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Is the universe aware of its existence?

There has been a lot of research going on in the field of Artificial Intelligence, where software programs would be made to think and behave like humans, there by providing us with a more friendly user interface.

For instance, think about a software powered robotic interface which can act as your assistant, work as your house maid etc.

You will start feeling as if it is alive, like in the movie I Robot

But the key question here is, does the robot itself know that it exists?

Of course not, its just a mere collection of software loops, conditions and statements. It just executes those statements in the compiled order.

Which is why it is called artificial intelligence.. it is a mere simulation of intelligence, not real intelligence it doesnt know that it exists, which is the key to life or at least to intelligence.

Given the knowledge of newton’s laws of gravity and Newtonian physics, artificial intelligence cannot think about it and arrive at the general relativity of Einstein, because innovative and creative thinking requires real intelligence, whose key is creativity. Artificial intelligence can only produce random notes for music or based on pre-fed laws, or it can only create random colors when asked to paint.. it cant really get creative and compose wonderful melody based on instinct not based on calculations.. or paint based on imagination, and not based only on images/patterns stored in its data base !!

A robot can be made to act as if it is feeling pain, but it never really feels that pain by itself, because in the first place it doesn’t know about its very own existence!

Similarly, the universe we live in, is it aware about its existence?

Does the universe know that it exists?

We are a part of the universe, and we are aware of our existence in this universe..

How about the universe itself? Is there an universal consciousness which knows about itself?

If yes, then when was this consciousness born? During the big bang? So does it die? Or was the big bang explosion itself the death of this self aware consciousness? Are we living in a debris (like the one I read in some book) , where the death resulted in the creation of low level consciousness like ours?

Or is there is a multiverse that exists beyond our local big bang universe, and this multiverse is a self aware, indestructible consciousness that has no birth or death? because birth /death is a concept of time, and this time in turn is a concept (or rather illusion) created in our local big bang universe

Quantum particles seem to have awareness, and awareness can lead to self initiated actions. There is no scientific law which can define what awareness can do, for instance no scientific law can predict whether I want to have tea or do I want to have coffee now

Similarly the uncertainty in the predictability of the actions of quantum particles like electrons indicates the presence of self awareness/consciousness in them! All matter finally boils down to these quantum particles So, does this mean that universe is self aware and this awareness is spread across all things that make up this universe and at all levels starting from the quantum particles to the universe itself, and universe is is the highest level of awareness? not only me, you, but everything in the universe is self aware? Note that, just because a stone cannot move or respond need not mean it is not self aware, it may not have any physical expression of its awareness thats all!!

If the universe is self aware, then what is your/my awareness all about? Probably a low level awareness, that becomes complete and gets a true picture when it can realize the higher level universal awareness? Or are we a part of that real universal awareness, I mean our awareness itself is the universal awareness, our awareness is itself a proof that universe is self aware, except that our awareness is only limited by our definition of self with an identity with our body.

In a nutshell, if we define our true self to be the universe, then our awareness will become the universal awareness!!

Aham Brahmasmi say the vedas, which means I am God

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Gurudev is the developer of Gurunudi AI Platform. This is his official website where he pens his thoughts on a wide range of topics, answers queries, shares resources and tools developed by him.


  1. These 4 lines describes the above better.

    Nityahi nityanam
    Chetanasya chetanam
    so ham

    ohm brahmarshi.

    The entire reply to quantum riddle and on consciousness is lying here.

  2. Q. Is this a question?
    A. Yes – if this an answer!
    OK. old joke from a philosophy paper – anecdotally true.
    My personal opinion is that since man is a product of the universe, the knowledge must lie within – (the micro/macro enfolding of time and space within the individual kind of argument)- and I crave the kind of world where people argue the toss about this kind of (gloriously as yet-) subjective stuff. Sincerely.


  4. Music is not entirely about intuition, mechanically and technically, there is a lot of finite mathematics involved.

    Intuition is a large part of it, but not in its entirety.

    So, how do we create artificial intuition?

    Intuition is rather extensive and ambiguous, considering its intangible and transient nature. I believe it to be a coalescence of rapid logic, educated scenario outcome hypothesizing, weighed with an account of past experience and mental tendencies since the life of the consciousness, as well as the more sublime and vague intrinsic human capabilities regarding instincts and impulse.

    More or less, intuition can be relegated down to electrical impulses that are dictated and perpetuated by some of the above indicators. Is it pretentious to posit that perhaps in the future, individual facets of A.I. will be developed? Artificial hormones, artificial serotonin…

    Chemical and electrical impulses, hormones, neurological make-up, pretty much human genetics as a whole, can be argued as being simply necessary to promote the survival and proliferation of your DNA.

