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ORCH OR (Penrose/Hameroff) - First test of their theory of Quantum Consciousness

extropy

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I'm still trying to understand this so bear with me...

So best current theories say consciousness takes place through neural spikes in the brain. i understand this isn't concrete as we don't know why or how yet, and that this is not a full explanation. but Penrose and Hameroff suggest consciousness is quantum in nature, and takes place at the level of the microtubules within the brain.

Scientists will conduct a very similar experiment to the one that showed plant photosynthesis utilises quantum superposition, and will apply this technique to the tubulin within the brain - looking for superposition. in fact it will be done by the same guy that did those experiments.

Now with Hameroff being an expert in anesthesia, he has used his understanding to create a testable prediction....

So, if they demonstrate that superposition happens within the tubulin, and it doesn't go away when anesthesia is introduced, the theory will be proven wrong - the quantum behaviour of the microtubules will still be doing their thing, but consciousness would not be there (in the brain), therefore the quantum behaviour cannot be responsible for consciousness.

But, if superposition does go away with anesthesia, they will have further evidence for their theory, as it shows consciousness is clearly correlated with the quantum properties of the brain.

(Edit: I should say at this point Penrose has a whole mathematical theory on how the wave function collapses but i'm not going into that here.(it's the OR - Orchestrated Reduction part.), I'm just stating what the experiment is here).

I tried to explain that best i could, which was rubbish i'm sure, so for further clarification by the main man, here is a vid of Hameroff explaining this.




By the end of the year we will know for sure whether ORCH OR holds up, its quite exciting!

Max Tegmark is always hot on the heels of these guys though so it will be interesting to see what he says. he keeps having to push his mathematical theories that attempt to debunk quantum consciousness back and back. to begin with he claimed the brain is too warm for quantum coherence to take place (he had 'math' to prove this). but, since warm coherence was shown in plant photosynthesis he's had to revise his objections. ORCH OR still stands as reasonable.


i don't know if my money is on ORCH OR theory, but i do believe consciousness has quantum functioning of some sort due to the overwhelming evidence for PSI. but that's a whooooole 'nother discussion haha.

so I'm not particularly aiming to defend this position, i just thought it's an interesting topic!


the brain is more like a quantum orchestra and consciousness in some sense is like the music
- Stuart Hameroff
 
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Vastness

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best current theories say consciousness takes place through neural spikes in the brain
Hmm......

I haven't looked into these theories at all although they sound interesting. However I do not really see how the experiments as you have described them would prove anything about consciousness. For one, we don't actually know that consciousness does not occur during anaesthesia, or coma, or brain death, for example. All we know is that - seemingly - memories are not recorded, or if they ARE, they are not accessible from our usual waking consciousness.

In general I don't see that it makes much sense trying to look for consciousness as some separate, physically measurable thing that exists separately from the subjective experiential phenomena that we generally use to define consciousness. IMO, the desire to pin down consciousness as it's own thing is a manifestation of the primary ego delusion that is close to the core of the experience of probably every conscious living being - that we are somehow separate, somehow special and apart from the rest of existence, rather than simply being a part of the universe.

For that reason obviously I'm very sceptical of attempts to jump on quantum mechanical pseudomysticism to explain something which traditionally has only been explicable in mystical terms. If quantum superpositions in microtubules turn out to be fundamental to our conscious experience... so what? How does that give rise to qualia? Why is that somehow more interesting than consciousness simply arising from certain emergent patterns of electrical firing between neurons? It's still just going to be a physical mechanism that, it seems to me, does not get us any closer to the why of why we are conscious at all and not just mechanistic automata in an unseen, unheard and unknown universe.

But, I'll have a read about this stuff later. I hope these experiments turn up something interesting nonetheless.
 

relex_author

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I too believe that science's belief that it can explain everything is completely moronic. I have many memories relating to the planning of the physical universe which were in 9th dimension. The physical universe is a vessel which is used by consciousness. Even the machines science uses to measure these phenomena can give faulty results if they want.
 

extropy

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I too believe that science's belief that it can explain everything is completely moronic.

you say science is moronic, yet you say this....

I have many memories relating to the planning of the physical universe which were in 9th dimension.

ok dokey

The physical universe is a vessel which is used by consciousness. Even the machines science uses to measure these phenomena can give faulty results if they want.

if you're saying consciousness is not computable, Penrose would agree. silly
 

Vastness

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Low hanging fruit...

I believe that science might well give us a what, why and how for consciousness one day, but I don't think it makes sense to treat it as one thing, or one mechanism. Superpositions occur outside brain microtubules, are these also the markers of consciousness in whatever substrate they might be found within? What about all the other stuff going on at the higher levels? Is a single neuron conscious? For that matter, if superposition occurs in photosynthesis, are plants conscious? I'm not saying they're not, of course, but I'm also not sure what the current state of this IMO interesting but dubious research says either.

