Integrated Information Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by Sciborg_S_Patel, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. A thread to discussion the IIT authored by Tononi & Koch (I did a search and didn't see a dedicated thread)

    There's a variety of posts on the theory in the Information & Reality Resources thread, but given the idea of those threads is to provide useful links without having to wade through excessive discussion I thought it would be better to make a discussion thread.

    Since a few posters here seem interested in the theory we might start examining it.

    First an overview by the Tononi:

    Consciousness as Integrated Information: a Provisional Manifesto


    Comments and discussion to follow in subsequent posts, though my first question is what do people think "information" is in the context of the theory?
     
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  3. Aaronson's critique:

    Why I Am Not An Integrated Information Theorist (or, The Unconscious Expander)

     
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  4. Neil

    Neil New

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    Thanks for the links and for creating this thread. I have become a bit of an Integrated Information Theory proponent but it seems to be unpopular on this forum.

    I need to read some of the links you posted, but I will post a couple initial thoughts I have.

    The first is that Integrated Information Theory as it is does not get at the hard problem of consciousness, and it cannot do it for the same reason that any current theory doesn't. It isn't the fault of Integrated Information Theory, but rather a problem with certain metaphysical considerations related to experience. If we can attribute potential experience to fundamental fields, then the possibility of explaining conscious experience arises with IIT.

    The other shortcoming is that I think Integrated Information Theory requires quantum theory for the integration axiom, since there is nothing within classical mechanics that can allow for an intrinsic holistic experience; classical mechanics only would allow for something to interpret an aggregate as holistic, and this brings back the specter of Cartesian Dualism in full force.

    But what information is, in my opinion, is some sort of elementary distinction which can be experienced with the right relations.
     
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  5. Neil

    Neil New

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    I started on the first article and wish to offer some comments:

    "Koch and others are taking panpsychism seriously because they take IIT seriously."

    IIT is not panpsychism. I have posted elsewhere that I could link to with specific quotes on this. IIT cannot in any way be considered panpsychism.


    "Even a proton can possess phi, because a proton is an emergent phenomenon stemming from the interaction of its quarks. Hence panpsychism."


    This is not true, since particles exist as superpositions and as such violate the exclusion axiom required for consciousness.


    "But because the phi of the entire brain exceeds that of any of its components, its consciousness suppresses or “excludes” its components’ mini-minds."


    It doesn't "suppress" or "exclude" but rather the smaller consciousness is subsumed into the larger consciousness.

    "If members of a group—say, the IIT workshop--start communicating so obsessively with each other that the group phi exceeds the phi of the individuals, IIT predicts that the group will become conscious and suppress the consciousness of the individuals, turning them into unconscious “zombies.” The same could be true of smaller or larger groups, from a besotted couple to the United States of America."


    This isn't predicted by the theory. Consciousness exists at the spatiotemporal grain at which integrated information is maximized, which, in this scenario, still exists within the brains of the individuals.

    "Aaronson reprised criticisms he leveled on his blog last year. (See also his followup post.) His main complaint is with IIT’s claim that high phiproduces consciousness. “Phi may be a necessary condition for consciousness, but it is certainly not a sufficient condition,” he said."


    High phi doesn't produce consciousness, but rather Tononi claims that it is consciousness. However, there is a metaphysical problem with respect to the potential for experience in fundamental quantum fields, but that is not a problem of Integrated Information Theory. Essentially, without a metaphysical shift to include experience as a fundamental quality or potentiality of quantum fields, there will neverbe a theory that provides a sufficient condition.


    "Aaronson said he could design a wide variety of simple information-processing systems—a two-dimensional grid, for example, running error-correcting codes like those employed in compact discs—possessing extremely high phi. As he stated on his blog, IIT “unavoidably predicts vast amounts of consciousness in physical systems that no sane person would regard as particularly ‘conscious’ at all: indeed, systems that do nothing but apply a low-density parity-check code, or other simple transformations of their input data. Moreover, IIT predicts not merely that these systems are ‘slightly’ conscious (which would be fine), but that they can be unboundedly more conscious than humans are.” [Bold in original.]"

    There are assumptions here, and one is that I say integrated information goes deep...to the cellular level and quantum computations, or to microtubule resonances within neurons. The level of phi in humans is likely orders of magnitude higher. And appeals to intuition are completely unconvincing, and frankly cannot be considered a criticism because IIT could be correct. And an arbitrarily high phi does not mean it has any kind of experience like we have, so it would not be more conscious than humans in any sense that this seems to insinuate.


