A New Theory in Physics Claims to Solve the Mystery of Consciousness

Summary: Consciousness can not simply be reduced to neural activity alone, researchers say. A novel study reports the dynamics of consciousness may be understood by a newly developed conceptual and mathematical framework.

Source: Bar-Ilan University

How do 1.4 kg of brain tissue create thoughts, feelings, mental images, and an inner world?

The ability of the brain to create consciousness has baffled some for millennia. The mystery of consciousness lies in the fact that each of us has subjectivity, something that is like to sense, feel and think.

In contrast to being under anesthesia or in a dreamless deep sleep, while we’re awake we don’t “live in the dark” — we experience the world and ourselves. But how the brain creates the conscious experience and what area of the brain is responsible for this remains a mystery.

According to Dr. Nir Lahav, a physicist from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, “This is quite a mystery since it seems that our conscious experience cannot arise from the brain, and in fact, cannot arise from any physical process.”

As strange as it sounds, the conscious experience in our brain, cannot be found or reduced to some neural activity.

“Think about it this way,” says Dr. Zakaria Neemeh, a philosopher from the University of Memphis, “when I feel happiness, my brain will create a distinctive pattern of complex neural activity. This neural pattern will perfectly correlate with my conscious feeling of happiness, but it is not my actual feeling. It is just a neural pattern that represents my happiness. That’s why a scientist looking at my brain and seeing this pattern should ask me what I feel, because the pattern is not the feeling itself, just a representation of it.”

As a result, we can’t reduce the conscious experience of what we sense, feel and think to any brain activity. We can just find correlations to these experiences.

After more than 100 years of neuroscience we have very good evidence that the brain is responsible for the creation of our conscious abilities.  So how could it be that these conscious experiences can’t be found anywhere in the brain (or in the body) and can’t be reduced to any neural complex activity?

This mystery is known as the hard problem of consciousness. It is such a difficult problem that until a couple of decades ago only philosophers discussed it and even today, although we have made huge progress in our understanding of the neuroscientific basis of consciousness, still there is no adequate theory that explains what consciousness is and how to solve this hard problem.

Dr. Lahav and Dr. Neemeh recently published a new physical theory in the journal Frontiers in Psychology that claims to solve the hard problem of consciousness in a purely physical way.

According to the authors, when we change our assumption about consciousness and assume that it is a relativistic phenomenon, the mystery of consciousness naturally dissolves. In the paper the researchers developed a conceptual and mathematical framework to understand consciousness from a relativistic point of view.

According to Dr. Lahav, the lead author of the paper, “consciousness should be investigated with the same mathematical tools that physicists use for other known relativistic phenomena.”

To understand how relativity dissolves the hard problem, think about a different relativistic phenomenon, constant velocity. Let’s choose two observers, Alice and Bob, where Bob is on a train that moves with constant velocity and Alice watches him from the platform. there is no absolute physical answer to the question what the velocity of Bob is.

The answer is dependent on the frame of reference of the observer.

From Bob’s frame of reference, he will measure that he is stationary and Alice, with the rest of the world, is moving backwards. But from Alice’s frame Bob is the one that’s moving and she is stationary.

Although they have opposite measurements, both of them are correct, just from different frames of reference.

Because, according to the theory, consciousness is a relativistic phenomenon, we find the same situation in the case of consciousness.

Now Alice and Bob are in different cognitive frames of reference. Bob will measure that he has conscious experience, but Alice just has brain activity with no sign of the actual conscious experience, while Alice will measure that she is the one that has consciousness and Bob has just neural activity with no clue of its conscious experience.

Just like in the case of velocity, although they have opposite measurements, both of them are correct, but from different cognitive frames of reference.

As a result, because of the relativistic point of view, there is no problem with the fact that we measure different properties from different frames of reference.

The fact that we cannot find the actual conscious experience while measuring brain activity is because we’re measuring from the wrong cognitive frame of reference.

According to the new theory, the brain doesn’t create our conscious experience, at least not through computations. The reason that we have conscious experience is because of the process of physical measurement.

In a nutshell, different physical measurements in different frames of reference manifest different physical properties in these frames of reference although these frames measure the same phenomenon.

For example, suppose that Bob measures Alice’s brain in the lab while she’s feeling happiness. Although they observe different properties, they actually measure the same phenomenon from different points of view. Because of their different kinds of measurements, different kinds of properties have been manifested in their cognitive frames of reference.

For Bob to observe brain activity in the lab, he needs to use measurements of his sensory organs like his eyes. This kind of sensory measurement manifests the substrate that causes brain activity – the neurons.

This shows the outline of a head
After more than 100 years of neuroscience we have very good evidence that the brain is responsible for the creation of our conscious abilities. Image is in the public domain

Consequently, in his cognitive frame Alice has only neural activity that represents her consciousness, but no sign of her actual conscious experience itself. But, for Alice to measure her own neural activity as happiness, she uses different kind of measurements. She doesn’t use sensory organs, she measures her neural representations directly by interaction between one part of her brain with other parts. She measures her neural representations according to their relations to other neural representations.

This is a completely different measurement than what our sensory system does and, as a result, this kind of direct measurement manifests a different kind of physical property. We call this property conscious experience.

As a result, from her cognitive frame of reference, Alice measures her neural activity as conscious experience.

Using the mathematical tools that describe relativistic phenomena in physics, the theory shows that if the dynamics of Bob’s neural activity could be changed to be like the dynamics of Alice’s neural activity, then both will be in the same cognitive frame of reference and would have the exact same conscious experience as the other.

Now the authors want to continue to examine the exact minimal measurements that any cognitive system needs in order to create consciousness.

The implications of such a theory are huge. It can be applied to determine which animal was the first animal in the evolutionary process to have consciousness, when a fetus or baby begins to be conscious, which patients with consciousness disorders are conscious, and which AI systems already today have a low degree (if any) of consciousness.

About this consciousness and physics research news

Author: Elana Oberlander
Source: Bar-Ilan University
Contact: Elana Oberlander – Bar-Ilan University
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Open access.
A Relativistic Theory of Consciousness” by Nir Lahav et al. Frontiers in Psychology


A Relativistic Theory of Consciousness

In recent decades, the scientific study of consciousness has significantly increased our understanding of this elusive phenomenon. Yet, despite critical development in our understanding of the functional side of consciousness, we still lack a fundamental theory regarding its phenomenal aspect.

There is an “explanatory gap” between our scientific knowledge of functional consciousness and its “subjective,” phenomenal aspects, referred to as the “hard problem” of consciousness. The phenomenal aspect of consciousness is the first-person answer to “what it’s like” question, and it has thus far proved recalcitrant to direct scientific investigation.

Naturalistic dualists argue that it is composed of a primitive, private, non-reductive element of reality that is independent from the functional and physical aspects of consciousness. Illusionists, on the other hand, argue that it is merely a cognitive illusion, and that all that exists are ultimately physical, non-phenomenal properties.

We contend that both the dualist and illusionist positions are flawed because they tacitly assume consciousness to be an absolute property that doesn’t depend on the observer.

We develop a conceptual and a mathematical argument for a relativistic theory of consciousness in which a system either has or doesn’t have phenomenal consciousness with respect to some observer. 

Phenomenal consciousness is neither private nor delusional, just relativistic. In the frame of reference of the cognitive system, it will be observable (first-person perspective) and in other frame of reference it will not (third-person perspective). These two cognitive frames of reference are both correct, just as in the case of an observer that claims to be at rest while another will claim that the observer has constant velocity.

Given that consciousness is a relativistic phenomenon, neither observer position can be privileged, as they both describe the same underlying reality. Based on relativistic phenomena in physics we developed a mathematical formalization for consciousness which bridges the explanatory gap and dissolves the hard problem.

Given that the first-person cognitive frame of reference also offers legitimate observations on consciousness, we conclude by arguing that philosophers can usefully contribute to the science of consciousness by collaborating with neuroscientists to explore the neural basis of phenomenal structures.

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  1. Trying to explain consciousness while avoiding God’s existence won’t ever give a satisfactory explanation, if we consider our brains as an “input/output interface” between inmaterial and material world it will solve a lot of question ( but not all of course) it’s my humble opinion.

    1. Can someone tell me if I’m understanding relatively too, well, simply? Einsteins whole bit was about the fact that two experiences can coexist and be different and both be right, depending on where you’re standing or who’s shoes youre in? This might be like way too – broad.. if we’re all just balls of energy a rock made up mostly of water, the rest of it is something else and something else makes us harden into the shape of a person or whatever ( i think this is the part we cant quite explain? What’s the fight about??) .. when wax is warm it has the energy and freedom to be malleable but being solid is also a thing and also real. every religion seems to have the same utopia happily ever land before time green leafy place but it’s just light in my eyes.. happily ever after kind of image ..(and you have to do good things to get there and some made up rules that no longer apply but it’s too malleable and it was taken too literal when its just like- be nice and do good things and try not to be vain but also don’t be too selfless and find the balance. Walk the tight rope if you can*. and try to teach each other things without needing to be right all the time.. and dont kill people.. unless they do like terrible things to kids. Because nothing is absolute? Idk I dont get religion either, it just seems like the same thing to everyone but no one can agree. Which you can pretty much apply to any situation. And “heaven”.. is just the space filled with the energy of the light balls of the ones your light ball danced with and you get to reconnect and dance again and it teaches us. There’s something significant about the rays of light that break through the trees and something about rainbows and something about the way that we feel when we meet someone and feel like we’ve known them forever. Its all relative. Its all related to attachment. And its all valid… Which.. hahah i think i’m way over geralizing this.

      Is heaven maybe just.. is just light and reconnecting with the harmonious vibrations of the energies. And its still all the things that the Bible says and the quaran and Buddhism.. they’re all right if everyone is invited and valid.. ?

      Is maybe autism … someone who might be sensitive to the perceived energy of others, but it’s like Horton hears a who?

      And does it make sense to anyone else? The worlds on the dandelion seeds? And who’s right anyway? Is it about saying its okay to just be okay with learning to live? If light is associated with. life… death, every waking morning, meditation.. and water is at birth and death and is connected and so is the air and the earth and ….. maybe its phasing through all of them like a video game and it’s all one big simulation. you have to learn to move the way the elements do to get it and it seems like each religion is focused on the best way to get to utopia and we’re all fighting instead of like being like hey, youre valid and i am too and if we put it all together its like that silly cartoon with all our elements combined. Maybe fire is hell? But the devil was you all along. And you were looking for something bigger to blame but it was so much more simple. Complex. But it’s breathing, its such an instant reflex. But it all lines up like a string that isn’t linear but could be based on perspective. But its all relative anyways isn’t it? Maybe string theory is simply attachment style and tying the knot and cutting other ties and then tying it all together into the bigger picture which is to hold on to yourself. You can sew yourself back up and its all anyone needs?
      And maybe the autistic spectrum isn’t a disorder and its a group of people who feel all the energies and can’t quite make sense of it and are so smart that they design their own pattern based off of what they see and they hold the key out. A disorder feels like something is wrong with me.. but I feel like I feel it all, and it makes me feel better to know that there’s something that is familiar but typical isn’t natural. and I feel things that I can’t explain and I feel like that’s all it is is a lot of energy to feel. And not understand. Because it’s all relative, and ct universe is such a big thing to feel when you feel that.. thing. I feel the light balls of energy of the ones I love who have “left” but.. energy isn’t destroyed.
      It’s complex. And as simple as a string and your place on it and then vibrating it makes the whole thing come to life. And no one’s wrong. And everything holds energy so its what gives the earth its whole importance and gave it its gravity. Because it all holds weight. And we can all adjust to a new perspective. We could find a new rock but its the same thing. Same lessons. Same patterns. But we’re all valid and we should just have fun while we’re here instead of yelling so loudly. It all matters. And none of it?

