Re: 2001 Foresight Gathering and theories of the mind

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 02:00:22 MDT

On Wed, Apr 18, 2001 at 09:30:14PM +0000, Mitchell Porter wrote:
> I can't speak for other quantum-mind theorists when
> it comes to specifics. But this is my model.
> 1. The world consists of interacting 'quantum monads'
> which are like the substances of classical metaphysics
> in being enduring units, but possessing states whose
> complexity (number of degrees of freedom, descriptive
> bit complexity) is variable. What we call 'two entangled
> particles' is actually a single quantum monad with
> twice as many degrees of freedom as a single particle.

Hmm, suppose I entangle two particles - they become a monad. Then I
entangle more and more particles with each other, and they also join the
monad (this could for example be the Schrödinger's cat experiment). What
happens when they lose entanglement - does the monad split? Doesn't seem
to be allowed by your above statements. Presumably all of the universe
was entangled during the early Big Bang, but it is today not a single

> 2. The individual self is a single quantum monad
> in a very complex state. A momentary state of
> consciousness is a momentary state of the monad that
> is you.

If my monad is entangled with a spin of an atom, it would have a
different state than if it is not entangled. Would you claim it is
impossible to entangle my monad without me becoming conscious of it, or
is it possible to entangle me "behind my back"? In the second case,
there seem to be state information in the monad which does not affect
consciousness, and hence the issue becomes what distinguishes the
consciousness information in a monad from non-conscious information. The
first case seems rather unlikely to me, since one could construct
devices which acts as a Schrödinger's cat box on my physical brain (and
hence on the entangled consciousness monad) while not giving me any
sensory information (because (say) it is sitting on my exposed cortex
and I don't have a mirror).

Also, why one monad? Why can't I have ten consciousness monads in

> >One very hard thing for me to buy in the Quantum Mind speculation is
> >that somehow the quantum coherence involved is not impacted by the
> >strong magnetic fields used to image living chemistry in an MRI
> >equipment. Small frogs have been magnetically levitated by very high
> >fields ( without loss of neural
> >activity. Humans have remained conscious through exposure to lethal
> >levels of ionizing radiation that interacts directly to introduce
> >disorder on the quantum level. However, micrograms of LSD can
> >restructure your consciousness through straightforward chemical paths.
> This is a good point. But have psychologists studied people
> undergoing MRI? And it's not just a matter of MRI destroying
> quantum coherence; MRI can *induce* transient quantum coherence.
> So if these quantum brain states are there, the first question
> is whether they're affected by MRI, the second question is
> whether they're affected enough for the changes to be behaviorally,
> instrumentally, or phenomenologically detectable.

To my knowledge - I am collaborating with MRI people - no psychological
effects are observed beside the ones expected from being confined in a
small space in a loud machine and subjected to medical or psychological

The states MRI sets up are rather simple, so I doubt they would
correspond to your complex states, but they seem rather likely to
disrupt complex quantum states they couple to. Whether they couple
depends on how your coherenence is implemented in the brain, but if it
involves electrical fields somewhere - rather likely given the nature of
the brain - then there ought to be a coupling.

In the end it seems like this model is vulnerable to produce zombies.
The MRI would disrupt the consciousness coherence, which would
presumably quickly reform only to be disrupted again in the next MRI
cycle. So personal continuity is an illusion, and memories of the
experience are laid down without you being conscious through it all.
This seems to imply that there could be decoherent zombies around.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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