Is the Earth alive?

The Earth has all the appearances of a living being: ecosystems that are organs seeking to maintain themselves (they are intentional), distribution networks (water, atmospheric, solar energy). It is tempting even to make human society its brain, with its multiple connections for transport, information, economy, maintenance.

So why are scientists particularly divided on the subject? Half think Gaia is a reality, the other half think it's only a useful model. When both present their arguments, they switch their opinions in one direction or the other.

No doubt the Gaia hypothesis is currently taking advantage because our weakness in maintenance stimulates our guilt. The motivation to change our habits is boosted by the idea that we are slowly killing a living being.

The line between living and non-living is blurred. This blurring partly explains the discordance of opinion. If we see in life the ability to replicate, the Earth does not reproduce. If we see in life an autopoetic capacity, that is to say to repair and maintain, yes the Earth is alive.

The concept of self-genesis is not monolithic. One such organization is built on top of others. The most interesting concept is the height of the hierarchy thus constituted. Life is considered all the more complex because this height is important.

The quid pros and problems with Gaia finally become clear: Gaia actually impresses by its size and not its complexity. It houses complex living things without being itself a complex life form. It's just gigantic.

Gaia is not complex as if humans were really her neurons. Humans communicate but remain independent brains. However, neurons are not independent in their information coding process. Only one of them does not form the slightest thought without the others.

That's the difference between a simple set of information and integrated information. Gaia is not a complex form of life because the most elaborate organizations it hosts are not integrated. Humans are, in isolation, a higher life because they are integrated, while an ecosystem is indeed a model of the interactions between living beings and not a higher life form.

The scientists' hesitation lies there. Gaia is alive and well, but at a frustrated level that does not correspond to the aspirations of the majority of its defenders. Protecting Gaia means preserving our sources of food and well-being. It's about saving us a future. It is not protecting a being superior to us.

What is the theory of integrated information of consciousness?

The motivation of this article is that this theory of consciousness, the ITT, will be tested with its rival, the Global Workspace (GWT), in an experiment supposed to separate them. I will answer the following questions in succession:

-What is it the ITT?-What are i
ts strengths and weaknesses?-How is it very differ
ent from the previous ones, especially the GWT?-What is this experience that can separate them?-
In conclusion a prognosis on the result.-And as a bonus: What is thi
s experience that can decide them?-In conclusion a prog
nosis on the result.-And as a bonus: What is it missing from the ITT and its competitor to really explain the conscience?

What is ITT?

Everything is said in the name: integrated information. What does 'integration' mean for information? Information has a different value (in terms of storage bits) depending on whether it is isolated or associated with others.

For example, you look at a red object. What is the value of 'red' information? 1st case: your eye perceives only two colors, red or white. The information fits in a single bit: 1/0 (red/white). 2nd case: your eye differentiates thousands of colors. Red must be encoded in the middle of all these possibilities. That takes up a dozen bits. The same qualitative information (the object is red) can thus cover a variable amount of information. The degree of quantitative integration of qualitative differs.

The information is integrated if when the eye says 'red' it also says 'it is none of the other contingencies'. It's a fusion of all that information. Non-integrated information, conversely, would be provided by thousands of sensitive sensors each at a specific wavelength. Only one of them would react to the red color of the object. The qualitative information is provided but its degree of integration is zero. The positive output of the sensor does not integrate the negative outputs of others. The amount of information recovered is again on a single bit (sensor turned on/off).

For Tononi's ITT (2008), the brain is conscious because it integrates information from all neural patterns. Accurate information is difficult to locate because it relies on the presence of all others. Tononi formalized the degree of consciousness of a neural system by the Phi coefficient, which is the additional information generated by the integration of the parts, added to the simple set of interactions of the parties. It is a quantification of emerging information.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ITT?

The ITT explains very well why a camscope or computer are not aware, despite the same information as the brain. They are just recording this information. They don't integrate them.

Some of the criticisms come from people who have not really understood the heart of the theory. For example, those who claim that a country or the internet meet the ITT's criteria of awareness. It's stupid. The information forming the 'country' entity is not linked by any physical integration. The internet is a collection of information that is made available to users. The network does not integrate them by itself, or when it starts to do so (integration of information about a user) it is still extremely frustrating and without integration of data about other users.