      Or maybe I’m bipolar and suuuper manic right now. But it feels like the only thing that has ever made calm. Because it means that all we need is validation. So just go out and validate others and yourself, because you’re both just light balls on a rock and youre both right and if I’m wrong then I’ll be happier anyway.

      Anyone want to share your perspective and see what we might be able to up with? To relate to? It all seems like a funny pun that is so obvious that its like is this it? Is this the whole thing? Hahaha it all seems like a joke now. Is this physics? Just a really big joke and sometimes its not funny (learn to find the humor? And appreciate the sad, and all of the pieces and points of views?) but somehow we got stuck on key words or bits along the way. But no one’s wrong and everyone’s right.. and we’re arguing over the punchline or something or just testing the elements. I would be okay with the crazy but I have a daughter now and she… is magical. Her energy is so bright and i already see her dimming it. Its what life does. Sends one of those, and calls it an angel or a sign or the answer or the reason. But now i care more. And i dont want her to think I’m crazy for seeing her as magical for simply seeing how quickly she dimmed her light, and I had something to do with that too. I didn’t mean to. Which is i thiiiiiink what the whole healing generational trauma thing is? Your parents (well. I can only speak for mine. They did the best they could and they did better. But we are all human and make mistakes and just need a safe place to land and gravity to hold us together sometimes because we’ll fall apart if we think about it too much. )

      And theres got to be some sort of significance with the stars. The constellations.. Roe v wade and the female divine energy feeling stronger. The pandemic… i think something’s coming. Another wake up call?

      So, thoughts? Time for some grippy socks or – a nice deep breath and maybe online college?

  2. It is sort of refreshing to see some backlash against the sheer anti-vitalism of neuroscience. Then alongs come Grant Castillou and all hope drains away again.

    Looks like were *are* screwed humanity.

  3. Consciousness is not a phenomenon that comes from physics (as it is conceived but how to conceive it otherwise?)
    Consciousness is a metaphysical substance. It is the mystery of what is being as opposed to what is thing.
    But physics can only study things. To claim to formulate a physics of consciousness or of being is to reduce consciousness to a thing responding to the laws that apply to things.
    Let’s take an example though from a very different area. We say nothing can go faster than light. This is undoubtedly true in the observable physical world, that of energy matter and its space-time.
    But there are undoubtedly other realities than those of the observable physical world of other equally real spaces located on planes of objectification inaccessible to our senses, to any current means of observation, and even to any other theoretical conceptualization. “intuitive” and where the laws of materialistic physics are obsolete.
    We have a tiny glimpse of it in quantum physics. Entanglement for example.
    It has proven though condescendingly relegated to the realm of belief and myth that great mystics were seen in two places simultaneously. phenomenon called bilocation.
    Other equally strange phenomena (ghosts, telepathy, telekinesis, etc.) and deemed impossible have been identified and duly documented in the most serious manner.
    However, physics for the most part and officially is not interested in this and rightly announces that it is not its responsibility. (There are however some dissidents called charlatans by the others)
    Well I say that consciousness is also not his responsibility unless he invents a “spiritual physics” which is almost an oxymoron, probably impossible at our current human level.

  4. There is no consciousness as such, so people are looking for something that doesn’t really exist.

    It’s like how there’s no light of a lamp as such.

    What is the light of a lamp? It is an emergent phenomenon of the merging of the lamp, the wiring, with a source of electricity.

    Note how there’s no light in any of the merged elements, yet when they merge, light emerges.You can look for the light in the elements (lamp, wiring, electricity) all your life and you will never find any.

    So the same goes for consciousness. Where does consciousness come from?

    It starts with the merging of a sense organ & its object, called contact; when there is contact, there emerges sensation – something is sensed. (Note that this is as close to reality as we can get; from here, everything is interpretation.)

    When there is sensation, there emerges perception; When there is perception, there emerges mental fabrication; and finally when there is mental fabrication, there emerged consciousness.

    Next sensation – – – next consciousness.

    So like with the light example: you can look all your life for consciousness in the body with its organs, in its senses, in the contact- perception – mental fabrication — yet you will never find it.


    So what is the name of the Law of Nature which explains this phenomenon, that whatever we look at we find that it is an emergent phenomenon of the merging of *something else*, and every *something else* is of the same (empty) nature?

    It is called Idappaccayata in the language if Buddha Dhamma – Pali.

    It is illustrated by the following popular formulation:

    This arising – that arises;
    Rhis ceasing – that ceases;
    When this is present – that is present;
    When this is absent – that is absent.

    And it applies to absolutely e v e ry t h i n g in the universe, universe included.

    1. Consciousness is the only thing you can be sure of. Everything else is potentially an illusion.

  5. Conscious experience, a subjective term for the subjective state of perceiving emotions, consciousness, and perceptions, comes from measuring senses, and determining the relative relations to the disparate also subjective entities that involve measurement. This sure feels like gobbledygook. Read it twice. Needs something else. Perhaps you are leaving things unsaid implied in your math?
    A rabbit hole with no substance as it stands.
    A subjective perception of consciousness exists because of the relative states of subjective things/perceptions within a person’s thought? Nope, just can’t get it.

  6. So how do we keep language out of the tent? Two conscious people, both subjectively identifying/experiencing consciousness. Consciousness and concepts. Like God being present when there are two rabbis talking, consciousness is created by the action/interaction.
    Sorry, still confused, but its my first go at this. I’ll look closer later. Thanks for introducing a new concept.

  7. Feelings! I understand, possibly, the task of ascertaining positively the extent to which my Casta Diva feeling does correlate or not with a distinctive pattern of complex neural activity. But I am not interested in that, at all. It seems to me a futile task, sure useful for other extremely important and really huge purposes, which however I don’t care. What I wonder is whether we actually realize what – which reality – the very Casta Diva feeling is. Simply that. And the obvious answer is that it is Casta Diva itself. That is what one feels, what one listens to. I do not listen to anything else inside me. We are listening to the music outside: neither in one’s head nor in my ear or feet or anywhere mysterious. When the music ceases I might (perhaps) say one is listening to its soundless or aphonus representation. When Alice and Bob are listening to Casta Diva they are listening to the same emotion – sense – out there that is played and sung in the theater: physically, materially of course. (Do you feel what I feel?) Of course we presume they both are skilled to understand music. They are not pigeons in a theater. Or chimpanzees. They are not listening to their own inaccessible souls. If they were inaccessible then the whole matter we are talking about has lost any possible meaning from the beginning. We don’t know what we are talking about. Internal feelings are a mess, a tangle, in case they are not precisely the music itself, namely its sense, its reality when we do receive and grasp it. And: by “it” we mean it. Not some effect into us. The effect would be of no relevant interest. For it would be something else on its own, something which the music is not. The effect – if it has got that music’s full sense – is rather the music. That’s what we listen to and – in the happy case – receive, catch, understand.
    Now, if this famous hard problem is how can the neurologist know Alice’s feeling of Casta Diva, it is not such a strange problem. He should just know the normal facts of music and talk with Alice, see her visage and so on. What else? The inner feeling of Alice with her music inside, is a big, unnecessary busillis. I don’t really know what it would ever mean. The music is listened to, out of us. Not inside. One sometimes would say it is inside, but if so, obviously it is a fluent recollection of it. It is not the actual Casta Diva.
    Another obvious thing is that I am the only one who is feeling my feeling of Casta Diva, which is though either a merely tautological truth, when it is not plainly false. It is tautological that I am feeling my own feeling (I have my feelings) but it is false that one cannot share the audience’s feeling. It all is just a rather “important nonsense” and doesn’t imply that I should “guess” blindly what Alice listens to in herself. She has in her nothing but Casta Diva out there (there is not a special ethereal Casta Diva doubled out of the physical one) and I can see whether she understands this aria or fails. I feel her feeling when we are two different people; should I feel exactly what she feels cent per cent, then I would not be me anymore, I would be not different from being her; but this doesn’t make any clear sense. We both would be one? When a doctor is looking at her brain and seeing a certain pattern in there and asks her what she feels, it is not “because the pattern is not the feeling itself”; indeed, it is a normal way to know what she feels. “Knowing” is a verb such that must always imply that one may be wrong after all. She might be lying. On the other hand, this scientist may have a formidable method of a more direct inspection into Alice’s feeling Casta Diva. The simple fact that you are you and she is she, cannot be bypassed in any great experimental way. It is metaphysics.

  8. “We prove in the paper that a specific kind of neural representation is equal to phenomenal consciousness in the cognitive frame of reference of the zombie and not every neural representation”.

    How could one ever prove this, or anything like this? You can’t even demonstrate correlation, let alone causation or identity between neural states and first person experience. The best anyone can manage is a correlation between reports of experience and certain neural events. The reports are not the experience. If your escape route is something like Dennett’s heterophenomenology then that’s just reheated linguistic behaviourism. If not, then you can only work from your own case – which is not reproducible as there is no guarantee that ones own case is the same as someone else’s case. To claim, as you appear to do, that similar biology guarantees similar qualia, just assumes the conclusion as a premise.

  9. Let us consider the axioms and theorems of any mathematical field.The axioms correspond to self-evident certainities and theorems
    correspond to reference-frame.Analogous to this,the cognitive reference-frame is supposed to accomodate special frame within it,which special cognitive frame is phenomenal consciousness ( as per presentation and my understanding ).
    My reading here suggested that phenomenal consciousness is equated to the experienced certainity of a self-evident axiom.
    I think that perceptual consciousness is much more than that though conceptual consciousness may equal.

  10. The only sentence that jumped at me was

    “The reason that we have conscious experience is because of the process of physical measurement”.

    Yes, ok. Inner and outer. The me and the not me is a form of measurement and essentially physical. Language has been honed to do this, and the most accurate language being mathematics.

    But still this process has not been able to describe what the describer is BEFORE the description. The description, in terms of time, always follows observation and it is the observing mind that might be the answer, not the description of it. The observing mind finds a way to describe itself or others after the fact of existing.

    There might be two possible answers (I’m sure there are more but it’s 4am in the morning). 1 is that the describing mind as a process is all that there is in consciousness or 2 that the describing part (the measuring) of consciousness, is only a function of a deeper process called observing.

    I have found, in meditation that is (not the self hypnotic kind), that it is possible to observe the describing mind as a process that ceases to be measuring, or descriptive. One can observe thoughts as when left without interference as garbage when not located in context (physical). When observed in this fashion thoughts, measuring, description cease to exist. Now the interesting point is this. When in a mind the processes of measurement cease, is there consciousness? If by measurement cessation inner and outer also cease, where am I? I am not here or there or described. Is there anything left? Tentatively I’d say there is, but it’s certainly not “me”, nor is it god, or other forms of consciousness. It’s something else entirely.