    "Aaronson also faulted proponents of IIT for defending the theory inconsistently. For example, IITers cite the cerebellum’s low phi and lack of consciousness as evidence for the theory, but they can’t be surethat the cerebellum is unconscious; they are simply making a plausible inference, based on common sense."


    Integrated Information Theory claims that the cerebellum, due to the feed forward structure, does not contribute to consciousness. This is evidenced by people entirely lacking a cerebellum not having much effect on their conscious experience.


    "And yet when confronted with Aaronson’s reductio ad absurdum grid argument, Tononi embraced the absurdum; he suggested that maybe the grid is conscious, and he chided Aaronson for appealing to common sense. Aaronson objected on his blog: “You can’t count it as a ‘success’ for IIT if it predicts that the cerebellum is unconscious, while at the same time denying that it’s a ‘failure’ for IIT if it predicts that a square mesh of XOR gates is conscious.” [Bold in original.]"


    I've touched on both points, but I have to side with Tononi. Aaronson's mathematical demonstration and an appeal to intuition is just not a refutation. Intuition is horrible for guiding scientific theory, and certainly is no basis whatsoever for a refutation. Science is the history of unintuitive theories.


    "[Koch] is not saying that information causes consciousness; he is saying that certain information just is consciousness, and because information is everywhere, consciousness is everywhere. I think that if you analyze this carefully, you will see that the view is incoherent. Consciousness is independent of an observer. I am conscious no matter what anybody thinks. But information is typically relative to observers. These sentences, for example, make sense only relative to our capacity to interpret them. So you can’t explain consciousness by saying it consists of information, because information exists only relative to consciousness."

    "See also the subsequent exchange between Tononi, Koch and Searle, in which Searle said IIT “does not seem to be a serious scientific proposal.” At the NYU workshop, Tononi and other proponents of IIT rejected Searle’s critique, claiming that Searle misrepresents their view of information. But to my mind, Searle zeroed in on IIT’s major flaw."

    Searle's comments clearly misunderstand Tononi's conception of information. Tononi is quite explicit that he refers to the Bateson type of information, not Shannon information. To then use this to say that Integrated Information Theory is not a scientific theory is not very professional or justified on Searle's part.




    I have to get going so I will continue with more later. Many thanks for the article.
     
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  6. Thanks for the responses! Just to be clear I don't necessarily agree with the criticisms, I just figure they get things going in terms of discussion if people can pin down of some of the central issues under contention..
     
  7. Neil

    Neil New

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    I appreciate it. There are many criticisms out there, but I think few are very good. The accusation of panpsychism is kind of annoying since Tononi is clear that it isn't, and if the theory is understood, it should be quite obvious that it isn't. It's good to get it out there and address it.
     
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  8. Curious, does IIT have a definitive metaphysics? Or is it more agnostic about settling that kind of fundamental question? From your responses it seems like the latter?
     
  9. Neil

    Neil New

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    I would say the latter since I have not heard Tononi talk about it and I have not seen it discussed in any papers on IIT. I think this quote from Horgan's article sums it up well:

    "Toward the end of the workshop, someone asked Tononi whether IIT posits that mind and matter are distinct phenomena or that mind is just a byproduct of matter. In other words, is IIT a materialist or dualist theory of mind? Tononi smiled and replied, “It is what it is.” (Perhaps he meant, “IIT is what IIT is.”)"
     
  10. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    Interesting reading Neil's take on it. For myself IIT left me rather cold, it didn't seem to connect with me at all. Didn't take me anywhere, and didn't add anything to my own ideas.

    Perhaps I'm just not understanding it's significance, which is perfectly possible, as I find that if I can't 'feel' an idea, I generally can't make any connection with it.

    But at present it doesn't have much significance for me. It's like a ship adrift in the sea, it seems like a rather obvious and very very tiny idea, such that it falls right through my cracks, and fails to connect up to any section of my partly constructed jigsaw. (Indeed I wonder whether I already put that piece in place... Lol.)

    Yet I can read what seems to me to be a paper in a similar field (like this one http://complex.ffn.ub.es/~mbogunya/archivos_cms/files/srep00793.pdf ) and it immediately jumps out at me, and makes a connection, that adds something immediately important to my understanding.
     
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  11. Neil

    Neil New

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    I wanted to repost something that was posted in the consciousness and science forum. I had an exchange with the author of a paper that I criticized, and I think that there is some good content for this thread. In particular, I address the issue of Integrated Information Theory and panpsychism.