    As cold and calculating as that seems, what more suitable to a machine or computer?

    And to be honest, its really not that cold. While it makes it sound like genetic perpetuation puts a short list on the meaning of life, these survival instincts are also emotional responses. What we feel, what we love, what we dislike…

    Artificial Emotion.

    I believe its not too far off to guess that its only a matter of time before these necessary partitions of artificial intelligence are explored. When this is done, the possibilities concerning AI will become torrential.

    While the basis behind survival instinct itself, and genetic coding get rather complicated, this is all just fantastic begging.

    Not to mention music composition. Note phrasing, song structure, and musical nuances particular to individual instruments are directly related emotion as well as experience…if artificial emotion is a reality, its only a matter of time before a computer is going to be feeling the blues.

    Being a musician myself, I would really like to see a form of AI that responds to human musical input.

    This, given a direct relative counterpoint (the human generated music) makes it a rather simple idea. Hopefully its not too far off.

  5. Sorry I mean personality – it also makes you act in the certain ways you do. Characteristics.. things like that..

  6. I’m totally confused ;)

    You have totally lost me.. I would have just thought that if you’re alive you are aware of your surroundings because you have a brain lol. And personality sort of makes you who you are, but you people are whoa so much more clever than me!!

    I don’t know any of the the words you’re using! Hehe..

  7. The universe and existence in general are only ‘real’ because of the fact we have awareness of it. To the best of our knowledge, awareness requires a ‘life-form’ to accommodate it. Therefore, without ‘life’, there is no awareness and hence, no universe. Without awareness, one could say that there is then, ‘nothingness’. So, for anything to exist, there must be awareness of it. The universe and existence go hand in hand with awareness.
    Then there are ‘levels’ of awareness; for instance, we humans are aware that we have awareness. We can contemplate our awareness. Can we say the same for the budgie in our cage? Probably not. Are there levels of awareness greater than humans’? Probably yes.
    In short, the universe is the physical manifestation and existence is the abstract manifestation of awareness.

  8. Kailash
    Interesting thoughts! Software is inanimate, just a series of commands that are executed, its simulated intelligence, than real intelligence, more than intelligence the key is awareness/consciousness, which is definitely absent in it. Awareness brings unpredictable nature, a self aware animal can do anything it wants without adhering to any predefined rule. A dog can bark whenever it wants, a human can suddenly decide to listen to music, etc. AI cannot do that. One might again try to simulate randomness using random numbers, but even they are again actually pseudo random numbers and there is no consciousness in it either!

    As for transplanting brain, all that a brain needs is a supporting system in the form of blood, oxygen, nutrients etc. So transplanting to robots would be the same as doing the other way round to a human body, i,e take out all the natural parts of a human body like heart, legs, hands, eyes etc and attach artificial parts to it, and provide an interface for brain to send signals to operate these artificial hardware parts! Probably we can also have sensors which would sense touches and send corresponding signals to the brain to feel touch, etc.. So it actually would be the same person who originally owned the brain, except that now he is a 100% physically handicapped person ;)

    I remember having read a telugu novel on similar lines where a scientist who dies because of some uncurable disease requests other medical professors to preserve and feed his brain so that he can continue to think and do research even after the brain is taken out and his body cremated!! The alone brain interacts with the physical word by exchanging electric signals with hardware! I think the author of this novel was Malladi Venkatakrishnamurthy. I had read it long back while I was in my 10th!

  9. hi,

    i am new to this field, but very much got exited by above conversetion. do you think that AI is only a mere inteligence provoded by the software, and robot act as command wriiten on software. if it yes, then you should accept that software is a nonliving material which does not start running by itself it need another hardware to read and execute. and as u know hardware is nonliving matterial hence they can not write software for them selves. that why they will alway depend up knowledge which humans do have. Now millions dollar question what will happen if scientist can successfully transplant a human brain into robot. will it got the reallization of its existance ?

    i need comments ………

  10. I believe that consciousness can be ‘invoked’ in anything.

    Probably this is how the ancient vedic seers used to bring to life many things which otherwise today we consider lifeless!!

    If there is an eternal supreme universal consciousness and if we all are lower manifestations of it, then there seems to be no reason why other inanimate things cant become conscious. Quantum particles already exhibit consciousness.

    So it should be possible to “”invoke”” consciousness in other things too! Probably systematic birth in the form of a life/creature is one such process of “”invocation of consciousness”” in a cell! Just a thought.

