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  1. #1
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    Why Physicists are saying Consciousness is a state of matter like solid, liquid & gas

    There’s a quiet revolution underway in theoretical physics. For as long as the discipline has existed, physicists have been reluctant to discuss consciousness, considering it a topic for quacks and charlatans. Indeed, the mere mention of the ‘c’ word could ruin careers.

    That’s finally beginning to change thanks to a fundamentally new way of thinking about consciousness that is spreading like wildfire through the theoretical physics community. And while the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss.

    Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart.

    Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. “I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness,” he says.

    He goes on to show how the particular properties of consciousness might arise from the physical laws that govern our universe. And he explains how these properties allow physicists to reason about the conditions under which consciousness arises and how we might exploit it to better understand why the world around us appears as it does.

    Interestingly, the new approach to consciousness has come from outside the physics community, principally from neuroscientists such as Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

    In 2008, Tononi proposed that a system demonstrating consciousness must have two specific traits. First, the system must be able to store and process large amounts of information. In other words consciousness is essentially a phenomenon of information.

    And second, this information must be integrated in a unified whole so that it is impossible to divide into independent parts. That reflects the experience that each instance of consciousness is a unified whole that cannot be decomposed into separate components.

    Both of these traits can be specified mathematically allowing physicists like Tegmark to reason about them for the first time. He begins by outlining the basic properties that a conscious system must have.

    Given that it is a phenomenon of information, a conscious system must be able to store in a memory and retrieve it efficiently.

    It must also be able to to process this data, like a computer but one that is much more flexible and powerful than the silicon-based devices we are familiar with.

    Tegmark borrows the term computronium to describe matter that can do this and cites other work showing that today’s computers underperform the theoretical limits of computing by some 38 orders of magnitude.

    Clearly, there is so much room for improvement that allows for the performance of conscious systems.

    Next, Tegmark discusses perceptronium, defined as the most general substance that feels subjectively self-aware. This substance should not only be able to store and process information but in a way that forms a unified, indivisible whole. That also requires a certain amount of independence in which the information dynamics is determined from within rather than externally.

    Finally, Tegmark uses this new way of thinking about consciousness as a lens through which to study one of the fundamental problems of quantum mechanics known as the quantum factorisation problem.

    This arises because quantum mechanics describes the entire universe using three mathematical entities: an object known as a Hamiltonian that describes the total energy of the system; a density matrix that describes the relationship between all the quantum states in the system; and Schrodinger’s equation which describes how these things change with time.

    The problem is that when the entire universe is described in these terms, there are an infinite number of mathematical solutions that include all possible quantum mechanical outcomes and many other even more exotic possibilities.

    So the problem is why we perceive the universe as the semi-classical, three dimensional world that is so familiar. When we look at a glass of iced water, we perceive the liquid and the solid ice cubes as independent things even though they are intimately linked as part of the same system. How does this happen? Out of all possible outcomes, why do we perceive this solution?

    Tegmark does not have an answer. But what’s fascinating about his approach is that it is formulated using the language of quantum mechanics in a way that allows detailed scientific reasoning. And as a result it throws up all kinds of new problems that physicists will want to dissect in more detail.

    Take for example, the idea that the information in a conscious system must be unified. That means the system must contain error-correcting codes that allow any subset of up to half the information to be reconstructed from the rest.

    Tegmark points out that any information stored in a special network known as a Hopfield neural net automatically has this error-correcting facility. However, he calculates that a Hopfield net about the size of the human brain with 10^11 neurons, can only store 37 bits of integrated information.

    “This leaves us with an integration paradox: why does the information content of our conscious experience appear to be vastly larger than 37 bits?” asks Tegmark.

    That’s a question that many scientists might end up pondering in detail. For Tegmark, this paradox suggests that his mathematical formulation of consciousness is missing a vital ingredient. “This strongly implies that the integration principle must be supplemented by at least one additional principle,” he says. Suggestions please in the comments section!