When I log in to Google, he is not aware that I am Jean-Pierre Legros. There is only information stored on Google's servers about me, awakened by my connection. They're independent of other news. For Google to be aware of me, there would have to be something in it that simultaneously knows that I am none of the other billion Internet users it is able to recognize. There's going to be something in him to pay attention to me.

A more solid critique is that of the mathematical formalization of the ITT. A first attempt by Griffith (2014) was based on a destructive compression of information. It involved replacing the constituent information with its integration and thus a loss of memorial elements. Memories couldn't be kept.

A second attempt (Maguire, Moser, Maguire, Griffith 2018) uses algorithmic information theory and proposes loss-free integration. It demonstrates that such integration requires non-computable functions.

This is not, strictly speaking, a denunciation of the ITT. The conclusion is: If integrated consciousness exists, it cannot be the subject of a computational model. In a sense this is good news for those who seek to escape consciousness from the hard sciences and computers. It is not possible to transfer consciousness into our current machines. The ITT is certainly the theory that can appeal to proponents of qualia independent of matter.

How is ITT different from global workspace theory (GWT)?

ITT is derived from information theory while GWT is a purely neuroscientific theory. The GWT comes from observing the flow of trade in the city. It's topographical. Some areas of the brain are activated in correlation with consciousness. They reverberate with the same data. The consciousness seen by the GWT is the observation by the neural patterns of their own functioning.

The GWT paradigm is more conventional and unable to explain the consciousness phenomenon. It assumes that mirrored exchanges of neurons account for consciousness but is powerless to give reason for it. The ITT paradigm is radically different. Revolutionary and transdisciplinary, he had great difficulty establishing himself in neuroscientists. But things are starting to change.

What is the experience that can separate them?

The GWT says that information becomes conscious when it is accessible to the entire overall workspace, which includes a priority area: the prefrontal cortex. Consciousness results in fMRI by a flare-up of these neural areas, 300 to 400ms after a stimulus.

While the ITT defines consciousness as proportional to the degree of integration of information. However, it is the posterior cortex that incorporates the maximum senitivo-motor information. And in this hypothesis consciousness starts as soon as the information begins to be integrated, without delay of transmission.

To decide between the two theories, experiments must not only collect the signals associated with consciousness, but do so with great finesse both spatially and temporally. There is no technique between the two. The studies that begin this year will therefore pair several devices, MRI, magnetoencephalography, intracranial electroencephalography.

Prognosis on the result

The result can be interpreted as desired in favour of either theory. Because these theories do not say the same thing and do not speak of the same consciousness.

What we call 'consciousness' is the amalgamation of two things: the whole and its parts. The level of integrated information and the constituent information. The first forms the thoughts and the seconds elevate a pyramid that corresponds to the conscious experience.

GWT theorizes the higher level of information: conscious thoughts. The ITT explains the conscious experience, the phenomenon itself. These are more complementary theories than rivals. ITT is closer to the truth because it does not reduce consciousness to the posterior cortex; it says that the whole brain is involved, and more so in areas where information is most integrated.

What is missing from these two theories

The GWT is not rooted in the structure of physical reality. She simply observes neurons at work. The ITT is more ambitious with its anchorin in information theory. All we see of physical reality is information. But it obliterates the complex dimension, which is a hierarchy. Information is not continuously integrated but discontinuous. These levels give independence relative to the integrated levels. The appearance of a quality above the amount of information signals the presence of one of these levels.

To use the example of colors seen by the eye, each color is also an integrated information over subatomic interactions. This quality is a fusion that cannot be mixed with that of 'red object' because they do not correspond to the same level of integration. There is a qualitative leap. The two integrations are not mixed but superimposed.

This theory called Stratium solves all ITT problems and integrates GWT without difficulty.  The non-computability of integrated consciousness is expected since there is no current mathematical formalism to link integrations of a different nature. This is not to say that it does not exist. I explain elsewhere the inadequacies of algorithmic information theory.

That GWT supporters find the most awakened consciousness in the prefrontal cortex is expected since it is the top of the integrative hierarchy. They look at the activity of the upper floors. But as in a computer these floors would not provide authentic conscious experience if they were not perched on the complete pyramidal integration of neurons, as indicated by the ITT.

What ITT forgets to say is that this experiment is based on the presence of neurons as a medium of exchanges. They themselves are integrated information. Any other support would provide a different experience.

