Aware: Information and Physics
A bipolar universe
Every era conceives of the hard things in terms of something, usually a technology, that is more or less understood. And in our (western) history, little is harder to understand than the mind, and its consciousness. Consequently, the latest technologies have always been employed to act as known analogies for mental processes and capacities.
With the rise in Europe of mechanical engineering in a big way, around the end of the sixteenth century the notion of a mechanism became widely appreciated. This is the era of Cudworth denying that human souls are mechanisms, and of Descartes asserting that, while humans were not mechanisms, animals certainly were automata without the “feels” (my word) of sentience.