    And yet the power of this approach is in the assumption that consciousness does not lie beyond our ken; that there is no “secret sauce” without which it cannot be tamed.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of young physicists embarked on a quest to explain a few strange but seemingly small anomalies in our understanding of the universe. In deriving the new theories of relativity and quantum mechanics, they ended up changing the way we comprehend the cosmos. These physcists, at least some of them, are now household names.

    Could it be that a similar revolution is currently underway at the beginning of the 21st century?
    http://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/5e7ed624986d


    Seems like new scientific ideas are catching up to Whitehead and de Chardin.......

    IMO makes much more scientific and philosophical sense than simply having consciousness appear for no apparent reason in something like the brain.
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    1/2 Agree with title.
    Cliffs on Op?
    Last edited by whatisbro; 03-20-2014 at 01:06 AM.
    http://yhwhthetruegod.blogspot.com
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    Originally Posted by whatisbro View Post
    Agree with title.
    Cliffs on Op?
    Consciousness is an "information integration" which is a particular state of matter.

    Just like the arrangement of molecules determines the state of matter (high kinesis=gas, etc) the degree of the integration of information will yield consciousness-like or experiential properties.

    It's a development of the integrated information theory I posted some stuff on awhile ago
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    Originally Posted by Myriad88 View Post
    Consciousness is an "information integration" which is a particular state of matter.

    Just like the arrangement of molecules determines the state of matter (high kinesis=gas, etc) the degree of the integration of information will yield consciousness-like or experiential properties.

    It's a development of the integrated information theory I posted some stuff on awhile ago
    If I've understood it, consciousness can be described mathematically?

    I thought about this when we were discussing the holographic universe.











    Again, that's if I've understood correctly.....!
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    Originally Posted by guyver79 View Post
    If I've understood it, consciousness can be described mathematically?

    I thought about this when we were discussing the holographic universe.











    Again, that's if I've understood correctly.....!

    I don't think its accurate to say consciousness can be completely captured by math, but its a step in the correct direction
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    Interesting post.


    He goes on to show how the particular properties of consciousness might arise from the physical laws that govern our universe. And he explains how these properties allow physicists to reason about the conditions under which consciousness arises and how we might exploit it to better understand why the world around us appears as it does.

    ...

    And yet the power of this approach is in the assumption that consciousness does not lie beyond our ken; that there is no “secret sauce” without which it cannot be tamed.
    I have no problem with the idea that there may be some important principles missing in our theories of information. Conceptualizing consciousness as a fifth state of matter may yield something useful.
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    Only read title but i thought it was already pretty well established that consciousness is a result of the physical organisation of the brain and the interactions between those areas?



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    Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος lasher's Avatar
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    You thought wrong
    "Dionysus has undone us. Too late I see it."

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    Originally Posted by Myriad88 View Post
    I don't think its accurate to say consciousness can be completely captured by math, but its a step in the correct direction
    Why not completely described by maths?
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    Originally Posted by guyver79 View Post
    Why not completely described by maths?
    What's mathematical about this:




    The thing about conscious experience is that it's in a sense, informationally irreducible. There's not much more you can say about, say, the experience of blue other than it's simply "that". You have to sort of privately "see" it before you know what the nature of bluish-ness is.
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    Originally Posted by Myriad88 View Post
    What's mathematical about this:



    .
    Whats mathematical is how much money I make after I dye my hair pink, pierce my nipples, and transfer this over to canvas titled "consciousness"
    Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
    Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
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    Originally Posted by Myriad88 View Post
    What's mathematical about this:




    The thing about conscious experience is that it's in a sense, informationally irreducible. There's not much more you can say about, say, the experience of blue other than it's simply "that". You have to sort of privately "see" it before you know what the nature of bluish-ness is.
    What do mean "what's mathematical about it?"

    Everything is mathematical about it otherwise how else am I able to see it?

    My phone is able to read the information and display the image on my screen.

    So yes a blue square can be described in terms of information how else are you able to post it?

