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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Carlo Rovelli...Understanding Consciousness within the Known Laws of Physics

Carlo Rovelli...Understanding Consciousness within the Known Laws of Physics

Rovelli is a very smart quantum physicist who likes to push the boundaries of what we can know about consciousness as well. However, consciousness is not a very useful term since it has no well accepted single meaning and instead, has many different meanings in different contexts. Understanding free choice instead of understanding consciousness then makes more sense...

Our minds are very useful for processing and remembering sensations along with memories and those archetypes then enable free choice. The mind is then key in our survival because the free choices we make shape our reality. Since people can agree about the meaning of free choice, understanding free choice is possible. In contrast, people do not now and never can actually agree about the meaning of consciousness because at the core of any well founded belief in consciousness lies belief that is unfounded.

At the core of all well-founded belief, lies belief that is unfounded. — Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1951.

Correspondingly, at the core of well-rationalized free choice lies free choice that is not rational at all. In fact, you either believe in free choice or you believe that free choice is an illusion, but the free choice outcomes are the same irrespective of which belief you have. Free choice is how we as conscious agents act from memory and feeling from a large number of low entropy precursors that open up a large number of free choice outcomes. An objective basis for the subjective quantum free choice bridges between the mind and body and gives meaning to meaning. Known physical laws provide a complete context for free choice, but there is still a role for a quantum transcendence in free choice as well. 

Free choice is a poorly understood complex physical phenomenon, but free choice is nevertheless a result of knowable physical laws: For each free choice, either we excite or we inhibit an action. There are many possible EEG spectra that we somehow reduce to either excitation or inhibition of a single action. Free choice outcomes come from a vast number of EEG precursors, and it is free choice that is what defines meaning and purpose. In particular, Shannon’s relative information theory along with Darwin’s relevant information theory objectively define the meaning of meaning. Quantum phase makes objective matter equivalent to subjective free choice action and so there is no singularity with free choice just as there are no singularities with any quantum transition. Free choice is simply a natural consequence of the meaning of meaning.

Morality and ethics are a very important part of the meaning of meaning and there is much more to morality and ethics than just the narratives of Shannon and Darwin. This means that morality and ethics involve a large number of further narratives besides just Shannon and Darwin. In fact, different narratives emerge to bond people to different civilizations that then share those narratives with other civilizations. As different civilizations share narratives, they bond or conflict with each other until a compatible morality and ethics emerges. Compatible morality and ethics allow different civilizations to coexist and bond with each other and from that bonding eventually emerges a new civilization.

The only singularities inside of the classical relativistic universe are black holes, but black-hole singularities are simply due to the limitations of continuous space and time. In the discrete causal set of quantum matter action, there are no black-hole singularities. There are a very large number of particles and actions that make up the discrete causal set universe, all related by quantum phase.

Entropy is a count of the number of states of the universe and so entropy determines that outcomes always come from precursors in our approximate macroscopic reality of space and time. Yet the microscopic actions of quantum charge are all reversible and quantum reversibility seems to defy entropy time arrow. However, there is a continuous spontaneous localization that decays quantum phase as a part of quantum gravity. Therefore, it is actually quantum phase decay that orders free choice outcomes from precursors in the universe.

The many possible free choice outcomes create a neural entropy from those free choice outcomes and it is free choice that gives meaning to meaning, which is the metacognition of thinking about thinking. The emergence of a single thought free choice outcome from the universe of precursors increases entropy and therefore shows the direction of time from precursors to outcomes. How we feel about any single thought is, in essence, the metacognition of thinking about thinking and is the basis of free choice.

It seems strange to ask if quantum free choice has any meaning since Science knows that all microscopic outcomes are subject to quantum phase uncertainty. The real question is actually how a seemingly determinate macroscopic reality emerges from all of these ostensibly reversible microscopic quantum outcomes. The universe seems determinate albeit chaotic even though a universe with quantum gravity would still be subject to quantum phase uncertainty. Quantum phase uncertainty means that even though there are precursors for all outcomes in a causal universe, it is not possible to know the transcendent quantum precursors for all outcomes. Thus, the harbinger of free choice embeds quantum phase noise within the classical Shannon noise of chaos.

The brain is a quantum system that operates at body temperature with macroscopic decoherence of neural phase. Macroscopic decoherence of neural phase means that quantum phase noise plays a role in thought. Neural resonances do show dephasing just like the quantum resonance decay of a macroscopic laser. While a single photon of light emission is a microscopic quantum decay, a macroscopic laser decay is also quantum decay even though it involves large numbers of photons and ions. 

A subjective thought is an objective coherent resonance of about 1e12 neural action potentials that manifests as an EEG spectrum. A subjective thought is a macroscopic objective EEG resonance with an objective quantum decoherence time. Just like a macroscopic laser represents a coherent quantum decay, a macroscopic thought also represents a coherent quantum decay that determines the width of the EEG resonance just as laser decay is also an objective quantum decoherence.

As a result, the decoherence of macroscopic neural resonance is indeed a quantum decoherence. Just as with quantum emission spectra, the resonance of an excited state decays by exchange of that excitation with the universe as well as decoherence of its quantum phase with the universe.

The hard problem of classical subjective free choice is that our knowledge of the world is inherently subjective but the classical universe has an apparent objective existence and not a subjective one that depends on observation. Classically, an approximate objective matter universe exists in and of itself and is never a subjective illusion of the mind. Therefore, classically, objective matter cannot make up subjective free choice, which and must come from something else and this is the hard problem of free choice. 

However, we actually live in a quantum universe that has both objective matter as well as the objective quantum phase that links matter and action. We are neural agents and so are made of the same quantum matter, action, and phase as the rest of the universe. Since we only know about the universe with our own quantum matter, action, and phase, this limited knowledge is what we call subjective knowledge. 

Our subjective knowledge limits what we can know about the objective quantum universe, which exists outside of our mind but also includes our mind. Therefore, we use our free choice to make up most of what we see and rationalize that free choice as meaning and purpose. This is both meaning of meaning as well as thinking of thinking...