# Integrated information theory requirements

• Studying
• Obiodin
In summary, Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is a framework that seeks to explain how consciousness arises from the organization and dynamics of a system. It proposes that consciousness is a fundamental property of any integrated system, meaning that the system's parts are highly interconnected and dependent on each other. The theory also posits that consciousness is not a binary phenomenon, but rather exists on a spectrum. In order for a system to possess consciousness, it must meet certain requirements, such as having a high degree of integration, causal power, and exclusion of information. IIT has generated much debate and criticism, but it continues to be a leading theory in the field of consciousness studies.
Obiodin
Hi, I’m interested in self studying so that I can learn / understand integrated information theory about counciousness. I was wondering if anyone could help me identify what courses (I’m looking at using MIT’s opencourseware to study although just types of math is all that is needed) I would need to do. I have a degree in electronics so I have some math background but I could do with starting at undergraduate level. So for example I’m guessing :calculus, linear algebra, probability, quantum mechanics, complex analysis!? , would I also need set theory ( if that’s a thing). I’m sure there are other areas I need to cover, any recommendations would be welcome. Thanks.
Regards

Welcome to the PF.

Can you post some links to what you mean by "integrated information theory about consciousness"? Is it mainstream?

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This first thing you have to do is differentiate between philosophy and science. If you study this as philosophy, I think that is a mistake. You should have a philosophy that is not based on phenomena but you should think of phenomena as things you might want to study in a scientific way. For example, you might ask the question, are animals conscious? And then you might ask, what is needed for something like an animal to be conscious? And then you could try to read this article in particular which seems to be the clearest of your links. But see below why that might not be so useful.

But if you were to say, let us suppose there is only phenomena. Well I am conscious, so consciousness exists. As a conscious being, I have cause-effect power, so consciousness needs cause-effect power, etc. This is a mistake in my opinion because philosophy should be about common sense, a common-sense understanding of one's place in the world. I have a mother, I have a father, is a much better starting point for philosophy, IMHO, and not in an abstract way; we live in my city, I go to my school, so do you, etc, etc.

I have serious doubts that this IIT theory can explain something like animal consciousness because it says in that article:
simple systems can be minimally conscious; complicated systems can be unconscious; there can be true “zombies” – unconscious systems that are functionally equivalent to conscious complexes.

This is like the Chinese Room thought experiment where a computer in a room responds in Chinese (on a display I presume) and responds just like a person would. From outside the room, can we tell the difference between it being a computer or a person? If not, has the computer become conscious? It seems like IIT would say it is unconscious but functionally equivalent to a conscious entity.

This is also like one of the first chess-playing computers. Called "the Turk", it wasn't actually computer, a small person hid inside and moved the arm. But from the outside, it played as well as a person could. Does that mean this complex of man and machine has consciousness? I think the person is conscious.

But now, suppose you look at the brain as a kind of turk machine, and say that consciousness resides in some particular region or assembly, I already think this is wrong. Suppose person A and person B swap brains. A likes to wear a pony tail, B likes to have bangs. Does that mean the new A will like bangs? No. She has a different face, so probably she will think differently about hairstyles. She now has a face that looks better with a pony tail. So you can see how essential the whole organism is to being conscious. It really doesn't make sense to say consciousness is a property of some tiny part of us.

We don't see animals expressing preferences although dogs do express some preference for different types of food. But usually they just munch it. Perhaps it is strategy, by getting nicer food they might feel safer. But still, one doesn't see one dog communicating to another dog, I like your coat.

So the quote above says that systems can be minimally conscious, conscious or zombies. But do they express individuality? Do they recognize their place in the world? To be conscious is to be conscious of the world around you and how you fit into it. And I don't think IIT recognizes that. So I don't think it is a good theory for that reason.

IIT has been critisized by Scott Aaronson in his blog:
https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1799
https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1823
(There's also a discussion between Aaronson and philosopher David Chalmers in the comments of these blog posts.)

If you really want to read the original papers, I would recommend to take a course on probability theory at something like Khan Academy and then, while reading the papers, look up the other concepts as you encounter them. The mathematics doesn't seem to be very sophisticated to me at a first glance.

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THanks everyone for their replies

## 1. What is integrated information theory?

Integrated information theory (IIT) is a scientific framework that attempts to explain consciousness by describing how information is integrated in the brain. It proposes that consciousness arises from the integrated and irreducible information dynamics within a system.

## 2. What are the key requirements for a system to exhibit integrated information?

According to IIT, a system must meet five key requirements to exhibit integrated information: 1) information, 2) integration, 3) exclusion, 4) composition, and 5) differentiation. These requirements describe the necessary conditions for a system to have a high degree of integrated information and therefore a high level of consciousness.

## 3. How is integrated information measured?

Integrated information can be quantified using a mathematical measure called phi (Φ). Phi measures the amount of integrated information in a system by calculating the maximum amount of information that can be generated by the system as a whole, compared to the maximum amount of information that can be generated by its individual parts.

## 4. Can integrated information theory be tested or validated?

Yes, there have been various studies and experiments conducted to test and validate IIT. These include brain imaging studies on humans, animal studies, and computer simulations. However, the theory is still in its early stages and further research is needed to fully validate its claims.

## 5. What are the implications of integrated information theory?

IIT has far-reaching implications for our understanding of consciousness and its relationship to the physical world. It suggests that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe and that any system with sufficient integrated information can be conscious, regardless of its physical substrate. This could have implications for AI, robotics, and our understanding of the mind-body problem.

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