Consciousness is an open space where thoughts, sensations, emotions, sights, sounds, feelings appear, as well as awareness (mindfulness), which is also an appearance in the same space. We can’t, and don’t, pre-think each thought we’re going to have. Each thought appears like a quantum particle in the quantum vacuum. However, it’s not random. There is a “flavour” to conscious experience that is like a theme (or themes, more likely) running through a (good) novel. There are many digressions, some irrelevant, but the novel will return to the theme(s) regularly, the same as personal conscious experience seems to do.
Our (random-ish) thoughts tend towards intense and recent experiences (mixed with the whole of our past conscious experiences, to various degrees). For example, if we have a sick relative or loved one then our thoughts tend towards worry for them, even though there will still be digressions when we are “lost in thought” and we think of oddly unrelated things. Our thoughts tend towards our most recent, difficult, or intense experiences.
Where does that tendency reside? Does it reside anywhere other than in memory? How is the weighting applied and stored so that the flavour of conscious experience is influenced by appropriate previous experiences? It’s an interesting problem, being self-referential and recursive.
The flavour of each personal conscious experience is unique and unable to be replicated. It’s like solving a set of equations that have an infinite number of solutions with each solution delicately (but relatedly) dependent on initial and prior conditions, which are the complete (weighted) set of all our conscious experiences. Is that helpful? Maybe, but it doesn’t really get us anywhere to answers to the questions of what is consciousness. But some further understanding does help along the path towards choosing the questions that need to be asked. We’re not there yet, I don’t think.
Before general AI becomes possible we need answers to those questions. The questions we don’t know what to ask yet.