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Electrons May Very Well Be Conscious - Issue 94: Evolving

Nautilus

This week we are reprinting our top stories of 2020. This article first appeared online in our Facts So Romantic blog in May, 2020. In May, the cover of New Scientist ran the headline, "Is the Universe Conscious?" Mathematician and physicist Johannes Kleiner, at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy in Germany, told author Michael Brooks that a mathematically precise definition of consciousness could mean that the cosmos is suffused with subjective experience. "This could be the beginning of a scientific revolution," Kleiner said, referring to research he and others have been conducting.


Electrons May Very Well Be Conscious - Facts So Romantic

Nautilus

This month, the cover of New Scientist ran the headline, "Is the Universe Conscious?" Mathematician and physicist Johannes Kleiner, at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy in Germany, told author Michael Brooks that a mathematically precise definition of consciousness could mean that the cosmos is suffused with subjective experience. "This could be the beginning of a scientific revolution," Kleiner said, referring to research he and others have been conducting. Kleiner and his colleagues are focused on the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness, one of the more prominent theories of consciousness today. As Kleiner notes, IIT (as the theory is known) is thoroughly panpsychist because all integrated information has at least one bit of consciousness.


The idea that everything from spoons to stones is conscious is gaining academic credibility

#artificialintelligence

This sounds like easily-dismissible bunkum, but as traditional attempts to explain consciousness continue to fail, the "panpsychist" view is increasingly being taken seriously by credible philosophers, neuroscientists, and physicists, including figures such as neuroscientist Christof Koch and physicist Roger Penrose. "Why should we think common sense is a good guide to what the universe is like?" says Philip Goff, a philosophy professor at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. "Einstein tells us weird things about the nature of time that counters common sense; quantum mechanics runs counter to common sense. David Chalmers, a philosophy of mind professor at New York University, laid out the "hard problem of consciousness" in 1995, demonstrating that there was still no answer to the question of what causes consciousness. Traditionally, two dominant perspectives, materialism and dualism, have provided a framework for solving this problem.


The Rainforest Is Teeming with Consciousness - Issue 78: Atmospheres

Nautilus

Since 1980, the temperature of the planet has risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius, resulting in unprecedented melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the acidification of oceans. In 2015, 175 million more people were exposed to heat waves compared with the average for 1986 to 2008, and the number of weather-related disasters from 2007 to 2016 was up by 46 percent compared with the average from 1990 to 1999. This is nothing in comparison to the horrors that await us as temperatures continue to rise. According to recent projections, global temperatures are set to increase by 3.2 degrees by the end of century. This will lock in sea level rises that will mean that the cities, towns, and villages currently occupied by 175 million people--including Hong Kong and Miami--will eventually be underwater. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that warming is largely caused by the actions of human beings.


Electrons Don't Think - Facts So Romantic

Nautilus

That's the idea that all matter--animate or inanimate--is conscious, we just happen to be somewhat more conscious than carrots. Panpsychism is the modern elan vital. When I say I "discovered" panpsychism, I mean I discovered there's a bunch of philosophers who produce pamphlets about it. How do these philosophers address the conflict with evidence? Now, look, I know that physicists have a reputation of being narrow-minded.