Consciousness Is A Mathematical Pattern According To Max Tegmark

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


 Consciousness

Physicist Max Tegmark sees people as "food, rearranged." That makes his answer to complicated questions like "What is consciousness?" simple: It's just math. Why? Because it's the patterns, not the particles, that matter. 




As a physicist, Max Tegmark sees people as "food, rearranged." That makes his answer to complicated questions like "What is consciousness?" simple: It's just math. Why? Because it's the patterns, not the particles, that matter.

"Why is one arrangement, like your brain conscious, while another arrangement, like a bunch of carrots, not?" asks Tegmark at a recent TEDx Talk at Cambridge event.

He reflects on the work of David Chalmers, and his so-called hard problem of consciousness.

"I think it is because consciousness is a phenomenon that has properties above and beyond the properties of it's particles."


Continuing his exploration of consciousness emerging from particles, Tegmark states: "I think it is because consciousness is a phenomenon that has properties above and beyond the properties of it's particles."  These are known as emergent phenomenon.  This is akin to the states of matter, like solids, liquids and gasses; the particles are the same, but the pattern changes between the states.

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"Could there be a number that quantifies consciousness?" asks Tegmark.  He cites the research of neuroscientist Giulio Tononi and his integrated information theory.

Tegmark also goes on to say that consciousness may be the result of properties that are beyond that of the substrate particles involved. Computation requires a certain minimal range of properties of the substrate medium.  "I think consciousness is the same way," he states.

"I think is the way computation feels when it is being processed." Tegmark encourages an exploration of these patterns as a way to better understand the phenomenon of consciousness.
Known as “Mad Max” for his unorthodox ideas and passion for adventure, his scientific interests range from precision cosmology to the ultimate nature of reality, all explored in his popular book Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. Tegmark is an MIT physics professor with more than two hundred technical papers and has featured in dozens of science documentaries. His work with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) collaboration on galaxy clustering shared the first prize in Science magazine’s “Breakthrough of the Year: 2003.”

Tegmark also co-authored a recent warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence with Stephen Hawking, Stuart Russell and Frank Wilczek, in which the writers claim that highly intelligent machines may be, "potentially our worst mistake ever."


SOURCE  TEDx Talks

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