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Consciousness now tied to “entropy”

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From Edwin Cartlidge at Physics World:

Consciousness appears to arise naturally as a result of a brain maximizing its information content. So says a group of scientists in Canada and France, which has studied how the electrical activity in people’s brains varies according to individuals’ conscious states. The researchers find that normal waking states are associated with maximum values of what they call a brain’s “entropy”.

Statistical mechanics is very good at explaining the macroscopic thermodynamic properties of physical systems in terms of the behaviour of those systems’ microscopic constituent particles. Emboldened by this success, physicists have increasingly been trying to do a similar thing with the brain: namely, using statistical mechanics to model networks of neurons. Key to this has been the study of synchronization – how the electrical activity of one set of neurons can oscillate in phase with that of another set. Synchronization in turn implies that those sets of neurons are physically tied to one another, just as oscillating physical systems, such as pendulums, become synchronized when they are connected together.More.

Your snow shovel wants to talk to you.

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

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4 Replies to “Consciousness now tied to “entropy”

  1. 1
    gpuccio says:

    “The researchers find that normal waking states are associated with maximum values of what they call a brain’s “entropy”.”

    And why would “normal waking states” be equaled to the general concept of “consciousness”?

    A state is a state of something. The expression “states (plural) of consciousness” shows the basic intuition that consciousness can exist in many different states. Therefore, consciousness is not its states. It is the existence of subjective experiences, whatever they are.

    It is obvious that specific states, like the “normal waking state”, will be associated to certain conditions of the brain. Nobody in his sane mind would ever deny the reciprocal connection between mind and brain.

    The statement:

    “Consciousness appears to arise naturally as a result of a brain maximizing its information content.”

    is as justified by facts as the statement:

    “A condition where the brain maximizes its information content appears to arise naturally as a result of a certain state of consciousness (the “normal waking state”).”

    One of the basic principles in methodology is: an association is not evidence of a cause-effect relationship. Least of all, of its eventual direction.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this passage from the article:

    Perez Velazquez and colleagues argue that consciousness could simply be an “emergent property” of a system – the brain – that seeks to maximize information exchange and therefore entropy, since doing so aids the survival of the brain’s bearer by allowing them to better model their environment. On the question of entropy, however, Guevarra Erra is cautious. He says that personally he would like to have a better understanding of the physical processes taking place in the brain before employing the label “entropy”, explaining that Perez Velazquez was keen to use the term in their paper.

    I’m with Guevarra Erra on this. I think Velazquez jumped the gun big time trying to label consciousness as ‘an “emergent property” of a system – the brain – that seeks to maximize information exchange and therefore entropy’.

    First off, consciousness ‘precedes’ the entropic processes of the universe. Therefore consciousness can never be the result of the thermodynamic processes of the brain or any other material entity in the universe. The fact that consciousness must precede the entropic processes of the universe is revealed by the quantum zeno effect.

    Quantum Zeno Effect
    The quantum Zeno effect is,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Zeno_effect

    Interaction-free measurements by quantum Zeno stabilization of ultracold atoms – 14 April 2015
    Excerpt: In our experiments, we employ an ultracold gas in an unstable spin configuration, which can undergo a rapid decay. The object—realized by a laser beam—prevents this decay because of the indirect quantum Zeno effect and thus, its presence can be detected without interacting with a single atom.
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2.....S-20150415

    The reason why the Quantum Zeno effect is impressive as to establishing the primacy of consciousness in reality is, for one thing, that Entropy is, by a wide margin, the most finely tuned of the initial conditions of the Big Bang:

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.
    (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)

    It is also of interest to note just how foundational entropy is in its explanatory power for the actions within the space-time of the universe:

    Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012
    Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,
    Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy. ,,,
    The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,,
    http://crev.info/2012/10/shini.....rk-energy/

    And yet, despite entropy’s broad explanatory power, conscious observation puts a freeze on entropic decay. To repeat:

    Quantum Zeno effect
    Excerpt: The quantum Zeno effect is,,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    per wiki

