I think I have an answer to the question, what is consciousness, it's not an answer philosophers would like though...
My answer is this, we will never know because we are observing life, the universe and everything subjectively.
Objectively we could be penguins dreaming we are human, machines who think they have autonomy, space pixies hallucinating we exist
machines in the film the martix, anything really.
Maybe in death, if anything exists afterwards, we might know, but maybe not