Finally, the ITT posits that the information is not localized, because of its integration. For example, it would not be possible to make the brain forget information by removing a neuron. This is not entirely true, always because the hierarchy is neglected. The relative independence of the levels produces symbolic values specific to each neuron, in the same way that the tops of a graph have different weights depending on their links.

Removing a neuron can remove a memory. However, the information constantly generates its own integration. If the stimuli that have created the memory are repeated, they quickly determine a new neuron-symbol. The direct stimulation of it will instantly awaken the memory in consciousness, involving its underlying integrative pyramid.

That is to say, the Stratium could also receive experimental confirmation… if it was included in the hypotheses to be tested.

Religion and science, the codification of the invisible

This article answers the following questions (from the ph
ilosophical lookout):-How
did religion appear?-Why did science oppose
religion?-Does it persist religion in
science?-Does religion still bring a
benefit?- What better definitions to religion and science today?

In the human mind the imagination separates itself from reality. The first part of the article looks at what underlies this poetic statement. We need to know a little more about the mind. What neural process does imaginary/reality separation correspond to?

Sensory endings are activated by physical phenomena (heat, contact, light, sound…). Transmission of properties of real objects. It is a communication and not an access to the essence of objects. We do not perceive their intrinsic nature, only what our senses show us. Nevertheless, the communication is objective. There is a proportionality between the ownership of the object and the sensory signal. The realism of the signal is strong.

The signal is associated with others. A representation of the object is constructed by the neural groups. It is an image, a set of merged information. The more complex the image increases, the more likely it is to deviate from the nature of the object. It owns the mind, subjective.

How does she become imaginary? A mental representation is not only interested in the spatial properties of the object but also in its temporal dimension. Different successive aspects of the object keep the same identity. When we look at a barely ripe banana, the representation incorporates the slightly green banana to be tasty (what it was) and the banana become too ripe (what it will be). The temporal dimension of this image is essential in the decision to consume.

There is no limit to the temporal dimension of a representation. The more the prediction extends, the further away one moves away from the 'sedimented' image in the past, the more the representation gains in imagination.

The representations also concern the classes of objects and abstractions. The mind thus easily invents a future where the class contains objects that do not yet exist. Mythical animals such as unicorns, or mathematical entities that have never been associated with real phenomena, appear.

All this forms the imaginary, invisible universe. How do you connect it with reality? In its management of mental representations, the mind tends towards two difficult objectives: the coherences of identity and temporality.

Identity coherence is the separation between self-representation and non-self. Poorly managed it causes a wide variety of personality disorders. Temporal coherence is the separation between the future and the present (a clumped past). Poorly managed it causes a mess in decisions. The judgment of the facts proved or projected is not clear. Destiny is chaotic.

What is a dreamer? He is a person whose mental representations are positioned, in their temporal dimension, preferentially on the future. This is not in itself a mess. The mind knows it's in the future. Its consistency is good. It is only a disorder if he thinks he is in the present.

Dreamers, the most imaginative minds, are very useful to their fellow sads. They share their projections with those who have difficulty building them. Dreamers have the greatest impact on social developments by expanding the temporal dimension of our representations. They are the ones that allow us to codify the invisible universe, the one we have not yet observed.

Dreamers created religions. Here we are. Religions did not fall from heaven. No one has observed the fall of the scriptures. They fell from the spirit of the prophets. And immediately nestled in the imaginations of their companions. This is the remarkable quality of the absence of time closure to our representations. They can bud and create complete alternative universes with their own laws. What are paradises and hells if not the projections of the societies where their designers live?

Showing what can happen, the better and the worst, is the role of religion. Like any prediction, it is idealistic. Not many intermediaries between heaven and hell. Our predictions are not made of half-wishes. It is the proven reality that is nuanced, not our hopes.

Religion, as a codification of the invisible, was absolutely indispensable to humanity. It is impossible to imagine that she could have done without it. No matter that an authentic deity exists, the scriptures had to fall to Earth. It is a direct consequence of the way our minds operate. The function of religion is imperative. The reality of divinity is incidental.

