A self-model theory of consciousness based in neuroeconomics.
This paper is part of a series of papers in a book called Machine consciousness edited by Owen Holland (2003). The internal-agent model (IAM) theory of consciousness is an avowedly engineering solution to the still open question of consciousness. The authors refer to the ability of the conscious brain to defer receipt of rewards if such deferred rewards are significant enough. Thus, their theory is explicitly based on how the brain does decision-making. They then segue into the now familiar territory of the interaction of an agent and its environment.
The brain models the agent, which is the self; this is the IAM. The brain also models the environment; this is the world-model. The interaction of the two gives rise to consciousness, cf Damasio. The difference in the theory is that the IAM has not evolved out of an earlier proto-self. Rather, it is a model created for the specific purpose of enabling planning. Planning is in turn about simulating the future so as to enable the possibility of deferring action now in return for greater, later rewards. Sometimes, engineers propose useful answers precisely because they are more pragmatic than theoreticians.
Link to book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Machine-Consciousness-Journal-10-Jul-2003-Paperback/dp/B013RPI71S/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510330957&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=Machine+consciousness+edited+by+Owen+Holland+%282003
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