Consciousness - or rather, our perception of consciousness - is an extraordinarily complex phenomenon that is unlikely to be contingent on just one unique feature of human brain tissue.

Again, just IMHO, and this stuff is fun to think about, but looking for consciousness in quantum effects to me is the modern day allegory of trying to measure the weight of the soul.
 

extropy

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Hi!
Hmm......

I haven't looked into these theories at all although they sound interesting.

I'm only paraphrasing Hameroff's understanding, he pretty much says exactly this in the vid. and yes i find it interesting too..!

However I do not really see how the experiments as you have described them would prove anything about consciousness.

it has the ability to prove whether or not consciousness is correlated with certain quantum states, specifically in the microtubules of the brain.

the point of the post is that now, finally after the years of effort that have gone into developing ORCH OR - with Penrose's equations and Hameroff's technical insight into the brain - we now finally have a way of falsifying ORCH OR.
it also makes the novel prediction that quantum superposition will be found in the tubulin.

this is exactly what science asks for, falsifiability and prediction.

For one, we don't actually know that consciousness does not occur during anaesthesia, or coma, or brain death, for example. All we know is that - seemingly - memories are not recorded, or if they ARE, they are not accessible from our usual waking consciousness.

we know that consciousness disappears during general anaesthetic, that's what it does, by definition...
I accept that on rare occasions people become aware during anaesthesia, but generally speaking, anaesthesia knocks you unconscious. from what i understand, memory is explicitly tied to consciousness, so its perfectly logical they both disappear.

In general I don't see that it makes much sense trying to look for consciousness as some separate, physically measurable thing that exists separately from the subjective experiential phenomena that we generally use to define consciousness.

how does this theory imply that consciousness is somehow separate? Hameroff and Penrose both believe that consciousness takes part at the fundamental level of reality. they would probably agree with you, they are just trying to approach it from a modern physics understanding.


IMO, the desire to pin down consciousness as it's own thing is a manifestation of the primary ego delusion that is close to the core of the experience of probably every conscious living being - that we are somehow separate, somehow special and apart from the rest of existence, rather than simply being a part of the universe.
what are you going on about mate i don't really follow? you're here to tell me my interest is ego driven - well i would agree (we are all like that), but i don't understand why we need to attack the whole industry of science just because things are ego driven? this isn't really part of the topic i was trying to raise.
and i certainly don't believe i'm somehow 'special and apart from the rest of existence'??!! where did you even get that from?

For that reason obviously I'm very sceptical of attempts to jump on quantum mechanical pseudomysticism to explain something which traditionally has only been explicable in mystical terms.
what's your problem with science approaching an understanding of mystical states?

And i take offence at the pseudoscience claim heh

If quantum superpositions in microtubules turn out to be fundamental to our conscious experience... so what?
you did say at the beginning of the post you find it interesting?

and err that would be pretty big news because for sooo long now, the current materialist paradigm has completely opposed this idea.
opening up the idea that quantum phenomena could occur between conscious agents say, would tip science on its head...(well not completely, just the materialist dogma. we have science in place and working on these ideas). because if the microtubules are shown to display superposition, there is the possibility it could take part in many aspects of quantum weirdness, like non-locality and entanglement. the implications are not really clear at this point.

How does that give rise to qualia? Why is that somehow more interesting than consciousness simply arising from certain emergent patterns of electrical firing between neurons? It's still just going to be a physical mechanism that, it seems to me, does not get us any closer to the why of why we are conscious at all and not just mechanistic automata in an unseen, unheard and unknown universe.
woah ok, for one, no one knows how qualia arises, that is not what i'm addressing. I do actually think that Penrose addresses that in his math but that's kinda a separate topic.

i'm literally just trying to pass on info that for the first time ORCH OR is now completely falsifiable.

i happen to find that very interesting and thought it was cool enough to pass on...quantum behaviour in the brain, come on dude that's pretty big.

quantum biology was long maligned, thankfully now we're getting some very interesting insights

But, I'll have a read about this stuff later. I hope these experiments turn up something interesting nonetheless.
And look, I'm a layman, i dont pretend to understand quantum mechanics, but i kinda got a tiny grasp on some aspects, but my communication skills are weak. I'm willing to learn from anyone, that is why i have posted - i want to explore and understand these ideas, and have them challenged.
i've had a flirting interest in ORCH OR for a very long time, but knew it wasn't testable, so it was kinda on my back burner. but now science has caught up and can now start investigating this theory more concretely!



peace

Edit: took the 's' off 'maths' - dont kill me for my initial mistake, i understand it's heresy heh
 
