CONSCIOUSNESS IS QUANTUM

Consciousness is Quantum, because it cannot be anything else. Another, more vague argument, is that consciousness is ultimate, and so is Quantum Physics. It’s simple and natural to identify them, on the ground that there should be just one ultimate thing.

If consciousness were not Quantum, it would have to be classically explained. On the face of it, this is completely stupid: the world is Quantum, not classical. If consciousness were not Quantum, it would have to be “classical”, that is, not fundamental.

The Quantum is so incredibly fundamentally new, that it has changed even the notion of what it means to be enlightened:

Cat Seen From Entanglement, Not Light (!)

Cat Seen From Entanglement, Not Light (!)

[One of these Schrödinger cats was created by Entanglement, not Light!]

An argument for the Quantum nature of consciousness can also be derived along… classical lines familiar to old fashion philosophers.

Consider Classical Mechanics. Classical Mechanics is completely deterministic: given initial conditions, which can be determined with complete precision, a few differential evolution equation determine fully what will happen forever thereafter.

Thus, in Classical Mechanics, there cannot be any free will. Contrarily to observation. Also one then is left to ponder what good consciousness would have. Even pain would be useless, because the very conception of warning does not present any utility. Any process being ineluctable, human beings, and other animals are just witnesses to their own condition.

This means that the basic philosophy of consciousness and freedom contradicts Classical Mechanics.

Far from being philosophically satisfying, Classical mechanics is absurd. Descartes guessed this, as, inspired by Classical Mechanics (then being elaborated to the point it was clear that the equations were fully deterministic), he suggested animals were just machines.

To make human beings in something more, God was needed, it was confusedly felt. But then the omnipotence of God re-created the same problem as before: an omnipotent God replaces Classical Mechanics, and remakes the world into something humans cannot influence.

Quantum Physics has provided with a way out. It’s everywhere, unbeknownst. It is not just a physics of space and time, as so called “Relativity” is. When Poincare’ suggested the concept of Relativity, he meant one of space and time.

However, Quantum Physics entails a much more general relativity, the relativity of knowledge itself. Such is the Schrödinger Cat Paradox. Cats can be seen where one’s light has NOT reached. (The experiment was published a few weeks ago.)

What else do we know that can extent where no light of ours has passed? Consciousness, of course.

And the brain in all this?

The brain is a classical object, at first sight, a topology, a place with a notion of neighborhood. Different organs and networks in the brain accomplish different tasks, all at the same time. That’s what led some to the notion of subconscious. Indeed, most of these tasks are not consciously perceived: most of what the brain does is done in the background, and at best only very dimly perceived. For example heart management is hidden.

Yet, should one get a heart attack, one’s heart will become the focus of one’s consciousness (starting with a big pain). So what does consciousness do? It brings problems to the fore, and tasks where creativity, neurological creativity, is needed right away.

The brain, at first sight, is a classical object. But, at second sight, and actually, beyond sight, there is entanglement. And it allows to see.

It’s not as Pascal put it posthumously, that the heart can see where reason cannot, it’s that consciousness can see where light cannot. Remember the picture above.

How does consciousness do this? The brain, as I said has a local topology, yet consciousness rules over it all, that is, non-locally (we know this intuitively, or, as we also say, philosophically).

That perceived non-locality is something in common with Quantum Physics. The picture of the Schrödinger Cat made without light having gone from the cat to us was obtained by Quantum Entanglement, and not by a physical (“Hausdorff topology”) process.

Quantum Physics is not Hausdorff: points cannot be separated from each other. Not just that, but Quantum Physics is not local. Neither does consciousness feels like something, nor should it be, philosophically speaking as something that can be separated, and localized.

Some may scoff that the preceding may be all very interesting, a perspective on what may one day be better understood. But that it’s not practical.

Not so. The day has come, it’s here now.

Robots will seriously replace, displace and overcome humans when Quantum Physics becomes the core of Artificial Intelligence. Verily, one should talk about Artificial Consciousness (AC).

Indeed, the Quantum, once installed within machines in full, will show up as synthetic free will. The first Quantum computers are officially operational (see the D-Wave Two, an Adiabatic Quantum Computer; actually, you won’t see it, it’s sold for ten million dollars each).