    Interaction-free measurements by quantum Zeno stabilization of ultracold atoms – 14 April 2015
    Excerpt: In our experiments, we employ an ultracold gas in an unstable spin configuration, which can undergo a rapid decay. The object—realized by a laser beam—prevents this decay because of the indirect quantum Zeno effect and thus, its presence can be detected without interacting with a single atom.
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2.....S-20150415

    It is simply impossible that conscious observation should put a freeze on entropic decay, unless consciousness was/is more foundational to reality than the 1 in 10^10^123 entropy is. In other words, consciousness must precede the entropy of the universe.
    The fact that it is found that consciousness must precede the entropic processes of the material universe should not be all that surprising for people to find out. Indeed it should be ‘small potatoes’ for people to find out since, as far as quantum mechanics is concerned, ‘reality doesn’t exist without an observer’

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    “Reality is in the observations, not in the electron.”
    – Paul Davies

    Secondly, in my contention that Velazquez jumped the gun big time in trying to say that consciousness is merely a “emergent property” of the thermodynamic processes of the brain, it is now found that the thermodynamics of a living system are vastly different than the ‘random thermodynamic jostling of atoms and molecules in inanimate matter of the same complexity. In fact, living matter seems to behave in its order and its structure just like inanimate cooled down to near absolute zero. Where quantum effects play a very important role.’

    Jim Al-Khalili, at the 2:30 minute mark of the following video states,
    “,,and Physicists and Chemists have had a long time to try and get use to it (Quantum Mechanics). Biologists, on the other hand have got off lightly in my view. They are very happy with their balls and sticks models of molecules. The balls are the atoms. The sticks are the bonds between the atoms. And when they can’t build them physically in the lab nowadays they have very powerful computers that will simulate a huge molecule.,, It doesn’t really require much in the way of quantum mechanics in the way to explain it.”
    At the 6:52 minute mark of the video, Jim Al-Khalili goes on to state:
    “To paraphrase, (Erwin Schrödinger in his book “What Is Life”), he says at the molecular level living organisms have a certain order. A structure to them that’s very different from the random thermodynamic jostling of atoms and molecules in inanimate matter of the same complexity. In fact, living matter seems to behave in its order and its structure just like inanimate cooled down to near absolute zero. Where quantum effects play a very important role. There is something special about the structure, about the order, inside a living cell. So Schrodinger speculated that maybe quantum mechanics plays a role in life”.
    Jim Al-Khalili – Quantum biology – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOzCkeTPR3Q

    Molecular Biology – 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCs3WXHqOv8&index=3&list=PLtAP1KN7ahiYxgYCc-0xiUAhNWjT4q6LD

    Finding quantum entanglement/coherence in molecular biology on such a massive scale, i.e. in every DNA and protein molecule, (as was highlighted in the preceding video), is very antagonistic to any materialistic explanation since the inherent non-locality of quantum entanglement/coherence requires a beyond space and time cause to explain its effect. A beyond space and time cause that simply is not reducible to any materialistic explanation:

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Quantum correlations do not imply instant causation – August 12, 2016
    Excerpt: A research team led by a Heriot-Watt scientist has shown that the universe is even weirder than had previously been thought.
    In 2015 the universe was officially proven to be weird. After many decades of research, a series of experiments showed that distant, entangled objects can seemingly interact with each other through what Albert Einstein famously dismissed as “Spooky action at a distance”.
    A new experiment by an international team led by Heriot-Watt’s Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi has now found that the universe is even weirder than that: entangled objects do not cause each other to behave the way they do.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-08-q.....ation.html

    Experimental test of nonlocal causality – August 10, 2016
    DISCUSSION
    Previous work on causal explanations beyond local hidden-variable models focused on testing Leggett’s crypto-nonlocality (7, 42, 43), a class of models with a very specific choice of hidden variable that is unrelated to Bell’s local causality (44). In contrast, we make no assumptions on the form of the hidden variable and test all models ,,,
    Our results demonstrate that a causal influence from one measurement outcome to the other, which may be subluminal, superluminal, or even instantaneous, cannot explain the observed correlations.,,,
    http://advances.sciencemag.org.....00162.full

