Consciousness as a State of Matter?

#1
Hi, my first post here, but I've been lurking for months now.

As I was looking online, I found this article: https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/5e7ed624986d [the full paper here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.1219] and thought it was interesting. I'm not very well informed on quantum mechanics/physics, as much as I would like to be, but I thought it would be interesting for some people, and also would be helpful if someone more informed would help others, like me, out! :)
 
#2
I looked at Tegmark's paper earlier this year, and came away none the wiser... (I seem to vaguely recall Sci putting a post on here about it?).

Anyway, it's way over my head, and I'm not sure I understand (or indeed accept) the opening assumptions...
 
#3
I tried to read the comments, but it devolved into a dudebro fight over pseudoscience (as usual in posts like these). It striked me as interesting since the post on medium was fairly recent and made those claims whereas the paper was posted several months before.
 
#5
Woops, I should've been more clear on that I found it interesting about the publishing date in relation to the medium article and the paper's date. Actually, I did find it interesting that Tegmark is open to this kind of thinking because I remember seeing that he heavily critiqued Hameroff and Penrose's own theory of consciousness since it also deals with quantum mechanics (as far as I can tell)? Granted, I don't know much of Tegmark. I wonder if he's changing his view of thinking, or if I'm way off base. :)
 
#6
What sort of thinking was it that you thought Tegmark was open to? I mean, what specifically within his paper did you find interesting?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#7
I looked at Tegmark's paper earlier this year, and came away none the wiser... (I seem to vaguely recall Sci putting a post on here about it?).

Anyway, it's way over my head, and I'm not sure I understand (or indeed accept) the opening assumptions...
Nah, I mentioned Tegmark's ideas that existence arises from Platonic mathematical structures, but I'd only heard of this new idea in passing. So "perceptronium" means Tegmark is going for panpsychic explanations?
 
#8
What sort of thinking was it that you thought Tegmark was open to? I mean, what specifically within his paper did you find interesting?
Actually, I didn't read his paper, only the posting of the simplified points, which was why I was hoping someone more equipped could "dumb it down", in only so I could understand where he was coming from, haha.

Nah, I mentioned Tegmark's ideas that existence arises from Platonic mathematical structures, but I'd only heard of this new idea in passing. So "perceptronium" means Tegmark is going for panpsychic explanations?
In the article it does say: "That’s a question that many scientists might end up pondering in detail. For Tegmark, this paradox suggests that his mathematical formulation of consciousness is missing a vital ingredient. “This strongly implies that the integration principle must be supplemented by at least one additional principle,” he says." I can only imagine what the comments say! :)
 
#9
Actually, I didn't read his paper, only the posting of the simplified points, which was why I was hoping someone more equipped could "dumb it down", in only so I could understand where he was coming from, haha.
Well, you must have found summat interesting about the article then... what specifically was that?
 
#10
Nah, I mentioned Tegmark's ideas that existence arises from Platonic mathematical structures, but I'd only heard of this new idea in passing. So "perceptronium" means Tegmark is going for panpsychic explanations?
I dunno what that is so can't comment, although I couldn't anyway, as I don't understand Tegmark's idea and so couldn't compare both of them.
 
#11
Well, you must have found summat interesting about the article then... what specifically was that?
The parts that made me feel compelled to post this were probably these:

"That’s finally beginning to change thanks to a fundamentally new way of thinking about consciousness that is spreading like wildfire through the theoretical physics community. And while the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss." I find this particularly interesting in that, I wonder if it truly is "spreading like wildfire", or if it's just an exaggeration to keep us reading.

And: "Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart." Maybe I find this interesting because, as I was reading the comments, it seems that quantum mechanics has become a trigger word for people to claim it as psuedoscience.
 
#12
The parts that made me feel compelled to post this were probably these:

"That’s finally beginning to change thanks to a fundamentally new way of thinking about consciousness that is spreading like wildfire through the theoretical physics community. And while the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss." I find this particularly interesting in that, I wonder if it truly is "spreading like wildfire", or if it's just an exaggeration to keep us reading.

