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(io9)   Is consciousness quantum?   (io9.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, quantum, consciousness, Roger Penrose, historic preservation, anesthesia, classical mechanics  
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4616 clicks; posted to Geek » on 14 Sep 2013 at 9:43 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

2013-09-14 08:37:17 PM  
5 votes:
Did Deepak Chopra write this piece of drivel?
2013-09-14 09:44:58 PM  
4 votes:
Quantum... a great word to throw around when you want to say something mystical but with a veneer of scientific credibility.
2013-09-15 04:55:59 AM  
2 votes:

ThrobblefootSpectre: DO NOT WANT Poster Girl: The quantum transitions in that ensemble will be so freaking tiny as to be physiologically meaningless and will be dominated by transitions in rotational and vibrational energy, aka heat.

Quantum entanglement has already been demonstrated on macro-scale objects at room temperature. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=room-temperature-ent a nglement
So you can stop repeating that quantum effects are "meaningless" at larger scales.  That's very 1980's.

In any case, Penrose isn't discussing a macro-scale object.  He is discussing structures in the brain that are only a few nm wide.  So it is probably not reasonable to arbitrarily hand wave away possible q effects at the scale of light wavelengths, just because you don't like it.  (Time may show Penrose is wrong this once, but it will take more than a dismissive handwave and some incorrect statements about quantum physics to make that case.)

/As a side note, one should probably be extra circumspect before saying one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists alive today is presenting an "Argument from ignorance".


Except that those same "microtubules in the brain" mentioned in TFA are part of neuron cells, which means that every life form more complicated than a sponge has them. They are in no way unique to humans, or even mammals or vertebrates. In fact, jellyfish have them. I don't see anyone calling these things conscious.

t0.gstatic.com

I have no problem with the hypothesis that there may be quantum elements involved in neural functioning, as quantum effects in biology have already been demonstrated. However, everything that makes humans different from other animals and permits us to have more elaborate cognition happens at the macroscale, because the microscale structures mentioned in the article would necessarily be shared in basic function with every other animal that has neurons.

So this in essence reduces the idea of consciousness being due to quantum effects down to the nearly trivial statement that consciousness is due to us having neurons. I think it's interesting to study whether neuron functions have quantum interactions - but anyone who wants to start bringing up consciousness as a result in a causal fashion is seriously indulging in woo. This looks to me like a clear case of a very smart man who is an expert in his field making a basic error about a topic about which he is most definitely not an expert.
2013-09-14 10:18:13 PM  
2 votes:

Nefarious: That cat might know.



i470.photobucket.com
2013-09-14 10:08:47 PM  
2 votes:
www.smbc-comics.com
2013-09-14 08:10:30 PM  
2 votes:
Is it quantized?

Like, are there integer values of possible conscious states?
2013-09-15 11:57:43 AM  
1 vote:

Mister Peejay: DamnYankees: Bathysphere: Physicists and mathematicians have been know to be very spiritual people, and as an atheist, I'm curious to know what knowledge they have that provokes their spirituality.

Scientists, especially physicists, are WAY LESS spiritual than other people.

You're kidding, right?


He's right. Scientists are far, far more likely to be atheists than the average person.
2013-09-15 10:57:48 AM  
1 vote:

jamspoon: A casual Googling of the idea says "No". The main reason being a quantum computer has to be very cold to avoid quantum "noise" disrupting the process.

Nice idea though


But photosynthesis uses quantum tunneling. You can't explain that.
2013-09-15 07:50:32 AM  
1 vote:

ThrobblefootSpectre: Humans have neurons, and are conscious. Jellyfish have neurons but are not conscious. Therefore the presence of neurons must not be involved in human is not sufficient to produce consciousness.

I don't think that last statement is a valid leap. :)


FTFY

KiltedBastich: I have no problem with the hypothesis that there may be quantum elements involved in neural functioning, as quantum effects in biology have already been demonstrated. However, everything that makes humans different from other animals and permits us to have more elaborate cognition happens at the macroscale, because the microscale structures mentioned in the article would necessarily be shared in basic function with every other animal that has neurons.

So this in essence reduces the idea of consciousness being due to quantum effects down to the nearly trivial statement that consciousness is due to us having neurons. I think it's interesting to study whether neuron functions have quantum interactions - but anyone who wants to start bringing up consciousness as a result in a causal fashion is seriously indulging in woo. This looks to me like a clear case of a very smart man who is an expert in his field making a basic error about a topic about which he is most definitely not an expert.


