Consciousness as a State of Matter?

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#22
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)?
Yes. Tegmark's critique of Hameroff & Penrose's Orch-or (orchestrated objective reduction) hypothesis:
In 2000 Tegmark claimed that any quantum coherent system in the brain would undergo wave function collapse due to environmental interaction long before it could influence neural processes (the "warm, wet and noisy" argument, as it was later came to be known).[18] He determined the decoherence timescale of microtubule entanglement at brain temperatures to be on the order of femtoseconds, far too brief for neural processing. Other scientists sided with Tegmark's analysis, insisting that quantum coherence does not play, or does not need to play any major role in neurophysiology.[21][22][irrelevant citation]

In response to Tegmark's claims, Hagan, Tuszynski and Hameroff[50][51] claimed that Tegmark did not address the Orch-OR model, but instead a model of his own construction. This involved superpositions of quanta separated by 24 nm rather than the much smaller separations stipulated for Orch-OR. As a result, Hameroff's group claimed a decoherence time seven orders of magnitude greater than Tegmark's, although still far below 25 ms. Hameroff's group also suggested that the Debye layer of counterions could screen thermal fluctuations, and that the surrounding actin gel might enhance the ordering of water, further screening noise. They also suggested that incoherent metabolic energy could further order water, and finally that the configuration of the microtubule lattice might be suitable for quantum error correction, a means of resisting quantum decoherence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestrated_objective_reduction
Tegmark and Hameroff went at it in 2014 here:
 
#23
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.
Welcome to the forum, ECP!

First, just a detail - if you want to quote stuff, it is much clearer if instead of using quotes, you use {quote} and {/quote} to surround your quote, but using square brackets, not curly ones!

I guess I do object to the first quote because I don't think it is possible to formulate the problem of consciousness as a set of mathematical problems! When you formulate a physical phenomenon mathematically, you do that by starting with variables that actually encompass the problem - so in the case of a pendulum, you would have a variable θ(t) representing the angle of deflection of the pendulum as a function of time. The problem with consciousness is that you don't have a variable representing the thing you want to explain! This is another manifestation of the Hard Problem, that I am sure you know about, and it is frustrating to see people like Tegmark attempt to dodge that issue with a sleight of hand!

Furthermore, information can't be equated with consciousness!

My bet is that QM is related to consciousness, but probably in the sense that QM would need extending so that consciousness can bias the probabilities of collapse to the various possible eigenstates (or Stapp has another possibility).

Consciousness can't magically appear out of a chunk of maths!

David
 
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#24
Welcome to the forum, ECP!

First, just a detail - if you want to quote stuff, it is much clearer if instead of using quotes, you use {quote} and {/quote} to surround your quote, but using square brackets, not curly ones!

I guess I do object to the first quote because I don't think it is possible to formulate the problem of consciousness as a set of mathematical problems! When you formulate a physical phenomenon mathematically, you do that by starting with variables that actually encompass the problem - so in the case of a pendulum, you would have a variable θ(t) representing the angle of deflection of the pendulum as a function of time. The problem with consciousness is that you don't have a variable representing the thing you want to explain! This is another manifestation of the Hard Problem, that I am sure you know about, and it is frustrating to see people like Tegmark attempt to dodge that issue with a sleight of hand!

Furthermore, information can't be equated with consciousness!

My bet is that QM is related to consciousness, but probably in the sense that QM would need extending so that consciousness can bias the probabilities of collapse to the various possible eigenstates (or Stapp has another possibility).

Consciousness can't magically appear out of a chunk of maths!

David
The underlying question here propably is, can we describe reality and parts of it solely with mathematics? Can we account for every aspect of certain problems like that?
 
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