The basic problem of consciousness, and of qualia is that there are representations. Any other consideration requires us to accept that representations pre-exist that secondary consideration. When we recognize representation as the primary problem, we must conclude that explaining how representations can exist at all is the means by which we will come to understand what consciousness and mind themselves are. To engage in this problem we must start with first principles. We must go back to the same place Descartes began, with an inquiry into fundamental principles.
Unfortunately, Descartes makes a critical error. One Neitzche refers to as a "logic-linquistic fallacy". Where "cogito" implies a a thinker vs the object of cognition, a thought. A thinker originating thought vs the content of thought. This the source of cartesian duality, and it is an error in analysis. The idea that Descartes is the thinker is an idea, a representation, that is not entailed in the fact of thinking itself. Thinking itself gives us only that there are contents of thought. And in Descartes's famous phrase "cogito ergo sum", the content of that thought is the thinker. This does not mean there is an actual thinker, only that there is the representation of a thinker, as a progenitor of thoughts. This assumption is the source of much confusion and obscures the fundamental issue.
The problems of consciousness descends from the problem of how representations can exist at all. The idea that there is some "mind" which is conscious or which produces consciousness is a secondary problem to the fact that there are representations. The mind may be an ephemeral phenomena and have no causative powers at all. To determine if there is such a thing as mind, it is first necessary to understand how there can be representations and only then can we determine if mind is the source of representations or is itself only a representation.
Said another way, the first problem is that there objects of awareness at all. These objects of awareness are representations; we know this because the objects of awareness, the contents of experience, are all that we can refer too. Our assertion of a physical universe apart from our representational experience is itself a representation. What we find when we examine our physical universe is that there is no physical processes which will produce representations. What we experience are representations, but in purely physical terms, representations simply do not exist.
Paintings and songs on the radio are ideas apprehended from physical phenomena, but from the view of the arrangements of atoms, molecules, and photons, songs and paintings do not exist. There is no physical force, or particle which correlates to when some physical phenomena is also representational and when that phenomena is not representational. In fact, all physical phenomena are explicitly non-representational… and yet, we all recognize the Mona Lisa, or pictures of Abraham Lincoln, or the start of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. So, from a purely physical point of view, how can representations occur at all?
This brings us to a series of discrete hypotheses:
Representations (ideas) exist. Representations are instantiated in physical structures. Representational functions (transformations) are instantiated in physical transformations. Making and interacting with a representation is awareness. The embodiment of representations, representational functions, and awareness instantiates consciousness. Embodied representations which are objects of awareness are qualia (experiences).
Physical processes will never be able to get us to representational phenomena absent the fact that representations exist as phenomena in the universe because they are explicitly non-representational. The reverse may also be true. That representations of whatever kind do not produce the physical phenomena.
To produce consciousness with a computational machine, the computational processes must correlate to whatever it is about physical processes which instantiate representations and representational functions. These computational processes must themselves not be representational processes, because it is the origination of representation with a computational process that is the primary problem of creating machine consciousness. Just as it is understanding how representations can exist and be instantiated by non-reprsentational physical processes, which is the primary problem listed above.