  11. A response of the author to the critics about the relativistic theory of consciousness

    Thank you for your comments everybody!
    I would like to address a couple of critics that people wrote about my theory.
    In general it is always better to go to the original paper than to trust just the popular science piece.
    The goal of the theory is to show that consciousness is a physical phenomenon and that there is a physical solution for the hard problem of consciousness.The hard problem of consciousness is a bit of a controversial subject. Some philosophers and scientists agree that there is a hard problem and others don’t. The fact that there is no agreement about whether there is a hard problem or not is part of the philosophical and scientific debate. There are good arguments for both sides and all of them need to be addressed. I think that there are good arguments about why the hard problem is real and we cannot ignore them. For this reason I decided to show that even if there is a hard problem still we can find a physical solution for that.I hope that supporting one side of this philosophical and scientific debate doesn’t automatically mean for people from the other side, that this theory is pseudoscience. Because this is not the kind of attitude that is proper in order to discuss and discover the truth.

    Now we can move on to the actual theory:First of all let me be very clear, The relativistic theory of consciousness is not about special relativity or general relativity. It is not about space time or gravity. Rather, it uses the relativistic principle. This is the basic principle that led Einstein to develop his theories.The relativistic principle states that the equations describing the laws of physics have the same form in all admissible frames of reference. In other words there is nothing above and beyond the observer and when two observers from two different physical systems conduct measurements and have the same results it means that the same physical laws are in force in their systems. As a result, their systems are equivalent to each other. In the theory I use a well known argument in consciousness studies named the zombie argument and the relativistic principle to show that zombies can’t exist and actually they must have consciousness as well just like humans. From this equivalence between zombies and conscious humans we show that in the cognitive frame of reference of the zombie, phenomenal consciousness is equal to a specific kind of neural representations called phenomenal judgments.

    Let me stress out, in the theory relativity is not just an analogy. We try to show mathematically that consciousness is a relativistic phenomenon, that is, consciousness satisfies all the requirements of the relativistic principle. To satisfy the mathematical requirements of the relativistic principle means that there is a transformation between different frames of reference and this transformation preserves the form of the equations that describe the system. As a result, in order to show that consciousness is a relativistic phenomenon and not just an analogy, we need to show that we can create a transformation term that transforms phenomenal consciousness from one cognitive frame of reference to the other while preserving the form of the equation. This is exactly what we developed in the paper. We started from simple equations that describe the dynamics of a cognitive system and in the end of the process we presented the proper transformation from one cognitive frame of reference to the other that preserves the transformation equation.

    Another critic was how exactly the relativistic approach dissolves the hard problem.First let’s define measurement as an interaction between two elements. The elements can be any physical system, from particles to cognitive systems. In the heart of the hard problem there is the issue that we cannot find the actual conscious experience in neural patterns and thus we cannot reduce conscious experience to the dynamics of the brain. But now with the relativistic approach we see that we don’t need to reduce conscious experience to some complex neural dynamics. Instead, we just need to realize that different frames of reference describe the same physical phenomenon from different points of view, each with its own physical properties. different observers create different measurements and those measurements manifest different physical properties for each frame of reference. In analogy, you can think of a coin. We can see only one side of the coin or we can move and see the other side of the coin. So, we describe the same physical phenomenon, the coin, from two different frames of reference each of them observe different physical properties, that is, different sides of the coin. The same is going on with consciousness, because Bob is using his sensory system, his measurements manifest the physical properties of the neural substrate of the brain. On the other hand, because Alice is using different parts of her cognitive system to measure her own neural patterns, consciousness is manifested with different physical properties. Essentially, her measurements are according to the role and relations between her neural representations. We call the physical property that is manifested from this kind of measurements, phenomenal consciousness. Think about a conscious experience of an apple, for example. According to the theory it is manifested as a result of a measurement of all the relations between relevant neural representations, like the relations between neural representations of the shape, color and texture of the apple. Such relations are, for example, Is the apple red or green? How round is it? and so on.

    This is a relational theory, meaning that relations between physical properties manifest new physical properties. It might seem weird for us because we are so used to think in absolute terms where every physical property shouldn’t be dependent on the measurements of The observers. But this might not be the case. It is still an open problem, for example, what is happening during the process of a quantum measurement. It seems that this process is very contextual, meaning that the particle doesn’t have a property like spin until the actual process of measurement. The point here is that again, there is an open debate of what exactly is the measurement process and is it relational or not. Just like before, I hope that choosing one side in the debate does not automatically mean to the other side that it is all just pseudoscience..

    Just to make it clear, I don’t claim that quantum measurement is somehow related to consciousness. Quantum measurement is just an example to show why it makes sense to think about reality in a relational way.

    Another issue is the question of whether we can validate the theory in an experiment. This is a very important issue because in science we have to make predictions that we can check in an experiment in order to validate or disprove a theory.The answer is yes, we can create a prediction and test it in an experiment. Admittedly not with the technology that we have today, but in principle it can be done. According to the theory, a cognitive frame of reference is defined by the dynamics of the cognitive system. We can think of a futuristic machine that Alice and Bob will use. The machine will check the dynamic of the neural representations of Alice and Bob. Then the machine will create the proper transformation from the cognitive frame of reference of Alice to the cognitive frame of reference of Bob. In other words it will change the dynamics of Alice’s brain to be exactly like the Dynamics of bob’s brain. The theory predicts that in this case Alice will measure the phenomenal consciousness of Bob (She will experience the conscious experiences of Bob).

    I would like to stress another misunderstanding of the theory. It is not the case that according to the theory every neural activity is conscious. As I wrote above, in the paper we describe equivalence between a conscious human and a zombie. Because a zombie has the same cognitive system and the same representations as a human, all the results of the theory until now are just valid for humans and similar to humans cognitive systems . We prove in the paper that a specific kind of neural representation is equal to phenomenal consciousness in the cognitive frame of reference of the zombie and not every neural representation. Now, The Next step is to examine in a more detailed way, what exactly are the minimal conditions from a measurement in order to manifest phenomenal consciousness. For that, stay tuned for the next paper!

    I hope this long explanation helps a bit to understand the relativity theory of consciousness and how we tried to extend physics in order to explain consciousness.
    Thank you
    Nir Lahav

  12. Just read this. Initial thoughts of getting my head around this, the theory describes the relativistic explaniation of consciousness. This seems to me more about perspective ie frame of reference like the theory of relativity (Einstein). In some ways it reminds of Susan Blackmore’s storyboarding idea of consciousness. The relativistic experience in my opinion doesnt create counciousness, it doesn’t create the ‘I’, the self, it seems to me that this feeds into whatever consciousness is rather then creating it. Otherwise AI systems possibly could become self-aware.

    1. “because the pattern is not the feeling itself, just a representation of it.”
      It is so simple. It to me is a memory of the feeling which includes all of our body, its neural feedback, the hormones excreted during this experience added to memories of similar experiences, and the sensations elicited in various organ systems throughout the body. We are not separate from our “meat bodies” lol, (please don’t think of Scientology, or any media entertainment fiction here). Yes this could theoretically be translated in that memory of that experience as a pattern perhaps as that seems to be how our brains work, but it would of course still involve numerous neurotransmitters, hormones, chemicals, organ systems, etc. And so this would all have to be reproduced in another “hardware”/human body/replicator that could be connected to another human for someone else to experience it.

  13. The claim that mental events are physical events is hardly new. The idea that mental events have different properties to the physical events they presumably supervene upon can be found in people as diverse as Davidson and Kim. describing this relation using the language of relativity is tempting but misleading for several reasons. First there is the issue of the privacy of the mental, aka the problem of other minds. When one set of phenomena are visible to everyone as biocomputation and the other set of phenomena are only visible to the person (or system) having them as qualia, then that isn’t relativity as it isn’t two equivalent reference frames, it’s just two incommensurable experiences. This is thus a category error as the experiences from the inside are not in the same category as those on the outside.

  14. After a deep dream less sleep we all feel refreshed as the brain rests.But is that experience of feeling qualitatively same in all of us?

    I guess they would be different as our DNAs are not same.

    1. After having a NDE…..

      Everything is Energy and Energy is Everything

      Consciousness/Awareness/Thought/word is the conservation of a formless living energy that flows into forms from a void, a sea of emptiness, deep deep down and far far within the very fabric of existence itself – TJ

      The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.

      Early in the 20th century the unquestioned assumption that the physical universe is actually physical lead to a scientific search for the elementary “point particle” upon which all life is built, which would prove that reality was not an illusion. But as soon as scientists began smashing electrons and other particles in enormous accelerators, they quickly realized the foundations of the physical world weren’t physical at all—that everything is energy.

  15. Looks like the authors did not read Goswami book “The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World”, and take a very wrong path.

    1. Wen B. & A. sich im stehenden Zug im Bahnhof befinden, haben sie die gleiche Geschwindigkeit, – die der Drehung der Erde In Richtung der Bewegung des Sonnensystems. Dieses bewegt sich in Richtung der Galaxie & diese wiederum in Richtung der Expansion des Universums. Wohin bewegen sich dann A. & B.?

  16. Its totally nonsense

    We even cannot create life from only artficial elements
    Til now we always needed a part of an already living object to ‘create artificial life'(on fact not more as sort of recreating or exchange of parts, like an artf. Knee)

    THRN a huuuge step after that comes mind and consciousness

    Its literally infinte complexer and for sure not


  17. Consciousness is called a problem? Haha, what are the problematic consequences of having Consciousness? Should we be concerned whether or not we’ll be able to get rid of it?

    Consciousness is one of our granted solutions.

    1. I think he means the problem is understanding the origin of consciousness and how it all works, not consciousness itself. Hey, they managed to figure out that energy cannot be created or destroyed, maybe they’ll figure this one out, too. At that point, say hi to God for me!

  18. The ‘problem of consciousness’ is that human vanity demands the existence of a magical component. Consciousness is merely the modern version of what previous generations called ‘the soul’. We do not need a magical component in our minds to explain brain activity.

      1. Defining consciousness will make you the greatest genius that ever lived. I admit to being amused by the attempt.

    1. I like how, in an attempt to appear intellectually humble and to distance themselves from any hint of arrogance or anthropocentrism, people will scornfully shoot down any suggestion that there may be some concepts pertaining to human experience (e.g. consciousness) that elude our grasp as signs of “human vanity”.

      It’s interesting because it relies on the assumption that we have already attained such a vast and profound understanding of the universe that anything outside this framework is merely a vainglorious search for a “magical component”. The assumption we can dismiss as nonsense anything that doesn’t fit the corpus of knowledge that we’ve amassed in a few centuries of scientific thinking and research is, ironically enough, a symptom of “human vanity”.

      The irony is double when you term this “human vanity” because consciousness isn’t restricted to humans. Animals have consciousness; recent studies suggest that even plants have some degree of consciousness. Physicist Freeman Dyson once speculated that atoms may have some degree of consciousness, however low. To say that our acknowledgement that there may be some things that we have yet to figure out and maybe even won’t figure out with the scientific method in its current form is “human vanity” is irony and misconstruction at its finest.

  19. For an enlightening discussion of the hard problem of consciousness and a potential solution check out, One unbounded ocean of consciousness: Simple answers to the big questions in life by Dr. Tony Nader, a top neuroscientist. His related books give a good background in this area, as do his recent YouTube discussions with thought leaders in AI, science and philosophy.

  20. Wow this was a waste of time to read. As I was going over this word salad of a “duh no shit” / “makes no damn sense” supposed scientific article on consciousness…

    I was wondering if I was going to be alone in said thought process above until I read the comment section…

    Thankfully it wasn`t just me who thought this NPC was trying to hard to portray that they perfectly understood this monstrosity by writing a monstrosity about it.

