16th June 2014
Simple proof that our brain is an existential quantum computer that both creates and is managed by deep consciousness
[Long post – apologies in advance]
Alex said something about “An electrical device that has none of those qualities can be conscious as well.”
This implies (unless, by ‘electrical’, Alex implies the broader forms of energy) that ‘electrical signals’ can create consciousness.
Consciousness is definitely a product of the brain (i.e. a material, not ‘spiritual or paranormal thing.
But it is FAR MORE COMPLEX than Alex seems to have in mind, with qualities far in excess of mere ‘self-awareness’ in some primitive or advanced form. This is not about the Turing test, which is extremely feeble. This is about all sorts of existential qualities.
I believe that robots will never (or almost never) lose their dependency on man. If a robot misbehaves it can be disabled/destroyed by man in a moment. It will be defenceless against human innovation, no matter how ‘autonomous’ it becomes.
A human can develop a further category of technology and innovation to defeat an ‘autonomous’ killing robot. The robot can’t. No robot will never have the will to take over and rule mankind. No robot will have the vision of living forever, of escaping from Earth. No robot will write fiction, science fiction. No robot will love or care for another robot, nor have cute baby robots. No robot will “get up” in the morning, make new plans as the situation changes, organise itself, eliminate waste from its body, brush its teeth, eat breakfast, digest and produce energy efficiently, get ready and “go to work”.
Its dependency on the HUMAN is its only design feature that cannot be overcome. It will never be autonomous in the true sense – of being INDEPENDENT.
I still haven’t outlined the full range of qualities that consciousness/will-to-live implies. But it is FAR more comprehensive than the feeble Turing Test.
Leaving aside this issue, on which Ray Kurzweil is mistaken (there will therefore be NO “singularity” – possibly never), I want to think for a moment about the mechanical functioning of the human brain.
What I’ve said has probably been commented upon by more knowledgeable people, but the ‘electrical’ concept must be questioned.
The brain does generate electrical energy (and indeed, operates on electrical and chemical energy) but that is not, I suspect, the basis of consciousness/sense of existence or the extensive calculations it makes (roughly 35,000,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second) to regulate the body and consider a million other issues simultaneously.
The issue is not merely the calculations it makes. The issue is its enormous storage capacity.
This can happen only if the brain operates as a quantum computer (or something on that line). I believe we are an EXISTENTIAL quantum computer (one that generates a sense of existence).
But first, let me offer three proofs of our brain being a quantum computer:
1) We make decisions instantaneously that would totally defeat computers. Forget the decision about whom to marry, or which movie to watch. Those are complex enough. But consider a world level tennis player who can run at great speed, brake suddenly, turn around and hit a moving ball into a corner of the opposite court without pausing for a moment to ‘think’. [Btw, this is also true of cheetahs or even other minor animals. The cerebellum is the most advanced spatial computer in the world].
2) We absorb ALL information that we see, perfectly. Stephen Wiltshire’s work proves this point. See my comments after these pictures.
There is no doubt that not only does our brain perform 35 quadrillion calculations per second, it stores everything it ever sees. Well, it could: it could, and does, in some types of brain that are missing a further critical component: ability to erase unnecessary memory.
Without a strong erasing system, the brain would not have enough capacity to perform the enormous storage and calculations required in order to ABSTRACT principles and create theories/ knowledge from raw data.
So the brain stores the raw data, processes and condenses it (as appropriate), and erases unnecessary information.
Stephen Wiltshire will never create a General Theory of Relativity because his erasing system is either missing or not effective enough.
But the key point I’m making is that the magnitude of storage space required to contain the massive amounts of data the brain absorbs each day would simply not exist without access to quantum states of atoms found inside the brain.
3) Shakuntala Devi. For anyone who has heard about her I don’t need to point out what I’m trying to suggest. [Examples of the problems presented to Devi included calculating the cube root of 61,629,875, and the seventh root of 170,859,375. Jensen reported that Devi provided the solution to the aforementioned problems (395 and 15, respectively) before Jensen could copy them down in his notebook]. Only modern computers are probably as fast as Shankuntala Devi was. But in addition, her brain continued the 35 quadrillion calculations per second to support her existence, her consciousness, her daily decisions. Not only are we able to exist, but we can deploy the same computing power towards ‘real’ mathematical problems: in some cases.
The point is that in order to perform these astounding feats the brain must have access to a level of physical reality (quantum states?) that we are simply unable to fathom today.
I would like to think of this as an EXISTENTIAL quantum computer. Existential, since it creates a self-booting, self-reflecting, self-directing and self-managing system.
The other day I was reading that to perform only the 35 quadrillion calculations that a brain makes per second, we would need a NUCLEAR POWER PLANT to supply energy for a comparable assembly made out of the kind of computers we have today. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but our brain uses less energy than a faint light bulb. Despite that it performs more calculations – and creates existential awareness/action – than any computer we have been able to create.
I do not (even remotely) mean to imply that the creation of these quantum calculations is ‘super-normal’ or out of the world. I do mean to suggest, however, that the brain/consciousness issue is not ‘child’s play’. It is not something that is going to happen in the next thousands of years.
We’ll get closer and closer, but ever remain far away from replicating it in any meaningful way.
We first have to invent powerful quantum computers. Then condense them into an infinitely small size. Then create (or discover) a way to create ‘life’ (consciousness at some level).
This is NOT going to happen anytime soon (thousands of years). Be prepared to become cyborgs, but the ‘base’ will remain human.