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Many of Darwin's opponents, and some of those who accepted the theory of evolution as regards physical forms, objected to the claim that human mental functions, and
consciousness in particular, could be products of evolution. There were several reasons for this opposition, including unanswered questions as to how physical mechanisms could produce mental states and processes an old, and still surviving, philosophical problem.
A new answer is now available. Evolution could have produced the "mysterious" aspects of consciousness if, like engineers developing computing systems in the last six or seven decades, evolution encountered and "solved" increasingly complex problems of representation and control (including self-monitoring and self-control) by using systems with increasingly abstract mechanisms based on virtual machines, including most
recently self-monitoring virtual machines.
These capabilities are, like many capabilities of computer-based systems, implemented in non-physical virtual machinery which, in turn, are implemented in lower level physical mechanisms.
This would require far more complex virtual machines than human engineers have so far created. Noone knows whether the biological virtual machines could have been
implemented in the discrete-switch technology used in current computers.
These ideas were not available to Darwin and his contemporaries: most of the concepts, and the technology, involved in creation and use of sophisticated virtual machines were developed only in the last half century, as a by-product of a large number of design decisions by hardware and software engineers solving different problems.