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If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

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Jason Wolfe: "Hi Georgina, "You seem to be demonstrating loose association. Putting..." in The Nature of Time

Zeeya Merali: "You're invited to a special free film screening and panel discussion event,..." in Film Screening: "Infinite...

Jason Wolfe: "I would say that you are overlooking the very clues that would lead us to a..." in The Nature of Time

Georgina Woodward: "How we identified brain patterns of consciousness,the" in Searching for Physical...

jim hughes: "I'm not a mathematician, so the math part is mostly lost on me. And I'm..." in Structure Invention by...

Charles Harrow: "The AI only works really well in the "comfort zone", i.e. under test..." in Is Causality Fundamental?

Jason Wolfe: "In all honesty, I'm not even sure what intelligent and educated people..." in Generalised Integrated...

Jason Wolfe: "It would be nice to imagine that the Germans are working on gravity..." in Generalised Integrated...

click titles to read articles

Lockdown Lab Life
Grounded physicists are exploring the use of online and virtual-reality conferencing, and AI-controlled experiments, to maintain social distancing. Post-pandemic, these positive innovations could make science more accessible and environmentally-friendly.

Is Causality Fundamental?
Untangling how the human perception of cause-and-effect might arise from quantum physics, may help us understand the limits and the potential of AI.

Building Agency in the Biology Lab
Physicists are using optogenetics techniques to make a rudimentary agent, from cellular components, which can convert measurements into actions using light.

Think Quantum to Build Better AI
Investigating how quantum memory storage could aid machine learning and how quantum interactions with the environment may have played a role in evolution.

Outside the Box
A proposed quantum set-up that could predict your game-playing strategy resurrects Newcomb’s classic quiz show paradox.

July 14, 2020

New Blog Entries
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Film Screening: "Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm"
By ZEEYA MERALI • Jul. 13, 2020 @ 15:13 GMT

You're invited to a special free film screening and panel discussion event, "Quantum Theories of Consciousness," on July 18th 2020, organized by our friends at The Fetzer Memorial Trust, in partnership with The Center for Consciousness Studies. The event features Paul Howard’s new film, "Infinite Potential: The Life and Ideas of David Bohm."

Bohm has been described as one of the 20th century’s most brilliant physicists who Einstein called his “spiritual son” and the Dalai Lama, his “science guru.” Infinite Potential explores the revolutionary theories of David Bohm, the maverick physicist who proposed a hidden factor underlying reality - the Quantum Potential - reconciling relativity with quantum mechanics.

This mystical and scientific journey into the nature of life and reality will include a post-screening panel discussion moderated by Stuart Hameroff MD with Physicist Harald Atmanspacher, Physicist and FQXi member Sabine Hossenfelder, and Philosopher of Mind Paavo Pylkkänen.

When: July 18, 2020

Time: 10 am PT

To register for your free seat click here. If you can't watch live, you can register anyway, and they will send you a link to watch the recording, after the event.

Generalised Integrated Information Theories by Sean Tull
By JOHANNES KLEINER • Jul. 3, 2020 @ 11:52 GMT

Abstract: Integrated Information Theory (IIT), developed by Giulio Tononi and collaborators, has emerged as one of the leading scientific theories of consciousness. At the heart of IIT is an algorithm which, based on the level of integration of the internal causal relationships of a physical system in a given state, claims to determine the intensity and quality of its conscious experience. However, IIT is known to possess several technical problems, and is only applicable to simple classical physical systems. To be treated as fundamental, it should ideally be extended to more general physical theories.

In this work, we investigate the formal structure of IIT, and define a notion of generalised integrated information theory in order to address these problems. Formally such a theory specifies a mapping from a given theory of physics to one of conscious experience, each satisfying minimal conditions needed for the IIT algorithm.

In particular we show how a generalisation of IIT may be constructed from any suitable physical process theory, as described mathematically by a symmetric monoidal category. Specialising to classical processes yields IIT as usually defined, while restricting to quantum processes yields the recently proposed Quantum IIT of Zanardi et al. as a special case.

Keywords: #Models of consciousness
4 comments | view comments

Structure Invention by Conscious Agents by Chetan Prakash
By JOHANNES KLEINER • Jul. 3, 2020 @ 11:51 GMT

Abstract: A scientific understanding of the process whereby physical entities produce consciousness has not come about, despite decades of investigation. This suggests exploring the reversal of the celebrated “hard problem of consciousness,” i.e., take consciousness as fundamental and the physical world as emergent. We describe D. Hoffman’s Interface Theory of Perception in which perceptual experiences do not approximate properties of an “objective” world, but reside in simplified, species-specific, user interfaces. Building on this, the Conscious Realism Thesis states that the objective world consists entirely of a social network of ‘conscious agents’ and their experiences, which together create the objects and properties of our common physical world.

