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David Chalmers: How do you explain consciousness? - TED

Our consciousness is a fundamental aspect of our existence, says philosopher David Chalmers: "There's nothing we know about more directly.... but at the same time it's the most mysterious phenomenon in the universe." He shares some ways to think about the movie playing in our heads.


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If Your Brain Is A Quantum Computer, Can It Connect You To The World?

If Your Brain Is A Quantum Computer,  Can It Connect You To The World? | Mental | Scoop.it
I'd like you to consider the possibility that nature embodies within herself a kind of Internet, and that through our brain we might be able to communicate with it.

 

Systems philosopher Ervin Laszlo asks, If Your Brain Is A Quantum Computer, Can It Connect You To The World? In it, he poses a quantum idea of knowing:

 

Not only are the neurons of our brain thoroughly entangled with each other–so that they can assemble and then process information with lightning speed–they are also entangled with the world beyond our brain. The logical conclusion is that the bulk of the information picked up and processed by the brain is not stored within the brain; it’s stored in the vast information field that embeds the brain.


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These 19th-century diagrams were one man's attempt to illustrate human consciousness

These 19th-century diagrams were one man's attempt to illustrate human consciousness | Mental | Scoop.it
Could you represent the stages of human consciousness with a diagram? In the late 19th century, New Zealand psychologist Benjamin Betts tried to apply mathematics to the problem of visualizing human consciousness

 

What he produced were striking, almost floral designs that he believed represented the shape of our consciousness for a given activity.


Maria Popova of Brain Pickings came across these images in the 1887 book Geometrical psychology, or, The science of representation, an abstract of the theories and diagrams of B. W. Betts, edited by Louisa Cook and available on Open Library. In his metaphysical explorations, Betts attempted to represent the successive stages of the evolution of human consciousness with symbolic mathematical forms; he was quite pleased to find that his mathematical representations frequently resulted in plant-like forms, taking this to mean that he was on the track to some universal representation of consciousness. Incidentally, he also believed that human consciousness was the only thing that we as humans could study directly since everything else must necessarily be perceived through human consciousness.

 

by Lauren Davis 26 Nov 12


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The User Illusion: Cutting Consiousness Down to Size

The User Illusion: Cutting Consiousness Down to Size | Mental | Scoop.it

In his book The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size Danish science journalist Tor Norretranders presents a scientifically sound and intellectually stimulating theory of conscious experience. “The user illusion” refers to a computer users idea of how the computer works based on how they interact with it. The bits and bytes are concealed by a largely metaphorical, extremely simplified, and not necessarily accurate illusion. Norretranders central thesis is that consciousness is our user illusion of ourselves. Consciousness arises after much information has been discarded. Conscious experience is a manageable distillation, essence, of our extremely rich raw experience. The User Illusion is incredibly readable in spite of its plethora of references. Norretranders pulls from innumerable sources, most notably Gödel, Libet, and Shannon. He integrates a wide array of prior research, tying together ideas from information theory, thermodynamics, physics, psychology, and philosophy to substantiate his theory; this is indeed the strongest aspect of the book.

 

Norretranders builds his theory of consciousness on the tenants of information theory. He makes sure the reader understands the basics before he applies them to his broader claims. The take home message is the notion of information and exformation. Exformation is discarded information. Norretrander uses the example of grocery shopping, among others. At the register the prices of the individual items are summed, it is this number, the total, that we are interested in. The sum is useful to us, it tells us how much money to take out of our wallet, the individual prices are not, they are irrelevant once we obtain the total. The author then extrapolates to consciousness, explaining that a huge amount of information must be discarded along the path from unconscious to conscious experience.

 

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