Posts Tagged ‘Multibrain’

More On Quantum Consciousness

September 5, 2014

Human brains are built from ideas. Any change in such ideas is lots of work, thus pain, and is always resisted. Often viciously. The greater the change, the more vicious the backlash.

A contributor, “Disagreeable Me” (who had published an extensive essay on consciousness, Sept 1, 2014) rose strident objections to my thesis (found in preceding comments; such stridency is not new: I am used to violent critiques against Quantum Consciousness, in the last few decades that I have dragged this pet around). Here is some of the dialogue, raw (co-sent to Scientia Salon):

 

Disagreeable Me: “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: One could argue that all “objects” are “abstract” (or at least abstractions, in the mathematical sense Alonso Church gave that in the 1930s; Church was Turing’s thesis adviser). Abstraction is characterized by the stripping of secondary, inessential characteristics. So one may, indeed, loose localization. That’s vague (joke intended: vague = wave -> delocalized).

However, my point about localization is different. And precise. Brain delocalization is biologically grounded. The brain is, physiologically, a delocalized object.

The brain is made of many neighborhoods, and subsystems. Is the brain the temporal lobe? The cerebellum? The right brain? The frontal cortex? Clearly much of the brain is working all over, much of the time. Some parts get active, others go to sleep, other parts never stop (say those watching over basic functions such as breathing or neurohormonal cycles).

So, when we consider the brain, we consider something spatially spread out. Yet, the conscious feeling that emanates from it, what we call consciousness, somehow, is centralized. Consciousness is one, not multiple, not spread out, at any instant of time.

How to make one, out of many? This is a question that arises naturally when considering both brain, and consciousness.

One could object that the same can be said about a bridge. A bridge is an abstraction of many characteristics. Yet, what makes the perception of a bridge one? Consciousness.

If one focuses on one’s breathing and heart rate, as conscience can do, and commands them, the mind is then just about that. Conscience focuses on a (few) characteristic(s). One could say that conscience collapses on particular points.

Now think about the way a Quantum process enfolds: it’s about something wavy spread about that is processed, to become, in the end, just one.

This sole sentence abstracts the basic set-up of Quantum physics: “something wavy”: the wavefunction, the “spread about” is a Hilbert space; “processed” is about time as an evolution parameter; “in the end” is about collapse/decoherence; “the one” is the so called “particle state” that results.

The analogy with the contrast of the delocalized brain in an union with a focused, localized consciousness, free to localize inside the brain wherever it wills, jumps at me.

 

DM: …”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: That’s indeed my argument. Although it’s not yet clear how exactly, all of Classical Mechanics, Relativity, and Thermodynamics have to emerge from Quantum Physics, I believe. I would call that Ultimate Unification (UU). (GUT, Grand Unified Theories, are less ambitious: they unify only at high energies; UU is a conjecture, right, but so is Langlands program in mathematics; nobody sneers at that.)

Right now, experimental research is exploring the transition from QM to CM, and has been honored with the 2012 Nobel Prize. (Haroche in Paris, for counting photons without disturbing them, and his colleague Wineland in Boulder, for doing quantum computing with ions, among other things.) We are very far from a full picture on how to implement UU (the Nobel committee recognized Haroche and Wineland’s works as first timid steps to the Quantum computer).

Logic is a vast subject. In 1936, two of the most advanced mathematicians (Birkhoff and Von Neumann) invented something they called Quantum Logic, doing away with the distributive law. I do not doubt, though, that logic is a form of empiricism (whether the one gets from reality, or… the imagination).

It’s curious that you mention the law of non-contradiction as fundamental (as Aristotle held, in contradiction with Heraclitus). Quantum Physics is well known to enjoy things that are alive and dead simultaneously. It seems rather contradictory to me that some don’t appreciate the contradiction.

 

DM: “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. “

Patrice: Agreed. Except that I do not confuse freedom and randomness. Randomness can help freedom, and vice versa, but they are not the same. Schopenhauer famously claimed he could not will what he willed. I beg to disagree: the wise will will what she wills, such is her definition. Higher reflectivity, and detachment from contingency, is what intelligence is all about.

I thank Disagreeable Me for giving me the occasion to become more conscious in the matter of consciousness (and offering me the occasion to make a quantum jump of understanding, etc.)

Patrice Ayme’

Multibrain: Republic, Democracy

July 29, 2014

Some brainiacs such as the philosopher Michel Serres (of “France decapitated”), make a big deal that France is a “Republic”, and the USA a “Democracy”. It’s the sort of mock sophisticated distinction that those who want to look intellectual embrace. Serres has taught in plutocratic universities of the USA, he should know better. Or, maybe, he knows better how to serve his masters than yours truly. The distinction is without merit.

First it blows up the differences between France and the USA. In truth, both Republics are much more similar to each other than they are, to any other regime in the world (including the United Kingdom).

