Neuroscientists and many philosophers have typically planted themselves firmly on the materialist side. But a growing number of scientists now believe that materialism cannot wholly explain the sense of “I am” that undergirds consciousness, Kuhn told the audience.
One of those scientists is Christof Koch, the president and chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. At the event, he described a relatively recent formulation of consciousness called the integrated information theory. The idea, put forward by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist and psychiatrist Giulio Tononi, argues that consciousness resides in an as-yet-unknown space in the universe.
Integrated information theory measures consciousness by a metric, called phi, which essentially translates to how much power over itself a being or object has.
“If a system has causal power upon itself, like the brain does, then it feels like something. If you have a lot of causal power upon yourself, then it feels like a lot to be you,” Koch said.
The new theory implies a radical disconnect between intelligence and consciousness, Koch said. More.
That’s a good thing. There are only so many times that one can hit one’s head against a brick wall before real harm sets in. You know, perceptronium (consciousness is a form of matter) or radical naturalism (consciousness as illusion). Or heck, even rocks have minds. A smart high-schooler can convincingly refute this stuff, which is not overall a good sign.
A smart high-schooler can convincingly refute this stuff, which is not overall a good sign.
Whatever the merits of Koch’s theory, or Tonioni’s, they try to reduce the nonsense quotient (NQ) and deal with the relationship between consciousness and information.
Note: “The new theory implies a radical disconnect between intelligence and consciousness, Koch said.” That makes a lot of sense because consciousness isn’t principally about intelligence anyway, even though some intelligence would seem to be necessary for it to function.
Consciousness is subjectivity, the sense that an experience is happening to oneself. In that minimal self sense, many animals have consciousness.
The discussion veers off to whether artificial intelligences can evolve into selves; some interesting points.
See also: Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain? (No)
Neuroscience tried wholly embracing naturalism, but then the brain got away
Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?
What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness
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