what makes the characters conscious
There are no real answers/agreement when looking at what makes us human/conscious. People have been picking at it for years; we're not really here, we're vessels for sensation, others say god put it there, their opponents spend hours proving we're in charge. Some people say there's this space outside the brain where consciousness lives, separate to the body. Some explanations are combinations of the above.
It has only been during the last hundred years have we been seriously speculating that maybe the brain causes it all.
All philosophers, whether academic or bar room, really believe whatever truth they believe in, and find the evidence they are specifically looking for. It's a difficult thing to nail down. One person's interpretation is as valid as the next and some interpretations allow for other interpretations and philosophies to exist together.
Suppose our head/body/mind is controlled by lots of little people working together and sometimes against each other.
You might notice them sometimes by maybe having to suppress a thought that you thought was too bad, or when they go crazy to get what they want, or maybe when you've been drunk.
Like the numbskulls in the Beezer comic, they make the decision whether you are happy or sad without your consent. There are lots of these little fellows and they can control many different systems inside you through negotiation and dictatorship.
In relation to quantum physics, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that when observing an electron you can't look at both its speed and position at once. It appears as a wave when we observe its speed and as a particle when we observe its position. When observed as a wave we are looking at the the available positions the electron could be, but when we go to look for the electrons position, a quantum wave collapse occurs, the waves (speed) disappear and it becomes a fixed point,
Quantum wave collapse is the condensation of physical possibilities into a single occurrence, as seen by an observer.
This is the thing Schrodinger explained with his cat .
Imagine your consciousness as a quantum cloud of decisions. You have a certain percentage being in a happy state, and a certain percentage being sad. This is a process controlled unconsciously by your happy/sad bot; one of the little people in your head,
Like the description of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, your behaviour is a cloud of possibilities until you observe it. The act of observation causes a quantum wave collapse, and causes you behaviour to become a fixed state. You observe wether you are happy or sad, and the control bot (the one that does the communicating) states what position the emotion is in, and likely reasons why it is in that spot. We justify our actions after they have already been decided and have happened.
We cant turn these off, just like we can't turn off our sense of touch. It's how we operate, even making the decision to see if you are happy or sad has already be activated by one of your psycho-bots.
Not to say we can't change it through feedback, or techniques like cognitive therapy (good NHS bots give it over the internet). Neuro- linguistic programers know how to speak directly to these little men, but generally the probabilities change gradually over time, just like morals.
Free will dissolves away when observed like this, together with consciousness (we observe the world through the decisions of psycho-bots), together with intelligence (made up from non-conscious activity), together with the organisation of matter (these bots just need to feed back from sensation, even feedback from themselves seems ok, look at dreams) we really could really all be dreaming.
It seems that consciousness, intelligence, acceptance of reality is ours to give. It's what the bots decide it to be. A lot of it depends one whether we endow a thing with it. A hard core animal rights activist might endow a rabbit with consciousness, someone who's car doesn't start might might make it conscious (please work old girl), a nazi may remove consciousness from the mentally ill. If you need further proof, get a bag of potatoes put a hat on one, then see which potato is used last.
That's not to say it's all doom and gloom, even though you might be shouting "we're just algorithms performing a probability table!". People don't like being told, (or it be inferred) that they're not in charge. They also seem to think they're the most important thing, without acknowledging that humans might not be the mind frontier.
A quantum model of consciousness also works as a model of culture, like the saying, "as-above-as below". On a social level, we use feedback from other autonomous units (humans), to create a community quantum cloud. The community quantum cloud is how society reacts to a given range of possibilities, in other words morals.
Although it's not always the goodness inside us we expand on, anything or anyone can provide a meme, you just need someone to copy you or to copy something and put a bit of a skew on it, (maybe make it better/make it worse) and the system becomes emergent. Like Conway's game of life, it starts to grow. It can feed back from itself in the manner of a koch curve. No need for outside stimulation.
"We all seem to be team players, no man is an island, when we get together we can push the boundaries". When something goes wrong with the boundaries being pushed we are all to blame. There's an emergent metastructure in society created by our actions and how they are fed back upon. Something that we all help to create, mainly unconsciously.
Maybe this is something to do with our worth/point - if worth/point is the right phrase. We are building meta-structures out of information we're collecting, mapping all information systems, decoding signals and sensations. Maps are knowledge and power, like the power felt by renaissance man with his maps of the sky, land and oceans. Maybe ignoring questions of consciousness is the best way to get this structure built, bury it deep, get on with the mapping.