    One thing is for sure, modern science as we know hasn’t even covered .1% of “”real”” science in the nature ;)

  11. sorry i hit that submit in haste :-) without completing my comment.

    if consiousness is indeed a result of evolution as in the case of humans, so can we say that finally at some stage when the knowledge of the way human brain works that AI can be made self aware.

    as said earlier it looks both likely and unlikely at the same time :-)

  12. Hi ,

    One question that always occupied my mind is can conciousness be engineered ie can human invent something from scratch like a computer and make it self aware?

    per science humans evolved over millions of years from single cell and finally developed conciousness. ie it was self grown

    even our vedanta says that soul was not created by god and it is eternal as god itself.

    so how can you say that humans can take AI to the extent of becoming self aware or concious?

    so i am yet to be convinced that conciousness can be engineered by humans.

  13. Is the universe self-aware? That question is a super loop! THE super loop! Of course the “”universe”” is “”self-aware””, to the same extent that “”we”” are “”self-aware””. All you’re asking is: can concepts refer to other concepts? Sure, no problem. They do it all the time. It’s there nature, so much so that there’s no such thing as a concept that doesn’t refer to another concept. Even the concept of zero relies upon the concept of not-zero.

  14. @oemar
    haha, a good one.. making it understand the context is the toughest part of building a true AI..

    we humans are so intelligent, that we can easily understand contexts of a statement, switch topics in between the conversations, introduce words from other languages in the sentences we make, and still understand this all.

    But sometimes even humans get confused, like the way politicians often complain that they are ‘misquoted’ or their statements are ‘misinterpreted’! ;)

  15. @oemar
    absolutely… that was the point …

    robots or AI wont be able to understand the context… of your usage of the word “”death””
    and if it can, well to some extent… only…

  16. @Arun & Gurudev
    I dont want my robot to cry when i tell him a joke with the word death in it. That will the biggest insult to my sense of humour and pride :)

  17. Arun
    that was a nice one :)

    Yes, we can use AI in the future to automate a lot of things, like personal assistants, cooks, office boys, counter boys, in pilotless commercial aircrafts, customer care centers, helpers in food bazaars, supply chains, as construction workers, traffic police, etc

  18. If (robotHeardSound == “”death””)

    something like this… just funny…
    well.. its not possible…
    to understand and think or become aware of the surroundings needs programming, to behave like a human, a lot of data mining needs to be done, based on the info feeded into…
    how much logic could be feeded..
    how much info could be logged..
    how much learning from mistakes….

    a lot many questions yet to be answered…

    but AI is good to help the human with its own limitations

  19. Oemar
    Yes, the AI could be programmed to simulate intelligence, it can also be programmed to simulate awareness via emotions etc, but for it to be truly aware, it has to become alive first, awareness is a feature of life not of intelligence, any amount of software code or complex circuitry cant make a robot self aware :)

    The moment it becomes aware, it means it can develop independent selfish thinking also, and more importantly it becomes another life species, the first species created completely by humans, and will have to be given all human rights too, you cant just send a non functional robot to a scrapyard ;)

    OK, to know that a robot has bcome self aware, probably one measure would be to see how it reacts when its dear human master is said to have died, and for that it also needs to have emotions, awareness about what death really means, etc..

    or probably if a robot starts to function on its own, independent of the commands given to it, then it can indicate awareness, but not necessary that it HAS TO BE awareness, might be something wrong with the circuit/logic, it might have gone mad, or probably the logic itself might have been such that when more viable options are available it should refuse human commands, and this definitely is not awareness, its just conditional branching ;)

  20. Hey guys… AI is not really my field so I wouldnt like to jump in with smart ass comments… but isnt it possible for AI to be developed and perfected so much that it becomes aware of its existence…. or even at that point, how do WE know that its aware of is existence?? Ignore this comment if experts find it stupid ;)

  21. Yes Arun
    that exactly was the point I was trying to make.
    I didnt say “”today”” AI has to compose music like Ilayaraja, I said, even in the future can AI do it?
    Ilayaraja composes music by intuition and creativity, not by solving mathematical equations for sound that sounds pleasant to our ears. Can AI compose music like that, was my question?
    Can AI in the future think, experiment and discover new theories for us? Can it do painting? write poems?
    More than anything else, can it have emotions, I mean can AI really “”feel”” emotions, not just simulate it?

  22. Kaushik
    The crux is can AI become self aware of its existence, if not today, in the future?
    Like the way we know that we exist, can a piece of software become self aware of its existence and about the existence of things around it in the universe?
    Being intelligent is different from being self aware.

