However, most contemporary cognitive and neural scientists would say that the mind is the result of physical processes in the brain and hence has a material basis. The Nobel Laureate Francis Crick, who codiscovered the structure of DNA with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, represents this view. His 1994 book The Astonishing Hypothesis:The Scientific Search for the Soul opens with,
The Astonishing Hypothesis is that “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.
While scientists accept that the mind arises from the material operations of the brain, this does not solve the classic Mind–Body Problem but it does change its formulation. In modern terms, the question becomes, How can we understand consciousness in scien- tific terms? Or to put it more specifically,What is the exact nature of the link between physical and chemical activities in the brain and each person’s internal sense of consciousness?
This question has several answers of varying degrees of difficulty, as noted by David Chalmers, a philosopher at the University of Ari- zona. Some aspects of consciousness, such as the ability to choose among and react to external stimuli, are unquestionably susceptible to scientific explanation, though it will take years of effort to understand them. But the aspect that Chalmers calls the “really hard problem” is this:Why do we have a varied internal life at all? Every function of consciousness that supports the physical operations of the body would serve us equally well without these subjective experiences, and so, as Chalmers says, “it seems objectively unreasonable” that we should have them, and yet we do. No one knows why, and this is why people speak of the “mystery” of consciousness.
Although these are profound questions about our own nature, they are closely linked to AI and artificial beings because modern cognitive science is partly inspired by computational science.The ex- ploration of machine thinking has provided significant and useful metaphors for human thought since the 1960s—not long after Alan Turing’s seminal 1950 paper—when psychologists and cognitive sci-