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Vastness

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we know that consciousness disappears during general anaesthetic, that's what it does, by definition...
I accept that on rare occasions people become aware during anaesthesia, but generally speaking, anaesthesia knocks you unconscious. from what i understand, memory is explicitly tied to consciousness, so its perfectly logical they both disappear.
I would dispute this. We don't KNOW. What happens is, people do not remember experiencing anything while they are heavily anaesthetised, for the most part. It doesn't mean they aren't. Memory also is not tied to consciousness in a fundamental sense, although it might be in a biomechanical sense. If someone gets a head injury or gets blackout drunk and forgets everything they did the night before - were they not conscious? I'd say they were still conscious while they were awake - they just were not recording memory.

what are you going on about mate i don't really follow? you're here to tell me my interest is ego driven - well i would agree (we are all like that), but i don't understand why we need to attack the whole industry of science just because things are ego driven? this isn't really part of the topic i was trying to raise.
and i certainly don't believe i'm somehow 'special and apart from the rest of existence'??!! where did you even get that from?
Please don't take offense, none was intended, and I'm speaking abstractly, not about you specifically, I don't know anything about you. Also not attacking science, let alone the whole industry, I am a staunch defender of the scientific method. Let me try to explain myself and please try not to take anything I say personally.

Consciousness can be viewed as a deterministic process in many ways, just as stars shine and planets move in their orbits, living beings contemplate their existence because evolution has shaped their minds to do this in order to survive. Consciousness is the inner experiential component of the mechanistic machinery that drives all living beings to explore their world, learn, and survive. I just don't see that it makes sense to try to pin consciousness down to just one specific thing when - in HUMAN consciousness at least - it's likely a complex phenomenon resulting from lots of things.

I think maybe the issue here is I'm not sure what definition of consciousness they are working with or what exactly they're trying to find out (yes, I know, quantum superposition in microtubules, but this relates to consciousness how exactly..?).

Quantum mechanical effects pervade our physical universe so the fact they happen in the brain is not overwhelmingly surprising to me. I'm just not sure what difference - in a natural language sense - this discovery would make to anything. Would it mean a certain type of brain microtuble is required for complex thought? Would it mean every decision is in fact a macro-manifestation of a quantum event? Would it mean the quantum foam is actually the spiritual substrate of all pervading consciousness a la panpsychism?

Any of these things would be interesting results of course. But without any information as to what exactly the implications of consciousness being more or less dependent on some quantum mechanical phenomenon, I just find it hard to get too excited about this. And like it or not, quantum physics has been jumped on by the fringe metaphysical communities as a real life explanation for how magic could be real and any outlandish spiritual ideas now have some kind of flimsy scientific justification, so a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to these things is advisable... IMO.
 

Foreigner

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Thank you for sharing this, I find the topic really fascinating. I actually studied his theory on quantum superposition in photosynthesis and it's wild. Photosynthesis operates through a complicated electron transfer system, and normally it's explained linearly. Once the electron's potential energy is spent at the end of the electron chain, it gets transferred back to the start to be regenerated with light from the Sun. Traditionally, this transfer is explained in a linear way, the electron has a start point and an end point. However, quantum superpositioning suggests that the electron is at both start and finish at the same time. I'm such a huge fan of biology and the field of quantum biology is no exception. Now that they are explaining things on the molecular and even subatomic levels in biology, it only makes sense that they would start applying quantum theory as well.

What Hamerhoff is basically saying is that quantum superposition could be used to explain why consciousness seems global and not local... i.e. it's not located in one part of the brain but the whole brain, simultaneously. It would also explain why consciousness is seamlessly fast. Yet the delay in processing implies that a biological process takes place, at least in part. Superposition means a variable that could be in one place or another place is actually in some mix of all those positions at once. An example is quantum computing... rather than binary 1 and 0, there's a third position that is both and neither. It creates more computing possibilities which are instantaneous. It relies upon quantum probabilities.

Ever since I learned about quantum duplication, entanglement, and superposition, I have felt that these are our best scientific means of explaining consciousness. Consciousness has to be a quantum function. It's too non-linear. It also doesn't conflict with spirituality. Individuated consciousness could simultaneously be connected to a God consciousness, since consciousness doesn't have to be in one place or another. It's not fixed like physical matter.

Properties of consciousness:
- can exist separately from the body
- can travel from points A to B instantly, without experience of distance
- can be in past, present, or future
- can be focused or global
- can be in two places at once
- can experience instantly, without lag time
- can be self-aware, constructive, or dissolutive
- the whole doesn't cease when a part is damaged
- has linear and non-linear functions

I'm glad people are doing this work. Selfishly, I don't want them to figure it out because at this point in humanity's development it would be abused. That said, it would help us immensely to know the brain portion of consciousness function for the treatment of physical disease. Eventually science is going to merge with metaphysics and then the spiritual whole will be complete... but that may take centuries.
 

