Thoughts about quantum computing and the wave function

Qubit bloch sphere

The main difference between a quantum computer and a classical one is the qubit. Qubits are like classical bits, in that they hold binary values of either 1 or 0, on or off, true or false, etc. However, qubits, being quantum objects, can be in a superposition of both states at once. The physical manifestation … Continue reading Thoughts about quantum computing and the wave function

The centrality of fear in nature

Wolves eating a deer

Anyone who's ever interacted with a wild animal knows how skittish they are compared to any domestic animal. I think of the squirrels on my university's campus. In general, people leave the squirrel population alone there, so they tend not to be afraid of humans. Although there are still occasional predators, such as cats, dogs, … Continue reading The centrality of fear in nature

The consciousness of crows

Last week, Science Magazine published an interesting study on bird consciousness: A neural correlate of sensory consciousness in a corvid bird.  The study conducted an experiment where crows were trained to respond to a sensory stimulus.  The stimulus itself could be at the threshold of perceptibility, above that threshold, or missing.  After the stimulus (or … Continue reading The consciousness of crows

David Deutsch’s version of many worlds

Schrodinger's cat in many worlds

I've written about the bizarre nature of quantum physics many times, providing a lightning primer back in May on three major interpretations: Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many worlds.  The many worlds interpretation (MWI) is often summarily dismissed by people, often along with visceral shudders or high doses of outrage.  I understand the discomfort.  When I first … Continue reading David Deutsch’s version of many worlds

The unproductive search for simple solutions to consciousness

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Earlier this year I discussed Victor Lamme's theory of consciousness, that phenomenal experience is recurrent neural processing, that is, neural signalling that happens in loops, from lower layers to higher layers and back, or more broadly from region to region and back.  In his papers, Lamme notes that recurrent processing is an … Continue reading The unproductive search for simple solutions to consciousness

The problem with Mary’s room

For some reason, Mary's room has been garnering attention lately.  This TED Ed video on it was shared on Aeon's site this week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGYmiQkah4o The wording of the actual thought experiment is important, so quoting Frank Jackson's words (via the Wikipedia article on the knowledge argument): Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, … Continue reading The problem with Mary’s room

The facilitation hypothesis

Jonathan Birch has an interesting paper in Noûs: The search for invertebrate consciousness.  Birch notes that there is no consensus on whether any invertebrates are conscious, and no agreement on a methodology for establishing whether they are. He starts off assessing the difficulties of applying many human centric theories, such as global workspace, which don't … Continue reading The facilitation hypothesis