Alphabet blocks, only more numerous?
From an article by Max Tegmark in New Scientist: Different people mean different things by “consciousness”, including awareness of environment or self. I am asking the more basic question of why you experience anything at all, which is the essence of what philosopher David Chalmers has coined “the hard problem” of consciousness.
A traditional answer to this problem is dualism – that living entities differ from inanimate ones because they contain some non-physical element such as an “anima” or “soul”. Support for dualism among scientists has gradually dwindled. To understand why, consider that your body is made up of about 1029 quarks and electrons, which as far as we can tell move according to simple physical laws. Imagine a future technology … (paywall)
Note: The paywalled New Scientist article is based on an open access paper by cosmologist Max Tegmark:
We examine the hypothesis that consciousness can be understood as a state of matter, \perceptronium”, with distinctive information processing abilities. We explore ve basic principles that may distinguish conscious matter from other physical systems such as solids, liquids and gases: the information, integration, independence, dynamics and utility principles. If such principles can identify conscious entities, then they can help solve the quantum factorization problem: why do conscious observers like us perceive the particular Hilbert space factorization corresponding to classical space (rather than Fourier space, say), and more generally, why do we perceive the world around us as a dynamic hierarchy of objects that are strongly integrated and relatively independent? Tensor factorization of matrices is found to play a central role, and our technical results include a theorem about Hamiltonian separability (defined using Hilbert-Schmidt superoperators) being maximized in the energy eigenbasis. Our approach generalizes Giulio Tononi’s integrated information framework for neural-network-based consciousness to arbitrary quantum systems, and we nd interesting links to error-correcting codes, condensed matter criticality, and the Quantum Darwinism program, as well as an interesting connection between the emergence of consciousness and the emergence of time.
See also: Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness? Trade the clunk for the question?
We have noted Max Tegmark’s theory before, and also the way in which he seems to have hinted that multiverse skeptic Peter Woit must be a creationist if he harbours doubts.
Follow UD News at Twitter!
6 Replies to “Continued push for consciousness as a fourth state of matter”
If Max looked at the evidence a bit more thoroughly, he might realize consciousness is a subset of the 3;
1) “Brain Fart” …. Gas
2) “Stream of Consciousness” …. Liquid
3) “Dumb as a Box of Rocks” …. Solid
All of matter can be made a solid/liquid/gas depending on condition. All of matter can be made conscious too? Even “Dark Matter”?
That Tegmark paper is just a pile of stinking rubbish. Consciousness undeniably requires two complementary opposite entities: a knower and a known. In order to explain consciousness, one must identify and explain either one or the other. No amount of fancy math and scientific jargon can do that. One can always tell the validity of a paper by the amount of obscure language in it. If a concept cannot be explained in a simple language that the average intelligent layperson can understand, you can be 100% certain that it’s crap and that the author is a con artist.
Furthermore, the fact that “we perceive the world around us as a dynamic hierarchy of objects” has nothing to do with consciousness. The hierarchical (multi-level) architecture of the cortex is well-known by neuroscientists. The design of the brain (no, evolution did not design it) assumes that knowledge is hierarchical. Why is this lumped with consciousness?
The Quantum Darwinism program? LOL. This is not science. It’s chicken feather voodoo. Tegmark is out to lunch, I’m afraid.
It makes as much sense as pushing for it to be the umpteenth State of the United States.
Mapou: Even if you disagree, you do not have to be so nasty and disrespectful (stinking rubbish, chicken feather woodoo…). Professor Tegmark is a well respected professor at MIT. If you do not understand the math of his paper, it is not too late to go back to school and try to learn the math. I know it is hard and it requires a lot of work but who knows, maybe you will have a different opinion after that.