Noam Chomsky on mind, consciousness and AI



Today I watched this clip and it really got me thinking:

I’m considering writing an article about this subject soon, so if anyone here has some thoughts to contribute, please do so.

Also as Ideapod Discussions is quite new and evolving, here’s how it works:

I’m writing this thought in #ideajournal, which is for anyone to contribute to. Anyone can then turn these discussions into articles for publication on Ideapod, which is described here:

Anyway, back to the video above. Please check it out.

One of the questions explored in this short clip is about discovering where the driver for human action comes from. The modus operandi of human life. What is directing the show. Who is the puppeteer?!!

It’s one of the biggest questions in philosophy and human existence! Here’s Chomsky’s brief thoughts, from this video above:

  • When we make a decision, the neurons fire in our brain before we’re conscious of the decision
  • Therefore, to answer the question we should be looking at what’s happening pre-consciously
  • It would be very difficult to introspect our way to a solution to the problem of consciousness (or who’s the puppeteer!)
  • We should probably engage in other methods to build up our knowledge on this question.

The key moment came around the 3 min 40 sec mark if you want to explore further.

As I was watching this video, I instantly thought people using psychedelics to explore questions such as these. Do psychedelics take us beyond the limits that come from thinking about our own thoughts. Can they move us into a different mode of introspection in a way that would provide a meaningful contribution to human knowledge about such questions…

We’ve got a few articles on psychedelics here on Ideapod, but I would love anyone who has experience exploring such questions to contribute their stories to Ideapod. It’s a new part of Ideapod where anyone can submit stories/articles for publication.

Here are the articles we have:

Where does our creativity come from? Surveying the intellectual landscape
Introducing Rudá Iandé: My compatriot in this crazy journey of life
Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong (The Atlantic)

Such a fascinating subject! What Chomsky calls pre-consciousness is a fascinating kind of consciousness which defies our intellect. It’s hard to admit it, but our decisions come from a much more profound place than our mind. It means that even our decision of thinking comes from another place, which is much more instinctive. If we are not consciously deciding, who or what is making the decisions? Should we keep worshiping our intellect? It seems that our intellect is the fruit of a much more profound intelligence which is the very nature of our biological structure. If we try to analyze such intelligence, we’ll probably never get there. But maybe our consciousness can break through the bubble of our sense of identity created through our intellect and connect to this deep systemic consciousness which is the real source of our subjective and objective actions.


I don’t listen to Chomsky because it’s like listening to a senior citizen in a nursing home. He speaks so deliberately slow and boring. He never held a government position, so why would I believe his conspiracy theories? For me, the only credible persons to listen to with regards to foreign policy, are the ones who worked in the military, CIA, White House, FBI, US Army. Because there are a lot of classified information that you will never get access to from the outside.


It’s an interesting point about there being classified information that political activists such as Noam Chomsky don’t have access to.

However, often people working inside government organizations don’t have access to the full picture.

This post is more focused on Chomsky’s perspective on mind, consciousness and artificial intelligence. I think his points are well worth considering.

As for his “slow and boring” tone of voice, it’s actually something I quite like about him. It puts the emphasis on what he’s saying, as opposed to how he’s saying it.