Differently from Rome and Athens, the USA and France were born as entangled republics. Both Republics have recent imitators, namely dozens of modern states.

Second, the main difference between “Republic” and “Democracy”, as it happened 25 centuries ago, was just a matter of language and esthetics. The beauty of how the concept sounded in Greek did not translate in Latin (‘Populus-Imperium” has six syllables).

Athens called itself a “demokratia”, because demokratia was a Greek word. Greek spoke Greek, Romans spoke Latin.

Too Big For Debate Killed Respublica

Too Big For Debate Killed Respublica

But democracy was not exclusively a Greek concept. It was as strong, if not stronger, in Rome.

Indeed, the “rule of the People” is how human societies have always worked best (except during war): distributed intelligence, creating the super-brain effect, from the many brains debating. TheMultibrain effect. Whereas, indeed, I do not believe in the “Multiverse”, the human brain, and, even better, any human society, is a multiverse onto itself.

Democracy allows to tap in this multiverse of the multibrain. Democracy is a multiverse. For real.

So the Romans spoke Latin. They had two words for “power” in the sense of “rule”. “Potestas” for lower magistrates, Imperium” for higher magistrates (Consuls, Proconsuls, Praetors; “Censors”, although higher magistrates, did not have the “Imperium”).

It would have been all too long, thus awkward to make a single word with “populus”, “potestas”, and “imperium”. Thus the romans instead used the Thing Public (Res Publica). Later the Demos-Kratos of the Greeks, Latinized into “democracia”, was used.

But that does not mean the Romans did not practice democracy. They did. Real democracy, that is, direct democracy. In practice, there was little difference between direct democracy as practiced in Athens, and that practiced in Rome.

(But for the fact that Athenian democracy lasted two centuries, and the Roman one, around five. Also, even under the Principate founded by Augustus, many Republican functions kept on going, and it was not clear that the Republic had stopped, as the weird transition between Augustus and Tiberius amply demonstrated.)

The various Roman “Magistrates” were masters of diverse functions, and represented those functions. They implemented People Power, they did not displace it. They did not represent people, just functions.

Rome, or at least the Roman Republic, which lasted five centuries, ignored that oxymoron, “Representative Democracy”. SPQR, the Senate and People of Rome, lasted so long, precisely because the Romans refused to be represented in some theater, by professional liars. (For those who don’t know, oxymoron is Greek for “sharply stupid”.)

Athens’ democracy failed, because, as Demosthenes pointed out, the Greek city-states refused to make the tremendous war that was required to get rid of the fascist plutocrats from Macedonia. In the end the war came to them, and Antipater, one of Philippe’s senior generals, took Greece over thanks to enough torture and execution to terrorize the Greeks into submission (130 years later, the Roman Republic freed Greece, and the legions were then withdrawn).

If it was so good, why did Rome quit Direct Democracy?

I have argued that it was because of the rise of plutocracy. That’s entirely correct, but then the question occurs of what allowed this rise.

I have written detailed essays pointing the finger at the Second Punic War, the rise of the war profiteers, the death, or dilution of the really noble Patrician families’ spirit (whose ancestors had conducted the Roman Revolution in the Sixth Century BCE). I also pointed out to the fact that the Roman Republic became, thanks to that war, around 200 BCE, a global power.

All too many rich, powerful families were then able to do what is now called “inversion”. Namely rule from abroad (where Roman Law did not apply). So they escaped confiscating taxation that was meant, precisely, to decapitate the plutocratic effect.

But there was another pernicious effect of the vastness of the Roman Imperium.

Athens had met it already. In the Athenian Assembly (of the People), important decisions needed a high quorum. That meant distant farmers had to travel to Athens for a few days. That was expensive, so the Athenian Republic paid for distant farmers to come to vote.

The situation was much worse in Rome.

The Athenian City-States ruled Attica, which is about 100 kilometers long. The Athenian Imperium extended at some point to the Black Sea (to insure the wehat supply). Moreover, all Athenain dependencies could be quickly reached by boat.

Not so with Rome. Cities such as Numance (Numentia) sat in the middle of Northern Spain, weeks of travel from the sea.

Rome was physically incapable of maintaining communications fast enough to maintain direct democracy (in any case the old democratic set-up in Rome depended of the detailed status of citizens within “tribes”, and would have had to be severely modified just to extend to Italia).

Very slow communications was the deep down root killer of Roman direct democracy.

We don’t have this excuse. Not anymore.

Quite the opposite. Whereas Rome experienced a loss of opportunity as the empire extended, modern technology, the Internet, offers us the ability to do as the Romans did under the Republic: vote all the time, about anything.

We don’t need no stinking representatives. Freedom is a mouse click away.

Patrice Ayme’


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because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

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Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

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GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

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because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

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Striving For The Best Thinking Possible. Morality Needs Intelligence As Will Needs Mind. Intelligence Is Humanism.

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