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Previous Programs

2020 Consciousness in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Information as Fuel
Awardees

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

H. K. Andersen
Simon Fraser University

Project Title

Temporal Structure in the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness

Project Summary

Our consciousness is always moving through time. We cannot stop a moment, or change its direction, even though we can walk through space faster or slower. Whatever we are conscious of, we are conscious of it now. When we pay close attention, it seems like the present moment encompasses some short but noticeable length of time. A knock on a door lingers for a moment after it has stopped, hanging there in a just-passed way that is different than remembering it. What makes time so different from space, and so basic to conscious experience? Does consciousness have to have these features? Could there be a consciousness that encompassed a vaster range of time as ‘now’? Could we change the bounds of the present moment to be longer or shorter? There are powerful new tools for representing these questions in mathematically precise ways. This provides new traction to answering them in more detail than philosophers or scientists have been able to thus far. And it opens the possibility of finding ‘time signatures’ of consciousness, flags for which we could search to recognize possible conscious systems that may look very different than a human brain.



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