Large Grants
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Previous Programs

2020 Consciousness in the Physical World

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World

2019 Information as Fuel

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

Nao Tsuchiya
Monash University

Hayato Saigo
Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology, Japan

Steven Phillips
National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan

Project Title

Precision phenomenology: revealing the structure of qualia

Project Summary

Recent progress in consciousness research is driven due to technological advances in measuring neural activity in human brains. Neuroscientific understanding of conscious brains recently led to several theories of consciousness. Testing these theories is still difficult because we still lack clear understanding of properties of conscious sensation. Mathematical phenomenology is an emerging field of the study that tries to model mathematical properties of consciousness, such as color, that precisely matches with people’s reports. Here, based on a mathematical tool, called category theory, we propose a model of visual consciousness. Our model is consistent with the known facts in psychology and neuroscience while it captures our impressions of experience when seeing a brief flash of a natural photograph. As a test our model, we examine if we can indirectly but perfectly characterize and predict our particular sensation, for example color of redness in some part of the photo, by its similarity relationships with all other colors in the photo. To test this prediction, we will employ the PI's recent, novel, web-based psychological experimental platform, called Massive Report Paradigm. This will allow us to “measure” the quality of consciousness for the first time, serving as a litmus test for theories of consciousness.

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