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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Twndividuality

4. Conscious Integrated Information Knowledge

Freeman, Walter. Indirect Biological Measures of Consciousness from Field Studies of Brains as Dynamic Systems. Neural Networks. 20/9, 2007. The University of California at Berkeley research neuroscientist has long pioneered novel understandings of neural activity in terms of intrinsic nonlinear networks. By this significant advance, human and universe gain a 21st century spatial and temporal affinity, psychogenesis and cosmogenesis become one and the same. This is a dispensational discovery we have just begun to appreciate. See also his 2007 paper: Scale-free Neocortical Dynamics online at: http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Scale-free_neocortical_dynamics.

Dynamic systems are collections of entities that organize themselves into continually changing groups by exchanging matter and energy. Examples range in scale from molecules of air and water creating hurricanes to citizens creating committees. Dynamic brains likewise range from quantum excitations of receptors to molecules that organize into DNA, proteins, and membranes to people collectively creating tribes and teams. (1021)

Gabora, Liane. Amplifying Phenomenal Information. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 9/8, 2002. Drawing on the work of David Chalmers and others, the proposal is made that consciousness, as a property of the universe, has an informational component. The degree to which an entity is conscious depends on its ability to amplify and enhance this quality. If brains are understood as a self-organized web of autopoietic systems, this emergence is achieved by a process of conceptual closure. What results is an evolution which possesses a central axis and arrow of informed sentience.

The basic idea is that biological and cognitive systems accomplish this (amplification) by trapping information through autocatalytic closure, and maintaining the dynamics at the edge of chaos through simultaneous processes of divergence and convergence. (5)

Gennaro, Rocco, ed. Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2004. Pro and con discussion about the view that a mental state becomes conscious when it is the object of a higher-order representation.

Ginsburg, Simona and Eva Jablonka. The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul: Learning and the Origins of Consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2019. Veteran scholars (search) Simona G., an Open University of Israel psychologist and Eva J., a Tel Aviv University geneticist and historian of science achieve a lucid exposition of the ascent of sentient knowing from its earliest flicker to our human integrated information. As worked out in prior papers, a continuum can be traced from limited rudiments to an unlimited learning process. EJ and Marion Lamb were the authors of Evolution in Four Dimensions (2005, 2014) whose stages are here joined with the major evolutionary transitions model (Maynard Smith & Szathmary) so as to fill in an oriented, sequential scale. By 2019 life’s long development can be well realized (as we try to report) as a deeply homologous, teleological, quickening by way of an epigenetic knowledge gain in social groupings from minimal microbes to our linguistic florescence. A “rational” soul is seen to rise in tandem, as if (though not formally put) a meaningful holistic complement to an analytic detail mode. Self-organizing, goal-directed systems are thus at work to engender an emergent, autopoietic self-making. Altogether again, a universal gestation which (whom) is trying to come to her/his own senses, witness and discovery becomes evident.

What marked the evolutionary transition from organisms that lacked consciousness to those with minimal subjective experiencing, or, as Aristotle described it, “the sensitive soul”? In this book, Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka propose a new theory that finds learning to be the driving force in the transition to basic consciousness. Using a method that helped identify the transition from non-life to life then allows biological, psychological, and philosophical aspects to be considered. Along with historical, neurobiological, and philosophical foundations, the authors propose an evolutionary marker of basic consciousness as a complex form of associative learning, which is then seen as the driver of the Cambrian explosion and its diversification of organisms. Finally, symbolic language as a similar type is proposed as a marker for the evolutionary transition to human rationality.

I read The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul with an immense interest. It is the best synthesis I know about consciousness. It includes a fascinating history of the concepts and discoveries about consciousness together with an outstanding presentation of the most recent scientific data, theories and philosophical speculations. The evolution of consciousness from the 'Cambrian explosion' up to the Golem predicament is one among the many original aspects of the book. A book that must be read and meditated on. (Jean-Pierre Changeux)

Goerner, Sally and Allan Combs. Consciousness as a Self-Organizing Process. BioSystems. 46/123, 1998. Systems philosophers find an affinity between dynamic streams of awareness and nonlinear dynamics.

From this perspective consciousness is viewed as an ecological system in which streams of cognitive, perceptual and emotional information form a rich complex of interactions, analogous to the interactive metabolism of a living cell. The result is an organic, self-generating or ‘autopoietic’ system continuously in the act of creating itself. (123)

Grindrod, Peter. On Human Consciousness. Network Neuroscience. 2/1, 2018. The Oxford University mathematician is an authoritative contributor to frontier explanations about why and how we individual and collective human beings are graced with a sentient, informed awareness. If such mindful imaginaries are indeed possible, they must somehow be associated with and arise from a similarly endowed cerebral cosmos.