    1. No kidding, I’ve never read so much confused rubbish before. Obviously masquerading as a feeble attempt to suggest that there might be something else going on; like a personal soul spirit. The entire piece is full of contradictory statements.

    2. That’s too funny. Academic-speak is not for everyone. In some ways, we need these people, and in some ways, they can’t see the forest for the trees. Ugh. It must be difficult being in their big brains, loaded with the same consciousness as the rest of us. Repeat, repeat, repeat, detour, reset, repeat.

  21. Consciousness in my view is something like the soul that might never be able to be described, yet I think that it is fair to say that the same way that thoughts and faith can influence the outcome of a physical manifestation this is a clear evidence that consciousness is something real for it is the basic foundation of thoughts and faith. However it is a real that belongs to a different reality that we recognized as what is normally “real” for us. For that we will never be able to understand it coming from a perspective of the reality that we experience for that is not the same reality of the nature of it.

    It is for no reason that people that are experts in meditation or transcendental experiences often state that what one experience while in trance can not be explained in words nether be understood mentally or intellectually and the reason for that is that these phenomena is not something that comes from our common reality but instead it comes from what we describe as a divine experience for that is the only way to settle what our brain would otherwise never settle. 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️

    1. I agree with your statement, but knowing that psychedelics cause a state of “ego dissolution” or “ego death” we can infer that our subjective experience on this place we call earth can only be attributed to the lack of coherence in our brain. It might be possible to understand this in time but as we can see no one seems interested in using these compounds for scientific reasearch.

    2. I agree with your statement, but knowing that psychedelics cause a state of “ego dissolution” or “ego death” we can infer that our subjective experience on this place we call earth can only be attributed to the lack of coherence in our brain. It might be possible to understand this in time but as we can see no one seems interested in using these compounds for scientific research.

  22. I’m going to be a huge prick.


    Hegel figured this out 200 years ago. Congrats on catching up, physicists!

    ‘Consciousness’ of self requires the external observer to emerge. It’s an entirely relativistic, desubstantialized process. We’re just socialized to be vulgar essentialists, and then remain narcissists our entire lives.

    Properly speaking, ‘consciousness’ is just an emergent property of the totality of social relations and their history. Neurons, language, and social relations.

    That’s it! There is no mystery and no hard problem. Just a lot of very stupid monkies who think they have a soul. =D

    1. Read up on dimethyltryptamine and it’s interactions within the brain. Maybe that would help you understand

    2. I don’t know about the stupid monkey part, but I think anyone of any belief at any level can agree that love, for example, exists, yet we cannot see it or measure it by any known means. Only the results on the brain can be measured. The same applies to what we call the soul, consciousness, intuition, imagination, and the like. At one time it was believed that the earth was flat. Now we know differently. We may yet learn that there is indeed a grand scheme, or find out that we are God personified. For the moment at least.

  23. What predictive power this theory has? Let’s have a thought experiment: Alice looks at a real-time MRI which doctors says it is from the brain of her good friend Bob. If (by using this new theory) she can discover that she is looking at her own MRI (which is the truth) than we have predictive power of this theory.

    1. What about when people have flatlined and brain activity halts..yet people are still recording memories..are concious of thier surroundings?..check out Dr. Bruce greyson..he has been doing research on this type of thing for decades..very compelling stuff

  24. I don’t buy into the so-called hard problem of consciousness, which assumes an answer that C could possibly be explained mathematically/discursively. Said explanation would always be incomplete and out of time, whereas consciousness is experienced in the moment. A better problem would be how to create consciousness (but then it would still be impossible to verify its existence).

    1. Very interesting, Fairstein. So what you’re saying is that in an observer-created world, which lives moment to moment and which we create, without the continual reel of the subconscious telling it what’s real, that the existence of consciousness cannot be verified because it has existed and has passed, and it has yet to exist both at the same time. We are therefore unaware of it completely until the subconscious plays it back, whether valid or not, and whether any experience actually happened or we just imagined it. In this way, we can imagine anything and make it real, at least to the mind.

  25. Absolute stupidity. All those paragraphs and yet not a single sentence written of substance.

    These ‘scientists’ basically created a ‘theory’ that restates “the only fact you can truly know is that you yourself exist”.

    Not only did you just badly restate that age old insight that most people including children have already heard, you failed to even realise that’s what you were doing.

    This just goes to show that just because someone works in neuroscience it doesn’t mean they can’t be an idiot

  26. I have to agree with others that this seems like a fairly silly use of the word “relativistic” and a pretty absurd thesis altogether.

    The article mentions how Bob and Alice “measure” her happiness in different ways. What does this mean? What they’re trying to say is that her experience of happiness is different from his observation of her neural activity while happy, but claiming that her experience is her “measuring” anything doesn’t make sense. She can reflect on the fact that she’s happy, which might be a kind of measurement (“I seem happier right now than I was an hour ago”) but that’s not the experience of happiness. Further, if she really did measure her happiness the way Bob did, that is, look at scans of her neural activity, she would indeed measure it the same way he did.

    It’s just a jumble of illogical claims, at least the way the article is written, but I suspect that reflects the actual theory.

    If any of this “relativity” were what constituted consciousness, then in fact the same could be said of artificial intelligence, which contradicts the whole theory here. An artificial neural network would experience its own connections completely differently from how you would when measuring or observing them. Would that mean it was conscious? According to this theory, the answer should be yes. That means the theory ends up contradicting its underlying assumption that there’s something intrinsic about human brains that’s required for consciousness.

    There might be or might not be, but saying “things look different to us from how they look to the thing we’re measuring” says nothing at all about the subject. Of course they do.

    1. Subjective relativism. The typical over used excuse used in philosophy which really translates to “I don’t know”. Lol. Consciousness only exists to the person observing. Lol. Gimme a break. The hard problem will never be solved. It can’t be.

    2. Yes, there’s nothing ‘relativistic’ in the Einsteinian sense about what is being proposed here; it’s only ‘relativistic’ in the sense of the term as it is used in ordinary everyday conversation.

      It’s presented as a relativistic physics theory, but is published in a second tier psychology journal, and authored by a physicist and a philosopher. That doesn’t bode well for it’s credibility.

    3. Are consciousness a schrodinger’s cat ? The perceptions of reality depends the relativistic dimensions of light ?

    4. @ Foster: I suspect that “relativity” is just that. “Further, if she really did measure her happiness the way Bob did, that is, look at scans of her neural activity, she would indeed measure it the same way he did.” In basic theory, perhaps, but how do we measure the way her brain measures against what’s looked at in brain scans? Her brain may have a greater or lesser capacity to “accept” or register happiness, or it may how up in different ways, so if two people eat an ice cream cone, would they be equally happy, assuming all other factors are the same? It’s just too simplistic, and mankind has not yet been able to fully explore this vast horizon – the human brain.

  27. As a physicist, and long time follower Chalmers, I think I can fairly saw of the original article that: while a good proof of the “no-zombies” theory, this write has to represent on of the most misplaced uses of mathematical precepts from a legitimate field (relativity) to another that I have ever witnessed by degreed/accredited authors in a very long time. I struggle to maintain an open mind to fresh notions in the struggle to crack open the “hard-problem”, but this pointless exuberance in writing functional/variable expressions to somehow stand for cognitive ‘aspects’ claimed by fiat to represent quale experienced just looks like silly bravado to mark out some intellectual territory. It feels a lot like some of the worst Continental philosophy of the postmodern movement ( esp Derida) . Not sorry- D Barillari

    1. Our brain is a planetarium ant conchesness is the picture on the dome of it.the observer is the observed.it has noting to do with the phisical level which is just a response of memory.life is a fluax.

  28. It’s a theory of perspective, not consciousness. Anyway, NONE of this is new. If anyone ever has the chance to read the 2008 cult novel “Nothing To Say”, written by a 19 year old autistic boy, it covers all this, only more so, and isn’t presented in such a ridiculously pretentious way. It isn’t a scientific break through, it’s just common sense. Philosophy more than anything. Get over yourselves.

    1. I think consciousness is a chemical reaction in the heart gut and brain and these work 2gether to create our conscious experiences and no 2 people goes through same conscious experience as its down to individuals body how it produces those chemical reactions

      1. My kitty cat purrs showing her happiness while I pet her. Her happiness makes me happy also. We are both happy but at different levels. Many animals on “our” planet are self aware. I often wonder if the cells that make up my body are self aware. Is the universe a living entity. Is it also self aware and the expansion is just that it is just growing.

    2. Agreed. I think a wholesale dismissal of the history of philosophical thought on the topic is partly to blame for these alleged “breakthroughs” in respect of the hard problem. It is laughable when something Spinoza thought centuries ago, and subsequent philosophers picked up on and developed further in numerous ways, gets repackaged as an original breakthrough on the topic, through a obsfuscating rhetorical employment of the language of relativity theory (“See, relativity theory! We’re doing science! Not philosophy! No, no! Never philosophy!”)

      I’m going to pick up the book you recommend.

    3. That’s right. My reading of the article was that this so called ‘theory’ was the product of a couple of philosophers, not scientists. In other words, thinking and language have produced it, not controlled experiments, testing, trials, objective observation etc. As is so often the case, philosophy students and teachers seem to think they have some kind of privileged view of everything, wheras a lot of it is just a bit of extended thinking that many people are capable of if they could be bothered.

  29. I do not dispute this description, but I do think it is not quite my concept. I see a conscious mind as the feedback between two halves of our brain observing each other and the feedback between the two halves recorded as memory. And this can be modeled in terms of relativity. Perhaps the math works better that way. It may not be halves, but two brain centers- as my medical knowledge is not exact. But that is a good place to start. There have been other works on the “bicameral brain.”

  30. So, about 2 years ago on a neuroscience subreddit I asked the question…is there any organic agent that is capable of creating anything that is intangible, has no mass, has no measurable properties, and can defy all known laws of physics?

    The only response I got other than crickets was assuming this was a troll question.

    Yet, this is precisely what science, neuroscience, expects us to accept…that the brain, a biological physical organ is capable of such a feat creating something called consciousness, which is intangible, invisible, has no mass, cannot be measured, and defies all known laws of physics.

    Basically, a physical organ can create magic.

    The evidence suggested that the brain creates consciousness will inevitably be demonstrably proven false. The more probable explanation is that consciousness is going to be something more akin to the universal power source of energy that fundamentally powers everything.

    While the biological body requires food to convert to energy to power the brain and body, the consciousness is what gives rise to Self, soul, spirit, all of that connective source that the entirety of humanity understands intuitively.

    Science can claim the brain creates consciousness in as much as it creates states or levels of awareness but the consciousness the rest of the planet is referring to is no about levels of awareness…it’s about what differentiates us from a box of hammers.

    If science is going to insist the brain creates magic then it needs to expand that arena and revisit a whole lot of other topics with seriousness and sincerity. Or get dismissed and ridiculed for suggesting a physical organ can create magic.

