Hi Joseph Murphy Brisendine,
Yours is one of the best written, most insightful, and greatest joy to read of all essays here, which is saying something. Rather than list things with which I agree, which would for the most part simply reproduce your essay, I will focus on our differences.
You discuss two robots, (similar to one discussed in my endnotes) to one of which you wish to convey the advice "you exist". You freely admit you have no idea how to implement this idea. I claim that you cannot implement it as you would be conferring self-awareness. You might mimic such, by making all new inputs self-referential, i.e., comparing to history or memory, but this is just another algorithm, not self-awareness. This failure may not change your point, since you are metaphorically introducing the term 'meaningful', but the failure does go to the root of the problem.
I do like that you immediately point out that 'meaning' is not 'information'. Information conveys meaning only in a context, or a codebook: "One if by Land, two if by Sea."
I like "motility is the origin of intentionality" since I define consciousness as awareness plus volition, or will. Also your poetic "We are interested in this world which is our home, and it repays us by being interesting."
Perhaps Santayana captured the dialogue between the intellect and the senses:
"All of our sorrow is real, but the atoms of which we are made are indifferent."
You relate a personal witness of 'selflessness', induced by (lack of) drugs and note:
"Experience is that which is immediately and directly "given" to us, and in an important sense it is our only arbiter of truth."
I hope you will read and enjoy my essay.
Finally, you ask "Why was nothing in nature built to endure?"
From the Grateful Dead's: "Built to Last"
One blue Star/Sets on the hill
Call it back/ You never will
One more Star/Sinks in the past
Show me something/Built to last.
Built to last till time itself
Falls tumbling from the wall
Built to last till sunshine fails
And darkness moves on all
Built to last while years roll past
Like cloudscapes in the sky
Show me something built to last
Or something built to try.
Edwin Eugene Klingman