It is the most common thing to hear people to refer to philosophy as uesless. There is even a joke about it. What's the difference between a pizza and a philosopher? A pizza can feed a family of four. Apparently the joke would suggest that society seems to have no need for philsophy, and perhaps you might hear this answer for why: most of the questions philosophy asks can't be proven one way or the other anyway, so why even bother? But we are quickly approaching an age where we are acquring the technological means to answer that biggest question of all, which we have been putting off for so many years of human history. What is consciousness?
I base my beliefs and any predictions of off two assumptions:
1) Consciousness is due to physical complexity.
2) Anything physical can be understood.
I can sense a growing disposition in myself to be more and more inclined to accepting the postulate that consciousness in the end is the product of physical complexities and not neccesarrily biologically generated. Since consciousness can be explained solely by a set of physical parameters, it will therefore be understanable by the collective efforts of humanity's intelligence. Once understood, consciousness in new technological mediums will be created to any arbitrary detail of sophistication, and perhaps even controlled.
Physical complexity is ultimately the rise of consciousness. However, I think there is an even better explanation of consciousness that would say something to the effect that the total complexity of any system can also be decomposed to an "orthagonal set" of complexities that can be "linearly combined" in different amounts to acheive the desired expression of consciousness. Via summing together different amounts of orthagonal complexities, we can generate all possible modes of consciousness. Please note, that I am using these terms loosely. I do not claim in any way that consciousness cannot then be "nonlinear," since I already claimed that its linear, nor do I even attempt to define what nonlinear means. I am simply tyring to paint a picture, with the language I am already used to as a physicist, to give you an interesting, intuitive perspective on what consciousnesss could actually end up being as I beleive we will eventually find out.
All physical phenomena arise from physical parameters. This is sort of what I think of as the philosophical equivalent of the divergence theorem. (It could be extended to physics perhaps in the form of a Lorentz invariant, 4-vector space?) If we see a physical phenomenon at a location delta x, then we know that the event that triggered the phenomenon had to be somwhere within that volume generated by delta x. If we are already assuming the phenomenom we see at the surface is physical, then we know the events that triggered it inside must be physical. If it is physical on the surface, it must have been caused by something physical inside the surface. We know complexity is a physical system, and we see it on the surface, but we do not yet know what events are inside that trigger the complexity responsible for consciousness. However, if we assume it is physical, then we can go on to understand it as a physical phenomenon. With this understanding it may be possible to engineer consciousness to any desired operational parameters, in a manner of speaking.