The setbacks came from academic religious, lacking temporal coherence. For these the future is not dissociated from the present. The prediction is already made. Contrary to appearances these people are not mystics. For them paradise and hell are already on Earth. Those who follow the rules live in an earthly paradise, while the rebels live in a very real hell. This prediction-appropriate manichaeism proved disastrous lying with reality. Reality does not work that way. Its complexity is made up of scales of nuances. The markers placed by the imagination belong to her only if she agrees to behave in this way.

That is an old observation. Science has not come into play as a result of religion. It has always existed among imaginative people whose minds are consistent. For them, the rapprochement of imagination and reality is based on experience. The present must sediment according to the prediction, otherwise it must be changed. The future is not a substitute for the present. Paradise is not a substitute for real life.

The matter mocked the divine hopes, it was the first to escape the dictates of religion. Science accurately describes its destiny. The temporal dimension of matter is so homogeneous that its future is as concrete as its present. A different kind of confinement. In religion the future is the prisoner of the present. In science it is the present that takes the future prisoner. In this sense there is a very strong resemblance between (a certain practice of) religion and (a certain practice of) science: when the relationship between prediction and realization is frozen. This is also called academism.

For the thinking subject, escaping religion is more difficult. Today science still does not explain consciousness correctly. The mind-body gap remains deep. Thus the so heavy principles of religion could have survived about our personal destiny. And make a drink on the fate of matter.

Is it not surprising that creationism and other naïve intrusions of religion into reality are so successful in the 21st century? Century, however, modelled, in most aspects, by a conquering science. I see it as a demonstration that the radicalism of religion survives through that of science. For there is an authentic scientific denialism: that of pretending to explain despite the fact that the imagination behind the explanation is too weak. This is the case with consciousness, when it is reduced to neural correlations. Neuroscientific attempts too weak, basically because we do not know how to explain neurons as sets of their atoms. How can we imagine then the phenomenon they will produce together… before observing it.

Religion and science harbor their denials about our ignorances. It is these denials that make them mutually exclusive. Religious denialism hinders the present by imposing its myths on it. Scientific denialism hinders the future by imposing its repetition of the present. Nothing like if we use religious and scientific positivisms, that we can rename mysticism and realism.

Mysticism is the creation of possibilities. It extends the temporal dimension of our representations without freezing them. Realism is the fixation of the mystical 'drawing' by the experiences of the present. The mind is thus a paste whose oldest heart freezes slowly while the surface oscillates between all states. Realism in the center, mystical patterns for the mantle.

The platitude of Nick Chater's mind

[réponse à l’article de Science & Vie sur ‘Et si le cerveau était bête’ (The mind is flat) de Nick Chater]

Dear Science, Dear Life,

you have probably just published the worst file capable of consuming divorce between you: the theory of stupidity is certainly that, very profound, of its author. The flat mind… here we are with a resurgence of behavioralism even simpler than Skinner's designs. A thousand apologies! Forgive this emotional beginning, usually I put the arguments before the anathemas, but this file is filled with so many inconsistencies that the issue will one day be one of those you never wanted to publish. Let's go into a bit:

1) The inconsistency of the homoncule:
"The brain explores… "The mind interprets… So what is this subject that explores, interprets? What is this pre-installed 'director general' that philosophers of the mind call the homoncule? It is found everywhere in your article and at Chater, destroying the monism of his speech. In reality, the flat-spirit is a dualism separating the neural machinery and the unknown decision maker who comes to use it, evacuated into limbo. The right answer to the decision maker's problem lies in the very organization of the data processed by neurons, in the gradual construction of these intentional floors, a progression largely unconscious, hierarchical, which is not a platitude .

2) The inconsistency of the on-the-fly interpretation:
The neural machinery would be delivered according to the circumstances. Behaviorist resurgence: it would be the collection of data received by neurons that would decide in real time the behavior. There, no need for a homoncule… but more spirit neither. It becomes a mere epiphenomenon. The tried-and-tested fusion of the self is pure illusion. But why stop in such a good way in reductionism? Why not make neurons an epiphenomenon of quantum arousals ?… Science is not to deny what everyone can experience themselves because they don't know what to do with it. A mind knows perfectly what is identity or not for him, in a changing environment. So what is this personality? Chater does not give any explanation.

