When I improvise jazz piano, I am not speaking to myself and have diminished self-awareness - yet, through a combination of muscle memory, abstract spatialization and something called inspiration, music emerges. Am I conscious when this is occurring? Most would say yes because I'm awake, but I'm not sure.
As David Chalmers seems to be saying in this video, I think it is fundamentally a non-physical effect transceived at the quantum level. In Evan Walker's book The Physics of Consciousness, he makes this case and points out that electrons are constantly making quantum jumps while they build up charge on synapses. So, what is happening to determine whether enough electrical charge builds up to spark across a given synapse? A friend who is a former quantum physicist and now head of neurocognitive research at UT Southwestern Medical School here in Dallas agrees that quantum effects are at work in the brain.
So then, this brings me to my dilemma in defining consciousness. If it is rooted in quantum jumps, entanglement and such in the electrochemical process of the brain, electricity could be the "strings" of consciousness being "pulled" from outside spacetime. This line of thought then implies that consciousness should then be defined by the photons or electrons that permeate EVERYTHING.
Is a dog conscious? I'd say yes because it understands us to some degree, responds to pain and certainly manipulates us to fulfill its own needs. Is an insect conscious? It seems so when you threaten it and it turns to run away. Is a plant conscious? Maybe yes again, since they "know" how to turn toward the light.
Now here's the really big question: Is a rock, planet or star conscious? Well, plasma knows how to to form whirlpools in the space lattice and resonate into orbital rings. Is this consciousness? What if consciousness was dispersed throughout all space time and through its self-organizing principles the entire Universe is a conscious mind expressing itself through quantum effects? Animate matter emerged from inanimate matter which then emerged into self-awareness. Take time away and the consciousness was already there.
As you can see, the definition of consciousness is not clear. I tend to think consciousness as something omnipresent in nature and that reflective self-awareness is not on or off, but a gradient across all living things that is maximized in humans.