I have often heard the argument that human self-awareness is the by-product of the physical interaction of particles according to physical laws.
What does self-awareness mean?
Self-awareness is the ability, in so far only proved to exist in humans,that allows us to recognize our own existence. Minus self-awareness, the world would go on to exist in the same way it always has, except there would be no audience. While each individual can check for his/her own self-awareness, there is no concrete way to verify if someone else is self-aware. So each one of us beyond (reasonable) doubt knows of our own existence as an entity.
Your definition seems a bit vague :(
Granted, I am not the best person to define this. All I know is that I exist. If you made an exact copy of me, even though the copy might act exactly as I, I would be aware that I am actually a separate entity from my copy(at least that is the assumption so far).
And your argument is?
If we stem from processes, then that means our very existence and what we are is the complex interaction of particles. This means that it is not the special properties of these particles themselves but rather the sum of the interactions from which our consciousness is born. Therefor the simulation of the elementary particles, say in a computer, would result in an equivalent consciousness, since we are the interactions themselves and nothing else. Now, I am not saying it would be easy, I am saying there is no law of physics that would prevent the equivalence.
So far I don't think I have any detractors as long as they accept the basic premise that our consciousness is a product of physical interactions.
The inevitable question
What qualifies something as a simulator?
"Simulation is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time." -Wikipedia
So you can imagine a computer that is, ironically, unimaginably powerful. Let us also assume a complete body of knowledge where every property necessary to simulate physical conditions is well known. Also, let us assume that we have a complete representation of a human where every physical interaction of every particle in his/her body is known. Every assumption, while not true as of this writing, is nonetheless reasonably possible.
The computer would start by loading all the intricate details of the body and then would kick off simulating the human being. Now, according to the premise that we are simply the sum of a complex interaction of physical particles, then the simulation should result in the accurate clone of ourselves. What is more, if self-awareness stems from these very interactions, then the simulation would generate self-aware entities.
And on to the final question
What if the simulator was a mind?
What if the simulation is not a computer whose simple minded purpose is the exactly programmed function of simulating the human body. What is instead the simulation was a vastly complex mind that finds such simulations trivial?
Consider a calculator. While your calculator can add numbers, so can your mind. However, you are a sentient, thinking mind while your calculator is not. Similarly, a computer can simulate the human body and a powerful mind can do the same.
Thoughts in God's mind
So the conclusion would be, with the premise that our consciousness stems from physical interaction, it is possible that we are the thoughts of a powerful being. POSSIBLE. There is no proof towards it being true or not. All we said is that our premise makes possible our conclusion.
And as for the mind itself, for all intents and purposes would be the equivalent of God as far as we are concerned.
Do I actually believe this? Nah.
I don't believe this because I don't accept the premise that our consciousness is the result of physical interactions. I fail to make the leap because I can't see how physical interactions, no matter how complex, can result in a self-aware entity.
All I wanted to do in this article is point out what I think is an inevitable possibility of accepting the premise.