3) Psychological studies in support of a neuroscientific theory:
Psychology studies an organization of concepts, neuroscience a neural organization. Foreign paradigms. It takes a lot of blindness to summon each other in support of the other. The reliability of psychological investigations is the subject of deep suspicion, of which the best publications have been echoed, for excellent reasons that I will not detail here but it is certain that including a person in an investigation is already truncating his behavior. In particular it is to erase one's specific personality. The person places himself in the state expected of him, wonders what is the desired behavior, becomes conformist. It is no longer his personality that you are studying, but rather that of the designer of the study. No surprise then if you find the designer's intentions in the results. Occulting personality because you intentionally made it disappear. But Chater does not hesitate to make a demonstration of its non-existence.

4) Other hypotheses are much more consistent than the flat-mind:
It is true that the conscious mind seeks to self-justify its own behaviors, even when they are inappropriate. Why would you do that? Precisely because it does not have direct access to the heart of its genesis and it retro-controls it after the fact. This implies a mental hierarchy and not a single, flat system. Consciousness is the place where conflicts between intrinsic and extrinsic proposals (social rules, opinions of congeners, etc.) are resolved. How can you be wrong but not put a bullet in your head? Illusions fabricated by consciousness are a safeguard for a social animal such as man, and not a proof of a mind in instantaneousness.

In an era when all scientists interested in transdisciplinarity put forward the concept of emergence, the concept of the flat mind focuses the folding of neuroscience on themselves. Consciousness dissolves in the field of neural arousals as matter disappears into the field of quantum arousals, in defiance of what everyone experiences in an elementary way.

The most distressing thing about your record is certainly that you present the theory as a fait accompli ("What happens to cognitive therapies?", "What happens to the unconscious?" …). People are their environment and especially what they read. Even if they do not have a flat mind they will integrate the representation of themselves as platitude. There is no worse guru than the scientist, since he claims that his proposals are refutable and have been refuted without success… but only within the framework of the very narrow scientific paradigm that he uses, as Has he shown. Your folder contributes to the destruction of vertical thinking in your readers. You turn them into mirrors that absorb or reflect words according to their particular atomic structure. Well, no, our brain is, among all the hardware systems processing information, the one that has the greatest thickness.

If you are looking for a scoop, here is a more valid one: our mind is not subject to stupidity but to falsehood. He establishes and maintains incorrect representations of what surrounds him, and that is what makes him act. Presented in this way, it is pejorative, and yet it is also the origin of the qualities that we find most admirable in humans: children who choose their sick parents when they are only a shadow of themselves. People positivist and hyperactive because they host an image of themselves and the world very overrated in the present. All these misrepresentations make us try to force reality to conform to it. Our mistakes are our works, our imprints on the world, this world that has nothing to do with the truth since it is already made up of it.

Can you write something that will fundamentally change how I see the world?

A2a. I will interpret your question differently: how do you see the world? What do you see?

Looking for the answer to what sees, first arises a lot of details. Too much. Is that the ' I '? A scatter? No, it's the content.

Paradoxically it is also the container. ' I ' is also a unit, merging all these contents. Colors, emotions, abstractions, languages, dreams, concepts and experiences of very different natures, manage to blend together to create a unique ' I '.

How can such a prodigy be possible?

If I took the conscience as an example, it is that the reality of the Prodigy is immediate to us. There's no need for a mathematical demonstration. No litigation possible. But many other wonders of the same type surround us.

Take a cell. It is easy to visualize as a container. Its contents are heterogeneous: biochemical, genetic, biological, structural, distributional, functional, relational… Their natures differ as much as those of the contents of consciousness. Some are inert things in isolation, others are réplicantes; There are also organizations, functions. A disparate Collection of hardware and virtual that the meeting defines a single entity: the cell.

I am not going to tell you that this cell is experiencing a piece of consciousness because it is a fusion of the same type as ours. Stupid. It would be neglecting that the contents are radically different. The container has no existence in isolation. On the other hand The Prodigy is the same: in both cases, the merging of contents is not simply their assembly. What we feel as a consciousness is not a juxtaposition of the elements of thought.

It is rather an ocean whose thoughts emerge like the peaks of the waves. White scum. Overlapping unit and fragmentation.

This difficulty in explaining the phenomenon consciousness is not an incentive to place it in a world apart. It is the proven demonstration that we do not correctly explain the physical reality, this matter which seems yet wonderfully deciphered by science.