    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my criticism.

    Regarding your specific claim in your article, you said that "[...]the theory posits that any system that processes and integrates information, be it organic or inorganic, experiences the world subjectively to some degree. Plants, smartphones, the Internet--even protons--are all examples of such systems."

    In the paper by Tononi and Koch (Consciousness: Here, There but Not Everywhere, 2014), they seemed to be saying that the internet would not have phi:

    "A related question has to do with the Internet and whether it could be conscious (Koch 2014). One way to think about this is to assume that each computer connected to the internet is an element having real causal power at the macro-level. [...] In principle, this kind of organization could be arranged so that it gives rise to a complex of high [phi], although this is certainly not the way the internet works right now." (pg 14, emphasis added)

    Regarding computers, I did find a part that does support your claim that computers may have some level of phi:

    "In that case, we suspect that the computer would likely not form a large complex of high [phi max], but break down into many mini-complexes of low [phi max] (due to the small fan-in and fan-out of digital circuitry, fig. 5C), existing at the very fast temporal scale of the computer clock." (ibid, pg 8)

    However, this is made a bit more clear in the abstract of the same paper:

    "Also, in sharp contrast with widespread functionalist beliefs, IIT implies that digital computers, even if their behavior were to be functionally equivalent to ours, and even if they were to run faithful simulations of the human brain, would experience next to nothing."

    So this still does not support the claim that computers would be conscious, rather that there may be a possibility of small complexes within a computer having a low phi.


    You are correct that Koch has said a lot about IIT being a form of panpsychism, and in his book, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist, he does make statements such as the following:

    "By postulating that consciousness is a fundamental feature of the universe, rather than emerging out of simpler elements, integrated information theory is an elaborate version of panpsychism." (pg 132)

    And,

    "The entire cosmos is suffused with sentience. We are surrounded and immersed in consciousness; it is in the air we breathe, the soil we tread on, the bacteria that colonize our intestines, and the brain that enables us to think." (pg 132)

    However, Tononi is quite different in opinion here:

    "How close is this position to panpsychism, which holds that everything in the universe has some kind of consciousness? Certainly, the IIT implies that many entities, as long as they include some functional mechanisms that can make choices between alternatives, have some degree of consciousness. Unlike traditional panpsychism, however, the IIT does not attribute consciousness indiscriminately to all things." (Consciousness as Integrated Information: a Provisional Manifesto, 2008, pg 236)

    He continues:

    "Moreover, panpsychism hardly has a solid conceptual foundation. The attribution of consciousness to all kinds of things is based more on an attempt to avoid dualism than on a principled analysis of what consciousness is. Similarly, panpsychism offers hardly any guidance as to what would determine the amount of consciousness associated with different things (such as humans, animals, plants, or rocks), or with the same thing at different times (say wakefulness and sleep), not to mention that it says nothing about what would determine the quality of experience." (ibid, pg 236)

    Even in the paper with Koch (Tononi and Koch, 2014), they state the following in the abstract:

    "The theory vindicates some intuitions often associated with panpsychism - that consciousness is an intrinsic, fundamental property, and is graded, is common among biological organisms, and even some very simple systems may have some of it. However, unlike panpsychism, IIT implies that not everything is conscious, for example aggregates such as heaps of sand, a group of individuals or feed-forward networks."

    Considering that panpsychism is defined as "the doctrine or belief that everything material, however small, has an element of individual consciousness" or, sometimes more literal to the definition, that mind or psyche is fundamental to all things, IIT cannot be considered panpsychism under either of these definitions.

    There is more required than integrated information, as states by Tononi:

    "Second, (strong) integration is by no means the only requirement for consciousness, but must be complemented by information and exclusion." (pg 20, From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0, 2014)


    But it is also stated in the paper (Tononi and Koch, 2014) that:

    "On the other hand, if one considers the micro-elements inside each computer (say its transistors) as having real causal power, we are back to the situation in which they most likely would not form any large complex within each computer, let alone across connected computers." (pg 14)


    Koch has made that claim about quark complexes, but I have not been able to find any such claim made by Tononi, or even in a paper in which Tononi is a co-author. Since this is a claim of Koch, that is why I said it is not a claim of IIT. I don't find it correct to assume that Tononi agrees just because Koch has made the comment. If none of the papers on IIT state this, then I cannot say that it is a statement of IIT.