Quantum processes, at best, are determined by non-local processes that we cannot inspect. Another point in common with consciousness.

So we are, most probably, Quantum computers. Classical Mechanics could explain us, Quantum Mechanics gives us freedom, and all what conscience is. This means that, as we create full Quantum computers, we will create, if my guess is correct, full consciousness of our own making. And we will be able to augment at will how conscious those machines will be.

Until they take over, of course.

The crown of creation will soon create souls. And soon engineer souls. Our apish ancestors started by stealing fire, we will end up giving birth to gods.

Patrice Ayme’

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47 Responses to “CONSCIOUSNESS IS QUANTUM”

  1. EugenR Says:

    If you are right and the quantum processes are behind the consciousness and the free will, then the consciousness of the human being have to control and operate the quantum processes. It means consciousness cannot be probabilistic any more, but will be managed by being above the quantum process itself. Then who and what is this consciousness? It can’t be anymore just the brain, that seems to be just a quantum machine. It cannot be also the quantum computation process itself as in the computers, since it is probabilistic, which opposes the concept of free will.

    So what are we left with? Or to start to believe in some kind of human spirit, that can’t be scientifically explained. Or in other words we have to admitat that at todays knowledge we have no clue what we are. The alternative is to except that we are only machine without free will (like the animals of Descartes ), living in illusion of free will. But if we are just a machine, then again machines need creator who defines them or can it do the evolution by itself? And here we are back in the fields that can’t be scientifically explained.

    • gmax Says:

      Quantum computer folks are trying to do just that: controlling qusntum processes. The going is hard, many ways are tried.

  2. gmax Says:

    What’s an adiabatic quantum computer? How does it differ from the real thing?
    Superb essay, BTW

    • EugenR Says:

      If I may suggest to you a relevant link to the subject i would suggest to watch the following video. Stuart Hameroff explains in a simplified way the physical system, how brain uses quantum entanglement for its processes. He also refers during the lecture to other sources of information.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Dear Eugen: I will be interested to look at it, but you did not provide the link! And I doubt Gmax is going to hunt for it either.
        So far there is just one direct evidence of Quantum NON LOCALITY (= ENTANGLEMENT) in biology, but an extremely important one, chlorophyll. So says his discoverer at Berkeley. (From the horse’s mouth.)
        The rest, as I exposed, is mostly more guesswork (= philosophical). But that guesswork led to the scientific effort.

        • EugenR Says:

          It surprises me that you can see the link to the video, while i have it in front of me. Some computational mystique we have here :). Any way you have to look for Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff publications. I will send to you the link again but this time in brackets. I hope this trick will work. Just copy the link. One other thing, you need patience to watch the video. It is one and half hour long. By the way he also speaks about chlorophyll and photosynthesis as system that helps to solve some problems of the theory. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm6Mt9BoZ_M). By the way, who is the horse behind the moth? Isn’t he Whaley or Fleming? http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2010/05/10/untangling-quantum-entanglement/

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            Sorry, it appeared somewhat later, I withdraw my complaint. Even classical computers have their whims… 😉

            One and half hour long???!!!!!!!!!!???? I don’t have that kind of time. I spoke Quantum and consciousness with Penrose, in a car, ages ago (before his excellent books). So it’s not like I am discovering the subject. Like many great authors, Penrose (who has my total respect, appreciation and affection) is very good at exploiting other people’s ideas. However, he went on a stretch when he proposed specific structures in the neurons as consciousness bearing. Very courageous, I appreciate.

  3. Dominique Deux Says:

    Heart management may be hidden, but not in the brain. A great many bodily functions are beyond the reach of the brain, even though a great many brain activities are indeed hidden to self-perception. Which is why a braindead or spine-severed body may die from thirst or hunger, being unable to fend for itself, but not from the absence of the brain proper.

    Which does not detract from your broader argument, of course. My main concern with it – being a layman – is that by putting the quantum at the root of consciousness, you would seem to replace perceived free will with particle-level randomness. Not an appealing improvement.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Heart management is partly local: some of it is controlled from the brain, some from the spinal chord, some from the heart itself (and its excitable cells, a form of neuron). All these are related by nerves.

      …”by putting the quantum at the root of consciousness, you would seem to replace perceived free will with particle-level randomness. Not an appealing improvement.”

