What exactly is consciousness and are humans the only ones who can possess it? This is a question that has vexed philosophers for millennia. It's a debate being taken up not just by philosophers and psychologists, but also AI researchers. Is consciousness another word for "soul"? And, if so, can a robot have one?
The first computers were free-standing machines. Later, we learned how to hook them up and the result was an enormous increase in computing power. A parallel shift in our notion of selfhood is called for. The current default self, subscribed to by most people most of the time, is a stand-alone model. The new default self, to be posited in this essay, is more like a computer network.