A paradigm reversal! It is not the conscience that resists science, but science that resists consciousness…

Version 2.0 of Stratium is online

Stratium, self-organizing theory of neurons explaining consciousness, is now a chapter of the next work to be published on a general theory of reality. You can download this chapter for free at the following address:

Feel free to post here your comments and reviews. It is these returns that advance the theory.

Gags at I.A.

Should we be surprised and complaining about the mistakes made by the new artificial intelligences based on deep Learning (IAAP), and in particular the autonomous pilots?

Contrary to what can be read in poorly informed journals, deep learning is a remarkably accurate simulation of the brain's natural neural networks, especially in the face of older methods. This technique allows the algorithms to build their own results from the data provided. They self-organize, in the same way as a juvenile human brain. The data are processed by successive layered algorithms, equipped with retro-control loops, the outputs of a first layer assembled in a more complex result by the second layer, etc… This process learns by testing the different possible solutions and selecting the one that seems to be best adapted from the viewpoint of the existing organization. Regardless of the layer where an observer takes the result, what is collected is an organizational essay and not the ultimate solution. The results tend to become more reliable as a large number of data of the same type are processed. However, there is always a forced limitation: The final layer where the IAAP is asked to produce the result. This will always be contingent on the extent of the data provided, in relation to the questions posed. The limits also come from the number of layers provided to the IAAP. They may be excessive or insufficient. The human brain has this specificity to make extra layers when it needs it. It increases its intelligence (not always enough for the hopes of its owner). Thus what is asked of the IAAP is eventually a hasty and poorly argued conclusion, due to lack of data and reflection.

Rather human terms, isn't it? Yes, we are very close to the functioning of a brain being learned. Is it surprising, under these conditions, to see the IAAP being wrong? The terms of his answer are almost those of a schoolmaster who would force a pupil to give the answer just when he did not learn his lesson. Without the set of data needed for a reliable response and imperative intelligence strata to process them, the task is impossible. But this is precisely what one asks the IAAP: to be able to detect regularities where the human spirit sees none. Certainly it can do this if the problem comes from the enormous mass of data to be processed, exceeding the capacities of the neurons but not those of the added digital circuits. But the IAAP will be just as helpless if the regularities are simply too imperceptible within the noise to be formally identified.

An AI based on deep learning makes mistakes, inevitably. It is in its principle of functioning, which makes it very close to the human brain, of which a notable characteristic… is to make mistakes. The IAAP is very different from the Logico-deductive classical AI, whose computations are reliable and constant (if the algorithms used are correct), but which are poorly adaptable to a situation for which they were not designed. The classical AI are horizontal intelligences, able to extend the calculation proposed by the observer, but not to leave it. Powerful to sort out raw masses of data, but not to organize them, unless they were clearly told how to do it. The IAAP, on the contrary, provides results where the classical AI can not deduce anything. But these are predictions. The error is possible. Frequent at the beginning, scarce over the many events encountered. Learning. Like the human brain. It's hard to blame an error on a teenage IAAP. Even as an adult, she can still do it. Like the adult human. Less often than not, because "human" error is often linked to factors outside the context: fatigue, emotion, panic, seizure of psychotropic drugs. Non-existent factors in IAAP.

Pragmatic Conclusion: A IAAP, in order to approach exponentially its maximum efficiency, matures in a simulator rather than in real conditions, if its errors could prove to be dangerous. You are immediately thinking of the automatic drivers of the vehicles, already accused of death of their passengers. Accusation both lawful and unfair, since replacing all human pilots with IAAP would dramatically reduce the number of deaths on the road. The modern human has not hesitated to entrust the computer algorithms its management, despite the bugs. Will they entrust their transport, despite the never-canceled spectrum of a computational error?

What is consciousness?

Consciousness is control.

Reality is a process. Levels of entangled information. The vision of reality is usually horizontal, that of juxtaposed systems. However, the vertical view is the most fruitful: how information levels are interdependent. The interaction is in two directions: 1) ascending: micro-mechanisms producing a more complex organization. 2) downward: the resulting organization has a retroactive effect on micro-mechanisms. Higher-level information is in a way a representation of all lower-level information, an addition to that simple sum. And this addition is active. A fragment of consciousness has just appeared.