We consider implications of the mathematical modeling and analysis of large modular neuron-to-neuron networks. We explain how the dynamical behavior of relatively small-scale strongly connected networks leads to nonbinary information processing and thus to multiple hypothesis decision-making. In turn we address some aspects of the hard problem of consciousness, We discuss how a proposed “dual hierarchy model,” made up from externally perceived, physical elements of increasing complexity, and internally experienced, mental elements (feelings), may support a learning and evolving consciousness. We argue that, within our model, the mental elements and thus internal modes (feelings) play a role akin to latent variables in processing and decision-making, and thus confer an evolutionary “fast-thinking” advantage. (Abstract excerpt)

Hafemann, Annika, et al. Intrinsic Timescales of Spiking Activity in Humans during Wakefullness and Sleep. arXiv:2205.10308. An eight person team at the MPI Dynamics and Self-Organization, and Universities of Bonn, Georg-August, and Gottingen including Viola Priesemann proceed to accord and bolster this information integrity hypothesis with an array of finely-finessed neurological measurements.

Information processing in the brain requires an integration of information over time. This ability can be achieved if signals are kept for a required period. While short timescales are beneficial for fast responses to stimuli, longer stays aid information storage and integration. We found extended and diverse durations ranging from tens to hundreds of milliseconds. Notably, timescales differed between sleep stages and were longest during slow wave sleep. This supports the view that these moments are a central mechanism that tune networks to the requirements of different tasks and cognitive states (Abstract)

Hameroff, Stuart, et al, eds. Toward a Science of Consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996. A large book from the first Tuscon, Arizona international conference on the subject as an indication of the growing philosophical and scientific interest in the phenomena of consciousness.

Hameroff, Stuart, et al, eds. Toward a Science of Consciousness II. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998. A compendium of papers from the second meeting on the many facets of mind science. In general, evolution is perceived most of all as a learning process.

Hernandez-Espinosa, Alberto, et al. Estimations of Integrated Information Based on Algorithmic Complexity and Dynamic Querying. arXiv:1904.10393. A H-E, National Autonomous University of Mexico, along with Hector Zenil, Narsis Kiani, and Jesper Tegner, Karolinska Institute, Sweden apply their long experience with computational mathematics to foster understandings and applications of this popular theorey of knowing consciousness. Section headings include Finding Simple Rules in Complex Behavior and The Fractal Distribution of Information.

We establish and build theoretical and numerical connections between the theories and methods of integrated information and algorithmic complexity. We introduce a method for estimating integrated information by way of a programmability test rooted in algorithmic information dynamics. Our method is based on the idea that simple rules of causal dynamical systems can shorten the calculation needed to estimate integrated information. On the basis of the perturbation test, we demonstrate how a system can be regarded as providing explanations for its own behaviour. We expect this approach to contribute toward a better understanding of integrated information and of its connections to other, more established areas of science such as dynamical systems and algorithmic information theory. (Abstract excerpt)

Hofstadter, Douglas. What Is It Like to Be a Strange Loop? Kriegel, Uriah and Kenneth Williford, eds. Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006. The Indiana University author and polymath continues his luminous inquiry of whoever and however we might think we are. A gist of this long article, to be expanded to book length, is that people achieve their individualities by sequential degrees and layers up to and into adulthood. Such selves are sustained by iterations and recursions, looping back and forth, from which a nested hierarchy emerges, not without difficulty, of whom a person may uniquely be. But is this real or an illusion, asks Douglas, ever in reflective wonderment. For an example, a “thinkodynamics” due to a “statistical mentalics,” is proposed similar to thermodynamics, so as to connect us to a similarly iterative cosmos. Google the words Hofstadter+Analogy to access a recent talk at Stanford University entitled Analogy as the Core of Cognition for further insights.

Hogberg, Anders, et al. Knowing, Learning and Teaching – How Homo Became Docens. Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 225/4, 2015. With Peter Gardenfors and Lars Larsson, Swedish cognitive anthropologists make the case that a most distinctive quality of hominid evolution was an educative propensity for communal and generational knowledge acquisition, increase, and transmission. See also a later essay The Archeology of Teaching and the Evolution of Homo docens in Current Anthropology (58/2, 2017).

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