Re: 2001 Foresight Gathering and theories of the mind

From: James Rogers (
Date: Mon Apr 16 2001 - 12:46:15 MDT

At 08:51 PM 4/15/2001 -0700, Mitch Porter wrote:
>A week from now, the Foresight Institute will be running
>a big brainstorming session on the future (see
>There's no way I can be there, but I'm sure a number of
>people on this list will be, so I'm going to say here
>what I'd like to have said there, and maybe it will make
>its way there and make a difference.
>My aim would be to get people to consider, as a serious
>possibility, that the mind is essentially quantum in
>some regard. This is not a wild contingency or an idle
>speculation; it's only a few steps away from things we
>already know, and if true it is likely to have profound
>consequences for the shape of things to come.

I'll be at the Foresight Institute event this weekend.

While I have no opinion on whether or not the human mind operates at the
quantum level (I am insufficiently knowledgeable to say one way or the
other), I don't believe it is mandatory for machine intelligence. Q-state
machine algorithms can generally be implemented on plain old digital FS
machines, even if the results aren't as quickly forthcoming.

As a general question, what part of the mind would seem to require quantum
machinery? I would hesitate to invoke Great Magic simply because we don't
have a conventional answer, particularly since not having a conventional
answer is caused largely by our ignorance in this case. I'm not saying
that you are incorrect, but that it seems premature at this point to start
looking at the mind as a quantum machine, since we can't rule out a boring
classical solution; this unnecessary escalation of causality makes me
uneasy, as it comes across as the same form of reasoning that likes to
attribute everything we don't understand to God/UFOs/Mystical
Powers/etc. Our species has the odd tendency to try and keep the
unknowable out of the reach of mere humans, if only in our minds.

-James Rogers

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