      I don’t understand the argument, nor the fear. Moreover I don’t really believe in “particles”: an entangled particle is not really a particle in the sense even Quantum Field Theory uses, as it’s non local.

      “Particle-level randomness” is not really random, that’s what Quantum Mechanics says. The whole Quantum computer effort is about making it, somewhat programmable. It leads to astounding new perspective, namely the correctness of solutions may not be checked (!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Except as some sort of magic-that-works.
      PA

  4. Paul Handover Says:

    I struggled to understand this essay, even on a second reading. But was inclined, nevertheless, to side with thoughts expressed in the comments. In other words, I don’t warm to the idea of consciousness being anything other than a person’s private garden.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Let me reassure you Paul: I never said such a thing. Quite the opposite. If anything, Quantum Physics makes spying on one’s consciousness completely impossible (differently from Classical Mechanics).
      Quantum encryption uses entanglement to make secret eavesdropping impossible (that’s existing technology).

      A third reading is required! Plus a “like”! 😉
      And I can answer more questions, however frustrating… Re 😉
      PA

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Reading carefully the comment to Dominique, you will see:
      “the correctness of solutions may not be checked (!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Except as some sort of magic-that-works.”

      This means that, and it’s, admittedly, a problem: a full Quantum computer will have, will BE its own “private garden” (to quote you). As I said, that’s the rise of Artificial CONSCIENCE. Well beyond a rise of the machines… Brrrr…

  5. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Nathan Curry who indirectly generated the essay above.]

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is obsolete as a philosophically edgy subject . Artificial Consciousness (AC) is what the Quantum computer effort is starting to achieve. A robot with AI is a machine. A machine with AC is not a machine anymore, but a soul.

  6. EugenR Says:

    I think the best summery of the video will be the explanation in the wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestrated_objective_reduction

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Very interesting link, Eugen, thanks! Very nice article, a treasure trove.
      Now the funny thing is that I have opinions and theories about the whole thing: it’s like my main axis of research (still did not know about that Wiki article, of recent manufacture).

      In my set-up, Godel theorems don’t even exist! But my conclusions are somewhat parallel to Penrose. My arguments are more general, and thus easier to understand.

      A lot of Penrose’s specific approach rests on “non-computability“… A notion found already in the 1930s (see Alan Turing). Yet, if one believes in the Quantum Computer (as I do), “non-computability” changes meaning. Quantum computable does not mean classic-computable. And so on.

      Notice that Penrose did NOT invent the Objective Reduction theory. Others did. The particular version he uses is due to some Italians (Penrose himself quoted in his early works).

      My own Objective Reduction theory is much more general (& includes the one used by Penrose as a particular case).

  7. red Says:

    PA, nice philosophy i hope it turns out like that. Can you please elaborate on what you mean by “it has changed even the notion of what it means to be enlightened”. Nothings changed, we all have to be with our existence until we perish(eve if they find cure to death). And Science is no where near making definitive statements about pretty much anything.

    The way science is evolving (decided mostly by profit making or defence industry), I believe humans will try to turn themselves into robots first, before giving the machines full control (aka consciousness/free-will). mobile industry started off the revolution, but wearables will put it in high-gear. I will not be surprised in 5-10yrs most of the developed countries sheeple use some kind of implants. And at some point replace small organs (pancreas, liver), and later bigger ones (heart), with machines. And soon after, augment human brain.

    And they will figure out a way to extend human life. May be the wealthy can afford to live forever, in the future.

    • gmax Says:

      fascinating link. Pathologically self contradictory and self serving too: science is uncertain, and not about data. He says paleontology is NOT about data. Physicists, so called, are completely nuts

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Red for the link to that crazed French physicist. Seriously. I never heard of him that I remember of (but I used to talk with Lee Smolin, when the latter was still struggling in his career). What he says is very interesting. Yet, it’s like Gmax says: very self serving: no need for data, he claims (Feynman would have screamed).

      When he attacks “certainty” as non scientific, he makes fun of air travel. He may as well: probably flies coach like a sardine…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Living much longer and better depends upon being transfused fresh blood, or things therein… Nothing money can’t buy… Indeed.

