Towards a Computational Account of Reflexive Consciousness

Murray Shanahan


This paper offers a preliminary sketch for an account of reflexive consciousness based on an im-plemented architecture that combines a global workspace architecture with an internally closed sensorimotor loop. The proposed account extends the theoretical framework of the already imple-mented architecture with to two concepts that structure the flow of consciously processed informa-tion. First, contextual switches divide the unfolding contents of consciousness into a set of nested episodes, wherein one conscious episode can “refer to” another. Second, the imposition of a focus / fringe structure enables consciousness to encompass material that is merely available to it but not actually present. This combination of reflexivity and fringe may underpin our awareness of our own existence as conscious beings.