[ExI] Fwd: New article: EM Field Theory of Consciousness

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Fri Jun 17 14:20:06 UTC 2022

Hi Colin,

Thanks for sharing. It was a very interesting read. A few

- Are you familiar with the writings of the philosopher David Pearce on
consciousness? If I recall correctly he has also out forward an EM field
theory of consciousness. If you are familiar with his writings could you
say how your theory is similar to or different from his?

- You say everything relevant to the brain is in the EM field. What do you
see as the advantage of choosing this as the best level of description,
compared to say, alternate theories that framed everything relevant in the
brain as "mathematical relations", "information", "mass-energy",
"molecules", or "neurons", etc.

- You seem to suggest that the EM field's capacity to sum or add up could
offer answers to the binding or unity of consciousness problems. But isn't
there a single EM field for the whole universe? How do you account for the
multiplicity of first person perspectives with a single EM field for the
whole planet?

- When you say artificial neurons cannot succeed in emulating the brain,
you suggest that EM field effects spreading beyond the individual neurons
plays an important role in how the brain works. How does your theory
account for the vast scale differences between say, an insect or mouse
brain and an elephant or whale brain, where presumably the field strengths
across the brain as a whole are vastly weaker in the sperm whale brain
compared to the much smaller fruit fly brain?

- You make a compelling case against substrate independence, due to missing
the functional role that the EM field adds. One question I didn't see
addressed in the paper is whether an abstract model that contained and
included the EM field in its simulation, could manifest 1PP and do so in a
substrate independent way.

- You state that nothing accounts for why consciousness arises in the
brain. But I think the case can be made that 1PP states are logically
necessary to explain certain behaviors. That is, in any theory which holds
philosophical zombies are logically impossible, there must exist behaviors
for which phenomenal consciousness is logically necessary. Otherwise
philosophical zombies would be possible. For example, if something is able
to reliably extend its hand to catch a ball, then something in the system
*must* be aware of the ball's position in relation to its hand. This
awareness, to me, implies consciousness of some kind or form. I am curious
what you think about this line of reasoning.

- You mention the failure of science to deliver any kind of answer to "what
is it like to be...". I wonder though whether any framework of description
can succeed here. There is a difference between being and describing. The
only way to truly know what it is like to be X is to be X. If X attempts to
describe to Y what it is like to be X, Y will either have the capacity to
permute itself into being X or Y will fail. If Y succeeds in becoming X,
then it is now just X knowing what it is like to be X. It is not Y knowing
what it is like to be X, which is impossible to communicate for the above
reason. The only knowledge state of knowing what it's like to be something
exists in being that thing. It's not communicable because even if we could
arbitrarily restructure our brain to match the description, we would lose
our original self in that process and fail to gain any understanding of
what it's like to be something else from the vantage point of one's
original self. Even God can't know what it's like to be you without
forgetting what it's like to be God.

- I liked very much the reformulation of the roots of science as being more
observer centric and having to derive the laws of physics from properties
of the observer. I am curious if you are aware of similar efforts, such as
Markus P Mueller, who has a paper "law without law" wherein he attempts to
derive physical laws from states of observers. Some have framed this as
"The hard problem of matter."


On Fri, Jun 17, 2022, 3:11 AM Colin Hales via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> This is to let you know of the arrival of this publication:
> Hales, C.G., and Ericson, M.L. (2022). Electromagnetism’s Bridge Across
> the Explanatory Gap: How a Neuroscience/Physics Collaboration delivers
> Explanation into all Theories of Consciousness. Frontiers in Human
> Neuroscience 16.
> https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2022.836046/full
> https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2022.836046/full#supplementary-material
> This is the full and final argument.
> Note that on page 9 there is a brief discussion of a new kind of chip.
> That is the one I am building at unimelb. AGI because it can't be anything
> else. Actual artificial neurons (no general-purpose computing, no software,
> no models, no programming). Bottom line line: put the signalling physics of
> the brain in in natural form, naturally interacting, naturally adapting on
> the chips, NOT the physics of a general purpose computer.
> The abstract is below. Overall:
> 1) all theories of consciousness are actually EM field theories.
> 2) bringing explanation of the 1st person perspective requires an
> epistemic upgrade to the standard model of particle physics.
> Turns out that to properly cover all the bases needed 22 pages and an 8
> page supplementary. Sorry about that.
> Interesting times.
> cheers,
> Colin
> ==========================================
> A productive, informative three decades of correlates of phenomenal
> consciousness (P-Consciousness) have delivered valuable knowledge while
> simultaneously locating us in a unique and unprecedented explanatory
> cul-de-sac. Observational correlates are demonstrated to be intrinsically
> very unlikely to explain or lead to a fundamental principle underlying the
> strongly emergent 1st-person-perspective (1PP) invisibly stowed away inside
> them. That lack is now solidly evidenced in practice. To escape our
> explanatory impasse, this article focuses on fundamental physics (the
> standard model of particle physics), which brings to light a foundational
> argument for how the brain is an essentially electromagnetic (EM) field
> object from the atomic level up. That is, our multitude of correlates of
> P-Consciousness are actually descriptions of specific EM field behaviors
> that are posed (hypothesized) as “the right” correlate by a particular
> theory of consciousness. Because of this, our 30 years of empirical
> progress can be reinterpreted as, in effect, the delivery of a large body
> of evidence that the standard model’s EM quadrant can deliver a 1PP. That
> is, all theories of consciousness are, in the end, merely recipes that
> select a particular subset of the totality of EM field expression that is
> brain tissue. With a universal convergence on EM, the science of
> P-Consciousness becomes a collaborative effort between neuroscience and
> physics. The collaboration acts in pursuit of a unified explanation
> applicable to all theories of consciousness while remaining mindful that
> the process still contains no real explanation as to why or how EM fields
> deliver a 1PP. The apparent continued lack of explanation is, however,
> different: this time, the way forward is opened through its direct
> connection to fundamental physics. This is the first result (Part I). Part
> II posits, in general terms, a structural (epistemic) add-on/upgrade to the
> standard model that has the potential to deliver the missing route to an
> explanation of how subjectivity is delivered through EM fields. The revised
> standard model, under the neuroscience/physics collaboration, intimately
> integrates with the existing “correlates of-” paradigm, which acts as its
> source of empirical evidence. No existing theory of consciousness is lost
> or invalidated.
> _______________________________________________
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> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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