    Thirdly, (in my contention that Velazquez jumped the gun big time), finding quantum entanglement/coherence in life is problematic from another angle for his wished for thermodynamic explanation of ’emergent consciousness’. Whenever quantum entanglement is involved, thermodynamics processes are simply ‘different’ than they normally would be in normal systems that do not exhibit entanglement. This ‘different’ fact was proven here:

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    Scientists show how to erase information without using energy – January 2011
    Excerpt: Until now, scientists have thought that the process of erasing information requires energy. But a new study shows that, theoretically, information can be erased without using any energy at all. Instead, the cost of erasure can be paid in terms of another conserved quantity, such as spin angular momentum.,,, “Landauer said that information is physical because it takes energy to erase it. We are saying that the reason it (information) is physical has a broader context than that.”, Vaccaro explained.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....nergy.html

    New Scientist astounds: Information is physical – May 13, 2016
    Excerpt: Recently came the most startling demonstration yet: a tiny machine powered purely by information, which chilled metal through the power of its knowledge. This seemingly magical device could put us on the road to new, more efficient nanoscale machines, a better understanding of the workings of life, and a more complete picture of perhaps our most fundamental theory of the physical world.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-physical/

    Information: From Maxwell’s demon to Landauer’s eraser – Lutz and Ciliberto – Oct. 25, 2015 – Physics Today
    Excerpt: The above examples of gedanken-turned-real experiments provide a firm empirical foundation for the physics of information and tangible evidence of the intimate connection between information and energy. They have been followed by additional experiments and simulations along similar lines.12 (See, for example, Physics Today, August 2014, page 60.) Collectively, that body of experimental work further demonstrates the equivalence of information and thermodynamic entropies at thermal equilibrium.,,,
    (2008) Sagawa and Ueda’s (theoretical) result extends the second law to explicitly incorporate information; it shows that information, entropy, and energy should be treated on equal footings.
    http://www.johnboccio.com/rese.....mation.pdf
    J. Parrondo, J. Horowitz, and T. Sagawa. Thermodynamics of information.
    Nature Physics, 11:131-139, 2015.

    Of supplemental note is this post from last month:

    There simply is no reductive materialistic explanation for atheistic materialists to appeal to in order to try to explain why the waking brain would be instantaneously synchronized.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616612
    Whereas the Theist does have a ‘beyond space and time’, i.e. non-local, cause to appeal to in order to explain the instantaneous correlations of the waking brain:,,,

    Verse and Music

    Isaiah 50:4
    The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me each morning; He awakens My ear to listen like those being instructed.

    Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YxaaGgTQYM
    Lyric Excerpt: Only you are the life among the dead
    All this time I can’t believe I couldn’t see
    Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
    I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems
    Got to open my eyes to everything
    Without a thought, without a voice, without a soul
    Don’t let me die here
    There must be something more
    Bring me to life
    (Wake me up)
    Wake me up inside,,,

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Researchers posit way to locally circumvent Second Law of Thermodynamics – October 20, 2016
    Excerpt: “It establishes a connection between well-documented quantum physics processes and the theoretical quantum channels that make up quantum information theory.”
    The work predicts certain conditions under which the H-theorem might be violated and entropy—in the short term—might actually decrease.,,,
    “Although the violation is only on the local scale, the implications are far-reaching,” Vinokur said. “This provides us a platform for the practical realization of a quantum Maxwell’s demon, which could make possible a local quantum perpetual motion machine.”
    For example, he said, the principle could be designed into a “refrigerator” which could be cooled remotely—that is, the energy expended to cool it could take place anywhere.
    The authors are planning to work closely with a team of experimentalists to design a proof-of-concept system, they said.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-10-p.....amics.html

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