Conscious Agent Dynamics - SAND18 US

By Chetan Prakash

We explore the idea that perceptual experiences do not approximate properties of an “objective” world, but provide a simplified, species-specific, user interface to the world. Donald Hoffman introduced it as the Interface Theory of Perception. Hoffman also introduced his Conscious Realism thesis: the objective world consists of a social network of ‘conscious agents’ and their experiences. Thus consciousness creates all objects and properties of the physical world, reversing the traditional mind-body problem.

Using evolutionary game theory, we support interface theory with a theorem saying that perceptual strategies reporting the truth will, under natural selection, be driven to extinction by those tuned instead to fitness.

A mathematically precise definition of “conscious agents” is proposed, leading to a non-dualistic, dynamical theory of conscious process in which both observer and observed have the same structure, with many possible interfaces.

In support of conscious realism, we then discuss two theorems showing that a conscious agent can see geometric and probabilistic structures that are not necessarily in the world but properties of the conscious agent itself and different agents may see the world as having different (even incompatible!) structures. We will also discuss a way in which interfaces represent a dramatic compression of information which is functional to the agent.

This suggests that space-time is a description of location and dynamics on the perceptual interface of human conscious agents; that the “objects” of Physics are akin to icons on that interface; and that “phenomena” appear as the interactions those icons seem — to us — to be having.

What motivates a species to evolve its particular interface? Federico Faggin has proposed a mechanism for the evolution of interfaces: that it is the desire for comprehension, or self-knowing, that drives this evolution. What is required next is a theory of the process of self-knowing.

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