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Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Bernard Baars moved to California with his family in 1958. He trained as a language psychologist before moving into consciousness studies. He says that living with cats makes it seem obvious they are conscious, with ethical implications for dealing with animals, babies, foetuses, and each other. His well-known global workspace theory was inspired by artificial intelligence architectures in which expert systems communicate through a common blackboard or global workspace. He describes conscious events as happening ‘in the theatre of consciousness’, where they appear in the bright spotlight of attention and are broadcast to the rest of the nervous system. He advocates investigating consciousness through the method of ‘contrastive analysis’: comparing closely matched conscious and unconscious events. He was Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, and co-founded the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, as well as the journal Consciousness and Cognition and the online resource Science and Consciousness.
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