Of course we don’t know the answer to this. But can we say anything about it? I think how consciousness arise, must be very similar to how any complex structure or system arise in nature. Consciousness must follow the natural laws applicable to other natural phenomenon.
Broadly speaking, it is contextual similarly to asking “ how order arise out of chaos” or simply put does how does “complexity arise out simplicity”?
All of nature works/creates with very simple rules. Like
A. Self Organization- is a process where some form of global order or coordination arises out of the local interactions between the components of an initially disordered system.
Ability of a system to spontaneously arrange its components or elements in a purposeful (non-random) manner, under appropriate conditions but without the help of an external agency.
B. Self Similarity- is just self similar, replicating. This is how river tributaries form or how a tree branches.
C. Evolution (feed back loops)
These are very simple but very powerful tools, and are responsible for the complex world we live. They can explain everything in nature, and I think these simple laws can also help explain the problem of consciousness.
Consciousness is very mysterious to us, I suspect this might be because its so deceptively simple. We experiential and naturally know it, but its impossible to describe. Consciousness is also a very common phenomenon, everything from bacteria to humans have it. Meaning its very easy to create for nature, and its critical for life.
I think of consciousness as inter-relation between sets of complex information, self-organizing it self to an optimal condition. Much like an operating system running on a computer. "An operating system (OS) is a collection of software that manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for computer programs." So in this view, we have individual softwares like a software to interpret visual sensory information coming from eyes, and software for interpreting auditory sensory information from ears, these are hardwired in the brain. The interplay/inter-relations between two or more softwares , into a singular platform where it can be experienced. In this view our consciousness would be like an OS, thats connecting/managing all the individual softwares into a singular experience. A conscious experience. Strings of these conscious experiences happening very moment, is what we collective understand as consciousness.
A highly evolved management system/OS, perfected by nature(evolution/feedback) over billions of years. Running in everything, from the most common microbes to us. Build upon a hard ware designed by self-organisation, self-similarity and evolution.
Consciousness being like an OS, would also imply that consciousness would be very hard to pin down in the brain. And would exist as a diffused coherent network of inter-relations between data sets of memory and other softwares (sensory information processing softwares). That consciousness is not a “physical thing”, something very subtle, immaterial like information.
I’ve had this thought haunting me for many years, I am not proposing any theories or saying this is what is happening. Just sharing my explanation to the problem of consciousness and consciousness it self. And would love to hear, what people think of this idea/thought..