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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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PRASAD DIVATE: "Respected sir, I have suggestions for next essay topic 1: consciousness..." in Undecidability,...

Steve Dufourny: "What I find relevant in all humility is that in my model of Spherisation..." in AI, Consciousness,...

PRASAD DIVATE: "Respected Professor Penrose sir, I always read your works and am greatly..." in AI, Consciousness,...

Steve Agnew: "A new model will be useful if and only if it can explain something that the..." in Is Causality Fundamental?

Steve Dufourny: "Hello , dear Jason, your general analysis is interesting, that implies a..." in Is Causality Fundamental?

Steve Dufourny: "I have remarked in all humility that if we want to unify this GR and this..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Dufourny: "here is my intuitive equation about this matter non baryonic encoded also..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Dufourny: "Hello Mr Snowdon, it is well said what you tell, I agree that this time is..." in The Nature of Time

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.

August 12, 2020

New Blog Entries
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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability - Essay Contest Winners
By DAVID SLOAN • Jul. 29, 2020 @ 15:03 GMT

FQXi's essay contests are always set up as a challenge for our community to push back on the boundaries of our understanding. This year was no different, as we asked you to decide how something could be undecidable, compute what we would find uncomputable, and predict where we will find the unpredictable. As ever the response to the call was impressive. After a long period of analysis and deliberation our panel have returned their verdict:

Unable to separate the top two candidates, the panel elected to jointly award first place to Markus Mueller for "Undecidability and unpredictability: not limitations, but triumphs of science" , and Klaas Landsman for "Undecidability and indeterminism" . The panel were impressed by the deep philosophical implications of Landsman's work, and the clear logical writing displayed by Mueller.

Taking a second place prize is David Wolpert and David Kinney's "Noisy Deductive Reasoning: How Humans Construct Math, and How Math Constructs Universes" . The panel cited the discussion of the role of mathematicians as imperfect reasoners as novel and interesting.

Discretionary prizes were awarded to Rick Searle's "Computational Complexity as Anthropic Principle" with the panel noting the entertaining literary device of an imagined conversation between Laplace, Champollion and a mechanical Oracle, and to Jochen Szangolies's "Epistemic Horizons: This Sentence is 1/√2(|True> + |False>)" for a creative approach to the problem.

Thank you to our sponsors, The Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation for making this happen. We also thank our anonymous judging panel for the hard work they put in, and congratulate our winners. And finally, thanks to everyone who entered the contest. We hope to see you again in the next contest soon!

For a full set of winners with third and fourth place please see the winners list
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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.
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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
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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
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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

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