Suspects at Large: Consciousness and Causation -> Are they connected?

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sciborg2

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« on: January 17, 2019, 08:16:34 pm »
The problems of Consciousness and Causation seem like the biggest mysteries facing any attempt to produce a philosophy of science that can explain the world. So it seems natural to ask how they are related, and while this commonly runs into the "Does Consciousness cause Collapse of the Wave Function?" I think there are higher level considerations at play ->

One relation would be we need Intentionality to talk about causes, as that is how we discern the cause from the effect – by dividing the world into the human conception of the world we hold in our minds.

Another would be Consciousness and Causation concern the actual nature of the relata whereas Physicalism seems to fundamentally be about the study of their relations?
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sciborg2

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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2019, 11:16:04 pm »
"Try as we might to invent a reasonable theory that can explain how a photon “makes up its mind” whether to go through glass or bounce back, it is impossible to predict which way a given photon will go.

I am not going to explain how the photons actually “decide” whether to bounce back or go through; that is not known. (Probably the question has no meaning.)"


 -Feynman, QED (on the fact 4 photons out of 100 on average reflect back)

=-=-=

And from a recent Penrose interview:

Quote
As we probed the deeper implications of Penrose’s theory about consciousness, it wasn’t always clear where to draw the line between the scientific and philosophical dimensions of his thinking. Consider, for example, superposition in quantum theory. How could Schrödinger’s cat be both dead and alive before we open the box? “An element of proto-consciousness takes place whenever a decision is made in the universe,” he said. “I’m not talking about the brain. I’m talking about an object which is put into a superposition of two places. Say it’s a speck of dust that you put into two locations at once. Now, in a small fraction of a second, it will become one or the other. Which does it become? Well, that’s a choice. Is it a choice made by the universe? Does the speck of dust make this choice? Maybe it’s a free choice. I have no idea.”
« Last Edit: March 26, 2019, 01:59:30 am by sciborg2 »
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sciborg2

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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2019, 06:32:30 pm »
Potentially related paper by physicist Markus Muller of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI):

Law without law: from observer states to physics via algorithmic information theory

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According to our current conception of physics, any valid physical theory is assumed to describe the objective evolution of a unique external world. However, this assumption is challenged by quantum theory, which suggests that physical systems should not always be understood as having objective properties which are simply revealed by measurement. Furthermore, as argued below, several other conceptual puzzles in the foundations of physics and related fields point to possible limitations of our current perspective and motivate the exploration of alternatives. Thus, in this paper, I propose such an alternative approach (related to Solomonoff induction) which starts with a (rigorously formalized) concept of "observer state" as its primary notion, and does not from the outset assume the existence of a "world" or physical laws. Using tools from algorithmic information theory, I show that the resulting theory predicts, as a consequence of this, that it appears to observers as if there is a world that evolves according to algorithmically simple, computable, probabilistic laws. In contrast to the standard view, objective reality is not assumed on this approach but rather provably emerges as an asymptotic statistical phenomenon. The resulting theory dissolves puzzles like cosmology's Boltzmann brain problem, makes concrete predictions for thought experiments involving the duplication and computer simulation of observers, and predicts novel phenomena such as "probabilistic zombies" governed by observer-dependent probabilistic chances. It identifies some phenomena of quantum theory (Bell inequality violation and no-signalling) as typical consequences of information-theoretic features of an agent's memory, and suggests that we shift our attention in the foundations of quantum mechanics from "what is really going on?" to questions about algorithms, causality and computational models.
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sciborg2

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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2019, 08:59:23 pm »
Potentially related paper by physicist Markus Muller of the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI):

Law without law: from observer states to physics via algorithmic information theory

Quote
According to our current conception of physics, any valid physical theory is assumed to describe the objective evolution of a unique external world. However, this assumption is challenged by quantum theory, which suggests that physical systems should not always be understood as having objective properties which are simply revealed by measurement. Furthermore, as argued below, several other conceptual puzzles in the foundations of physics and related fields point to possible limitations of our current perspective and motivate the exploration of alternatives. Thus, in this paper, I propose such an alternative approach (related to Solomonoff induction) which starts with a (rigorously formalized) concept of "observer state" as its primary notion, and does not from the outset assume the existence of a "world" or physical laws. Using tools from algorithmic information theory, I show that the resulting theory predicts, as a consequence of this, that it appears to observers as if there is a world that evolves according to algorithmically simple, computable, probabilistic laws. In contrast to the standard view, objective reality is not assumed on this approach but rather provably emerges as an asymptotic statistical phenomenon. The resulting theory dissolves puzzles like cosmology's Boltzmann brain problem, makes concrete predictions for thought experiments involving the duplication and computer simulation of observers, and predicts novel phenomena such as "probabilistic zombies" governed by observer-dependent probabilistic chances. It identifies some phenomena of quantum theory (Bell inequality violation and no-signalling) as typical consequences of information-theoretic features of an agent's memory, and suggests that we shift our attention in the foundations of quantum mechanics from "what is really going on?" to questions about algorithms, causality and computational models.

Much shorter paper that serves as an introduction to his views:

Quote
There was this young man who had tried to make Nadine drink just a tiny jar of water. It was a strange game they were playing, every day, day by day:  the four-year old who wouldn’t drink versus the nineteen-year old who knew that her life depended on it. Little stubborn girl versus clumsy determined teenager.That day, he lost the game again.Sad and worried, he gave up. He lifted Nadine from her child’s chair and sat her on the ground, where she could do what she liked most: play and explore.Nadine was always on the brink of dehydration, but she was a true discoverer. Almost blind and multiply challenged, she could move only one arm, which meant that she was crawling on the floor in a circle.  But what a beautiful circle it was!  All smiling and her eyes lit up, she was rolling her ball, touching and moving her toy bricks, and discovering her big little world with grace and determination.There was something that began to dawn on him. 

Nadine seemed like a prisoner of her body, and her circles and limitations a perfect symbol for the brutal power of the material world over her self. 

Physics tells us that all there is supervenes on the atomic building blocks of this one, fundamental world of cruel concreteness.Or does physics, really?  Could the light in Nadine’s eyes convey a message for us that things are truly different?

What if we got this all wrong?
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sciborg2

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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2019, 03:47:53 pm »
Let us remember that our knowledge of the world begins not with matter but with perceptions. I know for sure that my pain exists, my “green” exists, and my “sweet” exists. I do not need any proof of their existence, because these events are a part of me; everything else is a theory. Later we find out that our perceptions obey some laws, which can be most conveniently formulated if we assume that there is some underlying reality beyond our perceptions.

This model of material world obeying laws of physics is so successful that soon we forget about our starting point and say that matter is the only reality, and perceptions are only helpful for its description. This assumption is almost as natural (and maybe as false) as our previous assumption that space is only a mathematical tool for the description of matter. But in fact we are substituting reality of our feelings by a successfully working theory of an independently existing material world. And the theory is so successful that we almost never think about its limitations until we must address some really deep issues, which do not fit into our model of reality.
 -Andre Linde, talk delivered to Physics & Cosmology Group
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