  23. @kaushik…
    he was just making a point by comparing with ilayaraja…
    i too like AI… but it has its own limitation…

    what AI can do is just like DEV said, based on pre fed data, laws, doing data mining.. it could simulate to some extent the thinking of a human..

    seeing from a broader perspective.. who is going to fed in the laws, data etc…
    its humans only..
    does having an alterhuman just means, that thinking process remains standstill no…

    more data and laws will be derived by humans using natural intelligence and AI gets updated..

    so its a parallel process.. but AI stands one step beneath NI (natural intelligence). now to define that one step in duration is a bit difficult task…

  24. hthth is correct in the context. and you cant just compare today’s AI with Illayaraja!! thats not good anology. the AI what we have today is in its priliminary stage. you can probably compare it with some neanderthal man!! may be we wil have to wait for a decade to know if AI really has anything in it to prepare an alterhuman.

  25. Oh yes guys, I am aware of fuzzy logic and neural networks.. but thats not quite how the life works or awareness exists in life forms, brain is not all about neurons and dendrites, and is not yet completely understood :)
    Till recently biologists thought that dendrites stop growing after a certain age, bur off late they have found that new dendrite connections open in the brain as a person starts using his brain more and more for thinking more complicated stuff than he used to think earlier.. or for a person who is always thinking about complicated things like Einstein, dendrite connections simply keep increasing!!

    Before we even attempt to simulate brain artificially, we need to know about its storage and retrieval mechanism completely, which is still a long way away.. emotions are currently limited to presence or absense of chemicals, neurotransmitters, but how and why do these chemicals get generated??

    when I said ?Which is why it is called artificial intelligence.. it is a mere simulation of intelligence, not real intelligence??, thats what I meant, it is a simulation by humans, not something existing on its own!

    When I said ?Artificial intelligence can only produce random notes for music or based on pre-fed laws?, I meant at the most you feed in logic for it about what makes real music which is different from mere sound! Can a AI compose music like Ilayaraja by experimenting like him? We dont do any mathematical calculation within our awareness when we compose music, what is melody to one person might also be sound to other person!!

    consciousness does not evolve in a child, it already exists when it is born, the very fact that it cries as soon as it is born, the very responses that a child gives while still in womb prove it :)
    any artificial neural network, fuzzy logic etc are finally algorithms and mathematics, they can simulate evolutionary thinking, but not be self aware themselves, pretending like being self aware is different from actually being self aware, self awareness is characterized by instinctive thinking, emotions, creativity, etc

    Can any artificial neural network today cry when a part of it is broken? Can it suddenly become happy and start singing? Can it draw something that it has never seen and yet which makes sense? Can it arrive at a scientific theory?

    The day we are able to create real self aware artificial intelligence, we would have created real intelligence and it wont be artificial any more!! It would actually be life form, another new species, which would have every right to exist in the court of law, which cannot be destroyed like how we can destroy computers today :)

    Because self aware means it can feel about itself, and to destroy it means to kill a life. I think we are very very far away from any such thing! Can then the artificial intelligence reproduce? what is its life term? just the available of electricity to power it? I dont think real life, self awareness can be powered by electricity, unless and until its being used as a substitute to ATP :)

  26. i think u need to take a look at Neural Networks and Fuzzy logic…. there are algorithms for evolving systems just like a child’s brain evolution.. when a child comes into the world he/she has very limited responses… cry,sleep and when it tickles opening the mouth.. which we call laughing… and slowly more complex responses are computed by brain based on varying inputs and mimicking of the sorrounding people… thats how consciousness takes birth….

    AI is not a hot pursuit for researchers and scientists any more….

    I recommend u to study Neural Networks and Fuzzy Logic and blog an article abt it….

    I studied neural networks but was unable to pursuit my career in it and ended up as software engineer…. and i am telling u i miss every day the subject that i have learnt… it is a different world altogether….. :-)

  27. [found you via Technorati]

    “”Which is why it is called artificial intelligence.. it is a mere simulation of intelligence, not real intelligence?””

    Not quite. You’re absolutely right that modern AI is limited ? but it’s called ‘artificial’ because it doesn’t occur Humans creating it, ie. like ‘artificial fabrics’.

    “”Artificial intelligence can only produce random notes for music or based on pre-fed laws””

    Again, not quite. There are several projects that involve more than randomness for AI to create and invent. Similarly, there’re even more projects involving unsupervised AI learning. Suggest you look it up, exciting stuff :)



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