    The other problem with this comment by Koch is that even if a system of quarks in a proton constitute an integrated system, this system cannot possibly be conscious because this claim would violate one of the axioms of IIT: the Exclusion axiom. Subatomic particles exist in indeterminate or superposed states, and the exclusion axiom explicitly forbids this:

    "[...] at any given time there is only one experience having its full content, rather than a superposition of multiple partial experiences [...]" (pg 3, From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0, Tononi 2014).
     
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  12. Neil

    Neil New

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    Continuing my comments on Horgan's article linked in the second post in this thread:



    "The concept of information makes no sense in the absence of something to be informed—that is, a conscious observer capable of choice, or free will (sorry, I can't help it, free will is an obsession)."

    This is the Shannon conception of information, not the Bateson intrinsic information used ion Integrated Information Theory.

    "If all the humans in the world vanished tomorrow, all the information would vanish, too. Lacking minds to surprise and change, books and televisions and computers would be as dumb as stumps and stones. This fact may seem crushingly obvious, but it seems to be overlooked by many information enthusiasts."

    There are two problems here:

    1. This is again using Shannon information rather than Bateson information.

    2. He assumes that these objects exist independent of any conscious observation. Granted it is oversimplifying in a sense since there would be other life, but without a conscious observation as he mentioned in the portion immediately above this, there is nothing that "actually exists" anyway.

    "The idea that mind is as fundamental as matter—which Wheeler's "participatory universe" notion implies--also flies in the face of everyday experience. Matter can clearly exist without mind, but where do we see mind existing without matter? Shoot a man through the heart, and his mind vanishes while his matter persists."

    This is a really common metaphysical criticism, assuming anything involving consciousness implies that mind is then being described. Integrated Information Theory says that mind is an emergent property of more complex computation, which is not the same thing as pure consciousness. Wheeler's Participatory Anthropic Principle does not imply that mind is fundamental, but that consciousness is fundamental. This is a vitally important distinction.

    But he also says that matter can exist without mind. I am going to exchange the word mind for consciousness, in which case we have no evidence that matter can exist without conscious experience. Do we have evidence that mind can exist without matter? It may be debatable, but NDEs, reincarnation evidence, and mediumship evidence is suggestive that it may happen.


    "The solipsism problem is especially acute for IIT because of its panpsychic implications."

    Integrated Information Theory is not panpsychism.


    "IITers have proposed the construction of a “consciousness-meter” that measures the phi and hence consciousness of any system, from an iPhone to a locked-in patient. But such an instrument would not really be detecting consciousness any more than current brain scans do. No conceivable instrument can solve the solipsism problem."

    This is a technological limit. Criticisms involving what can and can't be done technologically have a pretty hilarious history of being so horribly ridiculous that any such criticism has little force.

    "
    Going to the workshop bolstered my bias toward mysterianism. I doubt IIT is taking us closer toward solving the mind-body problem, and I predict that the theory’s metaphysical baggage—panpsychism and all the rest—will limit its popularity."

    When it is continued to be claimed that IIT is panpsychism, I claim that it demonstrates a lack of understanding of either what IIT, panpsychism, or what both really mean. I will refer to my post prior to this one where I detail the statements from Tononi and Tononi and Koch in their formal papers where they make it clear that Integrated Information Theory is not panpsychism.


     
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  13. Neil

    Neil New

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    Thanks for posting this. I read his criticism in the past, and in rereading it I certainly got more out of it.

    I will repeat that intuitions about what is or is not conscious is really not any kind of refutation of a theory. However, down in the comments sections where Scott responds to David Chalmer's comment, he says the following:

    "I don’t know about you, but if the world’s thousand wisest people assured me that such a theory had been shown to be correct, my reaction wouldn’t be terror that I had gravely underestimated the consciousness of potato-chip bags, or that I’d inadvertently committed mass murder (or at least chipslaughter) at countless snacktimes. My reaction, instead, would be that these wise people must be using the word “consciousness” to mean something different than what I meant by that word—and that the very fact that potato-chip bags were “conscious” by their definition was virtually a proof of that semantic disagreement."

    This is a good point, and I think that is actually what is going on to a degree. He is reducing to the absurd with mention of the potato chips, but I think with respect to this logic gate example that the high phi value is missing that the phi value itself will not ascribe any type of discriminative ability to the system, or in terms of Integrated Information Theory, that the qualia space of the logic gate system would be very simple, and an arbitrarily high phi does not mean that it would have an experience anything like what we have. So what does it mean to have an artificially constructed high phi with no ability to really discriminate any states? What does "conscious" mean here? I think Aaronson is thinking of consciousness in the sense that neuroscience does, in that it is "awake" and aware of its surroundings, etc. But really this is not what this high phi rating is suggesting. It may very well be that Integrated Information Theory is correct that such a system would have a high phi value, but an artificially created high phi without any discriminative ability does not make a system have a conscious experience like us.

