Friday, February 17, 2017

"Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of the 'Orch OR' Theory", by Hameroff and Penrose; getting closer to explaining individual free will


Here’s an e-booklet on Science Direct, by Stuart Hameroff (University of Arizona) and Roger Penrose, “Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of ‘Orch OR Theory”, here (see link there to PDF, 79 pages). as originally pointed to on the HuffingtonPost .

“OR” refers to “objective reduction” of the quantum state (not to operations research, my first job).  Consciousness if described as following combinations of three models (1) biological evolution (2) religious, or outside of science, or (3) a property of structures in the universe, having access to other dimensions or dark energy (perhaps origami), that “maps”’ into certain structures inside cells (microtubles) at the quantum level.  The individual human or animal brain is seen as like an orchestra rather than a computer;  a thread of consciousness is like the unveiling of a symphony (especially by Bruckner) over time (as a dimension) rather than the experience of a single note on a single instrument at one instant of discrete time. 


This leave us to wonder about the principle of identity.  I cannot wake up tomorrow morning and find I have a particular 21-year-old’s body (and learn what it would be like to be strong again, a chance I threw away); I can only know if by affiliation (which might be sex).  My identity perceives the world only through one body.  Causality is irreversible;  I (and not someone else) would experience a prison cell if I committed a particular crime as an “experiment”.  We know this from experience, but I don’t know if we can prove this mathematically.  This sounds like Godel’s incompleteness theorem.   

Consciousness may be the way the Universe protects itself from entropy.  “God” plans for independent beings to develop, capable of free will, to change course.  Biology seems to be the best way to do this. Maybe this is even consistent with the occasional need for a savior, grace, and prophets.  (We can all be Christians, Jews, Muslims, and everything else at the same time.)

If you’ve ever been “adopted” by a stray cat, a wild animal who returns to your home after hunting game in his own environment, communicates to you and “knows” you, you get a sense that there are other ways that free will develops.  It’s quite a moment (and a challenge to our ideas not only about race but even biological destiny) when another creature communicates his sense of existence to you, even by kneading on your bed and making sounds at night. You realize your sense of superiority to him is an illusion.


At a moral level, sustainability seems to go way beyond usual ideas of family and procreation, and even environment (climate change).  It seems as though we, through descendants, must get to know the entire universe someday, if we don’t blow ourselves up with someone like Donald Trump.  Maybe the “Star Wars” model really exists somewhere.  

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