    It's blue because of how it absorbs light, that colour is what we name blue it has very real measurable properties.
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    Originally Posted by guyver79 View Post
    What do mean "what's mathematical about it?"

    Everything is mathematical about it otherwise how else am I able to see it?

    My phone is able to read the information and display the image on my screen.

    So yes a blue square can be described in terms of information how else are you able to post it?

    It's blue because of how it absorbs light, that colour is what we name blue it has very real measurable properties.

    That doesnt explain anything about the essence of blue. Someone colourblind wouldnt know what blue was like if they knew about its wavelength or the fact it was information of some kind.
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    Originally Posted by Myriad88 View Post
    That doesnt explain anything about the essence of blue. Someone colourblind wouldnt know what blue was like if they knew about its wavelength or the fact it was information of some kind.
    Yes it does, it's an actual science myriad.

    Whether or not someone can interpret the information doesn't mean that it can't be described mathematically.

    Most people can't understand complex equations but the they still exist, in fact if I was to post the equation of a blue square most wouldn't look at it and think a "blue square"
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    Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος lasher's Avatar
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    so what's the equation for the sensation of blue. Not what pixal colors in my screen make blue. How about the blue square paper on my desk here. What's the mathematical equation for my sensation of its blueness.
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    Originally Posted by lasher View Post
    so what's the equation for the sensation of blue. Not what pixal colors in my screen make blue. How about the blue square paper on my desk here. What's the mathematical equation for my sensation of its blueness.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue


    Spectral coordinates

    Wavelength
    450–495 nm

    Frequency
    ~670–610 THz

    Colour coordinates

    Hex triplet
    #0000FF

    sRGBB (r, g, b)
    (0, 0, 255)

    HSV (h, s, v)
    (240°, 100%, 100%)

    B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)


    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorimetry

    Colorimetry is "the science and technology used to quantify and describe physically the human color perception."[1] It is similar to spectrophotometry, but is distinguished by its interest in reducing spectra to the physical correlates of color perception, most often the CIE 1931 XYZ color space tristimulus values and related quantities.[2]
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    Originally Posted by guyver79 View Post
    Yes it does, it's an actual science myriad.

    Whether or not someone can interpret the information doesn't mean that it can't be described mathematically.

    Most people can't understand complex equations but the they still exist, in fact if I was to post the equation of a blue square most wouldn't look at it and think a "blue square"

    guyver, you don't geddit. It's a whole other ballpark--you're describing at best, the events that lead up to a sensation of blue.

    But the actual experience of blue is irreducibly subjective--to know what "blue" is like, you simply have to experience it.
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    Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος lasher's Avatar
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    You just gave me formulas for displaying blue on a pixel. You gave me the wavelength of light that is blue. That isn't what I asked. I asked what is the equation for my sensation of blueness. You said it could be completely mathematized. Just telling me blue light has a wavelength of 450nm does not explain anything about my experience of blueness.
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    So scientists are close to discovering the human spirit or soul which contains our consciousness?
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    Guyver doesnt even Jacksons knowledge argument, it seems.


    If there was a born-deaf scientist who was a leading expert in the neurology of hearing and the auditory cortex, would he know what Beethoven's fifth symphony is like?
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    Originally Posted by sawoobley View Post
    So scientists are close to discovering the human spirit or soul which contains our consciousness?
    I wouldnt say that. I've been seeing different "findings" and theories like this pop up all over facebook, science sites etc. I think it's more accurate to say "matter" and "mind" are referring to the same thing which is reducible to neither.