Vastness

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What Hamerhoff is basically saying is that quantum superposition could be used to explain why consciousness seems global and not local... i.e. it's not located in one part of the brain but the whole brain, simultaneously. It would also explain why consciousness is seamlessly fast. Yet the delay in processing implies that a biological process takes place, at least in part. Superposition means a variable that could be in one place or another place is actually in some mix of all those positions at once. An example is quantum computing... rather than binary 1 and 0, there's a third position that is both and neither. It creates more computing possibilities which are instantaneous. It relies upon quantum probabilities.
Interesting. For some reason the idea of the brain as a quantum computer I find a more accessible analogy.

- can travel from points A to B instantly, without experience of distance
- can be in past, present, or future
A few of your properties gave me pause, but these 2 in particular... are we talking just thinking about stuff, different places, the past or future? Or actually BEING in those places? I mean, I guess consciousness was presumably in the past at one point and will be in the future if our memory and expectations are to be believed, although I'm not certain I understand your meanings correctly. I feel like some of your perceptions here are possibly influenced by or relating to your experiences with astral projection which you've alluded to a few times, and I am hopelessly curious about, but I don't think you've ever responded to my requests for elaboration. 😭 This maybe isn't the thread for it but I do hope you'll indulge my curiousity one day. :sneaky:
 

extropy

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Hey!
I would dispute this. We don't KNOW. What happens is, people do not remember experiencing anything while they are heavily anaesthetised, for the most part. It doesn't mean they aren't. Memory also is not tied to consciousness in a fundamental sense, although it might be in a biomechanical sense. If someone gets a head injury or gets blackout drunk and forgets everything they did the night before - were they not conscious? I'd say they were still conscious while they were awake - they just were not recording memory.
I do get what you're saying, and i'm happy to assume they are tied at the biomechanical level. i happen to think they go further down but for the sake of argument you could say that.
i've had experiences on a variety of substances where i've lost time, ya know, blacked out, not a clue what i did, and wake up with black eyes and cuts etc (self caused from bumping into stuff i presume?!). and it always gets me thinking about what is actually happening to my consciousness at that time. is my 'consciousness refresh rate' sped up or slowed down so much - and is cycling so erratically - that it loses the tie or whatever it is that keeps memory and consciousness so interlinked, and then just kinda goes off on its own?! it's hard to say.

Please don't take offense, none was intended, and I'm speaking abstractly, not about you specifically, I don't know anything about you. Also not attacking science, let alone the whole industry, I am a staunch defender of the scientific method. Let me try to explain myself and please try not to take anything I say personally.
Hey dude, i didn't take offense, looking at it, it looks like it was me who maybe came off slightly combative or angry, that was not my intention mate.
i actually agree personally, with pretty much everything you've written here, and the interesting questions you raise. I'm just trying to explain ORCH OR as best i can. i personally don't know if its true, but it seems to hold weight.

Consciousness can be viewed as a deterministic process in many ways, just as stars shine and planets move in their orbits, living beings contemplate their existence because evolution has shaped their minds to do this in order to survive.
that's the thing about this theory, Penrose says consciousness takes part in a non computable influence from spacetime geometry. perhaps he's talking about quantum indeterminacy, i'm exactly not sure.

he does go even further and says it's a type of Will, or Choice, which initiates an action. he has room for free will within this theory.

Consciousness is the inner experiential component of the mechanistic machinery that drives all living beings to explore their world, learn, and survive. I just don't see that it makes sense to try to pin consciousness down to just one specific thing when - in HUMAN consciousness at least - it's likely a complex phenomenon resulting from lots of things.
i'm not really trying to pin it to one thing, but it does follow that if consciousness is fundamental, everything could be entangled (perhaps right from the big bang)...that would be one thing?!

but yes, the brain is hugley complex, and for human consciousness, like you said, they'd be a whole range of variables. but for the core awareness, the Seat of Being - behind human body-mind, right down at the quantum level - that may be where our perspective actually comes from.

*i think* Penrose is suggesting his idea of conscious will, is preserved right from the change in a quantum state, to a macro event in the brain.


I think maybe the issue here is I'm not sure what definition of consciousness they are working with or what exactly they're trying to find out (yes, I know, quantum superposition in microtubules, but this relates to consciousness how exactly..?).
all that is being looked for at this point, is for quantum behaviour in the brain to cease while under anaesthetic - this is what is predicted by the model. again, we'd probably say that's obvious, from you and I's perspective, but it wasn't obvious for mainstream science until only recently, so these are baby steps.

they have a working model of consciousness with an actual mechanism, and they're just testing it to see where it goes. there are still a lot of postulates, especially from Penrose's side, which still need confirming. but they are literally working with a testable model for consciousness when no one else really is. even the materialists.

but man i admit i'm finding it real tricky, we're reaching the point at which i start to stutter if i'm honest!


listening to Penrose on consciousness on youtube is fun and will give you an idea of the more technical side (he also has papers out there). here Penrose admits we still don't have a clear definition of consciousness, but he has assigned it some qualities like uncomputability and will.

this one with Lex Fridmen is great!