    1. I agree! I believe our brain is more like a receiver/transmitter. Quantum entanglement between particles that make up the brain and the coinciding particle somewhere else but where? This is also the way I view child birth and development in the womb. Are we expected to believe that such information is simply a natural reaction turning the female body into a 3D printer?😂 I’m not convinced DNA and nature alone makes this amazing feat possibly

    2. I agree! I believe our brain is more like a receiver/transmitter. Quantum entanglement between particles that make up the brain and the coinciding particle somewhere else but where? This is also the way I view child birth and development in the womb. Are we expected to believe that such information is simply a natural reaction turning the female body into a 3D printer?😂 I’m not convinced DNA and nature alone makes this amazing feat possible

    3. @ Taylor: “… intangible, invisible, has no mass, cannot be measured, and defies all known laws of physics.” What you’ve just described is the phenomenon we call love, with its myriad faces, and which we may yet discover is the source of everything. And it will be inexplicable then as it is now. One of the problems with a reasoning mind is that it’s always trying to reason.

    4. Miracles. An awful lot of people seem to love the idea of miracles. But miracles need causes and and if their causes are invisible, miracle lovers need something non-physical to account for them. They need a dualistic outlook. Blame Descartes. He’s the goat (in the Peanuts comic strip sense) who put the wrench in the works.

  31. I wonder if this theory is only a valid explanation relative to the one proposing it.

    It seems to me, it’s explained nothing, except that consciousness is a personal experience. That hardly explains the origin of it.

    Max Planck had it right. This is just another attempt to reduce materialism from the garbage heap of refuted wishful thinking.

  32. I have known the answer to this question for nearly 5 decades. I personally found the answer in a series of magazine articles. The scientific portion of this article was written by Dr Robert Lawrence Kuhn PhD.
    The initial article started with the title of: “Can Human Brain Explain Human Mind?” Among other subtopics, one proposal was that the lowland gorilla had a brain virtually identical to the human brain with the exception of the frontal cortex was, on average, 20% larger than a human being. And of course we share 98% of DNA with gorillas and chimpanzees. So here is the big question. Why is a gorilla not at least 80% as smart as the average human being, which it is not? In essence, the article clearly demonstrates that human brain alone cannot explain the incredible abilities that a human being has. The article goes on to speak about a concept called the spirit in man and how that human beings have unique qualities that no other species in the animal kingdom possesses. I am condensing the general consensus of the article.

  33. this is what happens when physicists deal with life when otherwise they should only be concerned with dead matter. Life is made up of dead building blocks, and life is the way these dead building blocks work together. Consciousness is this way, so the structure of the dead bricks. So the secret of consciousness is structure – if you look at it from the outside. You can’t look at it from the inside, because then you would need the subjective code of what’s being looked at. And the observer does not know it himself – he only feels it. To ask how matter becomes sensation is as nonsensical as to ask why the universe exists. And that cannot be solved with relativistic equations either.

  34. I don’t see how this resolves the hard problem. It just explains that two observers observing one neuronal activity will have different conscious experiences: which we kind of already know.I still don’t see how the qualia of conscious experience is anymore explainable than it was before. It also recreates a Cartesian theatre where “Alice” sits at a centre seat and observes her own neuronal activity: whereas the physical brain doesn’t have any such centre seat which offers the subject to sit and observe the rest of it.

  35. Consciousness is trying to find out what consciousness is..once it finds out which actually is through experience it can share or express mathematically or logically to anyone who does not have the experience. Going In is the only way out. Observer has to become the observed and kill the enquiry.

  36. Consciousness has myriad states experienced from individual to universal state. The first observer being God is observing and experiencing everything from outside to inside and nothing exists outside him or her. However the rest is myriad individual singularities that have developed boundaries or shells around them and are observers inside to outside and are mesmerized at their own ignorance.

  37. As a mathematician myself, I can summarise this theory like this…

    “I can’t tell what you are thinking or feeling – and I can express this fact mathematically using a relativistic model”

    So how, exactly, does this explain how feelings arise from the physical brain?

  38. Is no one going to talk about the example of Bob and Alice’s observations (when Bob is on the train and Alice is watching) both being correct, is actually an incorrect conclusion? Alice’s is factually correct. It’s honestly a ridiculous conclusion to say otherwise. I get what they’re trying to do but honestly, knowing that’s their train of thought (no pun intended)just throws all credibility to the wind and made it hard for me to take anything else that was written very seriously. I get that Bob’s pov was also “correct” according to the researchers, because it was his observation. And partially he was indeed right because he was stationary. But the train was moving, he was also moving. In reality he was moving because the train was. And the world was not moving backwards as he saw it. So no, Bob was not correct in his observation. One might even say it’s his very pov that made it flawed. Ultimately his preception of his physical reality in that moment was flawed. Therefore how the heck can u use that as a comparison? Or maybe that’s a perfect comparison for the topic of consciousness. It shows me we’re still back at square one and probably will be for quite some time. I didn’t explain every detail and i certainly didn’t explain it liked I’d imagined, but such is the curse of being an INFJ. Everything makes sense in our heads but as soon as we try to get it to make sense to the world, we end up looking like complete idiots. Such as in this instance.
    I bid the farewell.

  39. The ‘hard problem’ of consciousness was solved, completely, in the 1980’s.

    The solution is so simple and elegant that it seems ludicrous that people like this don’t get it.

    Julian Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

  40. Consciousness isn’t the reactions in the brain any more than information is the processes of a computer. It’s simply facilities what is always be there. Treat everything as if it were a fluid even space.

  41. This is complete pseudoscientific bullshit with as much credibility as Christian scientist’s theory of healthcare.

  42. Absolute garbage. A complete waste of time. Utter nonsense. It seems like it was written by an AI trying in vain to understand the human experience. None of this is even remotely close to explaining the qualia of our senses and internal self awareness even in complete sensory deprivation. You can read everything about chocolate ice cream and study the subject for years and get a PhD in culinary chemistry but if you never actually experience the sensation of eating and tasting it from your own first hand perspective, then you will know absolutely nothing of value about chocolate ice cream. You can learn hundreds of songs and poems about love and watch all the romantic movies and study sociology and psychology but if you never actually fall in love with someone genuinely then you will know nothing at all of what true love is. You have to experience it for yourself. Just like this article doesn’t come anywhere remotely to explain what consciousness actually is. In fact it is so far away from the truth that it is offensive to me personally. It makes me feel sad and angry to read something that is so very very wrong and misguided, that causes only more confusion. It makes me wonder if my personal experience is really that different that they can’t even come in the same universe as what it really feels like to exist as a fully self aware living human being. I honestly think this is either fake or some kind of joke. It seems like something an NPC would write out of futile desperation to grasp an inkling of an understanding of what the first person experience actually is. From mPERSPECTIVE, this is a giant

  43. Human consciousness is actually a set of discarded scripts written by kids at a coding school on the other end of the Universe.

    It is running on a decommissioned server that someone in the tech dept. forgot to unplug.

  44. What if we’re in a virtual reality like in the movie The Matrix and unlike the 13th Floor, we have real bodies somewhere else. We’re not simulated programs, but real people in virtual reality. If so, then consciousness comes from our real bodies. The “brain” here is an computational interface or illusion to the overall virtual reality experience. Sleep, meanwhile, may be the interface taking a toll on our real bodies so it needs to be partially removed for a time period to keep it from frying our real brains/minds. Perhaps our real bodies don’t require sleep. Perhaps we’re in a cryo-prison and this is a rehabilitation program designed to demonstrate how bad things can get when free will is allowed to run rampant. Perhaps “god” represents the ruler of the actual real world and we were bad and sent to prison here.

    Is that any crazier than the nutty things both religious and non-religious people create to explain why they can’t explain things like gravity properly? Dark Matter? Dark Energy? We invent things like the Big Bang without considering EVERYTHING could be an illusion like the Gnostics believed. If you can’t wake up from the dream, how could you tell the dream world from the real world? Perhaps the lack of a source of consciousness IS THE PROOF. We are not here. We are there. Here is mostly empty space because the computers can only compute so much data. It all starts to make more sense than everything coming from nothing or some singularity that is ill defined or a missing creator god that had to die to save us from himself….

  45. There is no need to do complicated research. By that the answers will remain hidden. If one wants to understand the science of consciousness you can find it in “Bhagavad Gita as it is” by h d g a c bhaktivedanta swami prabhupad. You will find the answer from the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna.

  46. Speaking as a cognitive applied linguist, the formulation of this exciting theory of consciousness cross fertilizes my language learning work in code switching, speaker perspective recognition (esp. to teach modal verbs and tense/aspect), and even about redefining “language” breaking through the limiting frontier of “communication”. While this perspective might seem “off topic”, I see once again the unity among various disciplines studying cognitive creation, and especially the categorization of expressive domains. Perhaps encouraging more cross-disciplinary fertilization can create useful synergic sparks to push forth consciousness research in non-competing scientific sectors.

  47. This seems like functionalism to me. Functionalism is the theory that consciousness is an algorithm, and that any system that instantiates that algorithm is conscious. However, functionalism fails the smell test because of a similar relativism: the same process can look like different algorithms to different observers. That means that there is no truth to any conscious experience, though as conscious beings we intrinsically know that there is a truth to our experience, which is to say that it is self-identical.

  48. The chicken or the egg? Which came first? You ever thought that brain arises out of Consciousness and not the other way around. Lol
    Consciousness doesn’t need thought to exist but thought does need Consciousness.

    1. I have been interested in consciousness for many years and done considerable reading on the subject. It is a fascinating subject and I do hope we are making progress in our studies.

      Our evolution and individual experiences combine to give us individual conscious experiences.

      Our conscious experiences are sufficiently different for the same setting from others that we sometimes detect when we are on the same ‘wavelength’ as others and our experiencing consciousness that appear very similar. It is said that fear can save our lives. We learn fear through our experiences, but like consciousness evolution appears critical in our ability to use fear to prolong our lives.

    2. I agree with the relativiness of conciense fenomena.
      To clarify we need also a common definitional frame.
      To become concious, a lot of other functions need to be running.
      And the constant analyse of this flux with special incidence (attention) on the relevant parts demand a lot of funtions and processing power, memories and preprogrammed routines.
      In essence, the analises of this constant resume, filtered off by all other functions of neuronal routines, processing all sensorial information from internal and external fenomena, plus the the resume of all other mental functions that activated or signaling enough priority to be read with enough attention by this main process.
      This process (conscience) made a registration in diferent memory’s of diverse persistence, according to his attributed importance.

    3. I agree with the relativiness of conciense fenomena.
      To clarify we need also a common definitional frame.
      To become concious, a lot of other functions need to be running.
      And the constant analyse of this flux with special incidence (attention) on the relevant parts demand a lot of funtions and processing power, memories and preprogrammed routines.
      In essence, the analises of this constant resume, filtered off by all other functions of neuronal routines, processing all sensorial information from internal and external fenomena, plus the resume of all other mental functions, that activated or signaling enough priority to be read with enough attention by this main process, is the conciense.
      This process (conscience) made a registration in diferent memory’s of diverse persistence, according to his attributed importance.

      1. I enjoyed reading your commment.
        Could consciousness merely be a painting in the process? (Recording of an experience). The tools used to create this painting being our senses and organs, and our brain the canvas to capture it all. Prove me wrong ;)
        Half of our brain operates the tools, the other half records the progress.

