Re: Nucleus Accumbens Transplant

Anders Sandberg (
02 Dec 1998 13:51:42 +0100

"Zenarchy" <> writes:

> From: Anders Sandberg <>
> >And frankly, quantum effects most probably have nothing to do with
> >anything in the CNS (Penrose, Hameroff et al are widely regarded as
> >silly by neuroscientists). OK, I might be wrong (and in that case I
> >will admit it to whoever proves it on his or her Nobel lecture here in
> >Stockholm), but the q-mind theory has no extraordinary evidence
> >backing up its extraordinary claims.
> I think I know what you mean when you write that quantum effects most
> probably have nothing to do with anything in the CNS. You mean that quantum
> effects do not result in cognitive effects, and that cognition and other CNS
> function does not interface or interact with matter at the quantum level,
> yes?

Yes. As you point out, matter is in itself a quantum phenomenon, but at the scales where the neural processes goes on the classical limit seems to work well. Quantum effects would just be noise (quite small in comparision to thermal noise).

> Do the microtubules of the human brain, operating at the quantum level
> (since their tiny dimensions will only allow a single file flow of photons,
> electrons, or other signal carrying particles), indicate any kind of
> threshold in terms of the self-organization of a complex adaptive system?

Microtubuli aren't that small really, there are many smaller systems such as enzymes that exhibit complex behavior without being very quantumish. Self organization however works better in large ensembles than in small; too few components or a too linear regime (such as quantum mechanics) and you will not be able to bootstrap complexity.

> I mean, Penrose and his pals theorize that the uncertainty principle
> has some connection to what some call /free will/... and since free
> will can't exist unless indeterminability exists, then human free
> will depends on this uncertainty which occurs (or obtains) at the
> level of physics where quantum effects make a difference.

I disagree with this. As I see it free will is a macroscopic property of an agent being able to behave in a way that is hard to predict in general without simulating the whole agent, just as the behavior of a Turing machine or a class 4 cellular automaton is unpredictable without being random. So in my perspective, indeterminism isn't necessary for free will. But this can be debated for hours, and even if somebody might define free will to involve quantum indeterminacy nature doesn't have to oblige him by providing it.

> Without quantum effects... if quantum effects did not make up part of our
> universe, obviously brains could not operate in the fashion that they do;
> just as stars could not behave in the manner that they do. So, in that
> respect, quantum effects have something to do with the CNS, although they
> may not actually explain self-awareness and cognition.


> Penrose may have penetrated this mystery farther with mathematics, which I
> can't follow, as I can't follow the calculations of Copernicus, having
> stopped just short of calculus. We await a Galileo who can provide visual
> or other empirical evidence to validate astonishing hypotheses.
> Nevertheless, the best tool at our disposal to help us apprehend the
> conundrum of cognition, remains our CNS.

And our mind children, computers :-)

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