Published on Dec 26, 2014
Scientific investigations of consciousness that seek its biological basis typically assume that objects in space-time—such as neurons—exist even if unperceived, and have causal powers. I evaluate this assumption, using evolutionary games and genetic algorithms that study perceptual evolution, and find that it is almost surely false. Our perceptions of space-time and objects are a species-specific adaptation, not an insight into objective reality. In consequence, I propose a formal theory of consciousness—the theory of “conscious agents”—that takes consciousness to be fundamental, rather than derivative from objects in space-time. I use the theory of consciousagents to solve the combination problem of consciousness, both for the combination of subjects and of experiences. I show that entanglement follows as a consequence of the combination of conscious subjects. I then discuss the relationship of these findings to the account of entanglement given by quantum-Bayesian interpretations of quantum theory.Donald Hoffman, Ph.D.Cognitive Scientist and Author, Department of CognitiveSciences, U.C. IrvineDonald Hoffman is a cognitive scientist and author of more than 90 scientific papers and three books, including Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See (W.W. Norton, 2000). He received his BA from UCLA in Quantitative Psychology and his Ph.D. from MIT in Computational Psychology. He joined the faculty of UC Irvine in 1983, where he is now a full professor in the departments of cognitive science, computer science and philosophy. He received a Distinguished Scientific Award of the American Psychological Association for early career research into visual perception, and the Troland Research Award of the US National Academy of Sciences for his research on the relationship of consciousness and the physical world.