    4. Indeed I find it highly misleading to use the term relativistic in this context. I’ll send my question whether or not this is a scientific theory at all as it cannot be falsified

  49. Interesting, although the relativistic interpretation of measurement-locality-induced-subjectivity still doesn’t seem to resolve the mechanism by which matter gives rise to self-awareness — regardless of which clump of matter is measuring what and where; it seems like the hard problem of consciousness is still lurking beneath. Maybe I missed something; I’ll have to read it again. Or perhaps it is that, but with some other bits and pieces….my personal view is that whatever consciousness is, if I were to take an entirely materialist viewpoint, it would be somehow related to the macroscopically-emergent ensemble of microscopic instances of the action-principle applied to signaling along neural pathways. You could call, in such a model, a “thought” as a causally-linked, nonlinear cascade of neural activity which has a natural “flow” (like water down a mountain — seeking the path of least resistance). I think each such “flow” has constant bombardment of external data pushing and pulling it in different directions… but the strengthened pathways from prior experience still manage to direct most of the “flow” in a specific way. Any deviation from that provides an “atom” of subjectivity — because self-awareness necessitates something to “chew” on; I would say that, in the absence of all information and sensory input, there would be no deviations from “flow” and therefore, no self-awareness at all because from an evolutionary perspective, there’s nothing to “correct” or interpret (which would have survival or reproductive value). Self-awareness (I think) must somehow be related to the action-principle applied to the neurally-guided restoring-forces acting on signal pathways. Which would seem to imply that whatever consciousness is, it must be fundamental; it must be an intrinsic property of matter which only seems observable when matter is arranged in certain ways (ways like you’d find in a brain) — like electrical charge, or gravitational fields. There is probably a “consciousness field” and the brain acts as an amplifier and localizer of that field, and it is just a natural part of the quantum fields that make up reality. Whatever that means.

    1. The proposed ‘theory’ (is this even falsifiable?) definitely doesn’t ‘dissolve’ the hard problem of consciousness. The hard problem of consciousness is essentially the mystery of how some types of brain activity give rise to subjective experience. The paper described here doesn’t explain the hard problem or make it go away. All they’re saying essentially is that when we observe brain activity correlated with a particular subjective experience in the lab, we don’t experience the subject’s conscious experience (duh), but some other assemblage of neurons in the subject’s brain that ‘observes’ the same brain activity generates the subject’s conscious experience.

      OK; how does this other, ‘observing’ brain activity give rise to a subjective experience? This is just passing the buck from one group of neurons to another and imagining they’ve ‘dissolved’ the problem. Clearly they haven’t; there’s still a hard problem here.

      Of course, it should be noted that there it is not the general consensus of neuroscientists that there is a hard problem of consciousness. While there’s obviously a lot about consciousness we don’t understand, it’s clear that it’s dependent upon brain activity. If you can reliably alter or suspend one’s consciousness or the perception of pain etc by disrupting or suspending particular brain processes, it can be reasonably inferred that, broadly speaking, consciousness is caused by this brain activity. Some brain activity just happens to feel like something.

      There isn’t any point down the chain of physical activity where we could reasonably expect to ‘see’ another person’s subjective experience; all we’re ever going to see is the brain activity associated with it. Even those that think there is a hard problem of consciousness don’t necessarily think it’s a problem that can in principle be solved. If consciousness is indeed caused by certain types of brain activity, as all the evidence suggests, it’s never going to be ‘seen’ in the manner the article suggests is possible; it’s only ever going to be experienced from the first person perspective.

  50. The consciousness, the soul is actually an essense from the GOD, the only absolute entity that achieved singularity in my opinion.

    The GOD says he knows us from the very inside and he is always attached to us and he knows every thought and every feeling we have.

    The GOD’s singularity is providing us the consciousness.

    Only the faithful followers of The God i.e. Allah, get the eligibilty to explore and mesmerize in this heaven.

    The heaven is actually the GOD himself, the singular conscious entity, only he can tell us how we are BE.

    Hazrat Ali RaziAllah once said that he does not pray to ALLAH to attain the heaven, but because Allah is so great he deserve to be worshipped!! This is pure level 1 submission to the GOD.

    Allah had opened up many secrets of the universe to Ali RaziAllah

    Sadly todays scientist think religion is just a ritual. They just dont know the nature does not work their technological way. It works the God’s ways

      1. Based on this article. It doesn’t matter. It’s all relative. Religion is necessary for most humans to be able to come to to terms with their existence.

    1. They know but the ego love of power blocks the power of love. They are soul robbers. Trying to make you believe one life and the consciousness goes to particles…. A devious plan to make people exploit instead of nurture

    2. “The God” you speak falsely of, is not a he.
      Love, is what the god is. Didn’t know love had boundaries.
      It’s literally THE KEY to unlocking the mysterious multi-verse, and the most powerful force in it.

      If everyone experiences love, or a lack of it:
      If existence (consciousness) is relative, why can’t we stop looking at individual mechanisms, as if in a binary system, and study the whole process, not the two available choices: good/bad, right/wrong, this/that, black/white, me/you, instead of, for example, the yin-yang. Two halves + one symbol=3.

      When this experience is used to consider conscious existence, it’s not you/me;
      It’s all of us.

      all are the parts of the shared experience of consciousness.

      Consciousness is an awareness of yourself, and how it relates to your, and others, existence.
      It’s a system wide experience, not only in the brain, but the whole body, which includes energies and vibrations.

      I have zero respect for anyone who is so controlled by a outdated religious system, meant to instill fear, and then using it, to indoctrinate others,

      I see you, and you need to love yourself more, so to evolve those anti-social attitudes and rude and disrespectful behaviors towards others. Have some self-respect!

      Love yourself, you’ll love others. You’ll find everyone is different, but the stame, more importantly.
      The dualistic universe!

      Billions can’t see into themselves, with love, to look at the bigger picture.

  51. They did not define what consciousness is nor say where it comes from. All they’ve done is developed another way of observing it. They just assume that the brain created consciousness. Maybe consciousness created the brain!

    1. I read a book about the brain that neuros hate because it defies orthodox medicine…. But makes with brain injuries much better than they do…you are correct the soul created the brain.

    2. They did not define what consciousness is nor say where it comes from. All they’ve done is developed another way of observing it.


      They just assume that the brain created consciousness. Maybe consciousness created the brain!

      From a Buddhist perspective you could say that the bran and consciousness co-arose.

  52. Correct me if I’m wrong but this does nothing to suggest that consciousness is an emergent property of matter (or that it’s identical to matter and just one particular frame of reference) but rather that there is no separation between the neural activity and the conscious experience. Rather that they are simply two subjective representations of the same phenomenon.

    This doesn’t really solve the hard problem of consciousness in a materialist paradigm, but rather resolves the separation of consciousness and matter. There’s not really anything other than consciousness. Matter is not external to consciousness.

    This even demonstrates that subjectivity is all there is.

  53. It won’t be long till there is a quantum computing analogy to explain human thinking, consciousness and brain activity. Reality is that the synapse is a photonic process. Photons generated and signaling at short range. Yes we measure electrical energy but what makes it work is spectral photons messaging in The cells.all photonic generation radiation is about near atomic messaging. Photons escaping excess.

  54. For how long would you refer to einstein inventions to solve problems of science. Try to evolve something new. Please search the integrative brain theory in google scholar authored by sohail adnan and another article of the same author ” consciousness emanates from neuronal network of coordination, a fact endorsed by preserved consciousness in focal ischemic infarctions”.

  55. Look at us developing theories to determine when a fetus has consciousness. We better be sure if these things before we develop policy around them.

      1. I think it’s already established that the soul can move freely in and out of the fetus as it pleases until the time of birth. If the fetus is aborted, the soul simply moves on to a different fetus and different life.
        That’s why trying to end abortion (or end it legally, which is all you can do) is so ridiculous. The soul is not in the fetus at the time of abortion, unless the soul actually wants to experience that particular death.
        The fetus is the pathway to come into a corporeal experience. There will always be other fetuses.

  56. The author says “Now the authors want to continue to examine the exact minimal measurements that any cognitive system needs in order to create consciousness”. I hate to rain on his parade but that is what everyone has been trying to do for a long time. The exact measurement is a neural function. Neural activity is equivalent to “measurements”. A relativistic approach does not solve the problem of how the qualia emerge. The botton line is since the author has not proven which measurements create consciouness he is no better now than he was before he started.

  57. I like to think that there is strong links between consciousness and spirituaity. I still gladly welcome anything else like this one above I think we should study more on reasonings , deductibilties, life experiences, emotions, other useful areas.
    Everyone’s consciousness grows with age. it is not readymade. There has to be seeds somewhere that is to be watered, watched, tendered to grow or it will be forgotten, lost, confused.

    1. I feel the same as well. In fact, I believe that physical brain power is the soul. Stream of consciousness writing helps me to explore my conciousness. It’s cured my depression. But I am someone who believes in the “impossible”. To me, God is defined as “The impossible that serves your true self” and it’s all in the brain with the help of faith or letting go. Letting go of your mortality, fears, dreams, aspirations, inspirations. “God loves you”? This is true. Secularism is a disease.

  58. The quote about “100 years of research” is misleading. FMRI was invented in 1990 and some of the best research began after 2003. Who actually believes just 19 years of modern research is enough to declare consciousness is not produced with neurons?

  59. The premise of this theory is pseudo-scientific.

    When Bob is standing by the rail track, and Alice is on a train passing Bob, using an observation/measurement method Bob finds that Alice has a velocity of 100km/hr. Now, If he uses exactly THE SAME OBSERVATION/MEASUREMENT METHOD to find his own velocity, he will find that to be 0km/hr. This measurement gives Bob the credence that his state is different from Alice, and he is stationary (his velocity being 0).
    Now, in a lab, Bob observes Alice’s brain and all Bob sees is some physical activities and no consciousness. Now, the way Bob observes Alice’s brain, IN THE SAME WAY he can (and should, to be unbiased) observe his own brain too. And if he does that, he will see only physical activity and no consciousness in his own brain.
    In order to scientifically compare, THE MEASUREMENT/OBSERVATION METHOD needs to be the same, which in this case would give similar conclusion (the scientific conclusion from Bob’s point of view would be- neither of them is conscious).
    Now, we understand that, it is the consciousness that enables Bob to observe. Where that consciousness is coming from? We need that elusive answer.

    From the comments, it seems some people think this consciousness question is outside the realm of science. They should ask themselves a single question: WHY.
    Science is a methodology to obtain reliable understanding. Why something should fall outside it?

    1. Thank you! This article seems to be simply pointing out that subjective observations of the experience of consciousness differ from the objective external observations of brain scans. This isn’t news. Your recap of spot on.

      Scanning a brain to try to understand conscious experience is like scanning a running computer to understand the code running inside. It’s really not feasible. Also, each brain has a completely different low-level hardware construction. Our only hope of making this approach work is deep machine learning. If we can build models to understand deep neutral networks from the outside, then we have a chance at building similar models to understand the vastly deep neural connections in a brain.

  60. Context matters. Bar Ilan is a religious university. Research conducted there must be considered in this context. This is not to say that research in Bar Ilan is scientifically flawed, only that any conclusion drawn from such research must be scrutinized in light of possible religious bias.
    It should be stated that this pseudo-philosophical discussion, while perhaps pointing to new ways of thinking about consciousness, ultimately does not repudiate what most materialist scientists already believe: consciousness is an epiphenomenon, not a fundamental constituent of life or the cosmos.

  61. The harsh, know-it-all comments add nothing to the discussion. My view, for what it’s worth as a practicing quantum physicist but not a philosopher, is that the new ideas presented could well be off base, wrong, or not even wrong, but hey that is what hundreds of physicists thought about Einstein’s theory. I’m NOT making the mistake I see often that ‘because Einstein was right in the face of criticism, any wacky theory must also be right.’ I’m saying new ideas are hard to swallow, but take them with a pinch of salt and see where they lead.

