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AI Science

Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable 426

Posted by timothy
from the opposite-would-be-more-suprising dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the most profound advances in science in recent years is the way researchers from a variety of fields are beginning to formulate the problem of consciousness in mathematical terms, in particular using information theory. That's largely thanks to a relatively new theory that consciousness is a phenomenon which integrates information in the brain in a way that cannot be broken down. Now a group of researchers has taken this idea further using algorithmic theory to study whether this kind of integrated information is computable. They say that the process of integrating information is equivalent to compressing it. That allows memories to be retrieved but it also loses information in the process. But they point out that this cannot be how real memory works; otherwise, retrieving memories repeatedly would cause them to gradually decay. By assuming that the process of memory is non-lossy, they use algorithmic theory to show that the process of integrating information must noncomputable. In other words, your PC can never be conscious in the way you are. That's likely to be a controversial finding but the bigger picture is that the problem of consciousness is finally opening up to mathematical scrutiny for the first time."
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Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable

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  • Memories do decay (Score:5, Informative)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @03:04PM (#46952939) Homepage Journal

    But they point out that this cannot be how real memory works; otherwise, retrieving memories repeatedly would cause them to gradually decay.

    Memories do decay upon recall. People misremember something and convince themselves that the misremembered notion was correct.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @03:05PM (#46952957)

    Retrieving memories repeatedly would cause them to gradually decay is talked about in a radiolab episode.

    http://www.radiolab.org/story/91569-memory-and-forgetting/

    Eyewitness accounts have been proven to be wrong over and over again. The assumption of a non-lossy memory is just false.

  • by drxenos (573895) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @03:18PM (#46953119)
    No. All Turing complete means is a universe Turing machine can execute anything any other Turing state machine can. People misunderstand "Turing complete" can think it means someone that is Turing complete can do "anything." That is NOT what it means.
  • Re:Memories do decay (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @03:29PM (#46953233)

    There is actually a physiological basis for memories decaying upon recall, and there's a separate process called reconsolidation that needs to be initiated at a synaptic level in order to prevent memories from progressively degrading with activation (that is, it reconstitutes the memory after activation). You can selectively block this reconsolidation process during a small time window using protein synthesis inhibitors or electroconvulsive shock. The result is that these treatments will leave unactivated memories intact but result in the degradation of activated memories. This explains, for instance, the memory deficits induced by ECS therapy.
    http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v17/n2/full/nn.3609.html

  • Re:Bad syllogism (Score:4, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @03:47PM (#46953441) Journal
    I assume that this depraved recourse to 'the empiricism' will soil my hands in the minds of the mathematicians; but we can and have demonstrated the degradation of memories during the recall process. That area of research(while it has serious applications to memory disorders, trauma treatment, and basic research in neuroscience) is practically a party game of 'who can achieve the most ridiculously false 'memories' in experimental subjects the fastest?

    They might as well have just used some Schneier Facts in place of the paper: "SHA-256 is a hash algorithm, and not reversible." "Bruce Schneier uses SHA-256 as a compression algorithm for Alice and Bob's shared secret." "Therefore Bruce Schneier is not computable, except by himself."

    It would have taken about ten minutes to email anybody in the psych department and this all could have been avoided. Good Work!
  • Re:Memories do decay (Score:5, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @04:55PM (#46954079) Homepage Journal

    Exactly right. Neuroscientists have shown memories are distorted every time you use them; thus memories that are recalled frequently are less accurate than those infrequently recalled. [citation [northwestern.edu]]

Possessions increase to fill the space available for their storage. -- Ryan

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