  8. EugenR Says:

    To start with, the scientific research of consciousness has became a respectable field of science only 30 years ago, probably due to computing science development, that brought the idea of consciousness as a computing system, that when reaching certain level of sophistication turns on the ilusion of conscious I. This idea is contradictory to the subjective feeling of free will and all the rest.

    Stuart Hameroff, an anesthetic started a research with microtubules, a hexagonal tube shaped carbon molecule that is one of the building molecules of the living cell and especially the neuron cell. The anesthesia is a process in which the consciousness is turned off. So he started research in this direction an started a collaboration with Roger Penrose , your acquaintance.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Penrose#Physics_and_consciousness
    This collaboration brought the Orch-OR theory, viz; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestrated_objective_reduction

    Penrose’s ideas concerning the three worlds: physical, mental, and the Platonic mathematical world. In his theory, the Platonic world corresponds to the geometry of fundamental spacetime that is claimed to support non-computational thinking.

    The theory had several problems of energy waste, heat, and time. Some of these theoretical problems were solved with the time like the problem of energy efficiency of the process that uses similar quantum processes as the photosynthesis in the plants, its effectiveness of converting sun energy is almost 100%. Viz:
    http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2010/05/10/untangling-quantum-entanglement/
    The findings of Whaley/Fleming team if used by brain can solve some of efficiency problems of the theory and the heat problem.

    Other critic of the Orch-Or theory are Jeffrey R. ReimersLaura K. McKemmishRoss H. McKenzieAlan E. MarkNoel S. Hush in article: “Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory” say:

    For quantum information processing one must have quantum information storage units such as qubits. All aspects of the proposal need to be considered in terms of how they either influence or are influenced by the properties of these storage units. For example, the involvement of quantum gravity in the manifestation of consciousness would need to be described in terms of how quantum gravity affected the operation of these qubits, as would any other effect that could impact on macroscopic neural processes, and the influence of any dynamical process taking place in, on, or around the microtubules.

    In the current review Hameroff and Penrose suggest that the qubit could be either: (a) “interactive dipole states of individual tubulin proteins” such as “London-force dipoles” or (b) magnetic dipoles or (c) nuclear spins. “London force electric dipoles” have been discussed in previous publications but the other two options have been introduced for the first time. Previously, Hameroff and Penrose had also proposed that conformational switching could produce coupled electron–vibration qubits but this claim is withdrawn in the current review.

    The London force is of quantum-mechanical origin. An instantaneous fluctuation of the electronic distribution creates a dipole in one molecule that in turn induces a dipolar response in a neighbouring molecule. This leads to a net attractive force. The key feature is that these electric dipoles are fluctuations, not states. Individual states are needed to construct a qubit, and the review makes no attempt at specifying how qubit states could be associated with these London fluctuations. Further, it is not explained how the magnetic dipole states could be constructed or how these states could be decoupled from the nuclear motions so as to achieve extended quantum coherence. No suggestion is made as to how states associated with nuclear spins in magnetic fields could be utilized as qubits in situ in microtubules, and the nuclei supposedly supporting the states are not named.

    The Hameroff and Penrose answer to the previouse is

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1571064513001917

    I’m not sure I fully understand their answer.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Ever since talking with Penrose early on, my own Quantum-Consciousness arguments are much more general (as my OR theory is much more general). That gives me the advantage of being potentially RIGHT even if their detailed model is proven wrong.

      Anyway, I’m sure I am right. What else? 🙂

      In the case of chlorophyll, what the Quantum does is being NON LOCAL: that allows it to explore and find the lowest energy solution, EFFORTLESSLY.

      This is actually what the Quantum always does: NON LOCALLY EXPLORE FOR LOWEST ENERGY SOLUTIONS (see Feynman Lectures on Physics, when he speaks of the Least Action Principle and in volume III, for a primitive version of this powerful abstraction, RF did that for his thesis!).

      In the chlorophyll case, notice the scale is much smaller than in the H & P case. NON LOCALITY allows to be all over, anyway. So smallness is no problem.

