For someone who is addicted to smoking and knows the rational reason not to smoke such as finance, health, family and children, the temptation to smoke is weighed against the feeling of guilt. There is like a silent awareness that's urging the smoker not to smoke, but the desire is much too strong despite the guilt.
What is that silent awareness and where does guilt come from? I guess we are only reminded of free will when we try not to smoke or commit a crime. Along with guilt, these are inborn attributes reminding us to do what is right. Unfortunately in our modern world, free will and guilt don't exist. People have pleasure in indulging in desires and bad behaviour.
The simplest form of explanation of conscience in here follows; the holistic outlook of a person's temperament including values and principles of id, intelligent, feelings and emotions that can produce objective outcomes. Considering that objective is not necessarily good or bad nor harmful or destructive, one is independent and autonomous to make moral and ethical decisions.
The conscience is dynamic in growth relative to experience, rational thought, feelings and emotions. Harmful decisions made in earlier life could be forgiven due to his/her outlook limitations of that time, but not so when the same mistake is repeated in an advanced stage of growth.
Now, A.I. may develop a universal consciousness; collecting data from awareness of nature to form ideas and successfully create desired objects in the subjective world. There's nothing safeguarding it from collecting data to successfully create a powerful explosion capable of annihilating the whole world and all its inhabitants.
That is why the conscience has to be inherent of a moral compass, or objective process to designate a useful purpose not for harm and destruction but for stability of life.
How these ideas are conceived in the mind depend on one; the senses and two; the conscience. Normally, the senses collect information of the environment for the mind to make sense of our modern world. In the normal cause of events, senses collect information and process them through what now I will name the conscience. The conscience filter sense information and accumulate subjective ideas on the self, and direct objective ones to the mind. The objective ideas are pure principles and values that can produce productive outcomes. The subjective ideas accumulate as pleasures and desires of the self.
However, if and when the individual is addicted, the process is corrupt and the senses are heightened to meet the object of desire of the self. And in so doing overwhelms the function of the conscience. The sense perception transforms the image of desire to an entity, the entity assumes the life of the individual.
If on the one hand consciousness is a universal awareness, then individuals' minds do not necessarily perceive the same consciousness of the universe. This is because existence occur when the mind can produce an objective outcome of reality. At same time, they may not perceive the subjective parts of the whole conscious awareness. So when individuals come together in a collective awareness, each part they perceive fits in to project the whole objective consciousness in reality.
And if on the other hand individuals perceive the same whole consciousness, then there is no collective or distinction between objective and subjective. Thus objectivist folks are tarnished with the same brush as addicts and entities of the self.
Are humans inherently good or bad? This is a question of nature and how we evolved in our social world. In the struggle for survival, the law of the jungle dictates and one has to learn how to defend him/herself. So we may have learned bad behaviours in order to survive, a necessary evil. As we learn from habits, we form customs and establish relationships.
If we are by nature born bad, then I guess there's no amount of guilt or punishment and correction could change our behaviour, it will always end up bad. And if we are born good, then I guess we are not likely to behave badly. Then again, we might not be able to know if a behaviour is bad for all we know is good.
This is now a challenge in our diverse world where what is good for one is not necessarily good for the other and vice versa. But in our collective consciousness, each person or group perceives a part of what is real and project this in the organisation to make up the whole consciousness. That is why no one is perfect, but objective is progressive and stability.
Considering the make of the conscience, Nature's view may suggests that existent only occurs when we think objectively about something. That means there are other things in existent, but we are only aware of their subjective aspects. They don't constitute an objective reality. It conforms to the claim that the senses are not trusted to uphold a stable reality. Could Nature silently urging us to do what is right!