Scientific Sense Podcast

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Quantum consciousness

A recent paper from the University of Auckland claims, “a potential mechanism for the conscious brain to anticipate impending opportunities and threats to survival through massively parallel weak quantum measurement (MPWQM) induced by the combined effects of edge of chaos sensitivity and phase coherence sampling of brain states. It concludes that the underpinnings of this process emerged in single-celled eucaryotes in association with (a) excitability-induced sensitivity to electro-chemical perturbations in the milieu as an anticipatory sense organ and (b) cell-to-cell signaling necessary for critical phases in the life cycle.”

Although the paper is weak on evidence, it does open an interesting avenue for research. The coordinated hypothesis of evolutionary, biological and physical basis of consciousness may remain untestable but it is a satisfying thought experiment, at the very least. Those who live, may be assigning too much value to life and to consciousness but consciousness, one has to admit, has very nice properties to it. And, if it does merge into anticipation with such forecasts emanating from electro-chemical perturbations and cell-to-cell signaling at the fundamental level, it does make it more interesting to think about. More importantly, it may open new avenues to study societal consciousness, in higher order species. The complexity of the organism appears to be inversely correlated to societal consciousness with single cell organisms exhibiting highest competence. Massively parallel systems seem to require consistency at the elemental level to induce and sustain societal consciousness and this may be a subtle sign that if quantum effects are at play, they are unlikely to transfer to complex, non-uniform and non-modular systems.

Extrapolating from stable and uniform networked systems to complex organisms may be a mistake. However, it is, indeed, a good thought experiment.

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