And: "Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart." Maybe I find this interesting because, as I was reading the comments, it seems that quantum mechanics has become a trigger word for people to claim it as psuedoscience.
Nothing I can get my teeth into there... I'm really not at all sure what 'matter' actually is... I'd far prefer that they address that issue, before they get into consciousness being a state of it.
 
#13
Nothing I can get my teeth into there... I'm really not at all sure what 'matter' actually is... I'd far prefer that they address that issue, before they get into consciousness being a state of it.
I think that could possibly be a reason why I'm confused about it, as well. Oh well, hopefully more will come out of it soon! Hopefully something that I can understand. :)
 
#14
I read the article and it sounds like they are describing consciousness as another state of matter that can process information enough to be able to tell itself that it is self aware. Such a system also has to process, store and retrieve large amounts of information.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#15
I read the article and it sounds like they are describing consciousness as another state of matter that can process information enough to be able to tell itself that it is self aware. Such a system also has to process, store and retrieve large amounts of information.
They would have to first describe how perceptronium works as once you add in panpsychism - consciousness is as fundamental as matter/energy - you have to explain why you're not considering consciousness as more fundamental.

Tegmark seems to be betting on "perceptronium" being amenable to the laws of physics as they currently stand, as well as subject to mechanistic explanation. But at least he's accepting the possibility that consciousness is fundamental.
 
#16
They would have to first describe how perceptronium works as once you add in panpsychism - consciousness is as fundamental as matter/energy - you have to explain why you're not considering consciousness as more fundamental.

Tegmark seems to be betting on "perceptronium" being amenable to the laws of physics as they currently stand, as well as subject to mechanistic explanation. But at least he's accepting the possibility that consciousness is fundamental.
I think I might have to haunt these guys in the afterlife.
 
#17
They would have to first describe how perceptronium works as once you add in panpsychism - consciousness is as fundamental as matter/energy - you have to explain why you're not considering consciousness as more fundamental.

Tegmark seems to be betting on "perceptronium" being amenable to the laws of physics as they currently stand, as well as subject to mechanistic explanation. But at least he's accepting the possibility that consciousness is fundamental.
Ah, this is what confused me! I wasn't sure if Tegmark was going with the panpsychism, as it seems they're stressing being able to find consciousness with how the laws of physics are currently. Thank you, Sci, for putting into words what is/was confusing me. :D
 
#18
They would have to first describe how perceptronium works as once you add in panpsychism - consciousness is as fundamental as matter/energy - you have to explain why you're not considering consciousness as more fundamental.

Tegmark seems to be betting on "perceptronium" being amenable to the laws of physics as they currently stand, as well as subject to mechanistic explanation. But at least he's accepting the possibility that consciousness is fundamental.
Gawd... I hate all these labels...
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#19
Ah, this is what confused me! I wasn't sure if Tegmark was going with the panpsychism, as it seems they're stressing being able to find consciousness with how the laws of physics are currently. Thank you, Sci, for putting into words what is/was confusing me. :D
Thanks for posting the article in the first place!

I kinda get the feeling even Tegmark isn't 100% sure of what he's talking about.

Gawd... I hate all these labels...
I figure physicists used to going with materialist assumptions like boxing consciousness into an enclosed space of vocabulary that allows for easy insertion into mathematical equations.

Perhaps not the best way of thinking about the subject, but it may prove fruitful and at least it gives space for physicists like Josephson to gain further ground.
 
#20
Thanks for posting the article in the first place!

I kinda get the feeling even Tegmark isn't 100% sure of what he's talking about.



I figure physicists used to going with materialist assumptions like boxing consciousness into an enclosed space of vocabulary that allows for easy insertion into mathematical equations.

Perhaps not the best way of thinking about the subject, but it may prove fruitful and at least it gives space for physicists like Josephson to gain further ground.
I have problems with the use of high level hierarchical patterns all the time, you are probably right, they seem to be some sort of crutch for thinking, and they lead to all sorts of problems in my view... I listened to a great 1/2 hour radio program last year on Ordinary Language Philosophy, which seemed strongly related to my problems with patterns and meaning...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ggc19
 
Top