Quantum mechanical effects pervade our physical universe so the fact they happen in the brain is not overwhelmingly surprising to me.
to someone like you with an open mind, quantum biology seems obvious, it does to me too. but for a long time it has been treated like dirt by dogmatists.

I'm just not sure what difference - in a natural language sense - this discovery would make to anything. Would it mean a certain type of brain microtuble is required for complex thought? Would it mean every decision is in fact a macro-manifestation of a quantum event? Would it mean the quantum foam is actually the spiritual substrate of all pervading consciousness a la panpsychism?
haha, yes to all perhaps?!

but for one, it would be further evidence for PSI. what if through these experiments, we find that consciousness can indeed be at two places at once, remote viewing would be seen more clearly. what if we're able to discover how to entangle two separate consciousness so they can share information, essentially telepathically. and if your consciousness is quantum, perhaps it means it's pre biological, so there may be room for some survival after death here.
the mystics may be fully vindicated if this theory is true.

yes, you'd have to be careful of woo entering at this point, but i am talking about genuine possibilities, and logical inferences, from the initial assumptions. i'm not promoting pseudoscience here (perhaps it doesn't help my message when my username is pseudo (perhaps...) scientific heh).

i'm actually quite partial to panpsychism myself, i've thought along those lines for some time, and it's interesting to see it's currently enjoying a resurgence.
people like Philip Goff, Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes, and Matthew Segall in particular, have been making great defences of it.

i think Tononi's Integrated Information Theory is fascinating too, and has panpsychist leanings, but they're nowhere near the point of a testable prediction.

Any of these things would be interesting results of course. But without any information as to what exactly the implications of consciousness being more or less dependent on some quantum mechanical phenomenon, I just find it hard to get too excited about this. And like it or not, quantum physics has been jumped on by the fringe metaphysical communities as a real life explanation for how magic could be real and any outlandish spiritual ideas now have some kind of flimsy scientific justification, so a healthy amount of skepticism when it comes to these things is advisable... IMO.
oh yes, i like to keep my razors sharp!


I tried to answer your questions as best i could mate, i hope it makes at least some sense. but like i said my understanding is a little stretched here and i'm getting a confused :-D



Peace
 

extropy

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Thank you for sharing this, I find the topic really fascinating.
Hi Foreigner, no problem :)

yeh i too love this topic, if only at an armchair level.

I actually studied his theory on quantum superposition in photosynthesis and it's wild. Photosynthesis operates through a complicated electron transfer system, and normally it's explained linearly. Once the electron's potential energy is spent at the end of the electron chain, it gets transferred back to the start to be regenerated with light from the Sun. Traditionally, this transfer is explained in a linear way, the electron has a start point and an end point. However, quantum superpositioning suggests that the electron is at both start and finish at the same time. I'm such a huge fan of biology and the field of quantum biology is no exception. Now that they are explaining things on the molecular and even subatomic levels in biology, it only makes sense that they would start applying quantum theory as well.

What Hamerhoff is basically saying is that quantum superposition could be used to explain why consciousness seems global and not local... i.e. it's not located in one part of the brain but the whole brain, simultaneously. It would also explain why consciousness is seamlessly fast. Yet the delay in processing implies that a biological process takes place, at least in part. Superposition means a variable that could be in one place or another place is actually in some mix of all those positions at once. An example is quantum computing... rather than binary 1 and 0, there's a third position that is both and neither. It creates more computing possibilities which are instantaneous. It relies upon quantum probabilities.

Ever since I learned about quantum duplication, entanglement, and superposition, I have felt that these are our best scientific means of explaining consciousness. Consciousness has to be a quantum function. It's too non-linear. It also doesn't conflict with spirituality. Individuated consciousness could simultaneously be connected to a God consciousness, since consciousness doesn't have to be in one place or another. It's not fixed like physical matter.

Properties of consciousness:
- can exist separately from the body
- can travel from points A to B instantly, without experience of distance
- can be in past, present, or future
- can be focused or global
- can be in two places at once
- can experience instantly, without lag time
- can be self-aware, constructive, or dissolutive
- the whole doesn't cease when a part is damaged
- has linear and non-linear functions

woah, you just literally explained many of the things in my reply which i was really struggling with.

you've actually made that so much clearer for me, thanks bud!

please feel free to correct me on anything i've said. i've never taken a course or anything on this subject so i'd be happy your for input!

