QR6.3.15 Why Virtual?

Virtual games exist to benefit their players not themselves, so the aim of Civilization isn’t to conquer a virtual earth nor is Warcraft about conquering orcs. Their aim is the player experience not the game result. The success of a game is measured by the player effect and the same applies to simulations – we don’t care if a virtual plane crashes in a flight simulator as long as the pilot learns. In general, virtual realities exist to benefit those that experience them, so a virtual reality that doesn’t benefit its observers, that exists by and for itself alone, is utterly pointless. If we observe a virtual reality, it must benefit its observer but who exactly is that in this case?

In quantum theory, an observation is what collapses a quantum wave in a physical event, so the first quantum collapse after the universe began was the first observation. This observation was before matter or the information we abstract from it arose, so it can’t derive from either. And if to observe is to experience, as the first fact asserts, it must have been so from the beginning. After all, what could make it so afterwards?

Quantum theory also states that a photon wave chooses where hits a screen from its quantum distribution without regard to its physical history. Physics calls it random, as if it had no value, but if the same quantum choice allows our attention, that is a choice worth having. To call photon choices random but not apply the same logic to our own choices isn’t scientific.

Observation and choice are critical to quantum theory because it needs them to work. When electrons collide, their quantum waves overlap until a physical event entangles them into a quantum ensemble that spreads waves again. This suggests that being the same entangled entity lets them observe each other at that moment, and this gives observation a quantum base.

A photon wave that is spread over a galaxy can still restart at a physical point because it is an entity. In quantum realism, a quantum wave is an entity because there is one server causing it that can restart the wave at any point. In human terms, that server entity is it’s being, defined as what it really is. A photon then isn’t quantum waves spreading on space but the entity that creates them and our physical universe began as photon entities, each able to observe and choose.

The observations of a photon are infinitesimal but it is argued that all later beings originated from this primal ground. The observer of our universe started small but was able to evolve with it because quantum entities can entangle into a bigger entity to increase being. Most entanglements untangle at the next physical event, but some survived as matter. Being increased more as matter evolved into life and eventually human beings that are both sentient and conscious. To call oneself “I” needs data processing functions like language and the unity of consciousness. We are sentient beings because we can both experience reality and think about it.

Figure 6.41 expands Wheeler’s observing eye universe to include the role of consciousness.

Figure 6.41 A quantum universe observes a virtual reality

In the beginning, quantum reality existed alone, as the only reality. Our universe (U) began when a quantum entity gave its activity to its neighbors, creating one photon in a unit of space, and others followed suite until space expanding stopped it. This creation split the primal reality into:

1. Server entities that generate quantum waves and restart them as necessary, and

2. A client network on which quantum waves spread and interact in a lawful manner.

This split was needed because a reality that exists alone must make a universe from itself. Potters make pots from clay that is around them but what existed before the universe began had nothing to work with but itself. It had to create a virtual reality and provide the observer and the observed from itself, as follows:

1. Server entities generate quantum waves on the client network.

2. Quantum waves interact to overload the client network in a physical event.

3. The physical event causes the quantum entities involved to restart at a chosen point.

4. Restarting at the same point entangles them into a larger quantum entity.

5. The entanglement generates an observer experience.

6. This experience reflects reality at that instant but doesn’t exist in any other sense.

A physical observation then is a snapshot of reality but isn’t reality itself, which is the quantum waves that exist before and after it occurs. A physical event takes one quantum cycle but countless quantum cycles came before, so it is like a camera that takes a photo of quantum reality every million years or more. The photo we observe isn’t reality because it is just a photo.

Photons observing on an infinitesimal scale was the beginning but then, the left side of the U in Figure 6.41 evolved into matter, life and brains like ours. There were electrons, quarks, atoms, molecules and, on earth at least, macro-molecules like RNA. Biological evolution then took over where matter left off, first as simple cells then the complex cells of plants and animals. At each stage, quantum being increased. Over billions of years, part of a universe of light became matter, part of matter became life and part of life became sentient. Most of the universe isn’t conscious but the trend to increase it is clear. The universe evolved into human beings that observe it.

Figure 6.41 gives a new answer to the question “Where does observation occur?” Physical realism locates it in the brain but can’t say what nerve systems observe. Dualism locates it in a mind realm but can’t say how that realm works. Dual aspect monism locates the pain experience at the point where it occurs (Velmans, 2021), but phantom limb pains have no such point.

