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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

4. Conscious Integrated Information Knowledge

Oizumi, Masafumi, et al. From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0. PLoS Computational Biology. 10/5, 2014. With Larissa Albantakis, and Giulio Tononi, University of Wisconsin psychologists write a highly technical essay on parallel degrees of knowledge content and sentient awareness (Tononi 2008) that has become a prime explanatory approach in neuroscience. As a capsule, in a “solipsistic” way, one’s consciousness is self-generated, self-referential, and holistic. An implication, we add, would be a quickening cosmos that similarly comes to its own self-witness and cognizance.

Oizumi, Masafumi, et al. Unified Framework for Information Integration Based on Information Geometry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113/14817, 2016. Oizumi, and Shun-ichi Amari, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan, with Naotsugu Tsuchiya, Monash University, Australia provide a December 2016 example of how dedicated neural network dynamics, via the popular Integrated Information Theory (Tononi), can serve as an iconic exemplar for all manner of nonlinear complexity from physical to social phenomena. By a natural philosophy view, our worldwide science is lately quantifying a universe to human repetition of the one, same organizing system as distinguished by nodal and relational complements. If of a mind, here is a 21st century confirmation of the perennial wisdom quest. The next step, in translation, would be its actual identity as a cosmos to children genetic code.

Quantitative assessment of causal influences among elements in a complex system is a fundamental problem in many fields of science, including physics, economics, gene networks, social networks, ecosystems, and neuroscience. There have been many previous attempts to quantify causal influences between elements in stochastic systems. Information theory has played a pivotal role in these endeavors, leading to various measures, including predictive information, transfer entropy, and stochastic interaction. Drawn from consciousness studies involving measurement of integration of neural activity, the mathematical concept of integrated information is also useful as a framework for analyzing causal relationships in complex systems with multiple elements. Whereas the original motivation for integrated information is intended to elucidate the neural substrate of consciousness, it can in principle be applied to many research fields. (14817)

Osaka, Naoyuki, ed. Neural Basis of Consciousness. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, 2003. Essays consider how to approach the study of the cerebral correlates of knowing sentience.

Many scientists studying consciousness consider that the evidence and theory currently have to be developed in a sustained way, and a firmer understanding of consciousness is now being accelerated by new evidence from cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, neurophilsosopy, neuropsychology and “new neurophysics,” quantum brain dynamics. (Introduction, 1)

Overgaard, Morten. Consciousness Studies: The View from Psychology. British Journal of Psychology. 97/3, 2006. A book review essay of Adam Zeman, Maxim Stamenov and Vittorio Gallese, Jeffery Gray, and Susan Blackmore, which expands to a survey the history, definitions, and nascent admission of our evanescent sentience.

Palmer, Tim. Human Creativity and Consciousness: Unintended Consequences of the Brain’s Extraordinary Energy Efficiency?. arXiv:2002.03738. This contribution by the Oxford University polyphysicist (search) was an invited talk at the Models of Consciousness Conference at Oxford in September 2019, see herein. As our human scientific acumen now seeks to unite with deep quantum physical origins, a reference to the cognitive dual process model with its opposite but complementary left and right, brain-like propensities is seen as a vital aspect. In accord, whatever will it take to realize that nature avails and requires this salutary balance at each phase and instance, so that it might at last be applied to resolve our political destructive conflict between them.

It is proposed that both our creativity and consciousness are consequences of the brain's extraordinary energy efficiency. These topics are treated separately, though have a common sub-structure. Creativity is seen to arise from a synergy between two cognitive modes which broadly coincide with Daniel Kahneman's systems 1 and 2. In the first, available energy is spread across a relatively large network of neurons. In the second, energy applies to a small subset of neurons in a deterministic operation. The notion of consciousness is then defined by way of a perceived awareness of nearby counterfactual worlds in state space. It is argued that in situations where quantum physics plays a role in the brain, it does so for reasons of energy efficiency. (Abstract excerpt)

The idea of changing from a mode of thinking where one focuses hard on a problem without distraction, to one where one simply relaxes, is suggestive of a switch in modes of cognition which refers to simply as “System 2” and “System 1” respectively. Kahnemann refers to System 2 as slow, effortful, logical, calculating; whilst System 1 is fast, automatic, frequent, emotional and stereotypic. Although it is simplistic to characterize cognition entirely in terms of such a dichotomy, it is conceptually convenient to do so here. (3)

Pestana, Mark. Complexity Theory, Quantum Mechanics and Radically Free Self Determination. Journal of Mind and Behavior. 22/4, 2001. Self-similar patterns of neural activity are shown to possess quantum and nonlinear properties by which to substantiate an indeterminate ‘radically free will.’

