If cognition is an ability to forecast and to react, the algorithm of thought can be represented as a function of observation, recall, pattern matching, selection, and finally, decision. Sentience is simply an awareness of the process (or algorithm) of cognition. Creatures of increasingly higher thought have increasingly higher awareness of the facets of the process. The level of sentience is directly proportional to the acknowledgement and understanding of will and resultant choice.

For mutual understanding of this theory, we first need to address the symbology used in representation. Words are funny things, having slightly differing meanings to each person.

I’ll commence then, with definitions and exploration of the terms used thus far, beginning at the base, and moving up the sundry levels of the model. But before that, let me point out that the process is often circular. Ofttimes, the observation, the starting point, is the observation not of external influences but of internal. When I ask myself, “What would I like to do next?,” the observation is internal, “hearing” the question which was the result of a prior observation, for example, “I am, at present, idle.”

To observe is to “look,” to see both thoughts (the circular part) and external states and changes in state. I look out at my backyard and see that the lawn is neatly trimmed. I hear traffic in the background from the nearby highway. I hear birds. I see colors and levels of light and changes in colors and levels of light on the scene before me. I see a bird fly above, casting its shadow on the sunlit grass below. I observe thoughts, the meaning of these words before me, the search for the words to come. I hear an owl hooting. Observations vary in their level of intensity. I see, most intensely, my MacBook Pro, an open document, each glyph that shows as I move my fingers. I see, with little intensity, a growing sense of hunger, the vagueness of an approaching headache because I’ve not eaten today. Each of these thoughts, and others (a plane is passing overhead and I hear the sound of its engine) occur to me not in series, but in parallel. Many of them, I can focus on, and bring them to the forefront.

To be continued…