned "firing" in certain cycles, and in various (almost infinite) combinations
and permutations of "assemblies" and "assemblies of assemblies" and so forth.
Consciousness does not appear to emerge from any one level of physical substrate operations, rather it appears to emerge as a result of the totality of all the different processing "levels".
If there appears to be a hub or a router of activity, then this would appear to be focused on the thalamus which is a binary structured part of the central brain at the top of the spinal column into which all sensory neural assemblies are connected.
Although there are a huge number of neural connections from the thalamus into the cortex, there are in fact many more connections back from the cortex into the thalamus - which indicates that the cortex (or the newly evolved thinking ability) also has the ability, and is capable of, altering the sensory impressions which are being received from the external (and internal) environment.
More detailed information which outlines integrative models and other resources related to the above can be located at Stephen Jones' web site - The Brain Project - at which - over time - there will be established extensive resources concerning the more recent discoveries of the mapping of the functions of the human brain, and the relationship which various scientific disciplines attribute these mappings to the nature of human consciousness of the world and of the nature of the represenation of the world within human consciousness.
Again, it is hoped that this review has been of assistance to all researchers in these vast interdisciplinary fields of research which today constitute the myriad specialisations of mankind's knowledge concerning the world around him - and the world within him.
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Winter of 1996