Can Lab-Grown Brains Become Conscious?
The concerns over lab-grown brains have also highlighted a blind spot: neuroscientists have no agreed way to define and measure consciousness. Without a working definition, ethicists worry that it will be impossible to stop an experiment before it crosses a line. The current crop of experiments could force the issue. If scientists become convinced that an organoid has gained consciousness, they might need to hurry up and agree on a theory of how that happened, says Anil Seth, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Sussex near Brighton, U.K. But, he says, if one person’s favoured theory deems the organoid conscious whereas another’s doesn’t, any confidence that consciousness has been attained vanishes. “Confidence largely depends on what theory we believe in. It’s a circularity.”