In quantum realism, the observer isn’t in our space at all because a server can’t be on its own client network, as a client event at its location would crash it. Figure 6.41 has to keep server entities apart from the client network to ensure that observing never fails:

“The materialistic theory is a logical blunder, because it is based on a confusion between the object and subject. It asserts that matter is objective, but at the same time tries to show that it is also the cause of the subject, which it can never be. ‘A’ can never become ‘non-A’.” (Abhedananda, 1905) p22

In Figure 6.41, server entities must observe physical events from outside the client network because observer and observed must be “A and non-A”. The observed physical event is local but the observer isn’t in physical space at all. We observe physical reality as we see a snow scene in a glass globe – from the outside. One can tap a point to see what appears but can no more enter the globe than a player can jump into a game screen. The “I” that observes and chooses the scenes of physical reality must exist outside it

But why bother? How can a virtual universe that must end one day benefit its creator? One answer is that its evolution raises the coherence of the entities that created it. If so, our physical universe exists to increase consciousness, perhaps because only the observation and choice of physical events allow that. In this case, rather than an accidental byproduct of an indifferent universe, we may be part of why it exists.

If our universe exists to increase consciousness, given its scale, we are at best an ongoing experiment of consciousness and at worst, too smart for our own good and about to die out. It took six million years for a chimp-like ancestor to become human, so if we fail, something else will come along in what, for the universe, isn’t even a heartbeat. Either way, the universe will continue to evolve quantum consciousness on a vast scale.

   The next chapter considers the possibility that some among us long ago realized by intuition what has been deduced by science and logic here – that physical reality isn’t what it seems and that what is manifest exists for the realization of what is not.

Next

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   Chapters 1-5 (2019 Version) by Ramón Pérez Montero

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      Chapter 1 by Jullyano Lino

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QR6.4 Discussion Questions

The following questions are addressed in this chapter. They are better discussed in a group to allow a variety of opinions to emerge. The relevant section link is given after each question:
1. What part of you experiences your life? (6.1.1)
2. What would you say to someone who denies that we consciously observe the physical world? (6.1.2)
3. To which Chalmers consciousness category does quantum realism belong? (6.1.3)
4. Is physical realism a realistic theory of what physical particles actually do? (6.1.4)
5. If quantum reality constantly creates the physical world as a virtual reality, what does the physical world cause? (6.1.5)
6. Why can’t text programs process picture files and vice-versa? (6.1.6)
7. What is the problem with theories that say something is caused by the mind? (6.1.7)
8. What is the difference between quantum realism and panpsychism, that all matter is conscious? (6.1.8)
9. How does growing an information processor differ from building one? (6.2.1)
10. What does split-brain research suggest about what controls the brain? (6.2.2)
11. What does the spinning ballerina illusion tell us about visual processing? (6.2.3)
12. Did evolution build three brains one after the other, each making the last obsolete? (6.2.4)
13. Why is the evolutionary “old” cerebellum still state-of-the-art? (6.2.5)
14. What are emotions and why were they important in brain evolution? (6.2.6)
15. Why was the intellect the last part of the brain to evolve and is the last to mature? (6.2.7)
16. Why does the brain have three centers of feedback control not just one? (6.2.8)
17. What is the effect of cutting the nerves that connect the hemispheres? (6.2.9)
18. What allows a photon received by a photosynthetic bacteria to explore many paths to an energy conversion center, not just one? (6.3.1)
19. What causes the molecules in a cell to vibrate in synchrony? (6.3.2)
20. How do nerve dendrites check they are receiving error-free data? (6.3.3)
21. What causes brain waves? (6.3.4)
22. What neurological process is consciousness now believed to derive from? (6.3.5)
23. What consciousness properties are explained if it comes from the electromagnetic field? (6.3.6)
24. How do entangled entities share information? (6.3.7)
25. Why does consciousness take time to arise? (6.3.8)
26. When different images are presented to each eye, why do we see only one image? (6.3.9)
27. Why is what you see always a choice? (6.3.10)
28. What would happen if silicon chips replaced all the nerves in the brain? (6.3.11)
29. If the brain’s electromagnetic field generates consciousness, where is it located? (6.3.12)
30. If the body has about 30 trillion cells, can we know what they are conscious of? (6.3.13)
31. Why cant we observe quantum waves? (6.3.14)
32. If the physical world is a virtual reality, how does it benefit its observer? (6.3.15)

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Vimal, R. L. P. (2018). The extended dual-aspect monism framework: An attempt to solve the hard problem. Trans/Form/Ação, 41(S1), 153–182.

Vlasov, V., & Bifone, A. (2017). Hub-driven remote synchronization in brain networks. Scientific Reports, 7(10403).

Ward, L. M. (2007). Neural synchrony in stochastic resonance, attention, and consciousness. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, January.

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Whitworth, B. (2008). Some implications of Comparing Human and Computer Processing.

