What does it mean that Greg Egan’s “Permutation City” touches on the nature of consciousness?

My answer to What does it mean that Greg Egan's "Permutation City" touches on the nature of consciousness?

Answer by Desmond Last:

He took the blank piece of a4 paper as if it were infected with a cyborg virus that would invoke a binary shutdown and burn him off the matrix web.

Unable to take his eyes off what seemed to a white hole which was slowly drawing him into a white noise of fear he powered himself onto the auto binary boost system. He was immediately connected to every super matrix web in the world. Bytes in the zillions were now in his web of processing power. All over the word the A4 white space of conspicuousness demanded it be used.

The world of matrix power systems began to overload. The mankind drones and zombies struggled to provide the power which was being swollen up by the white space – the A4 sheet of paper devoid of anything other than a questioning space glared its insolence.

The central humankind drone zombie in London – home of all zombies, went into panic mode. They were being asked to think. The zombie robots of the U.K were not used to the original thought. Their everyday routine was to do as they were told.

“Destroy it”. Shouted the chief zombie drone Theresa May. “People must not be allowed to think for themselves. Their minds must not be allowed to develop imagination. All human zombie drones and Master Robots are not programmed to use free thought. Destroy all blank pieces of paper”.

I have used my short story to illustrate what is touched on with ‘nature of consciousness’. The ability of free minds to take a blank piece of paper and create from imagination and non-programmed thought a reality. Something AI will never do.

What does it mean that Greg Egan's "Permutation City" touches on the nature of consciousness?

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