How can awareness be aware of itself?

Consider a hypothetical machine that is sensitive to its own sensitivity to changes in itself and its environment.

When some feature in the machine's environment changes, the machine's sensors undergo a response, the machine senses the response of its sensors, and then also detects the fact that its senses are responding. The machine is sensitive to fluctuations and qualitative transitions in its own inwardly- and outwardly-oriented responses.

Suppose now that the sense-response detector feeds back to the machine's self-pilot in such a way that the machine can take action to modify the content of its sensors. The feedback between the sense-sensor and the machine's behavior as it induces changes in the content of the sensors creates an experiential grounding.

Ironically, that grounding would give the machine a kind of sensitivity to its own existence in relation to the world that surrounds it. If the machine had a policy of self-preservation, it might even assert that it is a conscious being.

And yet, the machine's experiential grounding is really just voltage fluctuations in transistors. Where exactly is the "I" that asserts its own experience?

Michael Webb, 2002

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