Wolman, D. (2012). The split brain: A tale of two halves. Nature News, March 14. https://www.nature.com/news/the-split-brain-a-tale-of-two-halves-1.10213

Yamashita et al., M. (2000). Startle Response and Turning Bias in Microhyla Tadpoles. Zoological Science, 17, 185–189.

Yang, Z., & Zhang, X. (2020). Entanglement-based quantum deep learning. New J. Phys, 22(03304).

Zizzi, P. (2003). Emergent Consciousness; From the Early Universe to Our Mind, arXiv: Gr-qc/0007006. NeuroQuantology, 3, 295–311.

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QR6.3.14 What is Real?

People have wondered “What is real?” for a long time, but most of what has been written on the topic boils down to three basic questions:

1. Is there a reality out there that exists whether we observe it or not? 

Yes. Realism: There is a reality that exists apart from our observation of it, so we see a common reality because there is one out there.

No. Solipsism: The physical world is created entirely by our minds, like a dream, so each person constructs their own version of reality.

2. Does observed physical matter exist by itself alone?

Yes. Physicalism: Matter is an objective physical substance that exists whether it is subjectively observed or not.

No. Idealism: Physical matter is a manifestation of something else that is not physical.

3. Does the observer exist as a form or aspect of physical matter?

Yes. Physical realism: All reality is just matter interacting with matter, so the observer must either be a physical result, a physical combination, a physical property, or just an illusion.

No. Dualism: When we observe reality, a non-physical mind substance in a mental realm is observing matter substances in the physical realm.

    Maybe. Neutral Monism: A reality that is neither matter nor mind might create both.

Different answers give different problems. Solipsism can’t explain how we all dream the same lawful reality so most people prefer realism, that there is a common reality out there. Physicalism has a vanishing matter problem, that when examined closely, the substance of matter turns into virtual particles and quantum waves that aren’t physical at all. An embarrassing fact of physics is that 96% of the universe is dark matter and energy with no known particle cause. Idealism has a manifestation problem, that if something exists beyond matter, what does it do that matter doesn’t already do? Dualism has the problem that entirely different reality realms have no basis upon which to interact.

Current science embraces physical realism, that only matter exists, so all reality is particles interacting by physical laws. If so, it should be impossible to detect an object without physically touching it, but non-physical detection is now a proven fact of physics (3.8.4). And physics can’t explain observation, as if physical events are an unbroken causal chain, calling a physical event an observation breaks the chain, so nerves busy with physical acts can’t also observe them. That a physical entity can’t observe and know that it observes, as we do, is now mathematical theorem (Reason, 2018). Finally, there is no physical mechanism that allows dead matter to observe:

It is well recognized in the West that physicalism … has no adequate account (and many would say no account at all) of how consciousness could arise from the activities of non-conscious physical matter.” (Velmans, 2021) p25

As Russell concluded after many years:

“… we cannot say that ‘matter is the cause of our sensations’(Russell, 1927) p290.

This leaves neutral monism, that a reality that isn’t  matter or mind causes both, but neither Russell nor James  (James, 1904) could successfully define what that reality was.

Figure 6.40 shows the main reality theories at the start of last century. Reality was assumed to be something, but exactly what was unclear.

Figure 6.40 Theories of Reality

A century later, things are more complex but no clearer. Physical realists now use panpsychism, that all matter is conscious, to conclude that consciousness is a purely physical phenomenon (Strawson, 2008). Dualism has become property dualism (Chalmers, 1996) p165, that some matter has a consciousness property. Idealism now includes cosmopsychism, that we are dissociated parts of a great Mind that lets us see a common reality (Kastrup, 2019). Dual-aspect monism sees mental and physical as inseparable aspects of an unknowable primal reality (Vimal, 2018), so mind and matter are complementary just as electricity and magnetism are in electro-magnetism (Velmans, 2021) p192. But calling aspects complementary doesn’t make it so if their union is impossible, and what is impossible should be false not true. To argue that if an electron can be a wave and a particle, we can be a mind and a brain, is using one miracle to justify another, which isn’t how science works. 

That consciousness is fundamental lets atoms be conscious but doesn’t explain how we are. Properties like charge add when matter aggregates but if consciousness did that, mountains would be more conscious than us. Dual-aspect monism has to conclude that “’I’ and ‘Self” and ‘me’ are all plural terms (like the crew of the USS Enterprise.(Benovsky, 2016) p348, which contradicts the first fact, that we experience one observer not many.

