I’m told (thanks Chris) that my previous attempt to link the ideas of ‘Sense’ and ‘Presence’ is linguistically flawed, as the words come from very different roots.
That may be so. But that merely highlights how we can allow conceptual conventions to limit our thinking. The ‘facts’ of language may say the two ideas are disconnected but from my own experience and need to explore the deeper interconnections between all things, I feel the need to pursue this. Call it the seeker or inner explorer in me. And also the engineer.
The human body has sensors that enable us to detect (and interpret from), for example, sights and sounds. Technological humans have invented artificial means of sensing auditory and visual signals. Whether the two sets of information (human and artificial) are similar or even the same is, I would argue, debateable. For example, the technological systems for sensing and processing sights and sounds are quite distinct. And, although the human sensory instruments may be separate and employ, science believes, different part of the brain in their processing, our experience is of perceiving whatever it is we perceive. We know we are in the presence of a bird or a bus: our minds integrate the two (sight and sound) signals, naturally. Indeed, we probably perceive or sense its presence way before our rational mind makes logical sense of it.
And that’s my point. A human-being is capable of sensing presence, i.e. of being present. Our consciousness, as and when we allow it, is, naturally, itself present. It (and thus we) are intrinsically aware of our presence in a given moment. We are not just sensing all the associated sights, sounds and other physical stimuli, our awareness (if we tune into it) also provides a deeper sense of where we are (in the world, in our lives and so on) that is way beyond what any signal processing from our 5 senses might tell us.
A human-being is a sensor of presence.
In these days of robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) the question then emerges: can AI sense presence? I would suggest this is another way of phrasing the question that those interesting in AI continually ask: can a machine be conscious?
Despite many significant advances in recent decades I would say we’re still a long way off. As to whether it’s possible . . .
Reflecting on how a human senses presence, how could this be replicated in a machine? Could there ever be an artificial sensor of presence, an instrument that might measure the present?
Note the change of words. Machines and instruments detect a particular quality and can thus measure a particular parameter. As I’ve suggested above, the only way to detect and measure presence is to be present, to be conscious. It is perhaps a circular argument, but does it answer the question?
What, other than a living being (we know that other creatures are conscious of their environment through their own unique presence), can detect, that is, be present?
Ah, but the presence, consciousness, that we are aware of is but a reflection of the consciousness of life itself. Or is that just my definition and personal experience?
Either way, life, cosmic reality, is, presumably, self-conscious.
Thus, any creature, or thing, that can tune into, be present with, cosmic consciousness, can sense presence. From within. Just by being. Yes?
A bee has the presence of a bee in the world. A lump of slate has the presence of a lump of slate in the world. The laptop I’m writing this on has its own presence in the world. A quantum computer likewise.
Everything is present. So must, I would suggest, have presence . . . at the level of cosmic consciousness at least.
Which is precisely why my lap-top crashes or locks up when I try to do something I don’t need to do but works perfectly when I’m in the flow.
Our technology, like everything else in life, already does detect presence, is already conscious.
But we don’t make it conscious. It just is.
We cannot make something, anything, sense presence. It’s a matter of allowing it to just be.