Using evolutionary game theory, we justify interface theory by showing that perceptual strategies reporting the truth will be driven to extinction by those tuned instead to fitness. We state further theorems on fitness beating truth, by showing that perceived structures, such as symmetries, partial orders and probabilities, will likely not be possessed by a world. We define “conscious agents,” suggesting that space-time is a property of the perceptual interface of human conscious agents: physical “objects” are akin to icons on that interface; physical “phenomena” are properties of apparently interacting icons.

Keywords: #Models of consciousness
27 comments | view comments

Toward a formal model of free will by Ian Durham
By IAN DURHAM • Jul. 3, 2020 @ 11:50 GMT

Abstract: Most discussions around the nature of free will center on whether or not it exists or can exist. Lost in this argument is the fact that we at least perceive that free will exists, whether or not it actually does. This is an important distinction. If we take an operational view of perceived free will, we can construct meaningful measures for analyzing ensembles of possible choices. I present such a formal model here that is based on statistical emergence and that gives concrete, formal measures of free choices and free will.

Keywords: #Models of consciousness

Searching for Physical Models of the Evolution of Consciousness by Adrian Kent
By ADRIAN KENT • Jul. 3, 2020 @ 11:49 GMT

Abstract: The scientific consensus is that, although many important details remain to be elaborated, Darwinian evolution can be understood in principle as a consequence of known physical laws. As William James first pointed out, the development of human consciousness, and in particular the fact that it appears to have evolutionarily advantageous features, are hard to explain within a purely materialist Darwinian theory, according to which we would function equally well in the world if we were unconscious zombies or if pleasure and pain qualia were inverted. However, it is difficult to find attractive alternatives that have any more explanatory power. In this talk I describe toy models that are intended to illuminate the space of possibilities and the difficulties.

Keywords: #Models of consciousness
2 comments | view comments

Recent Blog Entries

Integrated information theory: a perspective on...
Abstract: Integrated Information Theory (IIT) has gained a lot of attention for potentially explaining, fundamentally, what is the physical substrate of consciousness. The foundational concepts behind IIT were extremely innovative, and it has been...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

On the Mathematical Basis of Models of...
Abstract: The goal of this talk is to discuss the mathematical basis of models of consciousness, most notably the question of which mathematical structure one is to use to describe experience in any formal theory.

This question is...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

Awareness: an operational theoretical approach by...
Abstract: I will explore the possibility of drawing definite theoretical assertions about “awareness”, including possible experimental falsification. Awareness will be regarded as a manifestation of a special kind of “information”, and, as...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

Sketches of a mathematical theory of qualia by...
Abstract: I present a mathematical definition of qualia from which a toy model of consciousness is derived, partly as an attempt to provide a mathematical formulation of the theory of qualia and concepts put forward by C.I. Lewis in 1929. This...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

AI, Consciousness, Computation, and Physical Law...
Abstract: A common scientific view is that the actions of a human brain could, in principle, be simulated by appropriate computation, and even that it may not be too far into the future before computers become so powerful that they will be able to...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

Creativity & Consciousness by Tim Palmer
Abstract: This talk is in two parts. In the first part, I suggest that creativity arises from a close synergy between two modes of neuronal operation (corresponding to Kahnemann’s Systems 1 and 2) where in the first, the limited amount of available...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

Why current AI and neuroscience fail to explain...
Abstract: Most recent discussions of consciousness focus on a tiny subset of loosely characterized examples of human consciousness, ignoring evolutionary origins and transitions, the diversity of human and non-human phenomena, the variety of...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

Quantum collapse models and awareness by Kobi...
Abstract: In this talk I will explore how quantum collapse models can be a key to understanding awareness. I will explain the mathematical structure of quantum collapse models and give an example where collapse is caused by a quantum...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

Large scale simulations of information processing...
Abstract: We seek to model the human cortex with 1B to 10B neurones arranged in a directed and highly modular network (a network of networks); with the tightly coupled modules (each containing 10,000 neurones or so) representing the cortical...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

Expected Float Entropy Minimisation: A...
Abstract: In this talk I present the theory of Expected Float Entropy minimisation (EFE minimisation) which is an attempt to explain how the brain defines the content of consciousness up to relationship isomorphism and has been around since 2012. ...
July 3rd, 2020 | -1 comments | view blog entry & comments

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