To sum up, dual realities can’t co-exist, dead matter can’t observe and the consciousness of atoms can’t aggregate. A new approach is needed. Quantum realism avoids these problems by denying physicalism entirely, as only realism and observation are necessary for science. It then addresses the problems of other reality theories as follows:

1. Solipsism. Our universe has the same physical laws everywhere because they derive from quantum laws that are the same everywhere, so lawfulness is true.

2. Realism. What is around us is real but physical events just represent it, so realism is true.

3. Physicalism. There are no particles, only waves that look like particles when observed, so the “substance” of matter is expected to vanish when examined closely.

4. Idealism. The non-physical reality that causes physical reality operated long before minds arose, so what created the stars and galaxies doesn’t have a manifestation problem.

5. Physical realism. Future generations may mock current physical realism as a naïve belief in magical causes, just as we now mock fairies (Kastrup, 2020). The idea that a universe of matter made itself from nothing then observed itself is magical thinking to a scientist.

6. Dualism. That the same reality causes matter and consciousness avoids the problems of two reality realms, because if mind and matter have the same source, there is no duality.

7. Panpsychism. The activating principle behind physical matter can’t be a property of it because a cause can’t derive from its result, just as a projector of images can’t exist as one of the images it generates.

8. Dual aspect monism. That atoms are conscious doesn’t explain our consciousness but that quantum entities unite when they entangle is a fact of physics. If entanglement increases the observer, our consciousness could evolve from what came before.

Quantum waves can’t be observed because observing a photon wave collapses it to a particle that isn’t a quantum wave. It seems that we can’t observe what causes observation because that would be circular, like a hand drawing itself. We take observing for granted but the ability to observe isn’t free if quantum waves must restart for it to happen. Observation, like time and space, only began when our universe did. Being unable to observe quantum waves is the price we pay for being able to observe at all, as it is impossible to observe what creates observing!

Some say that what can’t be seen can’t exist but that isn’t true for a virtual reality, as gamers know that unseen programs create what they see. A gamer exploring a dungeon clicks on a door to reveal a new scene that replaces the old one, which then vanishes as if it never was. If the door reveals a monster, was it lurking there beforehand? Obviously not, as that a dungeon of monsters constantly exists in our laptop when it isn’t in use is absurd. The monster is an experience not a thing, as only the program that creates it exists constantly on the laptop.

If the physical world is a virtual reality, the same logic applies. We see an objective world of tables and chairs not quantum waves creating physical events on demand, but to think that they constantly exist is like thinking your laptop contains a dungeon of monsters.

A primal reality that causes everything must create both observer and observed. That both observer and observed exist is dualism, which is patently false. That only the observed exists is physical realism, which is also evidently false. That only the observer exists is solipsism, which denies the realism that science requires. That neither the observer nor the observed exist by themselves is quantum realism, that a primal reality created a virtual universe to observe itself.

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QR6.3.13 The Grand Evolution

  The origin of the universe, life and consciousness are the three great mysteries of science. Quantum realism connects them, as our universe began from a single quantum event, life arose from a quantum effect and consciousness evolved from quantum proto-consciousness. If matter and life evolved by the same universal process, this grand evolution connects us back to the first event that created our universe.

   My body came from a single cell and bacteria evolved into us so when did life become conscious? We consider ourselves uniquely conscious but evolution doesn’t do unique. Growth and evolution are step-wise sequences so there is no line between us and them. We aren’t a realm apart from animals and life isn’t a realm apart from matter, so consciousness as the ability to observe didn’t suddenly begin at some past moment. In quantum realism everything observes, so even trilobites in the primeval seas observed things (Figure 6.38). The grand evolution of matter and life is reflected in the time-scale of observations, starting with a photon:

Figure 6.38 Even Trilobites observed

Planck time is the shortest possible time in physics. An observation at this scale would occur more times a second than there have been seconds in the life of the universe. Planck time is taken to represent photon scale observations.

A yoctosecond (ys) is a trillion-trillionth of a second. A top quark’s lifetime is  estimated at half a ys, bosons have lifetimes in ys and quark plasma light pulses are a few ys, so this timescale may represent basic matter observations.

A zeptosecond (zs) is a billion-trillionth of a second and the shortest time measured so far. Physicists estimate a few hundred zs for the two atoms of a hydrogen molecule to photoionize (Grundmann et al., 2020), so this timescale may represent atomic observations.

An attosecond (as) is a million-trillionth of a second. Ultrafast x-ray sources with as time resolution reveal bromine molecule vibronic structures (Kobayashi et al., 2020), so this timescale may represent molecular observations.

A femtosecond (fs) is a thousand-trillionth of a second or 0.000000000000001second. It is to a second as a second is to about 32 million years. High-energy fs scale X-rays that probe complex protein molecules in light harvesting bacteria respond to light in the order of one fs (Rathbone et al., 2018) p1433, so this timescale may represent macromolecule observations.