I'm glad people are doing this work. Selfishly, I don't want them to figure it out because at this point in humanity's development it would be abused.
haha, i get ya.

but(!), the conspiracy theorist in me might say something like the government secret programs are roughly 20/30 years ahead of our mainstream knowledge, and psychic warfare is well understood by them and has already been initiated against us...!

but what do i know :-D

/paranoidschizophrenia

That said, it would help us immensely to know the brain portion of consciousness function for the treatment of physical disease. Eventually science is going to merge with metaphysics and then the spiritual whole will be complete... but that may take centuries.
this is the goal my Brother!


Peace
 

Vastness

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consciousness is not a quantum field its the literal substance of reality.
Arguably, reality is a quantum field and that field is the literal substance of reality.



Besides that, the talk about the possibility of psionics (I assume that's what you mean by "PSI", @extropy), remote viewing, and other supernatural but unproven and seemingly unprovable phenomena really muddies the waters for me, I don't really see the connection between consciousness involving quantum phenomena and conscious beings having supernatural abilities, nor do I see how even if study of quantum effects in the brain somehow does elucidate more about the nature of consciousness, how that has any relevance to the aforementioned paranormal phenomena. In fact the association between the 2 for me makes the entire pursuit even more dubious, although I don't know if any of the actual researchers are making or hinting at these connections or if that's just individual speculation in this thread. One of these days I must actually watch some of these videos. I am a fan of Lex Fridman, definitely I'll watch or listen to that one eventually.

Eh, yeah, I guess I should actually watch some stuff before I comment further. I guess some of my difficulty parsing why this quantum stuff is even relevant is that I'm already pretty comfortable with the idea that awareness, in some form, that we know as consciousness, is a fundamental property of the universe rather than emergent from certain organisations of unconscious matter. So to say consciousness is a quantum phenomenon seems like a meaningless statement, I mean, the classical laws of physics and every large-scale event in the universe is a macroscopic manifestation of quantum scale perturbations in the vacuum, all the way from the Big Bang up. Actually I also don't really get how it could be possible for quantum effects NOT to happen in the brain, my suspicion is that they would not cease in a brain that was under anaesthesia unless possibly there is a cessation of an electrochemical behaviour which can be explained classically, in which case I would say why not that classical event being the seat of conscious thought? Of course, if you look at anything closely enough, quantum effects dominate, it would be weird if the brain was somehow unique in this regard.
 

chinup

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Honestly I think Penrose should know better. I don't debate that quantum mechanical phenomena arise in biological systems- they have been seen experimentally in the FMO complex of light harvesting bacteria and in ion channels.

He is essentially reaching for something akin to Godelian intuition but using it to give consciousness a quantum mechanical basis. Godel's first incompleteness theorem is for a specific system of logic, his second shows that you can add an axiom to that system that makes the unprovable yet true theorem provable- evidently we operate in such a system- and requires no more machinery to then prove that the resulting system is still incomplete. So, guess what, we don't reason in first order logic, but we knew that already.

Penrose's theory rests on the idea that the collapse of the wavefunction gives us something non-computable. I personally subscribe to the Church-Turing thesis and my own experience developing quantum mechanical algorithms has shown me the the 'collapse' of the wavefunction is perfectly computable if you move from the state vector representing your system to the density matrix representing the system+environment (measurement device, phonon, whatever) you still have something perfectly computable. Anyone with a basic grasp of linear algebra, which Penrose certainly has, can multiply a state vector by its conjugate transpose to get the corresponding density matrix then tensor product that with the density matrix of the other system to get the state of the new composite system, and if you remain in that basis its von Neumann entropy will be zero so your system is still quantum mechanical.

We don't know where the system/environment divide would be made in the brain. According to Everett's many worlds interpretation, which I and many far better philosophers of physics than myself also subscribe to, this divide is never made.

I don't get how he thinks something non-computable can arise from a quantum mechanical process, given that quantum mechanical processes can't compute anything classical process can't- they are equivalent in terms of information processing capabilities, we just think they might be able to do certain types of information processing faster. But we don't know because lower bounds in complexity are hard to prove. Either way, joining one computable system (the quantum mechanical one) to another computable system (the classical one) doesn't appear to me to have any reason to result in something non-computable.

I prefer the theory that consciousness is like a traffic jam- emergent. You can't look at a single car and derive the notion of a traffic jam. i doubt you can look at a single part of the brain and say 'that is consciousness.'
 

chinup

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had time to read through the thread in more detail. i absolutely love stuff like this and have found everyone's input really interesting.