    But this did make me think of a possible issue. I think that a quantum ontology is necessary to make IIT work on two aspects: integration and causal efficacy. There is just no place for intrinsic integration within a classical ontology, and IIT is all about intrinsic information so that the system can be conscious in and of itself, with no reference to an external observer. Within a classical ontology, a system cannot have intrinsic integration; it can be an aggregate that can seem like an integrated whole, but this is only with reference to something else. This would fail to either account for integration or fail to account for the intrinsic requirement. Within a quantum ontology, there is no problem in accounting for an intrinsicly integrated holistic experience.

    And regarding causal power, there again is no room for causal power of consciousness within a classical ontology. The idea of an emergent holistic conscious experience from classical "on/off" neurons firing doesn't fit. Once the microstates are fixed, so are the macrostates. but within quantum theory, the microstates are not fixed, and the collapsed macrostate can then exert causal power over the indeterminate microstate.

    So anyway, it seems like there may be an argument against the idea of the logic gate being conscious: a complex of electronics that operate classically may not be able to allow for an emergent holistic aspect. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I think that it may be a serious criticism. This does not IIT would be entirely wrong, but perhaps it fails within classical theory and classical electronics. It could be that quantum aspects may be very important for being able to create an emergent holistic experience. With evidence that there are microtubules in neurons that resonate to help for EEG activity and quantum considerations at the synaptic level, the quantum aspects may end up being needed for information integration to allow for experience to occur.
     
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  14. Neil

    Neil New

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    I have given this some more thought and I am beginning to think that there is a serious objection here to IIT at least in its current form. My thought is that conscious systems, organic or otherwise, may require some sort of quantum indeterminacy and a non-linear nature. This could allow for a profusion of potential causes, from which consciousness can emerge and exert downward causation on the generated mental mixture states.

    Integrated Information Theory would give mechanisms to restrict the cause-effect repertoire to produce the mixture states that would contribute to potential emergent "macro" integrated mental states, and the conscious awareness can then direct the flow of these emergent mental states (causal power). But if this is true, then the photodiode and the logic gate system would not actually be conscious, for there would be no way to establish an intrinsic integration needed for a maximally irreducible conceptual structure, and it certainly couldn't have any causal power since the microstates of the system are fixed.

    Integrated Information Theory could certainly be modified to accommodate this, but it appears that it would increase the complexity of the already complex theory by orders of magnitude. We may still be a ways off in really getting at this.
     
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  15. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Everything I have seen on the subject of IIT plunges into maths after a brief introductory paragraph.

    I'm not saying I couldn't try to wade into the maths, but I don't like to do that unless I am sure I will get something out of it. Also, in my experience, maths is often used to hide a mouse of an idea, and make it look impressive.

    Neil, do you want to comment - is it actually worth getting into this stuff?

    Furthermore, any mathematical description of a set of gates or computations doesn't really explain why it is conscious - i.e. why it has qualia. I am coming to feel that qualia are actually essential to all thought. Even symbolic solving of a differential equation has qualia associated with it (possibly different for each individual). For this reason, I would replace the concept of "Easy Problems" by "Not yet proven hard problems".

    Edit: I shot from the hip a bit there - Tononi's article seems to be what I need to read.

    David
     
  16. Neil

    Neil New

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    I don't think the math is necessary to get a good conceptual understanding of IIT.

    But I also think that the "it doesn't really explain why it is conscious" that Chalmers has popularized has begun to be counter-productive. Yes, it is true, but what is happening is that instead of examining the metaphysical requirements needed, this point is just serving to block any and all theories of consciousness. This objection makes it literally impossible to create a theory of consciousness.

    I say, admit that fundamental fields have the capacity for experience and move on. Now the problem is the easier "how does experience arise?"
     
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  17. malf

    malf Member

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    Absolutely! This is a point I've been building towards in another thread... When you realise The Hard Problem doesn't support any "side", its subsequent arguments become incoherent.
     
