Quantum Spontaneity and the Development of Consciousness

There are several issues I touched on in passing in my paper “Quantum Spontaneity and the Development of Consciousness” (JCS 26, No. 1-2 2019, pp. 216-34) that I hoped would stimulate some discussion. The principles I’m reviewing here are foundational of most scientific-materialist theories of consciousness, and deserve to be considered independent of my own theory.

RANDOMNESS

I’ve challenged the supposed random basis of quantum phenomena, and of physics in general, and argued that there is, in fact, no evidence that randomness (a non-empirical principle) exists.

‘The attribution of quantum phenomena to something called “randomness” is curiously unfounded. Given a precision-made coin-tossing machine and precisely minted coins, placed in a vacuum chamber and insulated from all outside influences, one can get heads 100% of the time. What is commonly attributed to randomness is actually due to interference by extraneous factors – to conjunctive influences…. The idea of randomness on any scale has no empirical basis….’ (p. 217)

DETERMINISM and CAUSALITY

I maintain that determinism and causality (the foundation of mainstream theories of consciousness) are just a by-product of what I’ve called spontaneity.

‘A cue ball is an aggregation of quanta, the behaviors of which are confined, averaged, and more-or-less cancelled in the whole. Quantum particles, however undetermined or un-caused, when bound together and operating on a large scale, thereby constitute causal systems, so that a cue ball, although comprised of individually [spontaneous] quanta, when struck with a measured force at a given angle and spin, will cause a mathematically predictable result. So given that any composite (non-quantum) causal body is comprised of quanta, causality can be recognized as just a product of, emergent of, chaotic quantum behavior. Causality should therefore be considered a derivative physical phenomenon, not a law of physics.’ (pp. 217-8)

Determinism and causality, as just emergent properties of contained quantum interactions, is inadequate to the understanding of manifestly unconstrained consciousness.

AI, AE, and SPONTANEOUS GENERATION

I argue that “artificial intelligence” (AI) is actually artificial expertise (AE), the oblivious, non-conscious processing of information. Ironically, the old discredited biological theory of ‘spontaneous generation’, whereby maggots, for example, are supposed to just pop into being, has been resurrected as the foundation of ‘scientific’ materialist theories of consciousness.

‘It is as-if the “System” (Dennett), or the series of instructions (Chalmers), or the rapidity of their processing (Pinker) is supposed to create a mind-like transcendent field of knowingness that unifies the instructions by spontaneous generation. This is a curious conception to be coming from self-professed materialists, but it is necessary for them to believe that a dynamic physical system of information-crunching is intelligent to some degree if consciousness is to be reduced to a manifestation of a purely physical universe. For Chalmers, even something so prosaic as a thermostat must have a rudimentary presence corresponding to the consciousness operating in more complex systems.’ (p. 222)

I summarize ‘… there is thought to be a threshold, some sufficiently high level of complexity, involving billions if not trillions of elements, whereby the virtual magic of virtual infinities can metamorphose mindless bits and bytes to bring a computer mind into being.’ (p. 222)

SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT, ARNOLD’S CLOCK

Schrödinger’s Cat experiment is often walked-back when challenged, but it has to be endorsed by anyone who believes that quantum principles are universal, and applicable on the macro scale – and in particular, applicable to consciousness theory.

‘Schrödinger’s iconic cat experiment (1935), where the predictive superposition of the mortal status of a cat in a closed box (dead or alive depending on a radioactive decay) is supposed to be resolved (the “wave function” describing the probability of its vitality is replaced by an empirical certainty) when the box is opened and the status of the cat is observed. In an alternative experiment, substitute a clock for the cat; the clock will continue functioning, or not, depending on whether a radioactive particle decays and shatters the mechanism, “killing” the clock. Repeat the experiment any number of trials and it will become increasingly clear that the clock, if stopped, has already done so independent of the ultimate observation. There is no “quantum-jump”, no “collapse of the wave function”; the clock runs until the decay occurs, then remains broken whether or not it is observed; there is never an actual “superposition.”’ (p. 227)

DREAMS

I mentioned briefly that those who want to reduce consciousness to a strictly deterministic or randomly/undetermined quantum process are unable, if not deliberately avoidant, of addressing the astounding nature of dreams.

‘It is remarkable that while trying to reduce subjective personal experience to an objective physical process, the dogmatists seem to deliberately avoid discussing dreams. From their most severe bias, dreams do not exist, they cannot exist – as they are subjective, personal, and objectively unobservable. And yet we know they happen. Dreams can involve fantastic experiences of things never seen and words never spoken. In a dream, there is seeing but no actual sight.’ (p. 220)

A dream can be described as the spontaneous production of a drama that would in the objective world require a screenwriter, a director, a set designer, a casting agent, and a studied cast – all put together in an instant, in a supposedly non-existent world of which Daniel Dennett (most aggressively) is in fervent denial.

 

 

Comments 4

  1. I have no criticism of what you have said, but a bit of extra information which may or may not be helpful. 1. AI – In building any computer system the repetitiveness of the activities and their logical dependencies determine whether one can build a system which can be used many times. As you say there is no AI because no intelligence is involved – the functions just happen to be more difficult and often a different approach [notably heuristical study] is used. It is often better described as artifical superstition, rather than anything else and was being discussed in the 1960s.
    2. One has to make a distinction between type and instance. I can describe – as an expert – how to make a cup of tea using function dependency diagrams. One then has a type based system description – the basis for a robot – and because I have described the entire transaction , this process can be executed any number of times. The execution of the transaction is then the actual cause and effect, an instance. [Collect enough instances of cause and effect [synthesis] to make sure all the rules have been captured and one might have the basis of a system]. But the robot can only ever follow the original instructions, if we have run out of milk and tea and the water is of uncertain quality, then the robot will be stumped – no longer intelligent. Humans improvise and think of new solutions to unexpected events and this is where the intelligence comes in.
    And then of course there is inner speech.
    https://allaboutheaven.org/concepts/inner-speech/124/main

  2. “I’ve challenged the supposed random basis of quantum phenomena, and of physics in general, and argued that there is, in fact, no evidence that randomness (a non-empirical principle) exists.”

    Your cohesive picture is the result of the unpredictable nature that is and must be basic to all energy. The motion of any particle or entity or wave is random, unpredictable -freewheeling and undetermined. Because you are presented with a fairly cohesive picture in which certain laws seem to apply, you think the laws come first and physical reality follows.

    randomness -the quality or state of lacking a pattern or principle of organization; unpredictability.

    In perceiving, you create what EXISTS for you, your being is from your thinking patterns. The motion of an atom can be theorized, but no one knows where any given atom is at any given time.

    1. I don’t see randomness and unpredictability as being synonymous. Allow outside temperature to vary in the example of the coin-tossing machine and a cascade of influences on local temperature may make the frequency of heads vary along a probability curve due to a fluctuating complex of influences, but barring spontaneous interventions, the influences are in principle attributable, and the results predictable.

      “Randomness”, an influence without influences, is an inconsistent presumption.

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