but i'm now going to be an arsehole and correct people where i think it may effect further reasoning.
However, quantum superpositioning suggests that the electron is at both start and finish at the same time. I'm such a huge fan of biology and the field of quantum biology is no exception.
i'm not sure its instantaneous. i studied the continuous time quantum walk model of exciton transfer in the FMO complex (originally developed by alain aspuru-guzik's group iirc) until we had to abandon it due to the discovery of a new chromophore, and at least in the model, which agreed extremely well with experimental results until the ones that fucked it, the transfer was not instantaneous.
rather than binary 1 and 0, there's a third position that is both and neither. It creates more computing possibilities which are instantaneous.
technically a superposition is not a third position, its a completely different type of thing, namely an element of a Hilbert space. it can be any linear combination of 0 and 1, but its in a definite state. quantum computers cannot compute things instantaneously, we haven't even actually proved where BQP lies in comparison to complexity classes traditionally used to characterise classical algorithms. the parallelism offered means that we think we can compute some things blindingly fast compared to classical computers, but fundamentally the systems performing still evolve according to the schrodinger equation, i.e. over time.

the only thing that is instaneous in most interpretations of quantum mechanics is the 'collapse' of the wavefunctions of entangled but spatially distant particles. if you measure one it really does instantaneously affect the state of the other. but really they are still the same system, and are thus still evolving together. once you have measured one, the particle that has been measured becomes partly entangled with the measurement apparatus, diluting its original entanglement (due to the monogamy of entanglement, which is a bit of a misnomer as multiple systems can be entangled at once, but the correlations weaken each time you add a system), so at that point they can more correctly be considered as distinct systems, but prior to that, it doesn't really make sense to consider them as separate particles.

quantum duplication,
what do you mean? there is a no cloning theorem.

to someone like you with an open mind, quantum biology seems obvious, it does to me too. but for a long time it has been treated like dirt by dogmatists.
it wasn't necessarily dogmatism- it was based on calculations of decoherence rates at room temperature with an approximate distribution for the associated phonon bath. the decoherence was expected to be faster than any known biological process. this has now been demonstrated both theoretically and experimentally not to be the case, because science progresses, but working within the limits of the best known theory at the time isn't really dogmatism.
 

extropy

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Besides that, the talk about the possibility of psionics (I assume that's what you mean by "PSI", @extropy), remote viewing, and other supernatural but unproven and seemingly unprovable phenomena really muddies the waters for me

PSI - ah yes, i could have been clearer with my chosen wording there as it can lead to some confusion, but you got me, so nice. I use the term PSI mostly because of the influence of a guy called Ben Goertzel, whose book in particular (Evidence for Psi: Thirteen Empirical Research Reports) really got me thinking seriously about the topic as a legitimate science (I will admit i have a slight bias here, i've had some 'spooky' experiences, but i'm not trying to convince you with anecdote). it's a fascinating book which clearly shows the quality of the scientific approach to studying PSI is actually pretty damn high - in fact it can be argued that due to the intense level of scrutiny (and unfortunately, pseudo-skepticism) it attracts, researchers in the field of PSI have higher standards than most other areas of psychological research and statistical analysis. Dr Richard Wiseman, a fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, admits "that by the standards of any other area of science that [psi] is proven" - Daily Mail
so we have a huge range of research papers that show positive results and admittance by the skeptical side this is true, so we are into the realm where PSI can be argued as proven...

I don't really see the connection between consciousness involving quantum phenomena and conscious beings having supernatural abilities

don't get me wrong, i'm not saying quantum mechanics is the mechanism by which PSI abilities operate. quite a few of the researchers who accept the evidence for PSI, do not believe QM plays a role. there is quite some debate on this topic.

nor do I see how even if study of quantum effects in the brain somehow does elucidate more about the nature of consciousness, how that has any relevance to the aforementioned paranormal phenomena. In fact the association between the 2 for me makes the entire pursuit even more dubious, although I don't know if any of the actual researchers are making or hinting at these connections or if that's just individual speculation in this thread. One of these days I must actually watch some of these videos. I am a fan of Lex Fridman, definitely I'll watch or listen to that one eventually.

Legit questions, but they kinda reach into the Penrose side of things which i concede i have a difficulty grasping (bear in mind Penrose does not mention anything about PSI, and usually does not. like you say below, that was more of my idle speculation)
dude, i'd really recommended watching the Lex vid, in fact that's only a snippet, the whole podcast is an hour and half long or something. they really dive into his side of the theory, and if you like Lex you know he does a good job ;-) )

Eh, yeah, I guess I should actually watch some stuff before I comment further. I guess some of my difficulty parsing why this quantum stuff is even relevant is that I'm already pretty comfortable with the idea that awareness, in some form, that we know as consciousness, is a fundamental property of the universe rather than emergent from certain organisations of unconscious matter. So to say consciousness is a quantum phenomenon seems like a meaningless statement, I mean, the classical laws of physics and every large-scale event in the universe is a macroscopic manifestation of quantum scale perturbations in the vacuum, all the way from the Big Bang up. Actually I also don't really get how it could be possible for quantum effects NOT to happen in the brain, my suspicion is that they would not cease in a brain that was under anaesthesia unless possibly there is a cessation of an electrochemical behaviour which can be explained classically, in which case I would say why not that classical event being the seat of conscious thought? Of course, if you look at anything closely enough, quantum effects dominate, it would be weird if the brain was somehow unique in this regard.

these are things i think about too, and i tend to agree that awareness is likely at the bottom of all this in some form or another. I do like Penrose's idea of a Will of sorts though, it's perhaps akin to something like the Telos that Thomas Nagel argues for.
 