It has been claimed that quantum mechanics, unlike classical mechanics, allows for free will. In this paper I articulate that claim and explain how a complex physical system possessing fractal-like self similarity could exhibit both self-consciousness and self determination. (365)

Pickering, John. The Self is a Semiotic Process. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 6/4, 1999. On the symbolic, content-rich essence of sentience and personhood.

Popiel, Nicholas, et al. The Emergence of Integrated Information, Complexity, and “Consciousness” at Criticality. Entropy. 22/3, 2020. An international neurotheorist collaboration posted at Western University, Canada, Monash University, Australia, and Research in Advanced Neurohabilitation, Italy suggests a way that the “critical brain hypothesis” (Chialvo, et al) can be joined with IIT so to reveal a similar poise in this model. Once again this state of dynamic balance is seen to be natural evolution’s preferred optimum.

A growing body of evidence has emerged suggesting that many disparate natural, and particularly biological, phenomena reside in a critical regime of dynamics on the cusp between order and disorder. More specifically, it has been shown that models tuned to criticality exhibit similar dynamics to the brain, which, has led to the emergence of the Critical Brain Hypothesis. Systems tuned to criticality exhibit a number of useful informational properties that allow for the efficient distribution of, and susceptibility to, information. (1)

Ultimately, this study is best framed in the context of the emerging complexity of our world. The brain is one of the most complex objects ever studied and the theory of it acting critically is gaining credence. New research into critical systems has shown that criticality may be useful for learning, and for optimizing information processing. Phase transitions and criticality are gaining more relevance, and the evidence in this paper demonstrates that by defining consciousness with IIT and using the Ising model as a substrate, ‘consciousness’ undergoes a phase transition at criticality in the investigated neural network motifs. This, when combined with evidence that the brain may be critical, suggests that ‘consciousness’ may simply arise out of the tendency of the brain to self-organize towards criticality. (8-9)

Revonsuo, Antti. Inner Presence: Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006. A psychology professor at the University of Turku, Finland, draws on the latest neuroscience to argue that embodied brains are intrinsically capable of generating mental awareness. This approach termed “biological realism” is facilitated by a first-person “world-simulation metaphor.”

Roth, Gerhard. The Evolution of Consciousness. Gerhard Roth and Mario Wullimann eds. Brain Evolution and Cognition. New York: Wiley; Heidelberg: Spektrum, 2001. A good summary which finds a modular basis for sentience grounded in an increasing informational content. At the human phase, everything changes due to language which raises the cognitive discourse to a collective social plane.

Seager, William. Theories of Consciousness. London: Routledge, 1999. A philosopher melds quantum physics and connectionism to affirm that mental awareness requires information, which leads to a “representational” model. Consciousness depends on content, which places it in an evolutionary scale of the emergence of knowing mind. These features are seen to revive a “panpsychic” view of the universe whence “all matter, or all nature, is itself psychical.”

Seth, Anil, et al. Theories and Measures of Consciousness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 10799/103, 2006. Along with co-authors Eugene Izhikevich, George Reeke, and Gerald Edelman, a report on ways to quantify the occasion of knowing sentience. Three domains are cited – dynamical complexity of neural systems, information integration, and causal density – each an aspect but even more is going on for which some guidelines are noted.

The notion of recursive complexity refers to the balance between differentiation and integration across different levels of description within a system. At the neural level, brains exhibit rich organization at multiple levels of description, ranging from molecular interactions within individual synapses, to the dynamics of cortical microcircuits, to reentrant interactions among functionally segregated brain regions. The phenomenal structure of consciousness also appears to be recursive; for example, the individual features of conscious scenes are themselves Gestalts and must therefore share organizational properties with the conscious scene as a whole. (10803)

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