      • EugenR Says:

        Ok, so the quantum entanglement solves the energy efficiency problem. Still I don’t get, how it creates free will? To my understanding the superposition effect is influenced by the observer and it’s result prediction is probabilistic. This doesn’t sounds to me as free will. It is rather a predictable system with certain level of free choice within the limits of probability prediction.
        As i understand these systems of superposition and entanglement can’t be controlled, but rather influenced by observer, without to give him tools of control. Yet the free will is all about conscious control, otherwise it would be eider chaotic or controlled by some other observer, who does have the tools of control.
        We could call this well equipped Superobserver God, but then all the jewdochristian believers will misinterpret this observation.

    • red Says:

      thanks for the background on this. For some reason, these remind me of superstitions and religious rituals (albeit of the scientific kind)) 🙂 – Gives us something to do, and feel some how they will give us the ultimate truth.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        If I may so guess, the reason it reminds you of superstitions and religions, is the way that French (?) guy is so sure of himself, while indulging in hyper sophistry. But, still, it’s very interesting, and I am grateful for the link.

        I could rewrite all he said in (I hope) much more understandable language. Indeed when he says that evolution has nothing to do with data, he is on the verge of madness. LAMARCK, studying mollusk fossils had plenty of data, and was forced, by the data, to make the theory of evolution. Actually, it was, it is a fact, not a theory. Scientific theories turn to fact. That guy does not know it. I always felt Loop Quantum gravity to be loopy. Now I have another proof… 😉

        • red Says:

          yes, his article has some part.

          I believe his main point is that “scientists should always be willing to question fundamental, established theories” and be willing/daring-enough to come up with new/innovative ways to keep-on redefining established theories until they finally are able to “define the ultimate”. His two favorite examples are of his personal idol Anaximander (about whom he wrote a book) and einstein who hesitated to question established theories but never the less came up with his innovative relativity stuff.

          I do not believe he is simply saying data has no part in scientific process.

          another part for my comment has to do with “human identity” and how anything we ultimately invent has little bearing on “our definition of our self”. As Me is me. Nothing “out there” can change that. If it does (may be external influence like chemical drugs/pills, or other changers), i still should be able to identify “myself”, if not , it wont be me.

          Anyway, my point is, if consciousness is quantum or totally something else, does not matter from self-point-of-view. And this whole consciousness/quantum thing is no where near proven (even if its proven, scientists should be willing to question that for eternity, as there is no seemingly definitive, ultimate; And once you say its definitive, you are no longer a scientist, refer to my above para about that guy). We are on a long journey, for that one. The “Self Journey”(conquest) is much simpler, meaningful, and DEFINITIVE!!!

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            I agree that his main point is that “scientists should always be willing to question fundamental, established theories”. But by that, he points out, are not established scientific theories, but other assumptions.
            It’s interesting, but he wallops in contradictions.

            Not just that Poincare’ named and basically established “relativity”. “Newtonian” time was central to Newtonian mechanics. So it’s not like Newtonian mechanics survived intact as a theory. Contrarily to what he says.

            What’s maximally interesting is that such non-sensical discourse springs forth from such an authority.

            My arguments about Consciousness Is Quantum are philosophical, that is, they are proposals that look true.

            It’s not exactly established science, but not far from it:
            Quantum Computers with lots of qubits will be conscious, and the more of the latter, the more conscious.
            QC will be unpredictable. Bcs conscious.

            Self journey is above consciousness. Quantum Computers, with their emerging consciousness, will make the subject experimental, instead of the blah blah blah bullshit of long dead savages below the banyan tree…

            • red Says:

              PA,, There is no blah blah. or banyans/savages… It has been experimental, observable, testable for ever (since human learnt to use his mind properly). We dont have to wait for some artificial (un-authentic, potentially misleading) scientific theory to tell us about it. All you need is your mind. But if you insist, you can experiment on others. Play with their feelings, anger, love them, abuse them, praise or insult them, You will see in HD clarity how consciousness comes into play, and all of its avatars. The real deal.

              Though, I would do this on self. (much easier, more reliable, and safer, and fruitful).

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Science informs conscience, they were never apart, ever since there are hominidae, and they criticized what’s commonplace

            • red Says:

              today’s science got off track a while ago. Its driven by vested interests (capitalism, national defense, politics, plutocrats)…so by definition, it is not “ideal science” Its just profit-seeking enterprise (like those colonists, or western movies). Nothing wrong with that. Keeps the sheep busy, thats good right ?

      • EugenR Says:

        Rather ultimate non-ultimate truth. By the way, who is the French guy?

