Is consciousness necessary to collapse the wave function?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I would like to get your ideas on what Australian professor at ANU David Chalmers' proposes that consciousness arises out of certain configurations of complex states (Integrated information theory) and then the existence of that consciousness collapses the wave function. Specifically, why isn't there a way to measure this?


Feel free to move this to off-topic just thought it would be relevant due to the inclusion of the wave function.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Demystifier
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Specifically, why isn't there a way to measure this?
Because Chalmers does not propose any explicit quantitative model. He only suggests a wild and vague speculative idea.
 
  • #3
Strilanc
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My opinion on the matter exactly matches Scott Aaronson's. See his post "Why I Am Not An Integrated Information Theorist":

At this point, I fear we’re at a philosophical impasse. Having learned that, according to IIT,
  1. a square grid of XOR gates is conscious, and your experience of staring at a blank wall provides evidence for that,
  2. by contrast, a linear array of XOR gates is not conscious, your experience of staring at a rope notwithstanding,
  3. the human cerebellum is also not conscious (even though a grid of XOR gates is), and
  4. unlike with the XOR gates, we don’t need a theory to tell us the cerebellum is unconscious, but can simply accept it as “reasonably established” and “largely uncontroversial,”
I personally feel completely safe in saying that this is not the theory of consciousness for me.
Basically, IIT is supposed to classify things as conscious or not-conscious but it doesn't do a good job matching the paradigm-defining cases. And although it is possible a proper theory of consciousness could tell us we were mistaken about these cases, IIT doesn't get enough cases right to justify thinking we're mistaken about the cases it gets wrong.
 
  • #4
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> proposes that consciousness arises out of certain configurations of complex states

Could it ever be otherwise? :biggrin:

IMO, his claims in the video are hardly compatible with IIT and his interviewer rightfully pointed on that. He (Chalmers) claims that the consciousness is "irreducible" and "fundamental" (like space or time), such a claim has nothing to do with "certain configurations of complex states".

BTW, if such a position would be advertised by a physicist, could it be considered as a pseudo-science, or still as an acceptable opinion?
 
  • #5
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All I can is it is a valid interpretation, so why people answer 'no' when asked is puzzling to me.

EDIT: answering the question posed in the title.
 
  • #6
DrChinese
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All I can is it is a valid interpretation, so why people answer 'no' when asked is puzzling to me.

EDIT: answering the question posed in the title.
I'm one who answers NO. I probably would have posted that, but that's less than the minimum number of characters.

How do I know anyone else is conscious anyway? I may be the only one. And perhaps not even me. :smile:
 
  • #7
DrChinese
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BTW, if such a position would be advertised by a physicist, could it be considered as a pseudo-science, or still as an acceptable opinion?
Outside of their field? Not a generally accepted or peer-reviewed position? It might be OK as an opinion (it is that) but shouldn't really be used to support a position at PF.

That's just my opinion. :smile:
 
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  • #10
DrChinese
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  • #11
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There are other things to consider too, such as whether it is generally accepted science or not.
Depends on what you call "generally accepted science". Does just publishing in a peer-reviewed magazine make something "generally accepted"?
Anyway, this guy was definitely a QM scientist, I brought this reference just to point out on the existence of such physicists (in recent time), not as a reference of the validity of his thoughts.

And... in the past we can probably attribute the same ideas to even some very recognizable persons: Von Neumann–Wigner Interpretation
 
  • #12
DrChinese
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1. Depends on what you call "generally accepted science". Does just publishing in a peer-reviewed magazine make something "generally accepted"?

2. Anyway, this guy was definitely a QM scientist, I brought this reference just to point out on the existence of such physicists (in recent time), not as a reference of the validity of his thoughts.

And... in the past we can probably attribute the same ideas to even some very recognizable persons: Von Neumann–Wigner Interpretation
1. No, certainly not. However, there are other criteria too, and publication in an appropriate peer-reviewed publication could be suitable. The Mentors don't use a "one-size fits all" approach.

2. Physicists hold a great many number of opinions, so that label alone won't go far here. The point is that PF does not support presentation of non-mainstream/speculative ideas, regardless of the author (or author's profession).

If you want scientific hyperbole, ad hoc hypotheses, and/or speculation: there are plenty of better places to read that (other than PF). :smile:
 
  • #13
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DrChinese, I am afraid we were talking about different things. With all the respect to PF and the Mentors, my interest of whether what is discussed may be considered as a pseudo-science was out of the context of possible moderation or acceptability of this topic for this particular community.
 
  • #14
DrChinese
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DrChinese, I am afraid we were talking about different things. With all the respect to PF and the Mentors, my interest of whether what is discussed may be considered as a pseudo-science was out of the context of possible moderation or acceptability of this topic for this particular community.
OK, that makes sense. In that case I would call it fringe rather than pseudo science. There are actually a number of interesting sites where some pretty strong physicists present some "next step" type hypotheses. This in order to keep novel ideas flowing, as occasionally some of these end up moving to the mainstream. Inflation, Higgs, dark matter, etc. had to start somewhere. They were fringe at one time. That label should not be taken as derogatory, because it is normal for scientists to make hypotheses that do not pan out. But they must be researched to rule it out as a possible answer. So in that respect, a negative result can be useful too.

But to me, that is completely different than pseudo-science. Pseudo science purports to be something that it is not.
 
  • #15
PeterDonis
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Thread closed to allow the moderators to evaluate whether the topic is within scope as a physics question or not.
 
  • #16
PeterDonis
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Does just publishing in a peer-reviewed magazine make something "generally accepted"?
That's not an entirely necessary requirement, but it helps.

The particular book you linked to (the Amazon link) is a pop science book, and pop science books, even when they are written by scientists, generally don't meet the standards for acceptable references here at PF. That is because even scientists, when writing pop science books, almost invariably fail to properly distinguish the actual science--the stuff that's nailed down by experiments confirming precise quantitative theoretical predictions--from their own opinions. Whereas in a peer-reviewed paper, or a textbook, scientists are forced to make that distinction because there are other knowledgeable people watching who will correct them if they don't.

Similarly, Chalmers, in the video, does not, as @Demystifier pointed out in post #2, propose any specific, quantitative, testable model. And without that, there's no way to have a useful discussion because there's nothing to go on but people's opinions about whether his speculations are reasonable or not, and there's no way to test them.

In short, it does not look like the topic of this thread, based on the references given, is suitable for PF discussion. Therefore, this thread will remain closed.
 

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