What have we found at the end of a year and a bit? I’ll look at that in the next few posts.
It would seem to me that one idea has been fairly convincingly shown: that consciousness predicts the near future from the near past in order to give us an experienced ‘now’. The possible advantages of this constructed ‘now’ are obvious: we experience life in the present, we have a fluid passage through future-present-past, and most importantly, we can register the error between what we predict will happen and what does happen and use this error signal to correct our actions and perceptions. Further, the error signal can provide input to the ‘reward’ system, input to learning systems and input to controlling the focus of attention. How immensely useful this prediction is!!!
Whether the system is mathematically Bayesian or not, it is certainly philosophically Bayesian. We are creating a high-probability scenario of what the future holds from the ‘priors’ we find in the past.
Property/function of consciousness #1 Consciousness predicts the near future from the near past in order to give us an experienced ‘now’ which is compared with current sensory input. This comparison gives more accuracy to movements and perceptions, and it facilitates appropriate emotional reactions, learning and attention.
Here are some previous postings indicating the predictive nature of consciousness.
I assume there will be more research to come in the next year that will further elaborate this property.