How We Know We’re Alive

I’ve been thinking a lot about consciousness recently, both in the context of ways to determine how we consider a human being alive (somewhere between a pulse and self-awareness) and comparing the types of our consciousness to other living things.

Thinking about how we evolved leads to thinking about why we evolved, as well as, what we are becoming. Will we be able to “read minds” or “see” each other’s consciousness someday? Will we be able to perceive time differently if our consciousness evolves further? What could a deeper level of self-awareness bring, both individually and collectively as a species?

So many questions.


The Attention Schema Theory (AST), developed over the past five years, may be able to answer those questions. The theory suggests that consciousness arises as a solution to one of the most fundamental problems facing any nervous system: Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence.

A New Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved