Mod+ Information and Reality [Resources] [Information & Consciousness, QM, etc.]

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Sciborg_S_Patel

#1
Like other resources threads, idea here is mostly to provide material for people wishing to investigate the topic.

Some commentary/debate is useful but please, if such discussion seems to be getting long [over 3-5 posts] create a separate thread and link to continue.

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Some interesting questions:

1) Does information require a substrate, or is it the true firmament of reality?
2) What does Quantum Mechanics tell us about information's relationship to reality?
3) Is qualia part of the information "basement" upon which reality rests?

Quick links to these three questions are as follows:

On 1) -> How Quantum Mechanics Derives from a Revolutionary New Theory of Information

The existence of an information unit.

This is the big new idea. It states that information exists, it comes in fundamental units and only in one type so there cannot be different types of information. Masanes and co call this fundamental unit a ‘general bit’ or gbit and say that any aspect of the Universe can be encoded given a sufficient number of them.
This idea has significant implications. If there is only one type of information, then everything in the universe must be possible with it. Or as Masanes and co put it: “Any physical process can be simulated with a suitably programmed general purpose simulator.”

Another way to think about this is that reality is substrate-independent. It’s always possible to reproduce one aspect of the universe perfectly using some other part.
On 2) -> Information and Reality, as well as Consciousness, might be rather connected looking at certain results discussed here & here+here and interpretations of QM noted here, here & here.

On 3) -> Started going through the following Syntropy Journal paper, Information: what do you mean?- On the formative element of our universe:

Information concepts have been examined, apart from the earlier mentioned Wiener (1948) and Shannon (1948), also by von Neumann (1963) in we ll known contributions and, more recently, by Frieden (2004). This generated useful theories to physics, to computation and to communications technologies. Information is hypothesized to be comprised of dual aspects, similar to the dual aspects of light: wave and particle . Wheeler (1990) stated that info rmation is truly fundamental and exhibits two basic aspects: physical and phenomenal. Both aspects seem essential in the further understanding of consciousness.
 
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S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
Looks like the title got garbled due to a language barrier, but this is still worth a look. Also, I think his use of "materialistic" in the quoted part is different from what we use the word for?

Where [did] the It from Bit come from?


In his 1989 essay, John Archibald Wheeler has tried to answer the eternal question of existence [10]. He did it by searching for links between information, physics, and quanta. The main concept emerging from his essay is that “every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits, binary yes-or-no indications” [10].

This concept has been summarized in the catchphrase “it from bit”. In the Wheeler’s essay, it is possible to read several times the echoes of the philosophy of Niels Bohr (see [6] for a summary). The Danish physicist has pointed out how the quantum and relativistic physics – forcing us to abandon the anchor of the visual reference of common sense – have imposed a greater attention to the language. Bohr did not deny the physical reality, but recognizes that there is always need of a language no ma tter what a person wants to do. To put it as Carlo Sini [9], language is the first toolbox that man has at
hands to analyze the experience. It is not a thought translated into words, because to think is to operate with signs as reminded us by various philosophers from Leonardo da Vinci to Ludwig Wittgenstein.

However, reading the autobiography of Wheeler, it seems that the scientist has intended a vision more materialistic than that of Bohr, in which these bits would be true “quanta of reality”: “I suggest that we may never understand this strange thing, the quantum, until we understand how information may underlie reality. Information may not be just what we ‘learn’ about the world. It may be what ‘makes’ the world. An example of the idea of it from bit: when a photon is absorbed, and th
ereby ‘measured’ – until its absorption, it had no true reality – an unsplittable bit of information is added to what we know about the world, ‘and’, at the same time, that bit of information determines the structure of one small part of the world. It ‘creates’ the rea lity of the time and place of that photon’s interaction.” [11].

After Bohr, E. P. Wigner questioned himself about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in physics, but cannot find an answer [12]. However, he noted some interesting concepts. A major factor in the development of physic
s is the invariance, in the sense that a stone falls the same way from the Tower of Pisa as from the Empire State Building. In terms of classical physics, the possibility to neglect an enormous quantity of side effects, has allowed us to see how certain physical principles rem ain valid regardless of space and time. This invariance led to identify those macroscopic regularities in the physical phenomena that induced to think at the existence of universal laws. What emerged from these essays is the existence of an isomorphism between the logic of the adopted language (mathematics) and physical phenomena. It is something very hard to find, hence the need of scientific research and the joys of discovery (or, rather, invention).
 
#3
Looks like the title got garbled due to a language barrier, but this is still worth a look. Also, I think his use of "materialistic" in the quoted part is different from what we use the word for?
Where [did] the It from Bit come from?
Dunno about your questions... However...

Wheelers 1990 'It from bit' paper is pretty interesting - grab the original from here while you can!
Make your own mind up about what Wheeler was saying, I've always found it to be pretty profound stuff - from him.

I also think Susskind's book "The Black Hole War" is a fantastic introduction to Information, QM and Physics because of his excellent explanations.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
Dunno about your questions... However...

Wheelers 1990 'It from bit' paper is pretty interesting - grab the original from here while you can!
Make your own mind up about what Wheeler was saying, I've always found it to be pretty profound stuff - from him.

I also think Susskind's book "The Black Hole War" is a fantastic introduction to Information, QM and Physics because of his excellent explanations.
Thanks - Finally starting this!

The intro has me excited:

This report reviews what quantum physics and information theory have to tell us about the age-old question, How come existence? No escape is evident from four conclusions:

(1)The world cannot be a giant machine, ruled by any preestablished continuum physical law.

(2) There is no such thing at the microscopic level as space or time or spacetime continuum.

(3) The familiar probability function or functional,and wave equation or functional wave equation, of standard quantum theory provide mere continuum idealizations and by reason of this circumstance conceal the information-theoretic source from which they derive.

(4) No element in the description of physics shows itself as closer to primordial than the elementary quantum phenomenon, that is, the elementary device-intermediated act of posing a yes-no physical question and eliciting an answer or, in brief, the elementary act of observer-participancy. Otherwise stated, every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits, binary yes-or-no indications, a conclusion which we epitomize in the phrase, it from bit.
 
#5
Thanks - Finally starting this!

The intro has me excited:

This report reviews what quantum physics and information theory have to tell us about the age-old question, How come existence? No escape is evident from four conclusions:

(1)The world cannot be a giant machine, ruled by any preestablished continuum physical law.

(2) There is no such thing at the microscopic level as space or time or spacetime continuum.

(3) The familiar probability function or functional,and wave equation or functional wave equation, of standard quantum theory provide mere continuum idealizations and by reason of this circumstance conceal the information-theoretic source from which they derive.

(4) No element in the description of physics shows itself as closer to primordial than the elementary quantum phenomenon, that is, the elementary device-intermediated act of posing a yes-no physical question and eliciting an answer or, in brief, the elementary act of observer-participancy. Otherwise stated, every physical quantity, every it, derives its ultimate significance from bits, binary yes-or-no indications, a conclusion which we epitomize in the phrase, it from bit.
I'd be interested in hearing what you make of it.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#7
I'd be interested in hearing what you make of it.
Thanks again for this paper, exciting stuff! I'll run through the Four No's for now as well as note my first impressions. Will go through the Five Clues later.

I hope the links are of interest, I also didn't want to make it seem as if the ideas I mention were originally or just mine:

1) Possible synchronicity that after reading the paper, I came across a study of Norse mythology that discusses observer-participant reality. I feel like this is an idea that people intuitively grasped even in ancient times, and maybe everything being related to information explains anomalous scientific knowledge obtained without the proper instruments.

2) I didn't get all the physics, though I do think I'll have to dig deeper into this subject. I do wonder if information as binary bits and information as [and information as] something we conscious entities exchange aren't quite the same things. I recall Braude warning about confusing/conflating different definitions of information, will have to find that paper again.

It does seem he's right about a few things. I also doubt mechanism (for reasons I note here & here) can explain everything and I mean that in a deeper sense than just accepting quantum randomness.

I agree with his objection to infinite regress, so I do think the cyclic loop seems better, but I'm not sure it's a definitive logical problem. Perhaps issues with infinite regress involves our separation of continuous time into discrete events? I also like that he points out that even an Idealist universe can be real enough so long as reason serves as largely reliable guide.

I didn't quite get the "boundary of a boundary is zero" statement. I do get that the laws of physics as we understand them don't seem likely to have been set before the Big Bang, and this is in fact almost certainly impossible. His notion of observer-participants interacting to hold reality makes me think of the Aboriginies who believed the singing of creation songs grants reality stability, as well as the notion of time-slips like the one Jung had.

His objection of continuum was a bit difficult to grasp. I initially assumed he was talking about the apparent discreteness at the quantum level, but he seems to arguing for something more?

His objection to space & time resonates with me. I know there's talk of time being emergent from quantum level interaction, or even that time doesn't exist at all. Maybe that connects to Wheeler's ideas as well? I think the idea of space as following from higher principles/forces is one of the hardest things to grasp even as a possibility. I kinda feel like I can accept the notion of Mind without space, given the whole possibility of Platonic Math, but it is weird to think about. Then again, McGinn notes our consciousness seems non-spatial as well & Kauffman seems to agree:

1) Where is the possibility that I will skate across town reading the NY Times and not be hit by any cars, on my way to buy groceries? I think we all feel that possibilities are not spatially locatable, that is, not spatially extended.

2) Now consider your experienced visual field. Where is your experienced field located? I think we all sense that our experience itself is not located spatially, that is, it is not spatially extended.

This non-spatial character of both "Possibilities" and Experience may be happenstance, or a clue. Taking this parallel as a clue may lead us forward in new ways.
3) The whole yes-no thing made me think of Henry Stapp's ideas of the mind:

In QM, the observer asks Nature a yes/no question about the state of a system...Normally, this dependence of the properties of the system being probed, upon the observer’s choice of question does not give the observer any effective control over the observed system. That is because Nature’s response can be “No”.

However, there is an important situation in which, according to the quantum rules, the “No” answers will be strongly suppressed. In that case, the free choices made by the observer can exert effective control over the system being probed – which, in von Neumann’s theory, is the brain of the observer.

Suppression of the “No” responses is predicted if an initial “Yes” response is followed by a sufficiently rapid sequence of posings of the same question. In that case the observer becomes empowered, by his own free choices, to hold stably in place a chosen brain activity that normally would quickly fade away. This effect is the celebrated “Quantum Zeno Effect”
My understanding is Stapp got the biology wrong but the theory still holds relevance given all the quantum consciousness possibilities.

4) If you haven't already seen it I would check out Josephson's discussion of Wheeler's "Law Without Law", which talks about how consciousness might form the natural laws it'll play under in this incarnation of the universe.

5) Sartre once talked about how questioning introduced a kind of iridescent uncertainty in the world, a rainbow sheen over all reality. Made me think maybe he was approaching the same ideas as Wheeler but from a philosophical instead of physical science position.

p.s. As an aside I had a philosophy professor who was actually impressed when I compared Sartre's rainbow of questioning to an old episode of the Winnie the Pooh cartoon where the other animals trying to cheer up Eyeore learn he's not sad at all -> Instead he contemplates an Imaginal aurora borealis the others come to see & enjoy.
"Okay, alright, depressed guy says nothing’s wrong. I’ll just sit here for a while, thinks Pooh. And when he does, he sees something amazing. Something incredible. Something beautiful. At sunset, the sky explodes into vibrant, beautiful colors. It’s like an aurora borealis, but much cooler. As Pooh sits there in amazement, Eeyore solemnly retains his perch atop the ledge, taking it all in.
When everything’s over, Eeyore explains that he’s been coming up to the ledge for days just to see the beautiful colors.
The colors that nobody else noticed.
The colors that only someone who took the time to see the beauty could see.
The colors that show that Eeyore, in all of his pessimism, is the only one in the Hundred Acre Wood who is perfectly happy.
"
 
