(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Stanislas Dehaene recently called attention to a paper in Nature studying the brain dynamics of something becoming conscious. The study supports the global neuronal workspace theory that consciousness involves "bifurcation" dynamics, an "ignition", a phase transition between preconscious and conscious processing. Prior to the transition, the processing is feedforward and fleeting. After … Continue reading The global playground
Month: February 2021
Mark Solms’ theory of consciousness
I recently finished Mark Solms' new book, The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness. There were a few surprises in the book, and it had what I thought were strong and weak points. My first surprise was Solms' embrace of the theories of Sigmund Freud, including psychoanalysis. Freud's reputation has suffered a … Continue reading Mark Solms’ theory of consciousness
The nature of splitting worlds in the Everett interpretation
This post is about an aspect of the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. I've given brief primers of the interpretation in earlier posts (see here or here), in case you need one. Sean Carroll, as he does periodically, did an AMA on his podcast. He got a number of questions on the Everett interpretation, … Continue reading The nature of splitting worlds in the Everett interpretation
The causal criteria for being real
Ethan Siegel addresses a question on whether spacetime is real. But there’s more to the Universe than the objects within it. There’s also the fabric of spacetime, which has its own set of rules that it plays by: General Relativity. The fabric of spacetime is curved by the presence of matter and energy, and curved … Continue reading The causal criteria for being real
The right reason to doubt the simulation hypothesis
This weekend, Sabine Hossenfelder did a video and post about the simulation hypothesis, the idea that we might be living in a computer simulation. She dismisses the notion that consciousness can't be a computational simulation, which I think is correct, but then settles on the idea that physics itself can't be simulated, because we have … Continue reading The right reason to doubt the simulation hypothesis
The return of heretical thought?
A couple of weeks ago I highlighted Robin Hanson's ideas about alien civilizations. A big part of Hanson's reasoning involved the Fermi paradox, the question that, if alien civilizations are common, there where is everyone? It seems like Earth should have been colonized long ago. Hanson focused on the number of difficult evolutionary filters life … Continue reading The return of heretical thought?
The safety of nuclear power?
Kurzgesagt takes a look at the number of deaths from nuclear power in comparison with other sources. You might find the actual numbers surprising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzfpyo-q-RM Kurzgesagt - in a Nutshell: How Many People Did Nuclear Energy Kill? Nuclear Death Toll I think the video makes an important point. But by focusing exclusively on deaths, it … Continue reading The safety of nuclear power?