Thursday, 11 March 2010

Emergence, consciousness .. and physical substrates.

How can these, seemingly different notions, can be reconciled? What notions? For once is what Steven Johnson refers to in his O'Reilly network interview, on the subject of emergence..

"Emergence is what happens when the whole is smarter than the sum of its parts. It's what happens when you have a system of relatively simple-minded component parts -- often there are thousands or millions of them -- and they interact in relatively simple ways. And yet somehow out of all this interaction some higher level structure or intelligence appears, usually without any master planner calling the shots. These kinds of systems tend to evolve from the ground up."

Emergence appearing(?)out of systems of simple component parts which they interact in relatively simple ways. This interaction brings about a new structure, (or may be not a new structure, but the old structure revamped), that as a whole, possess qualities not exhibited by any of its component parts.

And the other notion?

Each neuron cell represents a state amidst a multitude of superposed states, the whole brain in a superposition status? The brain in quantum superposition?

From Jonathan CW Edwards, in 'Is Consciousness Only a Property of Individual Cells?' paper

" .... consciousness is a basic correlate of function, but a function that only certain fundamental physical substrates can subserve. To know the true function is to know the substrate."

A fundamental physical substrate that serves as the ground that consciousness arises from? What substrate this might be?