Towards a Science of Consciousness

Scientists today are content by discarding or disparaging pseudo-scientific or spiritual assumptions about consciousness and its metaphysics.

You probably have heard statements like "quantum physics does not operate on the level of the brain (or at the very least, that there is no reason to assume that it does)" before as an example.

While these statements are rational and required, they in no way constitute a positive hypothesis about the nature of consciousness.

In the times we live in today, there is an exceeding need more than ever before to actually produce positive, not just passive, responses to questions like "what is consciousness?" and "why is there consciousness?". This is because the more we anticipate an "AI singularity", bump into arguments of "living in a simulated universe" (and what that means for how "real" things need to be to exist in physics terms), or creating human-like robots, the more we become curious about the answers to these questions.

In this article I hope to change your mind from only being content of debunking false positives, to actually consider what a true positive might look like.

I start by stating two reasonable statements we tend to accept about consciousness.

First, consciousness is a product of the brain. Brain surgeons and neuroscientists can map certain regions of the brain to certain cognitive or perceptual capabilities of consciousness. While this is in no way a simple relationship, it is well documented and generally accepted to be a real relationship: Without a brain there is no consciousness.

Second, we cannot (yet?) deduce the existence of consciousness from the workings of the brain. While one can study and explain the brain in physical, chemical or biological terms, nobody has yet seemed to have the need in that process to assume that there should also be a consciousness "accompanying" the workings of the brain. The only way we know anything about the existence of consciousness is by being ourselves conscious in nature.

I add to those two statements the assumption that consciousness is not only "caused" but also exists as a given and distinct property of the universe in the same way electric charge or gravity are distinct given properties of the universe.

In the days of Newton, there was skepticism or psychological unease surrounding how two masses can influence each other (through gravity) at a distance. Things seemed to naturally influence each other through physical contact and gravity seemed "unnatural" in that respect. Nevertheless, scientists did and continue to try and accept this behavior as a given that holds true regardless of what psychological unease it produces.

In the same way, I assume the proposition that consciousness can be a given, non-reducible phenomenon of the universe that is as distinct in its nature to other phenomena as is gravity and electric charge to each other.

So, to summarize, while we can accept that atoms in the specific arrangement of a brain produce consciousness, we don't know why it is necessary for it to cause the phenomenon. Towards a physics of consciousness, an assumption like the one I made can explain why so far we /cannot/ deduce consciousness from the brain, but only induce it from our own experience, in the same way one cannot deduce the existence of electricity from gravity, only that they both exist together as basic phenomena.

A true science of consciousness must be able to define the specific arrangement(s) of atoms that spontaneously create consciousness, and how altering the arrangement in quantifiable, measurable ways produces proportional alterations in the conscious state. That is, do that in physical, not biological or biochemical, terms.

Small And Big

Small and big are probably an illusion. A dwarf is no less of a person than a regular sized human. Yet, they have smaller brains. Absolute size doesn't seem to matter. However, we know that both brains are made of perfectly equally sized atoms. You can't get to 'scale independent brains' considering this fact. This 'multi-nature' of nature where the details tell one story while the big picture tells another is either an inherent feature of reality or human cognition.

Psychosis Recovery

Psychosis recovery is slow, long and exhausting. A day is like a year, and a year is like a day. But if you stick to your meds and are a little lucky, then every new day is gonna be the best you have felt since it all started.

Predicting Web Design Trends in 2017

Predictions for webdesign trends that will dominate in 2017 are starting to arise on the web. In this article, I give you my take on that.

I see the following two aspects of design becoming a trend in 2017.

1. Flat design rules broken upon interaction

For example, a flat button turning non-flat upon hover.

Designers will need to know how to do this in a smart way, so that users enjoy the interaction effects without losing the flat look and feel.

2. Colors used to signify functionality and not styling

Color is a big part of styling. With minimalistic principles becoming more and more popular, less and less colors are being used to style a particular design. With this taken to an extreme, colors will be decidedly pushed out more and more from styling and exist when they can be functional.

For example, a form submit button changing color from red to green as the form data becomes valid. Important warning boxes can have a reddish background. And so on.

Of course, you can't eliminate colors entirely from styling, but the way designers think of them will change: They are more about managing the users' attention and expectations than about beauty.

What do you think?
Please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!