    The idea of relativism is, in fact, now entering into serious discussions by serious theoretical physicists considering how observer frames of reference might help us understand the so-called quantum measurement problem and the question of physical realism. (Bell inequalities and all that.) We obviously (I think) don’t have the final word on all of this, so dogmatic statements on either side don’t help.

  62. The paradox of consciousness leads to only one conclusion to be made by those who dare take the step. It must be supported and exist via mechanisms of some sort external to the physical body.
    We are at an early stage of science in this area, wrongly dividing some phenomena into the subsection of “ParaPsychology”.
    When scientists are ready to admit that the consciousness processes cannot be entirely physical, nor “emergent” from physical phenomena, then progress will be made.

  63. Using the term “relativistic” is just silly terminology. What has been discovered by actual research is that the neural patterns when remembering or imagining a stimulus are very similar to the patterns which occur when a real stimulus happens. This reflective behavior is crucial to the experience of consciousness. In a sense we continually imagine our selves. Anil Seth has an idea of the human mind “constantly hallucinating the world and the self” to create reality.

  64. i agree that consciousness is relative and the result of physical elements in the brain, but that doesn’t answer the question of what consciousness is for me. It seems like a dance of words around the issue. Perhaps it’s just that my level of consciousness can’t comprehend consciousness.
    rand Lane

  65. Is it possible that the only specialists who ponder ‘consciousness’ are those having a shared set of experiences from which that phenomenon emerges? We know that there are some people who walk in their sleep, go to the fridge in their sleep, etc. Their motor-functions and visual cortices are operating but their frontal lobes are shut down.

    Then there is “lost time”. You find you have been driving for hours and have wound up in some random place without the slightest memory of the trip. Amnesiacs spend years in a strange city, fully conscious but with that parcel of data containing their name, locale, and their associations walled off, sometimes forever.

    When I read these “mystery of consciousness” articles, I can’t avoid the impression that, perhaps, I’m an outlier in this shared experience… or perhaps the researchers, philosophers, and interested journalists are the outliers, comprising a few million–0.1%–of the global population of human minds. I don’t know; I think I know/perceive what they are talking about, but perhaps that perception is illusory.

    It’s not like they can look down at their right hands and discuss their shared experience of having a right hand, which they could reasonably pull off lacking a right hand: they can see that other people have right hands.

  66. Either this article didn’t get the point of the paper or the authors got carried away. Nothing jumped on me as a profound finding while reading this. Simple exercise of outrespection could easily lead to realisation that everyone views the world differently and often biased by our own experiences. I think Memory is fundamental for consciousnes. Imagine yourself without a Memory, who would you be? What references do you have to base your decision making on? I think our complex Memories what makes everyone is unique. Special events in life get registered in our Memories and subsequently shape who we are.

    1. You are basing this on your experience as a conscious mind. You can’t rule out consciousness existing in a way I can’t understand. Does consciousness require memory? We value intelligence, but we aren’t the benchmark for intellect itself. We want to think of ourselves as smart, aware, and rational. If you think you have a good memory, who are you comparing yourself with?

    1. There are only two ways to gain knowledge; experience and science. Scoffing at science is the ultimate in ignorance.

    2. Let me guess, you think the correct answer is found in your ancient book of Babylonian fairy tales. 😄

    3. We all walk in spirit yet they are trying to make you think that consciousness goes into particles when you go and that’s you you exist no more. Neuros essentially like to play mindgames for powertrips

  67. I find this relativist argument quite interesting. Surely we all know about the subjective-objective divide as a relativist position. However, how does measure arise before consciousness? The assumption is that one is able to measure — therefore one must already be conscientious.

  68. I think consciousness is more than measurement. Although it amplifies the anthropic principle and adds a new dimension to contemplating”Man is the measure of all things.”

    I wonder what man measures when we think of God? The Ultimate Realtor. And prayer where one relates to the Ultimate Relator?

  69. This is quite funny to watch. I found the individual conciousness over a decade ago. It’s all thanks to my PTSD. Unfortunately, when I found it, my subconscious wanted to get to know it. That made life very interesting. Dreaming is completely different for me now. They are all lucid dreams. I also have an entirely new category. I call them collaboration dreams since I can’t find anything on them from someone else. When my subconscious makes a dream that my conciousness is interested in and wants to know more about the subject, my subconscious agrees and they investigate together.

  70. This theory doesn’t help the problem at all. Still requires an “observer” which surely is what consciousness is.

    1. Consciousness is not physical at all but subtle matter that transforms its self into relevant subtle counterparts, like atoms splitting into different layers , only it splits into layers of conscious awareness. Creating dimensional wavelengths of pure light , we don’t exist purely with physical boundaries but made up of countless levels of awareness, based on our own level of perception, if you think of a diamond that is cut into Shap of a prism and place this subtle energy inside your brain you would be multidimensional, but without the awareness of these othere dimensional layers. This is one reason why only a small portion of the brain is used. We would not be able to cope with the entire portion of our brain being active, the knowledge our conscious minds holds would be to great. The trouble with science is that it doesn’t want to perceive anything outside of physical reality, we are all beings of light with the ability to raise our conscious awareness to higher levels in order to understand the true meaning of our existence.

    2. James, your response so resonated with me. I appreciate your clarity and brevity!

  71. How humancentric or monotheist are our theories and investigations of consciousness? What if consciousness resides outside the human mind? (This is eloquently pondered by Morita (contemporary of Freud) a century ago in his development of “Classic Morita Therapy” based on “peripheral consciousness”).

  72. What if the Universe has an energy exchange, with mass releasing energy in stars, supporting another form of energy (consciousness) utilizing life forms to ascend to higher, more energetic thought levels in successive lives & more evolved species. That progression concludes with a big crunch with black hole nuggets coming together as One & all the bits of consciousness then peaked collectively overlapping that One minimal thermal energy nugget.

    Then a 2nd energy exchange occurs by the collective consciousness thinking as one to transfer a thought in the form of thermal energy into the nugget, with consciousness being reduced to minimal, to cause another Big Bang expansion for a new cycling of the Universe? Since the laws of thermodynamics state energy cannot be destroyed, in this case it simply gets recycled. That’s as simple an explanation as possible (Occam’s Razor) to explain the Big Bang and the dilemma of how physical life forms have consciousness.

    It is therefore theorized that all life forms have this other form of energy, consciousness, and it should be measurable from testing mice. Laugh not, for the consciousness in the mouse will some day ascend to fuse with a human.

    This would also answer another dilemma, i.e. how do we discover things we could not have possibly known about? The 4th dimension fabric of spacetime is partly composed of that peak collective consciousness that sacrificed its thought level to the mass in the Big Bang. When a bit of consciousness asks a question it can tap into the spectrum of intellect all around us. It’s not that we are figuring out the Universe, as much as we are tapping into a library of knowledge. Think of those layers like the lit plexi-rectangles in the Hal 9000 in 2001 A Space Odyssey. Ask the right question and you can tap into one.

    And your asking how can a Universe have such an energy exchange when we’ve only found life on Earth and see it no where else yet? The Universe is still young, and where consciousness takes seed on random planets (like Earth) scattered around in billions of galaxies, it will spread outward by terra forming surrounding planets once it proves the existence of consciousness as a separate energy that fuses with life forms, proving we live in a cyclical universe with an energy exchange in which each one of us plays a very important energetic role.

  73. This might be a whole lot of silliness, but hear me out, because I think I have correctly identified some of the pieces of the puzzle.

    I suspect that consciousness is an intrinsic attribute of what we perceive as reality. I hate to use “the force” analogies, but as a Roman Catholic we see God as the consciousness that suffuses, well no, suffuse is not quite the right word, *is* the ground truth of what we perceive as reality. Reality being our universe, the higher dimensional “plane” that brings about the multiverse that our universe is an element of and all the turtles all the way *up*. I mean without getting into “branes” and carrying on.

    Or when we go in the opposite direction, into the quantum world and we attempt to envision what exactly the “quantum probability waveform” is. I think that is where the attribute that we call consciousness of reality resides. All of the possible outcomes for anything that is possible in the quantum realm and how something like that make its way to the macro realm. I’m kinda fuzzy on how all that actually interacts, but I have a feeling I’m on the right track.

    I suspect that as we produce ever more powerful quantum computing technology that we may be able to explore whatever we hypothesize is “universal consciousness”. And we will develop science to understand and hopefully *exploit* (unimaginable technology) it.

    So how’d *we* get conscious? Well, if consciousness is an attribute of our universe and taking into account all the rest of what might be “outside” of our universe, I would guess that it is “baked in” to any form of matter from the quantum realm up to the hydrogen atom. And it is probably also a part of the energy of our universe as well. I know there is a temptation to think in terms of a type of “field” but I’m not sure if “field” is the right terminology in the sense of the existence of the “Higgs field”, for example. Like I said earlier, it is not a matter of an entity “suffusing” the universe, but rather the “reality” of the universe itself.

    You’ve heard that trope before, “It from bit–the universe computes”? I still remember seeing Brian Greene, pick up a rock and say, “This rock computes”. By that he meant that because the rock computes, it exists. Now granted rocks are not conscious, but that statement fits in with the meta notion that the universe computes. And *some* forms of matter like organic chemistry also have this baked into *their* existence. And organic chemistry leads to big clouds of organic chemicals like glycerin that is found in interstellar space. There was another organic chemical too, but I forget what it was offhand. Oh! It is *ribose*, the “R” of RNA.

    And if conditions are juussst right. Like on a water planet in a “Goldilocks zone” orbit, somehow all that organic chemistry can get together and form things like RNA and eventually DNA. Given say, half a billion years, you get something that has just a titch more consciousness than a rock. You get a virus. The oldest successfully surviving and most primitive of “living” things (Including other weird “lifeforms” like plasmids and prions) on Earth. A virus is not only semi-living, it is also semi *aware*. For large portions of its existence a virus, in the form of a “virion” is no different than a rock. There is nothing going on, except for the computing that causes the virus to exist, like that rock, in the first place. And if conditions are juussst right, the virus through simple chemistry, becomes aware. And it is able to use it’s chemistry to make more viruses.

    And then like over time you get onto this spectrum of ever increasing awareness, prokaryotes and mitochondria antecessors merging and what not. And continuing along that spectrum you start to get a form of continuous awareness. When I consider things like slime molds or coral, there seems to be a very fine line between awareness and consciousness. I think that the difference between awareness and consciousness is that consciousness entails *memory*. This of course was a discredited scientific belief of the 19th century. The idea that animals are “automatons”. That they did not have consciousness, but were simply reacting with a chemical reaction to their environments. Well we have a better perception nowadays.

    So if you take a very simple fellow like a C. Elegans a creature that has about 300 nerve cells and no brain. It is able to do the things it needs to do to survive–Say! you know what–I’m repeating myself. I put all this down in a separate essay sometime back. It was an exploration of why and what makes us we do the things we do and how we can maybe make an AI have the same kind of capability. I mean on account of this *is* “futurology” after all lol


    But to continue more along the lines of a spectrum of increasing consciousness, we see ever more continuously aware organisms like the jellyfish. I believe that a jellyfish has consciousness. I believe it can retain memory of experiences. Further I believe it can retain memory, because in some kind of way that we do not yet understand, a jellyfish requires regular periods of reduced neural activity. They require *somnolence*. They need their version of 40 winks. Why? Because they have primitive memory that straddles the divide between simple biochemical awareness and consciousness. The sleeplike state is essential because I bet that even a creature as simple as a jellyfish with its simple nervous system, has to prune out a few unnecessary neural memories and solidify a few others.