  9. EugenR Says:

    http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/presentations/whatisconsciousness.html

  10. Patrice Ayme Says:

    @ Eugen, Paul, and others:

    OK, Eugen, no time to go in this right now in depth. I tried to address these issues in the original essay. First:

    “…these systems of superposition and entanglement can’t be controlled, but rather influenced by observer, without to give him tools of control.”

    That’s exactly what most physicists will say. Most Quantum physicists. Conclusion: they understood NOTHING. They missed the main point of Quantum Mechanics, following Von Neumann. The whole idea of the Quantum Computer is precisely that this dumb idea is not true, and that’s why most mainline Quantum Physicists and String and other Loopy maniacs ignore the Quantum Computer.

    Second: the Quantum gives the OPPORTUNITY for free will. Classical Mechanics DOES NOT. That’s the point I made explicitly in the essay, and Paul Handover, unfortunately, did not understand. The Quantum makes the “secret garden“of the mind, to speak like Paul, possible.

    So it can be read, but it’s still secret. When “particles” go through the Quantum Process, it’s AS IF they had a MIND OF THEIR OWN.
    The “particle” “INSPECTS” space (Feynman claimed it inspected “history” too, I believe that NOT!)

    What I am oozing towards?

    Consciousness could well be an EMERGING PROPERTY from… Quantum Non-Locality!
    PA

    • EugenR Says:

      This sounds even more mystical than the Superobserver. Order out of infinitive disorder. Like in the first sentences of the bible?…..:)

       In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness…….. 

      Buy the way, in original hebrew word for the ” formless” sounds like ” tohoo vavohoo”, which means according to the modern interpretation chaos.

      I start to be afraid some misinterpretation of our discussion will start some new faith. Not again, I am tired of these religious wars. ; (

  11. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent To Scienta Salon, September 3, 2014. To comment a rather obscure essay on consciousness there.]

    One ought to distinguish between Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Consciousness. The latter will depend upon harnessing Quantum Physics in a fully non local way. By coincidence I just wrote an essay on this August 30:
    https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/consciousness-is-quantum/

    I was recently censored (accepted, then removed) on some physics site, and that is a tale by itself: the post I was commenting was itself amputated of the part I had approved and amplified in my comment (… which seemed straight out of my site!).

  12. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Disagreeable Me:

    Hi Patrice,

    This article does distinguish between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness.

    I do not agree that there is any motivation to believe that quantum mechanics is crucial to consciousness. The points in your essay are quite weak in my view, far weaker than those of Penrose for instance.

    1) I do not agree that we have any evidence that libertarian free will exists. Compatibilist free will is, of course, compatible with determinism and with everything we observe.
    2) The world is quantum, not classical, but that doesn’t mean there are no phenomena which depend on quantum mechanics for their explanations. Besides, if everything is “quantum”, as you seem to argue, then so is regular computation.
    3) We don’t need entanglement to understand how consciousness can focus on remote objects, any more than we need entanglement to understand how a telescope can focus on remote objects or how a word in a book can refer to an object in the world.

    I think the sentence from your essay “Quantum Physics has provided [us] with a way out” is revealing. You are using quantum mechanics as an explanatory panacea, a catch-all solution for everything you don’t understand, from consciousness to free will.

    I’m sorry to say it, but in my view this is not science or philosophy, but Deepak Chopra-style woo.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      “Disagreable Me”: Thanks for the reply. What do you mean by:
      ” The world is quantum, not classical, but that doesn’t mean there are no phenomena which depend on quantum mechanics for their explanations. “??

      You gutted out the context in which the sentence you quote from my essay was found.
      Here it is in full:
      “To make human beings in something more, God was needed, it was confusedly felt. But then the omnipotence of God re-created the same problem as before: an omnipotent God replaces Classical Mechanics, and remakes the world into something humans cannot influence. Quantum Physics has provided with a way out.”

      In light of this context, there is no reason to make my mindset ridiculous as much as you claim I do:
      “you are using quantum mechanics as an explanatory panacea, a catch-all solution for everything you don’t understand, from consciousness to free will.

      I’m sorry to say it, but in my view this is not science or philosophy, but Deepak Chopra-style woo.”

