Scientific investigations of consciousness that seek its biological basis typically assume that objects in space-time—such as neurons—exist even if unperceived, and have causal powers. Donald Hoffman evaluates this assumption, using evolutionary games and genetic algorithms that study perceptual evolution, and find that it is almost surely false. Our perceptions of space-time and objects are a species-specific adaptation, not an insight into objective reality. In consequence, Hoffman proposes a formal theory of consciousness—the theory of “conscious agents”—that takes consciousness to be fundamental, rather than derivative from objects in space-time. He uses the theory of conscious agents to solve the combination problem of consciousness, both for the combination of subjects and of experiences. He shows that entanglement follows as a consequence of the combination of conscious subjects, and he then discusses the relationship of these findings to the account of entanglement given by quantum-Bayesian interpretations of quantum theory.
This talk is recorded at SAND14.
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