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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

James Crutchfield
Art and Science Laboratory

Project Title

Quantitative Explorations in Nonhuman Consciousness—Signatures of Cetacean Intelligence and Social Awareness

Project Summary

First appearing in the Earth’s oceans some 20-30 Myrs ago, humpback whales exhibit compelling, documented evidence for very advanced intentional behaviors and conscious awareness through their raw intelligence, song generation and sharing, interactions with their own and other species, and empathy (concern for other’s well-being). Over this very long evolution—exceeding that of humans by a factor of 10—they developed tools (socially-coordinated bubble-net feeding) and a region- (and possibly hemisphere-) spanning ocean-acoustic communication system. Using modern theories of complex, multivariate statistical complexity this project empirically investigates consciousness as it arises from the intentional behaviors of humpback and other whale species and their emergent collective intelligence.



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