      In my view, your view is disparaging. I had to look up to find who Deepak Chopra was. Apparently he started as a very serious guy, an MD Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH).

      You say my arguments are “quite weak”, “far weaker” than Penrose’s, but that’s on purpose, because they are more general. Penrose’s specifics, and scale of QM, seem unlikely to me. It’s unfortunate

      It is generally felt that consciousness is perceived as one, as a non localized thing, by any individual. Thus it is natural to grab the only non-local piece of physics we know of.

      This would explain why being conscious feels different from looking at something (where photons are enough).

      I do not believe everything is Quantum, contrarily to what appears to you.

      Classical thermodynamics is not Quantum. Nor is Classical Mechanics. Classical computing is indeed, well, classical. It’s localized, differently from the chlorophyll molecule’s modus operandi.

      Free to you, indeed, to believe that human consciousness has less freedom than chlorophyll. That seems extremely weak to me.

      Another point: “woo” is another disparaging word, in this context. The stronger the insult, the weaker the argument?

  13. Disagreeable Me (Mark O'Brien) Says:

    Hi Patrice,

    This article does distinguish between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness.

    I do not agree that there is any motivation to believe that quantum mechanics is crucial to consciousness. The points in your essay are quite weak in my view, far weaker than those of Penrose for instance.

    1) I do not agree that we have any evidence that libertarian free will exists. Compatibilist free will is, of course, compatible with determinism and with everything we observe.
    2) The world is quantum, not classical, but that doesn’t mean there are no phenomena which depend on quantum mechanics for their explanations. Besides, if everything is “quantum”, as you seem to argue, then so is regular computation.
    3) We don’t need entanglement to understand how consciousness can focus on remote objects, any more than we need entanglement to understand how a telescope can focus on remote objects or how a word in a book can refer to an object in the world.

    I think the sentence from your essay “Quantum Physics has provided [us] with a way out” is revealing. You are using quantum mechanics as an explanatory panacea, a catch-all solution for everything you don’t understand, from consciousness to free will.

    I’m sorry to say it, but in my view this is not science or philosophy, but Deepak Chopra-style woo.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      “Disagreable Me”: Thanks for the reply. What do you mean by:
      ” The world is quantum, not classical, but that doesn’t mean there are no phenomena which depend on quantum mechanics for their explanations. “??

      You gutted out the context in which the sentence you quote from my essay was found.
      Here it is in full:
      “To make human beings in something more, God was needed, it was confusedly felt. But then the omnipotence of God re-created the same problem as before: an omnipotent God replaces Classical Mechanics, and remakes the world into something humans cannot influence. Quantum Physics has provided with a way out.”

      In light of this context, there is no reason to make my mindset ridiculous as much as you claim I do:
      “you are using quantum mechanics as an explanatory panacea, a catch-all solution for everything you don’t understand, from consciousness to free will.

      I’m sorry to say it, but in my view this is not science or philosophy, but Deepak Chopra-style woo.”

      In my view, your view is disparaging. I had to look up to find who Deepak Chopra was. Apparently he started as a very serious guy, an MD Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH).

      You say my arguments are “quite weak”, “far weaker” than Penrose’s, but that’s on purpose, because they are more general. Penrose’s specifics, and scale of QM, seem unlikely to me. It’s unfortunate

      It is generally felt that consciousness is perceived as one, as a non localized thing, by any individual. Thus it is natural to grab the only non-local piece of physics we know of.

      This would explain why being conscious feels different from looking at something (where photons are enough).

      I do not believe everything is Quantum, contrarily to what appears to you.

      Classical thermodynamics is not Quantum. Nor is Classical Mechanics. Classical computing is indeed, well, classical. It’s localized, differently from the chlorophyll molecule’s modus operandi.

      Free to you, indeed, to believe that human consciousness has less freedom than chlorophyll. That seems extremely weak to me.

      Another point: “woo” is another disparaging word, in this context. The stronger the insult, the weaker the argument?

  14. Disagreeable Me (Mark O'Brien) Says:

    Hi Patrice,

    Yes, my comment is disparaging. I take no pleasure in saying so, but I find your viewpoint to be bizarre and far from sufficiently supported by argument. I am happy to discuss why in detail.

