Home / Stuart Hameroff on Singularity 1on1: Consciousness is More than Computation!  

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I laughed when he defined consciousness as awareness - a subjective experience and a first-person point of view - and the opposite state of a zombie. :)

Many of his ideas and theories are really fascinating, like:

  • his description about how Roger Penrose describes the physics of consciousness in The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics as being connected to one of two QM states
  • there are all these things going on at the quantum level - quantum information which hasn't reached collapse (the subconscious) - but it only becomes conscious once it reaches collapse (the "conscious moment," when "pre-material" quantum information turns into material)
  • how microtubulars are quantum devices and might mirror what happens in photosynthesis (he also claimed there is evidence of a correlation between concussions and broken microtubulars).

Quantum mechanics is completely over my head. But even though I don't understand the theory, I find Penrose's viewpoint intriguing because, if accurate, it shows consistency and integration between what happens in the mind and what happens in the universe. (Hameroff said Dave Chalmers jokingly called it the "minimization of mystery" - if you have two mysteries, they might be the same mystery.) Very sexy ideas in pursuit of the Holy Grail - the comprehensive theory of everything.

On the singularity front, it seems like he's trying to equate the singularity with technological consciousness. Although there are many definitions, that's not accurate. AFAIK, the technological singularity, even if you define it as the point at which AI surpasses human intelligence or "strong AI," doesn't require consciousness. His point is well-taken though: how do neuroscientists prove consciousness via tests? Philosophically, René Descartes got there via "cogito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"). He might be right - that AI researchers avoid it as part of the singularity definition because they don't understand it or can't put forth any testable predictions.

The medical applications of using ultrasound to treat brain damage, Alzheimer's, and concussions are incredibly exciting. And the idea of explaining near-death/out-of-body/paranormal experiences as quantum information "leaking out" (including to a different body - ala reincarnation) but remaining entangled just left me with "Wow! What an idea!" For a brief moment, I wanted to start writing a science fiction novel titled "The Quantum Soul"...

Funny that he mentioned the study where the Dalai Lama sent a bunch of Tibetan Buddhist monks to Richard Davidson's lab (a prominent neuroscience professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) to research their deep meditative states. The last book I read (Destructive Emotions- A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama) discussed this study.

You might want to add the following tags: philosophy, psychology, medicine, singularity, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biology, physics, and quantum mechanics. You might also want to change the tag science to neuroscience. Great video. Thanks for posting.

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Thank you for the TL/DR.

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I am driven by two philosophies: know more about the world than I did yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you. - Neil deGrasse Tyson