A picosecond (ps) is a trillionth of a second or a million-millionth of a second. Estimates of coherence times for cells range from 100fs to 1 ps (Rathbone et al., 2018) p1447, so this timescale may represent simple cell observations.

A nanosecond (ns) is a billionth of a second. A billion is a big number as it takes 95 years to count to a billion. Nanosecond pulsed electric fields elicit various responses in human and other cells (Koga et al., 2019), so this timescale may represent complex cell observations.

A microsecond (μs) is a millionth of a second. Bacteria existed three billion years ago but the leap to multi-cell life happened only 800 million years ago, when cells began to move ions across cell walls using ion channels that act in a few microseconds (Minor, 2010) p201, faster than any nerve, to let simple marine animals with no nerves move towards the algae they feed on (Smith et al., 2019). Microsecond pulsed electric fields are used in food production as mushrooms exposed to a ten μs electromagnetic burst can double their growth (Edwards, 2010), so this timescale may represent multicell observations.

A millisecond (ms) is a thousandth of a second. As animals grew larger, electrochemical nerves replaced chemical signals. Jellyfish nerves are all over their body but oysters have a neuroendocrine center (Liu et al., 2016), and the ten-thousand nerves of worms and slugs and the hundred-thousand nerves of crabs and insects form a chord. A honeybee with nearly a million nerves in a mm volume can fly, navigate and communicate where pollen is. These instinctive brains are fast, as an insect startle response can be less than 5ms (Sourakov, 2011) and a praying mantis can sense the vibrations of a bat attack and evade in 8ms (Triblehorn & Yager, 2005), so this timescale may represent instinctive brain observations.

A centisecond (cs) is a hundredth of a second. Frogs and reptiles evolved brains with tens of millions of nerves to process sense data from one nerve to the next. It takes at least a cs for a signal to travel a meter of nerve, so the response time for cerebellum-based one-center brains is in hundredths of a second. Tadpole startle responses occur within 1-2cs (Yamashita et al., 2000) and our blink responses take 3-4 cs, so this timescale may represent one-center brain observations.

A decisecond (ds) is a tenth of a second. Bird and small mammal brains are about ten times larger than same-size frogs or reptiles mainly due to midbrain and neocortex increases. Two-center mammal brains require thalamic coherence that takes two-tenths of a second to occur, so the rat reaction time of about 2-3ds is expected (Blokland, 1998). In 100m races, elite sprinters take 1.2-1.6 tenths of a second to start moving (Tønnessen et al., 2013) and responses under a tenth of a second are a false start, so this timescale may represent two-center brain observations.

The speed of thought seems to be about a second. Lower brain areas respond faster but brain-wide consciousness takes about half-a-second, so human thought will take longer. Our brains blink in hundredths of a second and change highway lanes in tenths of a second, but it takes longer to think. It takes about a second to mentally rotate an 80° shape (Harris et al., 2000) or a 3D shape (Shepard & Metzler, 1988) or do mental arithmetic (Han et al., 2016), so this timescale may represent three-center brain observations.

Table 6.1 (below) estimates observation timescales from a photon to a human, where the times increase with evolution. It’s hard to swat a fly that sees 250 frames a second to our 60 because to the fly, we move in slow motion. The ability to observe evolved as life did, so the difference in consciousness between us and a fly is one of scale not of kind. Working back from us to what came before suggests that consciousness was always there, just on a shorter time scale.

Figure 6.39 S. Roeselii responses

Consciousness benefits all life, as even single cells face choices that demand unified actions. The trumpet-shaped S. Roeselii is a one-cell animal that attaches to sea rocks to feed on passing rotifers. When subjected to an irritant, it tries various responses (Figure 6.39) in order, before finally detaching to relocate elsewhere (Dexter et al., 2019):

They do the simple things first, but if you keep stimulating, they ‘decide’ to try something else. S. roeselii has no brain, but there seems to be some mechanism that, in effect, lets it ‘change its mind’ once it feels like the irritation has gone on too long.

How does a cell with no brain make choices like that? The answer proposed is that cell-level observations allow cell-level choices. The evidence suggests that consciousness helped every step of evolution, from cells to our brains, by allowing more complex systems to act in a unified way.

When observing a movie, consciousness combines sight and sound into one experience. Bottom-up sensory competition would pit vision against sound, but we experience both and can choose to focus on either. If consciousness is a quantum entanglement, where it collapses will alter the observed result. Each brain area has a stronger electromagnetic field closer to it, so switching attention to the sound of a movie may be choosing a collapse close to where hearing occurs. In general, switching attention between brain functions, like feelings, thoughts or parts of the body, may be consciousness choosing a collapse location that maximizes the strength of that function. No other theory can explain attention, as there is no wiring switch in the brain to do what attention does.