    Firstly, I will accept as a possibility that quantum mechanics is vital for consciousness. The claim to which I am hostile is that there is currently any good reason for thinking that this is actually so, and in particular that the arguments presented in your essay work at all.

    Penrose’s specifics, and scale of QM, seem unlikely to me.

    I’m guessing you’re referring to microtubules. I agree, that’s pretty weak, and pretty unlikely. I’m referring to his argument from Gödel. I disagree with this argument but it is much more interesting than those you propose in my view.

    Patrice:
    “It is generally felt that consciousness is perceived as one, as a non localized thing, by any individual.”

    I don’t think this is the case. Most people seem to assume that their consciousness is in some way located in their brains. Personally, I agree with you that it is not a localized thing, but this is because I think consciousness is a property of a mind, and that a mind is an abstract object.

    That’s quite different meaning of the word, however. In quantum mechanics, non-locality means that effects seem to work instantaneously at a distance. I don’t see any reason for believing that consciousness has these attributes unless you want to bring up woo such as remote viewing or clairvoyance or mind-reading.

    Patrice:
    “This would explain why being conscious feels different from looking at something.”

    I don’t know what it feels like to look at something without consciousness. Knowing what it feels like would seem to require consciousness.

    I suppose you may be referring to something like operating on autopilot with no memory of what I have been looking at, being perhaps preoccupied with other thoughts. I suddenly pay attention to what I’m doing and become conscious of what I am looking at. I don’t think this requires any non-locality. I think it means that different parts of my brain are activated. I am now processing my visual stimuli in a way which I wasn’t before. No quantum mechanics required.

    Patrice:
    “I do not believe everything is Quantum, contrarily to what appears to you.”

    My mistake. I misinterpreted the following: “If consciousness were not Quantum, it would have to be classically explained. On the face of it, this is completely stupid: the world is Quantum, not classical.”

    However, the following sentence makes your meaning clearer. “If consciousness were not Quantum, it would have to be “classical”, that is, not fundamental.” So, you’re argument is that everything that is fundamental is quantum, and it is completely stupid to imagine that consciousness is not fundamental.

    This is largely meaningless to me. I don’t know what you mean by fundamental, and it is not obvious to me that everything that is fundamental is quantum. I might, for instance, claim that logic (i.e. the law of non-contradiction) is fundamental, but it would seem to be very strange to claim that logic is Quantum, whatever that would mean.

    Patrice:
    “Free to you, indeed, to believe that human consciousness has less freedom than chlorophyll.”

    I certainly don’t believe that. If I think the concept of freedom makes sense at all, it is only compatibilist freedom. Compatibilism only applies to thinking, deciding entities which make choices as they try to achieve goals. This does not apply to chlorophyll.

    What you call freedom I call randomness. Randomness is not freedom, but if nature is indeterministic then all objects are random anyway. Chaos theory suggests that small perturbations in complex systems such as brains can lead to radically different outcomes. This suggests that even a classical understanding of consciousness leads to randomness and unpredictability. But again, this is not freedom, and if mere randomness is what you want then it can be supplied by a simple device which reads quantum noise or else emulated by an appropriately pseudorandom function which can produce behaviour indistinguishable from true randomness.

    Patrice:
    “Another point: “woo” is another disparaging word, in this context. The stronger the insult, the weaker the argument?”

    Perhaps, but “woo” is the most concise way I can describe my view of your position. It is not as if I have not also presented reasons for this view

  15. red Says:

    human mind is good at recognizing patterns; intuition is an excellent by-product of that.

    So if there is such a thing as mind reading (or clairvoyance, or other voodoo), it wouldn’t be literally reading of other peoples mind, it would be mind “becoming aware of other’s mind patterns” intuitively. aka “Put someone in other people’s shoes”, 100% (cant be ruled out). Empathy gets you half-way there already. so mind-reading, though cant be bit-for-bit exact like some science, can be almost there(even 100%, but may not be always). I wonder when science will go deep into these abstract areas.

    I think there is lot yet to be discovered about quantum/non-locality, we may be using half-baked theories to formulate new theories.

  16. Artificial Consciousness? | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] as a human creation. I have already advocated, on very general philosophical ground that “Consciousness Is Quantum“. Now an article in Aeon argues, reproducing rather murkily Heidegger-like Zeitgeist, that […]

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