TripSitterNZ

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Arguably, reality is a quantum field and that field is the literal substance of reality.



Besides that, the talk about the possibility of psionics (I assume that's what you mean by "PSI", @extropy), remote viewing, and other supernatural but unproven and seemingly unprovable phenomena really muddies the waters for me, I don't really see the connection between consciousness involving quantum phenomena and conscious beings having supernatural abilities, nor do I see how even if study of quantum effects in the brain somehow does elucidate more about the nature of consciousness, how that has any relevance to the aforementioned paranormal phenomena. In fact the association between the 2 for me makes the entire pursuit even more dubious, although I don't know if any of the actual researchers are making or hinting at these connections or if that's just individual speculation in this thread. One of these days I must actually watch some of these videos. I am a fan of Lex Fridman, definitely I'll watch or listen to that one eventually.

Eh, yeah, I guess I should actually watch some stuff before I comment further. I guess some of my difficulty parsing why this quantum stuff is even relevant is that I'm already pretty comfortable with the idea that awareness, in some form, that we know as consciousness, is a fundamental property of the universe rather than emergent from certain organisations of unconscious matter. So to say consciousness is a quantum phenomenon seems like a meaningless statement, I mean, the classical laws of physics and every large-scale event in the universe is a macroscopic manifestation of quantum scale perturbations in the vacuum, all the way from the Big Bang up. Actually I also don't really get how it could be possible for quantum effects NOT to happen in the brain, my suspicion is that they would not cease in a brain that was under anaesthesia unless possibly there is a cessation of an electrochemical behaviour which can be explained classically, in which case I would say why not that classical event being the seat of conscious thought? Of course, if you look at anything closely enough, quantum effects dominate, it would be weird if the brain was somehow unique in this regard.
reality is not a quantum field or any concept it just is absolute and limitless with no attributes. Our universe have fields propagating it that particles arise from but none of these not even quantum physics existed before the moment of the big bang where all four laws of nature where unified. Yet reality still existed.

Reality is something that will never be grasped it just is infinity awareness everything and nothing a paradox.

Even awareness can be before consciousness now that is a true mind fuck but truths that can be directly realized through dedication and following the vedas.
 

thegreenhand

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I too believe that science's belief that it can explain everything is completely moronic. I have many memories relating to the planning of the physical universe which were in 9th dimension. The physical universe is a vessel which is used by consciousness. Even the machines science uses to measure these phenomena can give faulty results if they want.
Science isn’t meant to “explain everything”. Then scientific method helps build ever evolving models of reality. Key word model. anyone telling you that something is a concrete fact is likely a bit of a charlatan

anyways, I’m of the opinion that it is no coincidence that the brain does lots of intricate computations. Could there be some sort of quantum mechanism underlying it? Perhaps, but there is also a quantum effect underlying the electrons in the anesthetic gas used to test this stuff. Is the nitrous oxide itself conscious then?

Nervous systems in all species rely on “all or none” action potentials to relay information. Though even that has room for play as neurons in the retina, for example, use graded potentials to relay intensity information. So we don’t need quantum superposition to deal with things taking on values other than 1 or 0. And there is a lot of ongoing research about glial cells affecting neurotransmission. Those surely don’t have action potentials of any kind yet they are affecting the computation. Quite frankly, the burden of proof lays on penrose and hameroff and I don’t think they’ve provided sufficient evidence for their claim
 

Vastness

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Ah... gotta love hearing from someone who has actually studied, worked with, and has some genuine understanding of quantum mechanics, @chinup, very much enjoyed reading your contributions. 😉

The rest of y'all... I'll reserve judgement. 😏

Dr Richard Wiseman, a fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, admits "that by the standards of any other area of science that [psi] is proven" - Daily Mail
Daily Mail is a rag with zero credibility, but even if it wasn't, this statement, intuitively, sounds false, taken out of context or just flat out wrong. I'll duckduckgo that shit though and get back to you...

reality is not a quantum field or any concept it just is absolute and limitless with no attributes. Our universe have fields propagating it that particles arise from but none of these not even quantum physics existed before the moment of the big bang where all four laws of nature where unified. Yet reality still existed.

Reality is something that will never be grasped it just is infinity awareness everything and nothing a paradox.
Semantics, unverifiable, vague, word salad.

Even awareness can be before consciousness now that is a true mind fuck but truths that can be directly realized through dedication and following the vedas
Perhaps, but largely irrelevant to the topic under discussion.
 
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