We feel that our consciousness is the very essence of our existence. The quality of life of each of us is just a matter of the particular content of that consciousness.
But what is consciousness, what is its content, and how did its content arise? The first of these questions, what is consciousness, seems to be inscrutable. Some of the content seems to be hard to describe and some straightforward. And there is a lot of complex argument about all of this.
I will try to untangle the matter by assuming that there are basic elements called data, and that the content of consciousness can, after a series of steps, be ultimately described in terms of data. You might say that the concept of data is just part of the content of our consciousness, so this might be a circular argument. I will come back to that later.
Some of what I say will sound like common knowledge. And some of what I say may challenge your concepts or definitions relating to data, information, meaning, intelligence and consciousness.