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  18. Neil

    Neil New

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    I agree, and the thing is, the "hard problem" could be used against theories of matter. For example: "Okay, so you have a theory that models the behavior of matter well, but you haven't explained why there is matter in the first place, nor have you described how matter comes into being." But does this mean that quantum theory isn't a good theory of matter? We don't have to explain everything with a theory right from the start. I mean look at our models of matter, which first started off atomistic, then turned into mini solar systems, then we had fields, then quantum theory, then relativistic quantum field theory.

    We begin with models and improve them over time, but if we keep using then "hard problem" to say no theory of consciousness can even get a start then we will get nowhere. Don't get me wrong, Chalmer's "hard problem" has been extremely valuable and has brought the problem of consciousness to our attention, but I think it is being abused and used to block theories now, especially by folks that seem to have an anti-scientific tendency. I think all that is needed, although it is major metaphysically and also a big deal with respect to sociological factors in science, is to simply recognize the potential for experience in quantum fields. Then we can try things like IIT and see how it may explain how our conscious experience occurs.
     
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  19. What arguments exactly become incoherent?

    Isn't this panpsychism, or proto-panpsychism?
     
  20. Neil

    Neil New

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    Great question! In short, no, but let me elaborate.

    Galen Strawson wrote a great paper of why he thinks Physicalism logically entails panpsychism:

    http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~seager/strawson_on_panpsychism.doc

    I disagree with the conclusion, but he raises an excellent point: one cannot derive the experiential from the non-experiential. It can never be an emergent property or epiphenomenal. It is a category error.

    So does that mean that everything is experiential? Rather than panpsychism, this is panexperientialism, which I think at least is more coherent than panpsychism (since it attributes mental qualities to everything, but also it can be described as everything is conscious, but that starts to blur the line between the two terms and I think is more appropriately called panexperientialism).

    However, this doesn't make sense upon analysis. If quantum fields exist fundamentally outside of spacetime, then how can we say that fundamental fields are experiential? What is experience without time or space? Furthermore, if particles exist as superpositions, we seem to be saying that photons somehow experience, even though they exist in a superposition and would have to have some sort of superposition of experiences, but even worse, they know no time or space. What is a superposed experience without time or space? That's not experience.

    But we logically cannot say that the fundamental fields are non-experiential. If we abandon Aristotelian logic and embrace lessons from quantum theory (with some guidance from Indian mystics, in my opinion), we can say that the fundamental field is not experiential, nor is it non-experiential. This seems just contradictory, but in quantum logic it is not, since just like particles going through a double slit, it cannot be said that they go through a slit, nor do they not go through a slit. When wavefunctions exist outside of spacetime, this can make sense. These "objective tendencies" for "actually occurrences" in Heisenberg's ontology make this understandable. I argue that the same can be done for experience, where fundamental fields have the potential for experience, and are not experiential nor wholey non-experiential.

    Within this framework, in my opinion, and using the von Neumann interpretation, wavefunction collapse is just what is needed to explain the how of the hard problem. Wavefunction collapse is experience, and results in "actual occurrences."

    It should be noted that there is a very widely accepted belief in the "causal closure of the physical." This is a problem for any theory of consciousness like Integrated Information Theory, which claims to explain how a causally effective consciousness can arise. Indeed, neurological evidence and psychological evidence (see Baumeister, Do Conscious a Thoughts Cause a Behavior? for a review) does suggest that consciousness is causally effective. If we grant it, PK evidence also suggests causal efficacy. Classical mechanics of course, and even within the quantum realm, Many Worlds interpretations, Pilot wave models (de Broglie-Bohm), and objective collapse models (GRW and Penrose OR) adhere to causal closure of the physical. But the von Neumann interpretation does not adhere to the causal closure of the physical, and leaves open causal ability for mind. Indeed this is actually structured into the formalization itself. Some philosophers such as Don Ross and James Ladyman have said that "When someone pronounces for downward causation they are in opposition to science." (Pg 57 Every Thing Must Go) But I strongly disagree based on the structure of the von Neumann interpretation. In fairness, it is not a widely accepted interpretation, so perhaps it is just excluded in favor of the epistemological Copenhagen interpretation, Many Worlds interpretation, pilot wave, or object collapse models which are more common.


    Additionally, the field of quantum cognition uses the Von Neumann formalization to model behavior very well, and decisions are treated as "measurement." This makes no sense within any other interpretation, and I think quantum cognition gives good reason to think that there are quantum effects occurring in cognition. All together it strongly supports using the von Neumann interpretation, and gives a formalized mathematical description of how conscious choices are efficacious and also gives a means to describe how experience occurs (wavefunction collapse).
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
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