    Science is finally catching up to Whitehead, if anything.
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    Originally Posted by lasher View Post
    You just gave me formulas for displaying blue on a pixel. You gave me the wavelength of light that is blue. That isn't what I asked. I asked what is the equation for my sensation of blueness. You said it could be completely mathematized. Just telling me blue light has a wavelength of 450nm does not explain anything about my experience of blueness.
    I just gave you a link to colorimatry it's right there in my post^^^^^

    Colorimetry is "the science and technology used to quantify and describe physically the human color perception."[1] It is similar to spectrophotometry, but is distinguished by its interest in reducing spectra to the physical correlates of color perception, most often the CIE 1931 XYZ color space tristimulus values and related quantities.[2]
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    Originally Posted by guyver79 View Post
    I just gave you a link to colorimatry it's right there in my post^^^^^

    Colorimetry is "the science and technology used to quantify and describe physically the human color perception."[1] It is similar to spectrophotometry, but is distinguished by its interest in reducing spectra to the physical correlates of color perception, most often the CIE 1931 XYZ color space tristimulus values and related quantities.[2]
    So someone completely colorblind could see that (or better yet, someone completely blind reading it in braille) and suddenly know what blue is like, phenomenologically?
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    Originally Posted by lasher View Post
    You just gave me formulas for displaying blue on a pixel.
    No he didnt.
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    Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος lasher's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kenonator View Post
    No he didnt.
    yes, he did. along with the wavelength of blue light. Nor does Colorimetry address the phenomological experience of blueness.
    "Dionysus has undone us. Too late I see it."

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    It's interesting to see someone defend their position by acting as if anything not consistent with it doesnt actually exist.
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    Matter is just condensed energy.
    keep rep trading out of your sig
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    Originally Posted by Myriad88 View Post
    So someone completely colorblind could see that (or better yet, someone completely blind reading it in braille) and suddenly know what blue is like, phenomenologically?
    You asked me what was mathematical about that blue square I answered you, I'm not looking to argue, I just stated the fact that colour and human perception is quantifiable.

    If someone is colour blind the information is still there they will just perceive it differently.

    We're surrounded by colour we can't see, it still exists.

    Actually the Horizon program on senses that was on the other week went into how blind people perceive colours and sounds that trigger tastes and how people perceive things.

    I think somebody posted a picture of a dog in the R/P, and that horizon program went into why we recognize a dog (They used a deer as an example) it's interesting stuff.
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    "...it is in the nature of consciousness that it mis-perceives the gap which separates it from "raw nature": the Self is its own appearance, since it is a model which cannot perceive itself as a model, and thus exists only insofar as it does not perceive itself as a model- or, to quote Thomas Metzinger's concise formulation:'what in philosophy of mind is called the phenomenal self and what in scientific or folk-psychological contexts frequently is simply referred to as the self is the content of a phenomenally transparent self-model.'"

    idk ne more srs

    you cant perceive consciousness bc it's transparent?

    this book may be good, idk

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    Originally Posted by lasher View Post
    yes, he did. along with the wavelength of blue light. Nor does Colorimetry address the phenomological experience of blueness.
    The mathematics of colour perception.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_perception

    A humanly perceived color may be modeled as three numbers: the extents to which each of the 3 types of cones is stimulated. Thus a humanly perceived color may be thought of as a point in 3-dimensional Euclidean space. We call this space R3color.

    Since each wavelength w stimulates each of the 3 types of cone cells to a known extent, these extents may be represented by 3 functions s(w), m(w), l(w) corresponding to the response of the S, M, and L cone cells, respectively.

    Finally, since a beam of light can be composed of many different wavelengths, to determine the extent to which a physical color C in Hcolor stimulates each cone cell, we must calculate the integral (with respect to w), over the interval [Wmin,Wmax], of C(w)·s(w), of C(w)·m(w), and of C(w)·l(w). The triple of resulting numbers associates to each physical color C (which is an element in Hcolor) to a particular perceived color (which is a single point in R3color). This association is easily seen to be linear. It may also easily be seen that many different elements in the "physical" space Hcolor can all result in the same single perceived color in R3color, so a perceived color is not unique to one physical color.

    Thus human color perception is determined by a specific, non-unique linear mapping from the infinite-dimensional Hilbert space Hcolor to the 3-dimensional Euclidean space R3color.
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