calculating intelligent insights modeling critical contingencies generating definitive futures predicting quantitative insights delivering contingent wisdom mapping the future generating precise futures assembling calibrated contingencies crowdsourcing accurate insights composing precise predictions assembling definitive wisdom delivering accurate futures calculating contingent understanding calculating precise estimations


Metaculus Help: Spread the word

If you like Metaculus, tell your friends! Share this question via Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

By 2023, will there be evidence for a neurological correlate of human consciousness?

What is consciousness? I once asked my boss, a neuroscientist who tolerated my philosophical predilections, what he thought about the nature of consciousness. He chuckled and said “it doesn’t exist”. Instead of trying to be cute and retort about self-defeating claims I asked what he meant. He went on to detail how consciousness has been glorified, placed upon a pedestal, and that it simply cannot be everything that people say it is.

I still don’t know what consciousness is. Nor do my colleagues in philosophy. You might think that we can simply say that consciousness arises from the sophisticated physical organization of human brains. This leads to the Hard Problem of Consciousness, a phrase which philosopher David Chalmers coined back in the 1990’s. Think about the most beautiful moment sunset that you have ever seen. Now explain that experience in terms of neurons firing. It seems to many that physicalism (roughly, the idea that the mind is just the brain) is poorly equipped to explain the subjective quality of our experience.

Fear not, we aren’t going to get lost in philosophical ruminations. We are going to predate upon a bet made in 1998 between neuroscientist Christof Koch and philosopher David Chalmers. One night after a conference Koch bet Chalmers “a case of fine wine that within the next 25 years someone would discover a specific signature of consciousness in the brain.” (pg. 26). The idea is that Koch and his team will find a neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) “a minimal physical signature in the brain sufficient for a specific subjective experience” (ibid). That is, Koch’s team hopes to discover a small set of neurons with intrinsic properties. “Intrinsic properties could be, say, a neuron’s pattern of electrical firing, or genes regulating the production of various neurotransmitters.“ (ibid). According to the conditions of the bet, Koch has until June 20, 2023 to do so.

Resolution: The resolution is going to piggyback upon the bet between Chalmers and Koch. The question resolves as affirmative if Chalmers pays Koch, negative if Koch pays Chalmers, and ambiguous if neither concedes by end of 2023.


Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site

Community Stats

Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.

Embed this question

You can use the below code snippet to embed this question on your own webpage. Feel free to change the height and width to suit your needs.