Each of us is a walking, talking, thinking collection of 30 trillion cells that grew from a cell by a path discovered by evolution. We evolved from cells one step at a time and are conscious because countless less-conscious life forms found ways to become more so. Our consciousness must have evolved from what went before, whether we care to admit it or not.

   Evolution is going nowhere if only physical reality exists but if the physical universe is a virtual reality, it could exist to evolve consciousness.

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Table 6.1 The Evolution of Consciousness

Observer

Time Scale

Examples

Light

Planck time

̴10−44 seconds

Photon

Basic matter

Yoctosecond

10−24 seconds

Electrons, quarks, neutrinos

Atoms

Zeptosecond

10−21 seconds

Periodic table atoms.

Molecules

Attosecond

10−18 seconds

Oxygen, carbon dioxide …

Macromolecules

Femtosecond

10−15 seconds

DNA, RNA, mtDNA

Simple cells

Picosecond

10−12 seconds

Bacteria and organelles

Complex single cells

Nanosecond

10−9 seconds

Paramecium, amoeba

Multicell life

Microsecond

10−6 seconds

Placozoa, algae, fungi

Instinctive brains

Millisecond

10−3 seconds

Fish, insects, crabs

One-center brains

Centisecond

10−2 seconds

Reptiles, amphibia

Two-center brains

Decisecond

10−1 seconds

Mammals, birds

Three-center brains

Seconds

Seconds

Humans

QR6.3.12 The Nature of Consciousness

The cascade theory of human consciousness answers common questions about it as follows:

1. What is consciousness? Consciousness began as the quantum ability to observe a physical event. In our case, the body senses physical events that nerves report and analyze for features that combine into an observation that has no physical basis. We know how nerves combine observed pixels but are just learning how quantum observers combine by neural synchrony. Even in the womb, some nerves process data and others generate brain waves because they must generate an observer as well as an observation, so when a baby looks at you intently, it may be forming the observer as well as the observed. Human consciousness is the brain’s ability to entangle nerves into a single “I” that observes the world registered by nerves.

2. What causes consciousness? The primary cause is that quantum entities can observe physical events but to observe on a human scale requires brains to create a bigger observer. The cause of human consciousness is the brain entangling nerves to create a quantum observer.

3. Is consciousness physical? Every physical event is an observation result so what observes it can’t also be physical, as that would be circular. If consciousness was physical, we could put it in a bottle, but what constantly creates the bottle can’t be contained in it. If a non-physical electro-magnetic field causes consciousness, then it can’t be physical either.

4. Is consciousness continuous? A physical observation is an event not a thing so experiences are intermittent not continuous, but that which experiences can constantly exist.

5. What does consciousness do? Consciousness provides the being that observes and chooses, whether at the cell or human scale. Acquiring consciousness is the only way a complex body system can act as a single entity. Imagine an online game where players discussed “What does the player do?” Some say the player is the one who observes and chooses but those who see only the game see no “player” in it, so they conclude there is no such thing. They say, “If players exist, point to one in the game!” but no-one can do that, yet the game only exists for its players. In essence, consciousness provides the “players” in the game of physical reality. 

6. Why is consciousness singular? Brain areas work in parallel but can only form one synchrony at a time, to give one conscious experience at a time. Consciousness is singular because the brain-wide resonance that creates it is singular.

7. Why does the conscious experience never fail? Brain states that give entirely new smells or feelings are experienced with no more effort than familiar ones. How does consciousness know what experience to generate each time, without fail? If the conscious cascade builds up from individual nerve observations, the experience is built up from scratch each time. Consciousness never fails because every experience is generated from the ground up.

8. Can consciousness change? If consciousness is caused by neural synchrony, it can increase or decrease as nerves join or leave the ensemble. This may be why “I” take a while to fully wake up after sleeping. Consciousness increases as the brain synchronizes better, so one can be more or less conscious over a day or lifetime. Consciousness can decay by dissociation, as in multiple personality cases. A brain-generated consciousness can grow or shrink over time.

9. Can consciousness observe itself? An observation is an observer-observed interaction where the observer isn’t the observed. In our reality, an observer can observe itself by dividing into observing and observed parts. A brain can do this, as the intellect can observe the emotions as interpreter theory proposes, but consciousness as an entanglement has no parts to split into, so it can’t do that. Yet somehow, the ability to observe includes knowing that we observe. To identify with the observer not the observed may underlie the Gnostic saying “Know Thyself”.