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S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#8
Still need to get to those five clues...but for now:

Active Information, Meaning and Form

Towards the end of the 1980s David Bohm introduced the notion of Active Information into his Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory. His idea was to use the activity of information as a way of explaining the actual nature of quantum processes and, in particular, the way in which a single physical outcome emerges out of a multiplicity of possibilities. Initially this idea, of Information as a physical activity, was tied to Bohm's particular theory but, as this essay paper proposes, it is possible to go further and elevate "Information" to the level of a new physical concept, one that can be placed alongside Matter and Energy.

Information connects to clusters of fertile ideas being debated in physics, biology, consciousness research and the neurosciences. These are grouped around the notions of Information, Form and Meaning, each of which is discussed below.

At present it is by no means clear how these ideas will finally integrate together but the resonance between them is striking and should provide a profitable nucleus for further research and speculation. On the one hand the notion of information is firmly based within the physical sciences, yet has immediate application to, for example, consciousness studies. Such ideas are also particularly rich in the way they connect to new approaches in health, healing, dialogue and the cohesion of society.

When ideas begin to come together in this way it suggests that a fundamental break-through may not be far behind. One thinks of the web of approaches and notions being debated in the first years of this century and the how they finally coalesced into quantum theory and relativity. Similar unresolved discussions abound today, about the nature of mind, brain function and consciousness, pre-space and algebras that lie below quantum theory, and the nature of health and healing. Information is something that could play a significant role in understanding the nature of the physical universe and, at the same time, have a key role in the operation of consciousness. Concepts of meaning, form and information could well play an integrating role in bringing unity to whole areas of speculation.

The individual topics of Information, Form and Meaning, together with their interconnections, are discussed below. Following this questions are posed and directions for future work suggested.
 
#9
Still need to get to those five clues...but for now:

Active Information, Meaning and Form
I only read the abstract, but I think information is important...

In my own search I keep hitting something that looks 'informational', something which looks like it needs 'processing' to bring my perception of the classic external world into existence. Whatever this something is, it seems to be strongly associated with my perception of time.

You can see it's effects in space-time as 'time' dilation is related to matter/mass, and gravity/acceleration through space. You can see it in QM as calculating probability of where a particle will be using the square of an amplitude calculated over 'time', a calculation of all its 'past' states.

I'm intrigued by a possible 'informational' connection with other types of personal subjective changes to our perception of 'time' too, for example in a car accident, or falling off a mountain. The act of working hard to process 'something' seems to alter our subjective perception of 'time', we also know this 'processing' is associated with drop-outs in the brains endogenous EM field, and interestingly we know the examples I gave are associated with 'fear-death' experiences.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#10
Seems interesting:

The Bottom Layer

Physics generally, and quantum mechanics in particular, is so odd that it screams philosophy. "Counter-intuitive" is the usual description of the laboratory results, which means that the world behaves in ways that we would not expect, and that, frankly, don't make sense. Confronted with real results that appear to contradict our assumptions, we are burdened with the task of reevaluating our assumptions. That is philosophy, is it not?

These pages attempt, first, to report the laboratory results. Nevermind that they don't make any intuitive sense. Those are the results. You should know how nature behaves. Second, we attempt to make sense of the results -- cavalierly disregarding the advice of many a learned sage counseling that we would do better just to forget about it. The focus is on information, as has been recommended by many physicists. The conclusion here is that the universe is both information and information processing. The universe is the manifestation of a computer and its programming.

If the universe is a computer running along conventional programming lines, then who are we? And who programmed this virtual reality simulation? And why? That is philosophy, certainly. And it is religion. And it is still science.
The idea of the universe as a simulation of sorts reminds me of Ron Garrett's Google Tech Talk that either Idealism of a sort - "We are our thoughts" as he puts it - or the Multiverse is the true description of reality.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
Alchemical Transformation: Consciousness and Matter, Form and Information

David Bohm regretted the speed with which Neils Bohr tried to resolve the tensions inherent in quantum theory. Within a year of Heisenberg's discovery of matrix mechanics Schrodinger produced his wave equation and Bohr and others quickly demonstrated the mathematical equivalence of the two approaches. Yet both approaches do subtly different things - Heisenberg's matrix mechanics, for example, makes no reference to an underlying or background space. If only the two approaches could have been held in tension, emphasizing both their similarities and differences, Bohm argued, then it may have been possible to develop a much deeper theory, one that transcended conventional notions of space-time and allowed for an intimate connection with relativity.

A similar tension exists today between scientific approaches to "consciousness theory" (in which the origin of mind is attributed to objective structures and processes within the brain - albeit some of them being quite novel, such as Penrose's notions of the gravitational collapse of the wave function) and our subjective experiences of consciousness, rare moments of transcendence and those inexplicable occurrences in which the irrational breaks through in dreams, synchronicities, etc. Then there are other phenomena which seem to have a foot in both camps, these include Jung's psychoid which is neither matter nor mind and both, the aforementioned synchronicities and phenomena such as projective identification.

Rather than seeking a quick resolution between the subjective and objective I feel that it is valuable to hold on to the differences and paradoxes and use them as pointers to something deeper...
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#12
On that site there's an excerpt from a discussion between Neal Degrasse Tyson & Sylvester James Gates, physicist at Univeristy of Maryland, on the idea of the Universe as simulation.

I recall there being a video on Youtube of this conversation, but can't seem to find it.

There's a lengthy description of his work in a Physics World article, which concludes with this portion:

Life in the Matrix?

Wheeler, who died in 2008, was an extremely well-regarded figure within physics. He served as advisor to a clutch of important physicists, including Richard Feynman, while his own work included the concept of the “S-matrix” (a mathematical tool that helps us understand Standard Model particles). Beyond the physics community, Wheeler is probably best known for coining the terms “black hole” and “wormhole”. But he also coined a slightly less familiar phrase – “it from bit” – and this is what concerns us here.

The idea of “it from bit” is a complex one, and Wheeler’s own description of it is probably still the best. In 1990 he suggested that “every ‘it’ – every particle, every field of force, even the space–time continuum itself – derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely…from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits”. The “it from bit” principle, he continued, “symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom…an immaterial source and explanation: that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe”.

When I first heard the idea of “it from bit” as a young physicist, I thought Wheeler must be crazy. The concept of a world made up of information just sounded strange, and (although I did not know it at the time) I was not the only one who thought so. However, sometimes crazy ideas turn out to be true, and Wheeler has been proved right before. As Feynman said, “When I was [Wheeler’s] student, I discovered that if you take one of his crazy ideas and you unwrap the layers of craziness from it one after another, like lifting layers off an onion, at the heart of the idea you will often find a powerful kernel of truth.” Indeed, another of Wheeler’s “crazy” ideas – his suggestion that a positron can be treated as an electron moving backwards in time – played a role in Feynman later winning a Nobel prize.

As for my own collaboration on adinkras, the path my colleagues and I have trod since the early 2000s has led me to conclude that codes play a previously unsuspected role in equations that possess the property of supersymmetry. This unsuspected connection suggests that these codes may be ubiquitous in nature, and could even be embedded in the essence of reality. If this is the case, we might have something in common with the Matrix science-fiction films, which depict a world where everything human beings experience is the product of a virtual-reality-generating computer network.

If that sounds crazy to you – well, you could be right. It is certainly possible to overstate mathematical links between different systems: as the physicist Eugene Wigner pointed out in 1960, just because a piece of mathematics is ubiquitous and appears in the description of several distinct systems does not necessarily mean that those systems are related to each other. The number pi, after all, occurs in the measurement of circles as well as in the measurement of population distributions. This does not mean that populations are related to circles.

Yet for a moment, let us imagine that this alternative Matrix-style world contains some theoretical physicists, and that one of them asks, “How could we discover whether we live inside a Matrix?”. One answer might be “Try to detect the presence of codes in the laws that describe physics.” I leave it to you to decide whether Wigner’s warning should be applied to the theoretical physicists living in the Matrix – and to us.
The Wigner paper he's referring to is Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#13
Causal loops, infinite regresses, and information

Hector’s later self knew from memory that the woman would be visible to his earlier self from precisely such-and-such a spot in the woods, and therefore took steps to make sure that she would stand there. But his earlier self, because he had acquired the information about her location from observing where she was standing, was able to form those memories only because his later self had had the information in question. So why was it precisely that information about her location that got transmitted from the past to the future and then back to the past? Jane’s genetic information came from his/her “mother” and “father,” but they are really just later versions of her. So why was it exactly that genetic information that gave Jane his/her distinctive biological features? Why did Jane have that specific height and hair color, those specific behavioral predilections, and so forth – indeed, why was he/she a human being at all rather than a dog, or a blade of grass, or something inorganic? It is because we need an account of the informational content of these temporally looped events that merely noting that each event was generated by another is insufficiently explanatory.

Now, notice that exactly the same point applies, even if perhaps less obviously, when we consider an infinite regress of events into the past rather than a temporal loop.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#14
More stuff on the VR hypothesis, from Brian Whitworth:

Have to scroll down to 'Physics as Processing' for the book-in-progress where he discusses falsification of his theory, but here's a paper giving an overview:

The emergence of the physical world from information processing

This paper links the conjecture that the physical world is a virtual reality to the findings of modern physics. What is usually the subject of science fiction is here proposed as a scientific theory open to empirical evaluation. We know from physics how the world behaves, and from computing how information behaves, so whether the physical world arises from ongoing information processing is a question science can evaluate. A prima facie case for the virtual reality conjecture is presented. If a photon is a pixel on a multi-dimensional grid that gives rise to space, the speed of light could reflect its refresh rate. If mass, charge and energy all arise from processing, the many conservation laws of physics could reduce to a single law of dynamic information conservation. If the universe is a virtual reality, then its big bang creation could be simply when the system was booted up.

Deriving core physics from information processing could reconcile relativity and quantum theory, with the former how processing creates the space-time operating system and the latter how it creates energy and matter applications.
 
#15
More stuff on the VR hypothesis, from Brian Whitworth:

Have to scroll down to 'Physics as Processing' for the book-in-progress where he discusses falsification of his theory, but here's a paper giving an overview:

The emergence of the physical world from information processing
Briefly had a peep... interesting, a couple of things similar to what I've come up with in that other thread... but I've got here from a completely different direction... an out of body experience, a spiritually transformative event, and a ghost... that led me to correspond with Penny Sartori about NDE OBE's... lol :D

From pp232...

2) ...The speed of light could simply be a processing limit of our system...

6) ...If matter uses up processing, a massive body could both dilate time and curve space. If movement uses up processing, it could shorten space and increase mass. Relativity is then just a local processing load effect...
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#16
From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0

This paper presents Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness 3.0, which incorporates several advances over previous formulations. IIT starts from phenomenological axioms: information says that each experience is specific – it is what it is by how it differs from alternative experiences; integration says that it is unified – irreducible to non-interdependent components; exclusion says that it has unique borders and a particular spatio-temporal grain. These axioms are formalized into postulates that prescribe how physical mechanisms, such as neurons or logic gates, must be configured to generate experience (phenomenology). The postulates are used to define intrinsic information as “differences that make a difference” within a system, and integrated information as information specified by a whole that cannot be reduced to that specified by its parts. By applying the postulates both at the level of individual mechanisms and at the level of systems of mechanisms, IIT arrives at an identity: an experience is a maximally irreducible conceptual structure (MICS, a constellation of concepts in qualia space), and the set of elements that generates it constitutes a complex. According to IIT, a MICS specifies the quality of an experience and integrated information ΦMax its quantity. From the theory follow several results, including: a system of mechanisms may condense into a major complex and non-overlapping minor complexes; the concepts that specify the quality of an experience are always about the complex itself and relate only indirectly to the external environment; anatomical connectivity influences complexes and associated MICS; a complex can generate a MICS even if its elements are inactive; simple systems can be minimally conscious; complicated systems can be unconscious; there can be true “zombies” – unconscious feed-forward systems that are functionally equivalent to conscious complexes.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#17
Can a Photodiode be Conscious? (A critique of IIT)

So on their view every proton and neutron is conscious. But the integrated information in all of these is just as observer-relative as was the information in the photodiode. There is no intrinsic absolute information in protons and neutrons, nor in my personal computer, nor in my smart phone. The information is all in the eye of the beholder…

…But the deepest objection is that the theory is unmotivated. Suppose they could give a definition of integrated and differentiated information that was not observer-relative, that would enable us to tell, from the brute physics of a system, whether it had such information and what information exactly it had. Why should such systems thereby have qualitative, unified subjectivity? In addition to bearing information as so defined, why should there be something it feels like to be a photodiode, a photon, a neutron, a smart phone, embedded processor, personal computer, “the air we breathe, the soil we tread on,” or any of their other wonderful examples? As it stands the theory does not seem to be a serious scientific proposal.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#18
Prescott speculates (perhaps wildly, as he admits) on the place of information in our reality:

Tiny Bubbles


Reality is experienced as sensory images (using the word images to refer to a perception in any modality). These sensory images are inside each bubble. But then how do they maintain (reasonable) consistency across the multitude of separate thought bubbles?
Answer: the images arise (like the thought bubbles themselves) from the Source. How exactly this happens is an open question. Maybe the Source includes (or consists of) a pattern of pure information analogous to the data of a computer program, and the sensory images are analogous to icons on a computer screen. Or maybe the Source imagines these images or their underpinnings, in some fashion akin to Plato’s theory of Forms. Or maybe both things are true, or neither is true. In any event, physical reality exists as ideas or information in the Reservoir and as rendered or imagined sensory images in the thought bubbles of our personal subjective experience.

What are the implications of this model for psi phenomena? We can sketch out a few.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#19
Neuroscience’s New Theory of Consciousness Might Make an Atheist Turn Spiritual

Just like a computer, the brain stores and processes information. But it is how that information is shared throughout the brain network that gives rise to our rich and vivid conscious experience. Let’s consider the act of observing a sunset. Thanks to advances in brain imaging, modern neuroscience tells us that there are a number of different and distinct regions active during this event, each of which process information about different features of that event separately. There’s a region in the visual cortex (known as “V2”) that processes the form and color of the yellow and orange sunrays against the clouds. There are auditory areas in the temporal lobe being fed information about the sound of the wind rushing past you as you stare off into the horizon. That rushing wind against your skin also generates patterns of electrical signals in the somatosensory cortex that create a sense of touch. There are many different things going on in distant places.

Yet somehow we perceive it all as one unified conscious experience.

According to IIT, this unified experience relies on the brain’s ability to fuse together (or integrate) all that incoming sensory information as a whole. To measure the degree of integration, Tononi has taken mathematical principles formulated by American engineer Claude Shannon, who developed a scientific theory of information midway through the 20th century to describe data transmission, and applied them to the brain. IIT claims that these information measures allow one to calculate an exact number that represents the degree of integrated information that exists in a brain at any given moment. Tononi chooses to call this metric “Phi” (or Φ), which serves as an index for consciousness. The greater the Phi, the more conscious the system. It need not matter whether it’s the nervous system of a child, or a cat, or even a ladybug.
 
#20
G. Tononi's work is at the forefront of the research. IIT is a substantial concept and the data gathered in this category will lead somewhere.

However, I am strongly against panpsychism as an answer. It still doesn't permit a top-down influence to match a bottom's-up flow from manifestation.

Full disclosure: My philosophical position is Informational Realism (K. Sayre 1976 & L. Floridi 2008).
 
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