Dr. Johannes Kleiner: Why the universe might be conscious

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« on: May 19, 2020, 12:15:53 am »
Dr. Johannes Kleiner: Why the universe might be conscious

This is a pathbreaking conversation with Dr. Johannes Kleiner, a mathematician and physicist at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy. He works at the cutting edge of an ever urgent question — is the universe conscious? He explains to Grin why the answer could well be, yes.

The crucial ingredient in constructing and studying mathematical models of consciousness is to represent conscious experience in mathematical terms. This is what makes mathematical models of consciousness so powerful. One can use what is called a ‘mathematical space’ to represents the content of conscious experience. Once provided with some mathematical description of the physical domain (e.g. of the neural network in the brain), on can then apply a model of consciousness to calculate which conscious experience it would have.

    Now the crucial ingredient here is that any physical system that can be represented mathematically (in principle) can be ‘plugged into’ a model of consciousness to calculate the conscious experience of that system according to that model. Next to brains, this could be a mathematical description of a computer, a large network or even a approximate mathematical description of the universe.

This is where the headline you have quoted above comes from. Mathematical models of consciousness allow us to calculate the conscious experience of all sorts of systems. And while a final verdict is still pending of which model of consciousness describes reality correctly, it is a possibility that the universe as a whole has some conscious experience.

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