Human consciousness makes us special among the animal kingdom but how did it evolve?

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QR6.3.11 The Silicon Chip Speculation

The classic brain information theory argument is the silicon chip thought experiment, that replacing every brain nerve with an equivalent silicon chip wouldn’t alter consciousness:

… imagine that one of your neurons is replaced by a silicon chip prosthesis that has the exact same input/output profile as the neuron it replaces. At the core of this thought experiment is the presumption that such a replacement would be unnoticeable to you or to anyone observing your behavior. Presumably, you would continue to experience pain even though the physical realization of those mental events includes a silicon chip where an organic neuron used to be. Now imagine that, one by one, the rest of your neurons are swapped for silicon prostheses. Presumably there would be no change in your mental life even though your brain, which was once made of lipid and protein neurons, is now entirely composed of silicon neuronoids.(Mandik, 2004).

No evidence supports this speculation except the belief that brains are biological computers. Yet that the brain equates to a set of wired chips isn’t supported by neuroscience, as transistors are insulated from electromagnetic fields while nerves broadcast them, as brainwaves show.

 Even if a chip could replace a nerve and its synapses, it can’t transmit as nerves do. Replacing cellphone transmitters with computers that can’t transmit would diminish the network, so by the same logic, replacing every brain nerve with a chip would reduce consciousness. The silicon experiment would give a supercomputer with no more consciousness than a mass of metal. The silicon chip speculation, like the singularity prediction (Kurzweil, 1999), is science fiction posing as science fact,.

A similar thought experiment is that if one day we can copy physical things atom-for-atom, would replicating the brain copy consciousness? Physical realism says it would, as the result is physically identical to the original and the physical world is all there is. But if one “me” tends the garden while another cooks the dinner, how can “I” experience both events? If a copy of me went to work while “I” lay in the sun, I experience the sun not a day at work, so the physical copy didn’t replace me at all.  For Chalmers, the original is conscious and the copy is a zombie while for Dennett, both are zombies imagining they are conscious. In quantum realism, physically identical brains would generate two conscious beings that, despite their similarity, independently choose, just as identical twins raised the same make their own choices and live different lives. 

Cutting the nerves joining the hemispheres to “split” the brain doesn’t stop data exchange, it stops them forming a single consciousness. When the hemispheres dissociate, to each have its own consciousness, they can come into conflict and having two “I”s isn’t beneficial. If in the future I made a perfect copy of myself that was also conscious, who is to say it wouldn’t decide to kill me? The brain evolved to unify consciousness, not to divide it, for a reason.

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QR6.3.10 Consciousness Cascades

Nerves as oscillators that form synchronies act as observer gates rather than transistor gates, so lower observer choices precede the global observer choice. If nerves that fire together observe together, each observation choice affects higher observations, up to a global observer who also chooses what to observe.

The brain develops neural synchronies in a definite sequence to form a global observation. A microcolumn that registers a feature must synchronize to get enough strength to merge with nearby microcolumns into a cortical column that can then synchronize into a macrocolumn. The constant pings of interneurons and the thalamic beat help nerves lock in phase, as we tune violins by varying a note slightly until a resonance is maintained.

As neural units synchronize, small observations entangle into larger ones that can collapse to observe any location combination. This takes time to achieve, so neurons constantly ping until they resonant in an observation that can synchronize further. The cascade culminates when distant brain areas of language, meaning, memory and planning merge into a global consciousness that integrates the decentralized brain.

This cascade allows negotiation between higher and lower units. An outcome that doesn’t work at a high level can be redone until it does, so an ambiguous figure can be seen one way then be seen differently. Computers struggle with low-level ambiguity but a brain based on choices at every level can ask for a redo. Top-down links also allow the global observer to prime lower neural units to act alone, allowing “subconscious” response times as low as a tenth of a second.

 To recap, a photon wave collapsing at a screen point essentially chooses to observe there. When many nerves synchronize, their entangled field collapses to observe a point that represents some neural combination. The microcolumn result is a flicker of an observation but by synchrony it repeats, until instead of collapsing alone it entangles with other microcolumns that are doing the same with their sense data. Constant neural volleys sustain lower synchronies until they cohere into bigger ones and the process repeats until it gives a global observation. The global ignition that correlates with consciousness is a series of observer choices that end in what we experience.

Consciousness is like a spotlight on the senses that starts with millions of barely discernible point flickers blinking at different frequencies, that eventually synchronize into area flashes that again wink separately until they synchronize into a coherent beam that can be directed anywhere. It takes about half-a-second for the spotlight to power up, as each synchrony step allows the next.

