Consciousness is the ultimate hard problem of philosophy of science. As of today, there is absolutely no scientific solution to the problem. The nature of consciousness seems ineffable: first person experience appears to be a completely different category of existence than objective external
This dilemma has led philosophers such as Daniel Dennett to use the ultimate solution: deny the problem exists. Unfortunately, that solution never worked for me at school. The objective reality of bad grades is quite hard to deny.
Yet, we need not resort to Daniel Dennett’s ultimate solution. There are concrete things we can say about consciousness if we use the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum physics and the computer science concept of Kolmogorov complexity.
Quantum physics arises from the fact that when we do not observe a particle, it can be in two different places at once, such that it interacts with itself. This result came from the famous double slit experiment.
Researchers discovered that when they fired a particle at two slits, and observed the particle, it would only go through a single slit. Mysteriously, when they did not observe the particle, it went through both slits and interfered with itself, generating an interference pattern on the screen.
Such strange results have led some scientists propose the even stranger theory: The reason why the particle exists in two states at once is because at that point in time there are two universes in existence. In fact, some believe that whenever there is a quantum event such that a particle must be in two different states, then the universe splits in two. And as a consequence, whenever we are faced with a choice, we actually pick both options. In other words, we can have our cake and eat it too. At least, according to the many worlds interpretation.
Whether such a theory is true or not, we can use it in a thought experiment to probe the nature of consciousness. In particular, we can place consciousness somewhere on the continuum from simplicity to complexity. We can determine whether it lies at one of the extremes or somewhere in the middle.
Let us begin at the simple end. The simplicity of a phenomenon is proportional to how concisely it can be described. It turns out that the phenomenon of describing all the possible worlds is extremely simple. This is because each possible world is a particular…
Continue reading: https://mindmatters.ai/2021/01/toward-a-serious-scientific-theory-of-consciousness/