Chapter 7
The Awareness Experiment

Let's try transpose our mind and body in a state of deep relaxation, widely receptive, quasi-meditative with all our thoughts blocked. Let's contemplate a natural scenery, a flock of sheep on a hill side, a crystal clear rapid spring, the blue of the sky reflected in the sea water, or anything similar. We no longer know anything, all our memories and thought paths are blocked, we float in a state of total relaxation, primitive and vegetative: the only image we record is that of a timeless state, just as like any movements of the image were alien to us. The depth of this state does not arouse either pleasure nor pain, but only a neutral affectional state. Such an experiment, when we are not asleep, but in a state of wakefulness with our attention focussed towards relaxation and sensory perception constitutes a type of living which we shall call beingness. In this state our attention is no longer an effort of concentration, we are in a state of natural equilibrium, inside ourselves and of ourselves, with the surrounding world. We believe that such a state is experienced by all the animals, the horse and the rabbit and the bird alike. It is a primitive act of living, but which can only with difficulty be separated in humans from the thinking state, whatever feable and elementary might this be.
The first slip away from the beingness state is towards the actual recording of this state, by a state memorized in our brain, in our mind, through any specific symbol (not necessary a concrete image or a word, but the record of the state of the organism by a general "symbol" constituting the elementary act of our existence).

Beingnessdoes not however mean awareness. Beingness plus elements of abstract thinking, determines the human awareness. This is the starting point for knowing about his existence and about the existence of outside world. To do this one does not require language, does not need to know how to say "I know"; one only needs to experience "I know" as a sense of existence, as a state. Within this experiment "I know" appears as a consequence of beingness and of its recording, a consequence of the confrontation between beingness itself and the act of its recording.
Regarding the notion of beingness one does not face the question of existence since beingness is existence in itself. Beingness and the state-symbol "be", constitute together a proof of existence itself. Adding the state-symbol "know" yields the separation of ones own existence from existence as a whole and opens the way to recognizing the existence outside oneself. We shall emphasize the difference between awareness and consciousness. Awareness is an individual phenomenon. Consciousness is determined by the social relations. Consciousness is woven in humans around awareness, between the two existing some zones of mutual interaction. Consciousness is more related to the human automaton, whereas awareness to the beingness phenomenon, the latter having a physical nature of specific phenomenology. Beingness can be present in the normal functioning of humans and animals, ensuring awareness which is normally considered an epiphenomenon. Nevertheless, beingness also is the source of awareness and of conscious spiritual life.

In the elementary but fundamental awarenessexperiment one depicts three moments:

  1. beingness;

  2. recording of beingness through a state, a general "symbol", spread into the nervous system, but possibly bounded, expressed through the word "be";

  3. confrontation between the two and generation of a state, of a symbol, in the nervous system, corresponding to this confrontation and having the significance "know".

It is true that, when experimenting, the three above moments may seem in the beginning simultaneous. But if we perform the experiment and interrupt the experiment to perform a rational analysis, and start the experiment again, and again analyze, we end up by discovering the three separate moments. We can even exercise pure living, then record its state,then feel the state of their confrontation. They can be successive or simultaneous.
The above experiment is, in a way, purely biological, since it contains nothing social. As language is in an important way a result of social activity, our social structure allows us now to comment with words, i.e. with a greater precision, upon the events of this experiment, in order that we may communicate to others the way of performing the experiment and its possibleresults.

The structure of the living creatures is such that to beingness as such we associate a symbol-state, whereas the recording of this symbol-state in relationship with pure living determines a new symbol-state. We shall call the first symbol-state the be state, whereas the second the knowstate.
Beingness is a physical process successively generating two complex informational states. The first symbol-state is the reflection of beingness, which can be simultaneous with beingness itself. This gives the existence state or can give the existence inscribed as a symbol (if it is broken away from beingness, a perfectly possible occurrence). Hence beingness + be state symbol = state of existence of a living being.
But beingness + be symbol + know symbol = awareness, where the last two symbols are not words, nor signs, but complex states. But it is possible that the human reason operates only with the two symbols, "be" and "know", and that these two together generate the self-consciousness state in the nervous system. Now we see the distinction between awareness, assuming self-consciousness associated with beingness, and self-consciousnessas an informational property.

Such a delimitation between self-consciousness and awareness can be of significant importance in relation with technological developments in artificial intelligence recorded in recent years. The living root of self-consciousness, either general or introduced in the device which manifests it, is determined by awareness. Artificial intelligence might be designed and constructed with self-consciousness, it can self-develop its intellectual (and not only intellectual) capabilities, but it will never reach awareness by itself alone. For this reason it will not be able to appreciate by itself its existence and one can suppose that, since it lacks the beingness phenomenon, artificial intelligence will lack the material ingredients that make natural intelligence far superior in some essential aspects. This does not mean that certain material devices similar to natural intelligence cannot be made. But the confusion between awareness and consciousness, both in general and with self-consciousness, can lead to the interpretation of artificial intelligence as a new type of life. Would the electronic computer, reaching the level of a developed artificial intelligence, represent a new form of life dedicate to thinking alone ? If all that we know as most developed forms of life, consciousness and intelligence, can be artificially created, does it follow that silicon electronic devices and recorded programs can constitute a new form of life ? Either the things are indeed so, or we do not know enough about brain and life. But what we know for sure is that we are still far away from knowing the brain and that we do not have a rigorous explanation of life. We can also observe that life cannot be reduced to intelligence alone, the latter being an informational manifestation grafted either on a live or on a lifeless support. but when the support of intelligence is alive then new qualities may appear; the beginning, the source of these qualities may be a phenomenon like the one described before and named beingness. However, between life and information there are many attractions since the live support may give new qualities to information.

The Awareness Experiment 51