Posts Tagged ‘Atom of Thinking’

CONSCIOUSNESS, ATOM OF THOUGHT, Atom of Computing: All Found In Electrons?

May 7, 2018

Consciousness: we know we have it, we know many other animals have it, but we don’t know what it is.

Before we can answer this, a question naturally arises: so what is it, to know what it is? What is it, to be? “To be” is something our consciousness knows, when it perceives it. But we also need to know when something “is” to know when, how and if our consciousness is. 

In order to simplify our thinking on this arduous subject, existence entangled with consciousness, consider our most fundamental, hence simplest, theory. Consider Quantum Physics. Surely “existence” is defined there, as Quantum Physics deals with what is most fundamental. Take the simplest examples: photon, electron. What is an electron? In Quantum Physics, an electron is what one electron does. Isn’t that enlightening?

Shouldn’t consciousness be, what consciousness does?

Initially, electrons were just negatively charged particles. At least, so it was until Bohr. Then the description of the electron became much more complex. It turned out that electrons did occupy only some energy levels. Then came De Broglie, who said electrons did as waves he attached to them did. And it was found, indeed, that electrons did so. PAM Dirac then proposed the simplest “relativistic” equation for the electron (a more complicated, second degree PDE had been proposed before and couldn’t be made to predict what was observed). That requested something called “spinor space”…. Then in turn predicted electronic spin and the anti-electron, and both were observed.

(Important aside: the French mathematician Cartan had invented spinors earlier in pure geometry. Yes, invented: he built-in his brain the relevant neurological connections, that is, the relevant geometry.)

Thus what we now call the electron has become higher dimensional in logical space (logical space is the space spanned by independent axioms; I just made it up; that means there is a connection between logic and geometry… thus, in particular, arithmetic and geometry…).

By adding axioms to its description, the concept of electron has become richer… The electron is a richer concept in our consciousness.

Confronted to 2 slits, the electron acts as if it were choosing where to go, after them. Is that, not just a computation, but a primitive form of consciousness? What consciousness is made of? Hard to say for sure, at this point, but certainly a guess worth exploring: any theory of consciousness may have to take this, that the electron acts as if it were conscious, into account. 

We evolved as living beings, and the more complex we became, the more conscious. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s law of increasing complexity applies, and is exemplified, by the evolution of consciousness.. Consciousness is probably a law of physics, not an accident of history.

Some say:’oh, well, consciousness may not be that important’. Well, first at least three different phyla evolved it, independently, on Earth, vertebrates being only one of them. (As all trout fishers know, trouts act as if they were conscious, that’s why the experienced ones are so hard to catch, when the water is clear…)

But there is a much deeper objection to considering consciousness unimportant: what is the connection of consciousness to thinking? Could the atom of consciousness be the atom of thinking…. And precisely defined as Quantum Computation?

Indeed, consider programming as presently done with electronic computers: one thing after the other, just so very fast, yet, it is fundamentally desperately dumb. Present day computing, pre-Quantum Computing, can result in desperately slow computations. Whereas the electron can compute instantaneously (says a hopefully naive Quantum theory) that problems too complicated for our (pre-Quantum!) computers to handle, and find out, where the low energy solution is. That’s the superiority of Quantum Computing: tremendous, instantaneous, stupendous computation, right.

So, what looks like a type of consciousness, found in the translating electron, is not just an incredibly efficient way of computing, it is at the core of the efficiency of the world. Could it be the most primitive form, the atom of thinking?

Identifying fundamental quantum and fundamental thinking is an idea whose time has come… Philosophically speaking, in the most practical manner, it means that discursive logic will never cover the last mile…

Patrice Ayme



Very Tangential Observations:

  1. Albert Einstein ascribed properties to the photon, and the electron, which I claim, have not been observed (thus leading physics astray, straight into the Multiverse). However the ulterior formalism sort of implemented Einstein’s design (which is older than Einstein), attributing (sort of, or maybe not) a strict position to elementary particles… and was found to give excellent  results (namely QED, QCD, the “Standard Model”…) But Ptolemy too, gave good results. Thus, now, elementary particles are endowed with properties which, if I am right, are fake… It has often happened in science that a fake, or grossly incomplete theory will masquerade as true for a very long time: math is full of them (Non Euclidean geometry, etc.).
  2.  The example of Non-Euclidean geometry is revealing: it was abandoned for brain-dead Euclidean geometry… Why did those Hellenistic regime Greeks opt for that silly form of mathematics? Because their superiors, various kings and tyrants, prefered silly. Because geometry in the plane was easier, a case of looking for the keys only below the lampost, because it’s simpler, and one is drunk. Let’s not repeat the mistake of having only simple thoughts, in the case of pondering consciousness, just because our superiors prefer simple thoughts, and are drunk on their power… Soon to be extinguished in great balls of nuclear fire…