No dualism in this definition. A consciousness is not an addition of micro-consciousnesses. It is constituted by the level of additional information. It is the addition of successive levels that will expand, complicate, strengthen the higher level of control, which becomes a representation of increasing sophistication, based on the underlying information.

Once the consciousness is defined thus, what is experienced is the content of the consciousness, the complexity of the representations which occupy the highest level of control of the physical structure considered. In the human brain these representations are extraordinarily varied, elaborate, and ramified. A properly awakened human consciousness is the integration of very large neural networks realizing a superposition of concepts organized in successive levels of complexity. The richness of our consciousness comes from the height of our pyramid of mental organization. It is gradually structured from infant to adult. It loses its flexibility in old age. It varies from one to another depending on the individual’s ability to elevate these conceptual organizations, and the need to do so.

By asking this question you are building up the very high level which is the representation of the self in reality.

Is the difficult problem of consciousness a valid question, or is it a meaningless question (like asking what happened before the Big Bang)?

Consciousness may seem difficult to explain, yet the “difficult problem” of consciousness is not a scientifically valid question. Here’s why :

The exposition of the problem attempts to put the phenomenon of consciousness beyond the reach of rational understanding by creating a radical dualism between neural excitations and conscious experience. It forbids linking the phenomenon and its micro-mechanisms. It requires a strong emergence, that is to say a property without any possible link with its underlying organization. A similar example would be to speak of the “difficult problem of magnetism”, impossible to explain from the properties of electrons. While the detailed understanding of magnetism was slow to obtain, it now makes it possible to classify it as a weak emergence.

Similarly, it is our poor understanding of the organization of neural networks that allows the “difficult problem” to survive. Yet we have the phenomenon under the eyes, perfectly reproducible: any incredibly complex network of neurons as it is organized at each birth of human brain produces a consciousness, as particular as the architecture of the networks in question.

It is hardly adventurous to predict that any network as complex as that of the neurons, the day when it will be correctly understood, will systematically produce a consciousness. Note that it is not necessary to have 100 billion neurons for this. Animals have a phenomenal awareness with much less. Organizational issue and not additions of neurons as we do with transistors in our computers.

So that the “difficult problem” seems to be the survival of a sacred armor placed around the human conscience, to avoid scientific dissection. Subjectivity daughter of the soul, last bastion of our dignity?

Arguments in support of the “difficult problem” are also invalid. As Glyn Williams puts it, the philosophical zombie does not exist. It is an experiment of thought, tried in all ignorance of the organization of the neural schemas, supported by a machinic and reductive vision of the mind. Idem for “automatic” behaviors in the state of narcolepsy: these are states where mental functions are so poorly integrated into each other that consciousness is no longer recognized as such. But there is a multitude of conscious states, not “the” consciousness. No need to be narcoleptic. We have all experienced the gradual transitions from the “unconscious” dream to consciousness, for some the awaken dreams. We have all experienced automatic driving back home while our consciousness was in the shadows.

The loss of certain neural connections paralyzes a muscle while others make disappear a phenomenon experienced in full consciousness. Motive action and sensation have the same kind of physical support, but they are located at different levels in the neural architecture.

In the end the “difficult problem” is not simply an admission of powerlessness shared by some philosophers and scientists. It is an active obstacle, unfortunately arbitrary and archaic, to let the consciousness phenomenon enter the knowledge.

Using the Occam Razor as a guide, why are there not more people to believe that the universe is infinite?

Your question contains three blunders: on the one hand Occam’s razor applies only to hypotheses of the same value in competition (the finiteness of the universe is a subject too speculative to be eligible). On the other hand you do not say why the razor would decide for infinity (infinity is not easy to handle). Finally the number of people sharing an idea is not a good indicator of its value.

The answer to the question « Is the universe infinite? » asks beforehand to define the universe and the infinite we are talking about. Is it only the observable universe? So it is not infinite. Is it all that exists? So do not you define your infinity exactly like this “whole”? For if the infinite went beyond this totality, it would no longer be one. And if the whole thing was “finished”, in what would one define its finiteness?

The assertion « The universe has no end » (statement unrelated to the mathematical infinities) becomes a pleonasm rather than a use of Occam’s razor.

Another way of answering the same thing is to consider the universe in its complete, spatio-temporal dimension. So, it is difficult to find limits. An “in-finite” contingent by our essentially transverse observation. Our models provide mediocre predictions about the future.