Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 10, No 1 (2014)

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Complexity Biology-based Information Structures can explain Subjectivity, Objective Reduction of Wave Packets, and Non-Computability

Alex Hankey


Background: how mind functions is subject to continuing scientific discussion. A simplistic approach says that, since no convincing way has been found to model subjective experience, mind cannot exist. A second holds that, since mind cannot be described by classical physics, it must be described by quantum physics. Another perspective concerns mind's hypothesized ability to interact with the world of quanta: it should be responsible for reduction of quantum wave packets; physics producing ‘Objective Reduction' is postulated to form the basis for mind-matter interactions. This presentation describes results derived from a new approach to these problems. It is based on well-established biology involving physics not previously applied to the fields of mind, or consciousness studies, that of critical feedback instability.

Methods: ‘self-organized criticality' in complexity biology places system loci of control at critical instabilities, physical properties of which, including information properties, are presented. Their elucidation shows that they can model hitherto unexplained properties of experience.

Results: All results depend on physical properties of critical instabilities. First, at least one feed-back or feed-forward loop must have feedback gain, g = 1: information flows round the loop impress perfect images of system states back on themselves: they represent processes of perfect self-observation. This annihilates system quanta: system excitations are instability fluctuations, which cannot be quantized. Major results follow:

1.    Information vectors representing criticality states must include at least one attached information loop denoting self-observation. 

2.    Such loop structures are attributed a function, 'registering the state's own existence', explaining

a.    Subjective ‘awareness of one's own presence'

b.    How content-free states of awareness can be remembered (Jon Shear)

c.    Subjective experience of time duration (Immanuel Kant)

d.    The ‘witness' property of experience - often mentioned by athletes ‘in the zone'

e.    The natural association between consciousness and intelligence

This novel, physically and biologically sound approach seems to satisfactorily model subjectivity.

Further significant results follow:

1.    Registration of external information in excited states of systems at criticality reduces external wave-packets: the new model exhibits ‘Objective Reduction' of wave packets.

2.    High internal coherence (postulated by Domash & Penrose) leading to a. Non-separable information vector bundles. b. Non-reductive states (Chalmers's criterion for experience).

3.    Information that is: a. encoded in coherence negentropy; b. non-digitizable, and therefore c. computationally without digital equivalent (posited by Penrose).

Discussion and Conclusions: instability physics implies anharmonic motion, preventing excitation quantization, and totally different from the quantum physics of simple harmonic motion at stability. Instability excitations are different from anything hitherto conceived in information science. They can model aspects of mind never previously treated, including genuine subjectivity, objective reduction of wave-packets, and inter alia all properties given above.

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