    There is no doubt in my military mind that if you are conscious, you *must* sleep regularly. If you don’t, you die. And that is a very good reason for animals to render themselves vulnerable to predators for significant periods of time. They eventually learned to secret themselves to be less likely to get ate while in dreamland. Dreams. That is another essential element of consciousness. If REM sleep is continuously interrupted, you die. And then we move onto all the other animals that are conscious. When you get to a certain point of biological “complexity” you are conscious. No mistakin’ it. Then we get to the primates and that is where it gets interesting. Because now a portion of the brain has enlarged to the point that allows *rumination*. Like *thinking* about being conscious.

    Oh. One other super important point. If it turns out that brains, to include r’s, are fundamentally quantum computers like some smart people think they might be, then it *might* be that nerves and brains evolved to be like a “receiver” of universal consciousness–we all draw from the same pool, so to speak. Running r hearts and lungs and muscles and thinking about thinking and whatnot might just be a *side effect* of all of that. And this helps to strengthen by evidence that “universal consciousness” is probably the right tree to bark up. I mean just ask Timothy Leary, Terrance McKenna,
    Carl Jung and his “archetypes” and Alan Watts. We are now doing some serious scientific investigation into just what the hell psychedelics *do* to the brain to open that “window” that allows us to experience a potentially higher form of consciousness. I do not believe we are just deluding ourselves.

    So I went through all of that to demonstrate that once things get biological and are alive, you see first awareness and soon consciousness. But the ground truth of consciousness is that it is an attribute of the universe. It is an attribute of everything that composes reality. As a Roman Catholic *I* a*ttrib*ute “It from bit–the universe computes”, to the mind of God. And I believe that again, I am on the right track. Science will eventually reveal some things that I don’t believe that society today, indeed human civilization, is ready, *today* anyways, to learn.

    And not to get too tin-foiled hatted, but I think this is the very reason that we are absolutely hurtling towards the “technological singularity”. We are striving teleologically, through the grace of God, to reach “the next level”. I been going through these Christopher Hitchens video debates with various theists and I just can’t help but think that they were *both* arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Because it ultimately doesn’t matter as far as the universe, and by extension, reality, is concerned. There are immutable truths that transcend all of our carrying on here on Earth. We as Roman Catholics are taught that we should love God, through Jesus Christ and therefore demonstrate that love for all of humanity as well, to the absolute best of our capabilities. Well I don’t mean to go too far into faith, but I put it here to show that I not only have faith in empirical science, I also have faith in *God*. I’d like to see everyone on Earth become a Catholic, sure, but my intention is not to force what I believe, into your face. But. If by my writing here I cause the tiniest perturbation in your mental schema, well that is the grace of the Holy Spirit. Philosophically, ‘universal consciousness’ is the “mind of God”, that we learn more and more about through science, every single hour of every single day.

    The bottom line is that we really don’t have a discipline of science for apprehending what “consciousness” actually is. (*Yet*.) We are, today, at the equivalent point of the moment that sir Isaac Newton, when seeing the apple fall from the tree and making the incredible intuitive leap of faith to understanding the same exact force held the Moon in orbit about the Earth. He gave birth to Newtonian physics, but Newton in his day and age had absolutely no idea what gravity *was*. That insight had to wait until 1916 and Einstein. At some point another “Einstein” probably AI enhanced or an AI itself will tell us what consciousness *is*. And that might be the “Technological Singularity”, right around the year 2029. Time is flying!

    1. I stopped reading at “as a Roman Catholic…”

      For a person who has absolutely nothing to say, you sure use a lot of words to say it.

    2. “Consciousness ‘higher’ than yours” cannot be comprehended by you. Just as you can’t comprehend ‘lower’ consciousness. We draw assumptions on consciousness itself based on our experience of ourselves; being aware, recognising patterns, making interpretation, drawing conclusions. Small models of concepts, which relate to your place in the universe, exist in your mind as it grows. Your reference point influences what you perceive because of where/when you are, as it is specifically you there/then perceiving it to be so.
      Psychedelics are a window to a higher consciousness if you are making a pun. If perceptions of reality are altered, you might perceive a higher state of consciousness when really tripping balls imagining something that seems more significant now. Still completely oblivious to everything you aren’t thinking of. Some things don’t make any sense, yet you think they do.
      I assume there is something like metaconsciousness, such as, imagining what others might be able to conceptualise, or knowing what they can know before they do.

    3. Hey, great comment ! Way too much to respond to right now, but, I mean, many many similar interests and thoughts, viewpoints and stuff. And coming from someone who’s “jew-ish” (heh) as in by blood and some involvement for the history and community of it, but really more just a spiritual person who is interested in peace and love…
      I pretty much have found and go with the idea of… “we are all consciousness experiencing itself subjectively”!!!

  74. Basically the proposed argument is,
    P1) Objective brain activity patterns are equivalent to subjective qualia
    P2) If other creatures have brain activity patterns then they have subjective qualia
    C) Solipsism is false

    This doesn’t even address the hard problem which is HOW the neural activity produces qualia. This just asserts that brain activity patterns magically ARE qualia.

    Truly understanding the hard problem of consciousness should mean we should know how to engineer qualia in a robot.

  75. The authors talk about relative consciousness as perceived by two different observers in their respective cognitive reference frames. Suppose Alice and Bob look at some natural object like SUN independently without having any prior knowledge of what they are going to observe and then describe their observations at length in a write up.

    Now how these two descriptions will look like in terms two sets of human consciousness. Will these be same of different partially or totally. Anything could happen.Do nonhuman objects like SUN here possess any consciousness? A great question! If consciousness is present at atomic level then its signature is present in all objects as these are made up of atoms.

    Where do thoughts originate in brain? Condensation of thoughts lead to human consciousness. Only humans have a thinking machine unlike other creatures. But all creatures have consciousness but human consciousness is different due to the presence of MIND : some sort of field leading to condensation of thoughts originating in thinking machine which include all our sensory organs, in principle entire human body.

    So the problem of consciousness can not be solved so easily as the mind of each individual is unique in every respect and it is here any intelligence comes in form of knowledge. So to decipher of locate the source of consciousness or intelligence is quite difficult or even impossible because every human mind is unique with very little or no common aspects. That is why it remains a metaphysical subject and beyond the scrutiny of modern science and technology. For researchers from all disciplines it is a good academic exercise like other theories. But the problem would remain unsolved in terms of natural laws of science. This is my opinion.

    1. This is not a scientific hypothesis, and has no falsifiable implications. It is merely an analogy of Einsteins Theory of Relativity with already know facts. We already know that our own conciousness can only be experienced first person, and relative to who we are. Like all non-falsifiable claims this one tells us nothing and has no information content beyond the built in assumptions. It’s silly.

      What possible test could be made to prove it wrong? What novel predictions does it make that can be tested to see whether reality conforms to them, or not? This pseudoscientific hypothesis is no different than merely stating “consciouness is subjective”.

    2. This is one of the more interesting models to come out on consciousness, and I would love to learn more.

      From only reading this article though, I do not see how taking this relativistic view of consciousness or mind has dissolved the hard problem at all, simply it has just moved it back one or two layers.

      The neuron the fires the color “red” and the “red” that I see are indeed two naturalistic ways with which to view the experience of red and measure “red”.

      The “hard problem” addresses emergence, and I am not seeing how this model addresses emergence at all.

  76. “But how the brain creates the conscious experience and what area of the brain is responsible for this remains a mystery.”

    All of it! The output feeds back into the input.

    “conscious experience cannot arise from the brain, and in fact, cannot arise from any physical process.”

    You lost me right there.

    1. For how long would you refer to einstein inventions to solve problems of science. Try to evolve something new. Please search the integrative brain theory in google scholar authored by sohail adnan and another article of the same author ” consciousness emanates from neuronal network of coordination, a fact endorsed by preserved consciousness in focal ischemic infarctions”.

    2. Very interesting point of view. In principle your perspective would at least be closer to explaining near death experiences of patients reported by emergency room doctors. I don’t see how the theory presented in the above article could explain NDE’s.

      1. as a poor analogy, the “Operating System” goes into a kind of emergency standby mode to protect critical operations and important information. I haven’t heard every story but they are often familiar, “drifting away” as they become aware they are nearing death. After knowing you are in danger, realising you are dying.

    3. Perhaps if one suggests a non-physical/Physics reason for consciousness an answer can be considered: that Consciousness is not, in fact physical, rather it is an energetic structure linked to the physical processes present in the conscious mind. Rather than some mix of chemicals and electricity, perhaps Consciousness is a product of these processes expressed as an energetic structure, not unlike a magnetic field (energy) generated by a material that has the majority of its crystalline structures all oriented in a specific direction.
      Is Consciousness electromagnetic? It can be measured as such. Is consciousness a product of chemical activity? It can be affected in that way. Can consciousness exist absent from chemical activity? Outside of the law of conservation of energy, we cannot know…yet, but the findings of these researchers seem to point that way.

  77. This is the dumbest pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo I’ve ever heard. Sorry, but you cannot invoke relativity and pretend that consciousness is an artifact of experience that cannot be measured. Quit pretending you even understand your own argument.

    1. Right. Leave it to those who study Physics, the simplest of the sciences, to create idiotic theories about Biology, the most complicated of the sciences. Add this latest nonsense to the dumb physics ideas about consciousness of the past, like the Fourier Analysis and Quantum hypotheses. I agree with Grant Castillou, comment below, that Edelman’s theory is the best guidance we have to date.

    2. Duh does not understand that his own consciousness is relativistic. He should see a specialist in Zurich.

  78. Leave it be, scientists. Allow consciousness to BE, without need to disect and define. It simply
    IS.Look to ancient philosophers
    and modern followers who find in Metaphysics the simple
    “That which you are seeking is causing you to seek”.

  79. It’s becoming clear that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman’s Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with primary consciousness will probably have to come first.

    What I find special about the TNGS is the Darwin series of automata created at the Neurosciences Institute by Dr. Edelman and his colleagues in the 1990’s and 2000’s. These machines perform in the real world, not in a restricted simulated world, and display convincing physical behavior indicative of higher psychological functions necessary for consciousness, such as perceptual categorization, memory, and learning. They are based on realistic models of the parts of the biological brain that the theory claims subserve these functions. The extended TNGS allows for the emergence of consciousness based only on further evolutionary development of the brain areas responsible for these functions, in a parsimonious way. No other research I’ve encountered is anywhere near as convincing.

    I post because on almost every video and article about the brain and consciousness that I encounter, the attitude seems to be that we still know next to nothing about how the brain and consciousness work; that there’s lots of data but no unifying theory. I believe the extended TNGS is that theory. My motivation is to keep that theory in front of the public. And obviously, I consider it the route to a truly conscious machine, primary and higher-order.

    My advice to people who want to create a conscious machine is to seriously ground themselves in the extended TNGS and the Darwin automata first, and proceed from there, by applying to Jeff Krichmar’s lab at UC Irvine, possibly. Dr. Edelman’s roadmap to a conscious machine is at https://arxiv.org/abs/2105.10461

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