The Death of SpaceTime & Birth of Conscious Agents, Donald Hoffman

Spacetime is doomed. It, and its particles, cannot be fundamental in physical theory, but must emerge from a more fundamental theory. I review the converging evidence for this claim from physics and evolution, and then propose a new way to think of spacetime: as a data-compressing and error-correcting channel for information about fitness. I propose that a theory of conscious agents is a good candidate for the more fundamental theory to replace spacetime. Spacetime then appears as one kind of interface for communication between conscious agents.

Donald Hoffman is a cognitive scientist and author of more than 90 scientific papers and three books, including Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See (W.W. Norton, 2000). He received his BA from UCLA in Quantitative Psychology and his Ph.D. from MIT in Computational Psychology. He joined the faculty of UC Irvine in 1983, where he is now a full professor in the departments of cognitive science, computer science and philosophy. He received a Distinguished Scientific Award of the American Psychological Association for early career research into visual perception, the Rustum Roy Award of the Chopra Foundation, and the Troland Research Award of the US National Academy of Sciences. He was chosen by students at UC Irvine to receive a campus-wide teaching award, and to be included in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Hoffman studies visual perception, visual attention and consciousness using mathematical models, computer simulations, and psychological experiments. His empirical research has led to new insights into how we perceive objects, colors and motion. His theoretical research has led to a “user interface” theory of perception—which proposes that natural selection shapes our perceptions not to report truth but simply to guide adaptive behavior. It has also led to a “conscious realism” theory of consciousness—which proposes a formal model of consciousness and the mind-body problem that takes consciousness as fundamental.

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