Having the opportunity to speak with Nicholas Humphrey was a phenomenal experience (pun intended). His accounts of discussing dreams with Francis Crick, debating the best materialist arguments with Dan Dennett, working on blindsight, describing how personhood and ethics arise out of consciousness, and positing that our minds act as artists to make us fall in love with ourselves, make for a wonderful and enlightening listen.
Consciousness, Nicholas Humphrey claims, does not add or enhance some survival ability (as, say, wings allow birds to fly). Consciousness improves the chance of survival because it makes life worth living. Being phenomenally conscious grants import, meaning, and ego, essentially fooling us into striving towards fulfillment.
“The Second Renaissance” is a must watch for Sci-fi and philosophy nerds alike. It’s the perfect gateway drug for discussions of human intelligence, ego, historic recurrence, phenomenology, and a dozen other philosophical topics that are not hurt by their inclusion in a robot war.
A couple of video games for your phone will not only keep you busy on the subway, but allow you to contemplate issues of personhood and ethics at the same time.