The choice of what to attend isn’t defined by sense input nor is it entirely free, as the options available at the top level depend on choices made lower down. This isn’t a machine where each cog drives the next but a choice hierarchy, where lower choices define higher ones. When it comes to what causes human behavior, in brain terms it is choices all the way down, so the social practice of making people responsible for their own behavior has a neural foundation.

It also follows that the hemispheres don’t send their half of the visual field across the corpus callosum to let the other “see” the whole field, as this is both impossible by encapsulation and inefficient as it duplicates processing. Instead, callosal nerves synchronize corresponding areas to generate a consciousness that not only sees the entire visual field but also unites the frontal lobes in a single plan. Hence under anesthesia, beta-gamma waves stop as the hemispheres functionally uncouple and not until they synchronize again does consciousness of the entire visual field return (John et al., 2001). What observes the full visual field isn’t either hemisphere but the quantum observer that their synchrony creates.

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QR6.3.9 Consciousness Scales

The multiscale conjecture is that consciousness builds up by interactions at many temporal and spatial scales in the brain (Nunez, 2016) p326, so:

“Consciousness does not work like a light switch that just goes on and off. Rather it is more like a light with variable brightness controlled by a dimmer switch.” (Nunez, 2016) p98.

The electromagnetic field of a nerve is extremely local so it fades after a millimeter or so, but tubulins could synchronize a microcolumn 1/300thmm wide to give the P1 waves that occur 50ms after stimulus. The observation scale might be a fleeting registration of borders.

A synchronized microcolumn amplifies its electromagnetic field, increasing its strength. The greater range lets cortico-cortical columns of about 10,000 neurons synchronize, perhaps using thalamic beats and cortico-cortical links to give N1 waves about 130ms after stimulus (John, 2005) p159. The observation at this scale might be a brief registration of features like shape.

Synchronized macrocolumns of about a million neurons may arise in the same way, to give P2 waves about 210ms after stimulus. The observation at this scale might be of a visual object.

The processing hierarchy doesn’t stop at macrocolumns as they synchronize into areas. The primary visual area V1 at the back of the brain maps shapes in space then passes its results to nearby V2, V3, V4, V5 and V6 areas to handle relative movement. Finally, distant brain areas responsible for memory and planning join in to form a global synchrony.

When subjects were asked to recognize image fragments, electrodes in the occipitotemporal cortex, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex showed a steady beta synchrony significantly higher than when they didn’t recognize it (Sehatpour et al., 2008). When input reaches higher visual areas, a remarkable thing happens: sub-millisecond synchronies link distant brain areas as the image is recognized. Neuroscience confirms that distant cortical areas use re-entrant circuits, self-perpetuating neural loops that set up rhythmic synchronies of extraordinary precision. There is agreement that nerve synchrony integrates information in some way:

“We believe that the brain integrates functional modules by bringing neural oscillations in those modules into synchrony. Neurons oscillating in synchrony can communicate their information and influence each other’s activities much more effectively than can those oscillating asynchronously.”(Ward, 2007) p325.

In a study of monkeys presented with two stimuli, one of which was relevant, both stimuli produced a V1 response but only the attended one gave a V4 area gamma synchrony (Bosman et al., 2012). A similar result was found for competing auditory streams presented simultaneously – only the attended stream synchronized the higher auditory area, leading the authors to suggest a top-down synchrony filter in selective auditory attention (Lakatos et al., 2013). In human studies of binocular rivalry, each eye gets a different image but the brain sees only one, not a merge of both. Neuromagnetic measurements of rivalry find the hemisphere with better local synchrony predicts the image that is consciously perceived (Tononi, 1998).

In masking studies, where a word is only seen half the time, long-distant gamma synchrony between occipital, parietal and frontal areas occur if the word is seen but not if it isn’t (Melloni et al., 2007). Both cases gave gamma oscillations but phase-locked synchrony between distant areas and the hemispheres only occurred for the visible case and shortly after this transient synchrony, the p300 correlate of consciousness occurred. Evidence from animal and human studies suggests that synchrony enables the conscious observation that binds neural areas:

“We propose that this transient synchronization might enhance the saliency of the activation patterns not only allowing the contents to get access to consciousness but also triggering a cascade of processes such as perceptual stabilization, maintenance in working memory, and generalizations of expectations, all aspects intimately related with conscious awareness.”  (Uhlhaas, 2009) p11.

Why do nerves send the same signal hundreds of times a second in synchronized volleys? It can’t be to exchange information, as we neither act nor perceive in hundredths of a second. But constant pings could build large synchronies from small ones in a cascade of consciousness.

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