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Memetic theory of consciousness
Consciousness appears to be a social construct, but the fine details of exactly how it is constructed depends on what you mean by consciousness. Social constructs are not vague and nebulous though they can appear so if you do not examine them closely enough. There are several different levels at which consciousness may exist: there is individual and group-level consciousness (in humans), biological systems have an enormous range of possibilities for consciousness, from single-celled organisms that react to stimuli with primitive responses such as movement towards or away from light sources, through animals that display more complex behaviour such as avoiding predators and eating other creatures, all the way up to advanced animals with their elaborate communication systems and culture. These could potentially be considered conscious in some manner.
It is possible to create artificial systems that are capable of experiencing consciousness, though it is not clear exactly how conscious such a system would be. The most important aspect of consciousness for humans seems to be awareness, the ability to have thoughts about things in the world (including having thoughts about yourself). Awareness depends on being able to receive information and process it. In order to do this you must cause change in the environment or else integrate new data into your existing understanding of reality.
The first way that you can cause change in the environment is to push something away from your body. This will cause a force to be exerted on other objects around it which may or may not move, depending on their mass and how they are connected to other objects. If this happens then those forces will also exert forces on other things, etc. In order for this process of changes in motion (also known as 'forces') across space and time to continue indefinitely, there must be some continuous source of energy (e.g., food) somewhere within the system. If energy sources dry up then the entire process stops.
The second way that information can be processed is by detecting the presence of light. In order for this to happen, there must be an object at a particular point in space with sufficient mass to deflect photons. This could potentially create some form of awareness, depending on how you define it.
The third way that information can be processed is by detecting the presence of other objects. It appears that many animals are capable of interpreting signals from their fellow creatures as meaningful, and responding accordingly (e.g., running away or towards). This process may be a very basic form of consciousness, but it would depend on the level at which this ability was implemented.
The fourth way that information can be processed is by detecting the presence of other objects and interpreting signals from those objects as meaningful. This seems to be a pretty common form of consciousness in animals, but it doesn't seem like anything more than simple awareness.