This is probably a better plain-text refutation than what I was going to come up with. My go-to explanation more involves the fact that the size of a cell is pretty solidly in the regime where the probabilistic nature of electrons in QM converges towards the deterministic (due to the fact that neurons firing is an aggregate effect.) In CMOS, you start to have problems related to quantum tunneling when your gate oxide drops below about 50nm - hence the reason for high-k dielectrics in the last few generations of microprocessors. A quick google search reveals that the average dendrite is on the order of 10 um wide and dozens to hundreds of microns long. Moreover, we deal with QM stuff in electronics all the time - it's called "shot noise," and it sure as shiat doesn't mean your circuit is conscious.
2013-09-15 01:19:17 AM  
1 vote:
Pseudoscience at its finest.
2013-09-15 12:55:51 AM  
1 vote:
Consciousness is a by-product of your complex meat machine.  It's an emergent property and it's a spectrum.  It's natural to want to think you're special, but most people aren't even special enough to realize they're not special.
2013-09-15 12:01:01 AM  
1 vote:
What is mind? No matter.
What is matter? Never mind.
2013-09-14 11:41:07 PM  
1 vote:

BolloxReader: An interesting question. My girlfriend has DID and there are at least 13 in there, and one is new since we met. She had a concussion and they took a few days to get sorted out. One is hard core OCD. Six are adult and seven are children who never age. The new one orgasms hard to pain, something that was extremely disconcerting. This new one is also blind because light hurts her eyes so she can't see me. She is linked to a child personality who came out of the concussion way too strong, she is able to overpower the others to get out but she can't know any others exist because none of the children could handle sharing daddy/poppa/papi. The "editing" personality tells me that there are many more "fragments" floating about that may or may not develop into new personalities. They are all linked but only three personalities know of all others and only one of those ever interacts directly with me. Each is a fully formed individual with distinct tastes ans aversions, emotional needs and mannerisms. All existing in one brain. None of them hold direct first person knowledge of the abuse that caused it, instead it is described as more like reading about it in a book. Memories are compartmentalized. One personality, who has no mouth in her self image, is "the keeper of secrets" but what she keeps is unknown even to her. But when something traumatic happens it is like it is put into a vault that she guards.

Is consciousness quantum? It is the only real way to describe what I see in her. She is undiagnosed and even her four grown kids are ignorant of her condition. What I see in her makes me laugh at the Wikipedia articles on personality, consciousness and the like.


Good luck with that
2013-09-14 11:29:11 PM  
1 vote:
I really hate it when people misuse the word "quantum".
2013-09-14 11:03:43 PM  
1 vote:
I plan on being classically unconscious in about 20 minutes.
2013-09-14 10:02:05 PM  
1 vote:
Sure, what the hell.
2013-09-14 09:54:17 PM  
1 vote:

SomeAmerican: Quantum... a great word to throw around when you want to say something mystical but with a veneer of scientific credibility.


The technical term is "quantum woo".
2013-09-14 09:53:49 PM  
1 vote:

DamnYankees: Did Deepak Chopra write this piece of drivel?


Seriously.  I thought it might be an article about quantum effects driving certain important brain processes like the quantum effects that are part of photosynthesis.  But no, it was total drivel.

The first red flag went up when the author talked about wave function collapse as if it were a "thing" and that was quickly followed by "non physical".  There's nothing "non physical" about quantum mechanics, people!
2013-09-14 09:13:22 PM  
1 vote:
I've found that if a question is posed in a FARK headline, the answer is usually "NO."

Nefarious: That cat might know.


Maybe.
2013-09-14 09:08:13 PM  
1 vote:
I'm not sure I'm ready to take that leap
2013-09-14 09:03:53 PM  
1 vote:

Bathysphere: Physicists and mathematicians have been know to be very spiritual people, and as an atheist, I'm curious to know what knowledge they have that provokes their spirituality.


Scientists, especially physicists, are WAY LESS spiritual than other people.
2013-09-14 08:47:26 PM  
1 vote:

Morchella: Why not. Solace is a quantum thing, evidently.


Spider Robinson fan?
2013-09-14 08:33:49 PM  
1 vote:
I'm not saying it's quantum
Because it's actually ancient aliens.
2013-09-14 08:20:17 PM  
1 vote:

Bathysphere: It's articles like these, that kinda get me excited about the afterlife.


Why's that?
2013-09-14 08:19:02 PM  
1 vote:
A casual Googling of the idea says "No". The main reason being a quantum computer has to be very cold to avoid quantum "noise" disrupting the process.

Nice idea though
2013-09-14 08:12:53 PM  
1 vote:
Fraa Jad knows the answer, but it would be tedious to explain it to you.

/obscure?
2013-09-14 08:10:43 PM  
1 vote:
It's articles like these, that kinda get me excited about the afterlife.
2013-09-14 08:07:38 PM  
1 vote:
Only until you think about it.
2013-09-14 08:06:51 PM  
1 vote:

Nefarious: That cat might know.


the cat is both in and not in aruba.

Also, what if our physical beings are just an elaborate prison designed to trap energy beings in an alternate reality, and people who die are just being paroled from their sentences?
2013-09-14 07:59:29 PM  
1 vote:
That cat might know.
 
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