I call a system (natural or artificial, organic or not) that can store information about itself or about another system an observer. Such a system might have a layered structure with several layers of implementation, so there are several layers of description. The observing system defines an ontology or phenomenology of the observed system. The entities defined by it are real from its point of view. If such a system can observe itself in terms of a higher layer of implementation, then the system on that level of description exists from its own point of view. My hypothesis (if I can call it so) is that consciousness is the reality thus established. There is no higher or bird’s eye view from which one level of description or of reality has precedence over another.
Viewed from the outside, such an observer might not exist, but just a lower-level description of the system is real (e.g. an electronic or neuronal outside-view). From its own point of view, such an observer would be real, however. I call this an internal observer.
See also https://creativisticphilosophy.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/homo-in-machina-ethics-of-the-ai-soul-a-response/ and the discussions following that article, https://creativisticphilosophy.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/generating-objects-towards-a-procedural-ontology/, and https://creativisticphilosophy.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/an-open-letter-to-the-human-brain-project/.
(I don’t expect anybody to understand this rather cryptic and half-backed stuff, more work is needed to make it clearer, just a note for myself).