Thursday, April 14, 2016

TGD Inspired Comments about Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness

I received form Lian Sidoroff a link to a very interesting article by John Horgan in Scientific American with title "Can Integrated Information Theory Explain Consciousness?". Originally IIT is a theoretical construct of neuroscientst Giulio Tononi (just Tononi in the sequel). Christof Koch is one of the coworkers of Tononi. IIT can be regarded as heavily neuroscience based non-quantum approach to consciousness and the goal is to identify the axioms about consciousness, which should hold true also in physics based theories. The article of Horgan was excellent and touched the essentials and it was relatively easy to grasp what is common with my own approach to consciousness and comment also what I see as weaknesses of IIT approach.

To my opinion, the basic weakness is the lack of formulation in terms of fundamental physics. As such quantum physics based formulation is certainly not enough since the recent quantum physics is plagued by paradoxes, which are due the lack of theory of consciousness needed to understand what the notion of observer means. The question is not only about what fundamental physics can give to consciousness but also about what consciousness can give to fundamental physics.

The article Consciousness: here, there and everywhere of Tononi and Koch gives a more detailed summary about IIT. The article From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory gives a more techanical description of IIT. Also the article of Scott Aaronson was very helpful in providing computer scientific view about IIT and representing also mathematical objections.

Tononi and Koch emphasize that IIT is a work in progress. This applies also to TGD and TGD inspired theory of consciousness. Personally I take writing of TGD inspired commentary about IIT as a highly interesting interaction, which might help to learn new ideas and spot the weaknesses and imperfections in the basic definitions of TGD inspired theory of consciousness. If TGD survives from this interaction as such, the writing of these commentaries have been waste of time.

The key questions relate to the notion of information more or less identified as consciousness.

  1. In IIT the information is identified essentially as a reduction of entropy as hypothetical conscious entity learns what the state of the system is. This definition of information used in the definition of conscious entity is circular. It involves also probabilistic element bringing thus either the notion of ensemble or frequency interpretation.

  2. In TGD the notion of information relies on number theoretical entanglement entropy (EE) measuring the amount of information associated with entanglement. It makes sense for algebraic entanglement probabilities. In fact all probabilities must be assumed to belong to algebraic extension of rationals if one adopts p-adic view about cognition and extends physics to adelic physics involving real and various p-adic number fields. Circularity is avoided but the basic problem has been whether one can apply the number theoretic definition of entanglement entropy only in p-adic sectors of the adelic Universe or whether it applies under some conditions also in the real sector. Writing this commentary led to a solution of this problem: the state function reduction in the intersection of realities and p-adicities which corresponds to algebraic extension of rationals induces the reductions at real and p-adic sectors. Negentropy Maximization Principle (NMP) maximizes the sum of real and various p-adic negentropy gains. The outcome is highly non-trivial prediction that cognition can stabilize also the real entanglement and has therefore causal power. One can say that cognition tames the randomness of the ordinary state function reduction so that Einstein was to some degree right when he said that God does not play dice.

  3. IIT identifies qualia with manner, which I find difficult to take seriously. The criticism however led also to criticism of TGD identification of qualia and much simpler identification involving only the basic assumptions of ZEO based quantum measurement theory emerged. Occam's razor does not leave many options in this kind of situation.

IIT predicts panpsychism in a restricted sense as does also TGD. The identification of maximally integrated partition of elementary system endowed with mechanism, which could correspond to computer program, to two parts as conscious experience is rather near to epiphenomenalism since it means that consciousness is property of physical system. In TGD framework consciousness has independent causal and ontological status. Conscious existence corresponds to quantum jumps between physical states re-creating physical realities being therefore outside the existences defined by classical and quantum physics (in TGD classical physics is exact part of quantum physics).

The comparison of IIT with TGD was very useful. I glue below the abstract of the article comparing IIT with TGD inspired theory of consciousness.


Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is a theory of consciousness originally proposed by Giulio Tononi. The basic goal of IIT is to abstract from neuroscience axioms about consciousness hoped to provide constraints on physical models. IIT relies strongly on information theory. The basic problem is that the very definition of information is not possible without introducing conscious observer so that circularity cannot be avoided. IIT identifies a collection of few basic concepts and axioms such as the notions of mechanism (computer program is one analog for mechanism), information, integration and maximally integrated information (maximal interdependence of parts of the system), and exclusion. Also the composition of mechanisms as kind of engineering principle of consciousness is assumed and leads to the notion of conceptual structure, which should allow to understand not only cognition but entire conscious experience.

A measure for integrated information (called Φ) assignable to any partition of system to two parts is introduced in terms of relative entropies. Consciousness is identified with a maximally integrated decomposition of the system to two parts (Φ is maximum). The existence of this preferred decomposition of the system to two parts besides computer and program running in it distinguishes IIT from the computational approach to consciousness. Personally I am however afraid that bringing in physics could bring in physicalism and reduce consciousness to an epiphenomenon. Qualia are assigned to the links of network. IIT can be criticized for this assignment as also for the fact that it does not say much about free will nor about the notion of time. Also the principle fixing the dynamics of consciousness is missing unless one interprets mechanisms as such.

In this article IIT is compared to the TGD vision relying on physics and on general vision about consciousness strongly guided by the new physics predicted by TGD. At classical level this new physics involves a new view about space-time and fields (in particular the notion of magnetic body central in TGD inspired quantum biology and quantum neuroscience). At quantum level it involves Zero Energy Ontology (ZEO) and the notion of causal diamond (CD) defining 4-D perceptive field of self; p-adic physics as physics of cognition and imagination and the fusion of real and various p-adic physics to adelic physics; strong form of holography (SH) implying that 2-D string world sheets and partonic surfaces serve as "space-time genes"; and the hierarchy of Planck constants making possible macroscopic quantum coherence.

Number theoretic entanglement entropy (EE) makes sense as number theoretic variant of Shannon entropy in the p-adic sectors of the adelic Universe. Number theoretic EE can be negative and corresponds in this case to genuine information: one has negentropic entanglement (NE). TGD inspired theory of consciousness reduces to quantum measurement theory in ZEO. Negentropy Maximization Principle (NMP) serves as the variational principle of consciousness and implies that NE can can only increase - this implies evolution. By SH real and p-adic 4-D systems are algebraic continuations of 2-D systems ("space-time genes") characterized by algebraic extensions of rationals labelling evolutionary levels with increasing algebraic complexity. Real and p-adic sectors have common Hilbert space with coefficients in algebraic extension of rationals so that the state function reduction at this level can be said to induce real and p-adic 4-D reductions as its shadows.

NE in the p-adic sectors stabilizes the entanglement also in real sector (the sum of real (ordinary) and various p-adic negentropies tends to increase) - the randomness of the ordinary state function reduction is tamed by cognition and mind can be said to rule over matter. Quale corresponds in IIT to a link of a network like structure. In TGD quale corresponds to the eigenvalues of observables measured repeatedly as long as corresponding sub-self (mental image, quale) remains conscious.

In ZEO self can be seen as a generalized Zeno effect. What happens in death of a conscious entity (self) can be understood and it accompanies re-incarnation of time reversed self in turn making possible re-incarnation also in the more conventional sense of the word. The death of mental image (sub-self) can be also interpreted as motor action involving signal to geometric past: this in accordance with Libet's findings.

There is much common between IIT and TGD at general structural level but also profound differences. Also TGD predicts restricted pan-psychism. NE is the TGD counterpart for the integrated information. The combinatiorial structure of NE gives rise to quantal complexity. Mechanisms correspond to 4-D self-organization patterns with self-organization interpreted in 4-D sense in ZEO. The decomposition of system to two parts such that this decomposition can give rise to a maximal negentropy gain in state function reduction is also involved but yields two independent selves. Engineering of conscious systems from simpler basic building blocks is predicted. Indeed, TGD predicts infinite self hierarchy with sub-selves identifiable as mental images. Exclusion postulate is not needed in TGD framework. Also network like structures emerge naturally as p-adic systems for which all decompositions are negentropically entangled inducing in turn corresponding real systems.

For details see the article TGD Inspired Comments about Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.

For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.

1 comment:

Dan Winter said...

negentropy-as identifier of consciousness- has a very specific wave mechanic (phase conjugate/fractal):