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New consciousness thesis: Integrated Information Theory

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From Matthew Davidson at The Conversation:

Integrated Information Theory (IIT), and was proposed in 2008 by Guilio Tononi, a US-based neuroscientist.

It also has one rather surprising implication: consciousness can, in principle, be found anywhere where there is the right kind of information processing going on, whether that’s in a brain or a computer.

The theory says that a physical system can give rise to consciousness if two physical postulates are met.

The first is that the physical system must be very rich in information.

This brings us to the second postulate, which is that for consciousness to emerge, the physical system must also be highly integrated.

The authors report some success in testing a related idea, distinguishing between states of consciousness such as dreamless sleep and dreaming sleep.

If consciousness is indeed an emergent feature of a highly integrated network, as IIT suggests, then probably all complex systems – certainly all creatures with brains – have some minimal form of consciousness.

Not necessarily. Brains are a good thing to study re consciousness, to be sure, but some life forms may have some types of consciousness without a brain.

By extension, if consciousness is defined by the amount of integrated information in a system, then we may also need to move away from any form of human exceptionalism that says consciousness is exclusive to us. More.

Few will have far to move then because few hold that only humans are conscious. Making such a claim weakens the author’s argument. But other life forms simply don’t use the consciousness we recognize in each other.

See also: Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain

Animal minds: In search of the minimal self

and

Would we give up naturalism to solve the hard problem of consciousness?

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4 Replies to “New consciousness thesis: Integrated Information Theory

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    More crappy theories about consciousness from the usual materialist dirt worshippers. Move along now.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    Sentient robots? Not possible if you do the maths – 13 May 2014
    Over the past decade, Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues have developed a mathematical framework for consciousness that has become one of the most influential theories in the field. According to their model, the ability to integrate information is a key property of consciousness. ,,,
    But there is a catch, argues Phil Maguire at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. He points to a computational device called the XOR logic gate, which involves two inputs, A and B. The output of the gate is “1” if A and B are the same and “0” if A and B are different. In this scenario, it is impossible to predict the output based on A or B alone – you need both.
    Crucially, this type of integration requires loss of information, says Maguire: “You have put in two bits, and you get one out. If the brain integrated information in this fashion, it would have to be continuously haemorrhaging information.”,,,
    Based on this definition, Maguire and his team have shown mathematically that computers can’t handle any process that integrates information completely. If you accept that consciousness is based on total integration, then computers can’t be conscious.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....3LD5ChuqCe

    Mathematical Model Of Consciousness Proves Human Experience Cannot Be Modeled On A Computer – May 2014
    Excerpt: The central part of their new work is to describe the mathematical properties of a system that can store integrated information in this way but without it leaking away. And this leads them to their central proof. “The implications of this proof are that we have to abandon either the idea that people enjoy genuinely [integrated] consciousness or that brain processes can be modeled computationally,” say Maguire and co.
    Since Tononi’s main assumption is that consciousness is the experience of integrated information, it is the second idea that must be abandoned: brain processes cannot be modeled computationally.
    https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/mathematical-model-of-consciousness-proves-human-experience-cannot-be-modelled-on-a-computer-898b104158d

    Also of related note. When information is necessarily erased from a computer, when it performs its computations, it generates heat as a result of that erasure of information:

    Landauer’s principle
    “any logically irreversible manipulation of information, such as the erasure of a bit or the merging of two computation paths, must be accompanied by a corresponding entropy increase ,,, Specifically, each bit of lost information will lead to the release of an (specific) amount (at least kT ln 2) of heat.,,,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L....._principle

    Most of the time computer engineers can ignore this generation of heat that is caused by the erasure of information, but this problem with heat becomes prohibitive whenever one approaches anything close to the complexity of the brain.

    The brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth. That is not all the brains on Earth, nor all human brains, but merely a single brain of a single human. With over 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, and a quadrillion synapses, or connections, it is, as one researcher described, almost to the point of being “beyond belief.”

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    As well, the memory capacity of the human brain is in the same ballpark as the entire world wide web

    Data from the Salk Institute shows brain’s memory capacity is in the petabyte range, as much as entire Web – January 20, 2016
    Excerpt: “This is a real bombshell in the field of neuroscience,” says Terry Sejnowski, Salk professor and co-senior author of the paper, which was published in eLife. “We discovered the key to unlocking the design principle for how hippocampal neurons function with low energy but high computation power. Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte, in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.”
    http://www.salk.edu/news-relea.....y-thought/

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    And any computer that has anything close to as many switches as the human brain has, then this source of heat that is caused by the necessary erasure of information from the computer as it performs its calculations, i.e. Landauer’s Principle, will become prohibitive for the computer:

    Quantum physics behind computer temperature
    Excerpt: It was the physicist Rolf Landauer who first worked out in 1961 that when data is deleted it is inevitable that energy will be released in the form of heat. This principle implies that when a certain number of arithmetical operations per second have been exceeded, the computer will produce so much heat that the heat is impossible to dissipate.,,,
    ,, the team believes that the critical threshold where Landauer’s erasure heat becomes important may be reached within the next 10 to 20 years.
    http://cordis.europa.eu/search....._RCN=33479

    Thus the brain is either operating on quantum computation or reversible computation principles no present computer can come close to emulating (see Charles Bennett, reversible computation), and/or, the brain is not erasing information from its memory as a material computer is required to do during its calculations because our memories are somehow stored on a ‘spiritual’ level rather than on a material level.

    There are a couple of lines of evidence that back up the contention that memories are stored on a ‘spiritual’ level rather than on a material level. Those two lines of evidence are hemispherectomies and Near Death Experiences:

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.
    http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/Res.....sponse.htm

    The Mystery of Perception During Near Death Experiences – Pim van Lommel – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avyUsPgIuQ0

    Of related note, in the quantum world, it is information that is conserved.

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    OT:

    Forensic evidence of the Shroud of Turin – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5QEsaNiMVc

    Detailed Forensic Evidence of The Shroud – video
    Excerpt: “it is definitely an anatomically and forensically correct depiction of a victim of a Roman crucifixion.”
    http://www.shroud-enigma.com/w.....ology.html

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