What is consciousness quantum physics
Human consciousness is one of the grand mysteries of our time on earth. How do you know that you are “you”. Does your sense of being aware of yourself come from your mind or is it your body that is creating it What really happens when you enter an “altered” state of consciousness with the help of some chemical or plant? Are animals conscious? While you would think this basic enigma of our self-awareness would be at the forefront of scientific inquiry, science does not yet have strong answers to these questions.
One way to think of consciousness is to conceive of it as a byproduct of numerous computations that are happening in your brain.
The integrated information theory, created by neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, proposes that conscious experience is an integration of a great of amount of information that comes into our brain, and that this experience is irreducible. Your brain interweaves a sophisticated information web from sensory and cognitive inputs.
The global workspace theory of consciousness, developed by Bernard Baars, a neuroscientist at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, says that maybe consciousness is simply the act of broadcasting information around the brain from a memory bank.
But there are some who think our attempts at understanding the nature of consciousness through neuroscience are doomed to fail unless quantum mechanics is involved. World-renowned Oxford University mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, for one, thinks that consciousness has quantum origins.
Together with noted anesthesiologist Stuart Hammeroff, who teaches at the University of Arizona, Penrose came up with the Orchestrated Objective Reduction theory of the mind. The theory is somewhat outlandish, but cannot be easily dismissed considering that Roger Penrose is regarded by many as one of the world’s most brilliant people for his contributions in cosmology and general relativity. He is known also for his prize-winning work with Stephen Hawking on black holes. Physicist Lee Smolin once remarked that Penrose is “one of the very few people I’ve met in my life who, without reservation, I call a genius.”
What Is Consciousness
This question itself can and does easily occupy volumes of well thought out scholarly texts, ranging from modern neuroscience to philosophy, both ancient and modern (with some helpful thinking on the issue even showing up in the realm of theology). I will, therefore, be brief in laying the groundwork of the discussion, by citing some key points of consideration
We all have subjective experiences that feel a certain way, which cannot at present be decisively linked to specific neurological locations in the human brain
Attempts to simulate the fullness of human consciousness within a computer (artificial intelligence) has not succeeded
Free Will, Determinism, and Quantum Consciousness Some proponents of quantum consciousness have put forth the idea that quantum indeterminacy — the fact that a quantum system can never predict an outcome with certainty, but only as a probability from among the various possible states – would mean that quantum consciousness resolves the problem of whether or not humans actually have free will. So the argument goes, if our consciousness is governed by quantum physical processes, then they are not deterministic, and we, therefore, have free will.
There are a number of problems with this, which are summed up quite well in these quotes from neuroscientist Sam Harris in his short book Free Will (where he is arguing against free will, as commonly understood):
If determinism is true, the future is set — and this includes all our future states of mind and our subsequent behavior. And to the extent that the law of cause and effect is subject to indeterminism–quantum or otherwise–we can take no credit for what happens. There is no combination of these truths that seems compatible with the popular notion of free will.
Let’s consider what Harris is talking about here. For example, one of the best-known cases of quantum indeterminacy is the quantum double slit experiment, in which quantum theory tells us that there is absolutely no way to predict with certainty which slit a given particle is going to go through unless we actually make an observation of it going through the slit. However, there is nothing about our choice of making this measurement which determines which slit the particle will go through. In the basic configuration of this experiment, there is an even 50% chance it’ll go through either slit and if we’re observing the slits then the experimental results will match that distribution randomly.
The place in this situation where we do appear to have some sort of “choice” (in the sense it is commonly understood) is that we can choose whether or not we’re going to make the observation. If we don’t make the observation, then the particle doesn’t go through a specific slit. It instead goes through both slits and the result is an interference pattern on the other side of the screen. But that’s not the part of the situation that philosophers and pro-free will advocates invoke when they’re talking about quantum indeterminacy because that is really an option between doing nothing and doing one of two deterministic outcomes.
What is consciousness quantum physics. What is consciousness quantum physics. What is consciousness quantum physics. What is consciousness quantum physics