The essence of god, consciousness and life are impossible to define rationally except with metaphors. The idea of quantum consciousness is controversial because most mainstream scientists believe an operational description of consciousness and life in terms of mechanism is enough because it is the mechanism that creates consciousness and life. However despite this, the essence of what consciousness and life are remains a complete mystery. Mystics say consciousness, like god and life are everywhere and in everything and that consciousness can manipulate reality. Quantum physics discovered consciousness affects quantum measurement. These are omnipotent and omnipresent qualities and why people associate quantum physics and God. However, the term quantum consciousness is misleading because consciousness isn’t a quantum phenomenon, its infinitely fundamental and infinitely beyond the quantum level.
I have always believed in the mystical model of consciousness as fundamental to the cosmos. The most sophisticated mystical teachings say there is no deity god in any form only an infinitely incomprehensible creative principle that can never be experienced or known directly. The most fundamental level of mathematics known as set theory has generated the set theory universe that ends with an absolute that contains everything including itself and can never be known or experienced directly, which is formalised by the reflection principle. Both of these models indicate the cosmos is some sort of reflection of the absolute, therefore everything is the absolute or god (see quantum physics and God in an information universe).
In the higher dimensional information model in Section Three, I argue the cosmos has two aspects; one is structure, which is abstract organisation of information and computation and the other is consciousness, which is non-computational. Computation creates life-like and mind-like behaviour and the structure for consciousness to create the “I” that is observing, the inner awareness and experience of self within the computational structure. Therefore you could say that the structure of the cosmos being computation is the thoughts and expression of god and consciousness is god observing and experiencing those thoughts or structure in the form of the cosmos and everything in it. The nature of this computational structure can be thought of as agents on every level that provide consciousness with a unique perspective. In turn consciousness provides these agents with the essence of life and the unique perspective that they are individuals having their own unique, private, inner experience to varying degrees. Consciousness is pure awareness, it is the ‘who’ and ‘what’ that is observing and experiencing—the ‘I’. Remember this is an operational definition that says very little because its circular (tautological). What is pure awareness? It’s consciousness. What is the ‘who,’ ‘what’ and ‘I? It’s consciousness. What is consciousness? Its pure awareness, etc!
It seems obvious that life offers consciousness the most sophisticated experience to observe and experience. As human beings on this planet we represent the most sophisticated form of life, therefore the most sophisticated expression and experience of consciousness, which in turn give us the most powerful experience of being conscious, self-aware, intelligent and individuals with free will.
This model is the closest we can come as sentient beings, to rationally describe what all this is. However, we must always remember from both mystical teachings and the reflection principle of the set theory universe that whatever thought, image or feeling we may have of god is never true. It can only ever be some very simplistic lower level aspect or reflection of god and never god directly as god really is. This is the ultimate mystery of the universe, the ultimate form of cosmic censorship!
As consciousness is a direct expression of god and life is consciousness, then they too are ultimately an incompressible mystery. In terms of the set theory universe they exist in infinitely higher sets that are beyond the set of all conceivable human thoughts.
Quantum consciousness…some analogies
You could use a physics analogy and think of god, consciousness and life as a type of infinitely fundamental and abstract superforce, which is fully unified as an absolute. It then undergoes abstract symmetry breaking to create consciousness, then computation and then life. Computation consciousness and life continue to undergo symmetry breaking as they cascade down into the infinite hierarchies of the cosmos, where all of the qualities or forces of reality differentiate. This ends up in space-time where we have the structure, computation, life and consciousness we are familiar with.
It is a mistake to think that consciousness and life exist in animate things and not inanimate things or organic molecules and not inorganic molecules. This is like saying the superforce exists only in the electromagnetic force or is the electromagnetic force. The electromagnetic force is a low energy state of the superforce, it is an aspect or expression of the superforce. In this analogy consciousness and life are lower energy states of the ultimate superforce, the absolute or god. Therefore, consciousness and life exist on a continuum, so the whole cosmos is alive and conscious, to varying degrees and forms of abstraction. How conscious and alive anything is, is an expression of the amount of consciousness it can express––where on the continuum it lays, which in turn is dictated by its structure. Therefore a rock is less computationally complex than a bacterium and less alive and conscious and a bacterium is less computationally complex than a human who is vastly more conscious. This shouldn’t be mistaken for the materialist belief that life and computation creates consciousness, as in fact it’s the other way around.
Closer to home in space-time, you could use a physics analogy to think of consciousness as similar to a quantum field that describes a particle as spread out infinitely in the field, yet is a concentration of abstract probability known as the wavepacket that correlates to being in a particular place in space-time with particular properties. You could imagine consciousness being similar to the quantum field as an infinite, higher dimensional, non-local field that permeates all of space-time with pure observing awareness—yet is simultaneously localised in space-time in a brain, which constrains the expression or properties of consciousness, based on the structure of the brain.
So just like non-local interactions between entangled particles where there is no mediation of any signal, therefore no time delay even across the entire universe, consciousness is also everywhere within space-time non-locally. Therefore it is already observing everything all at once. When you look out into the world, it is a part of what you observe, there is no separation between you and reality on this level. Incidentally neither is there on a physical level of your body or the entire universe, which is all made of non-local higher dimensional quantum stuff! It’s like a higher dimensional being looking down on the universe and being able to see everything and inside everything all at once. So consciousness is already peering down if you will from a higher dimension, you can already see everything and you are already a part of everything and observing everything already. So our consciousness doesn’t reach out to objects it’s already a non-local, infinite field that fills all of space-time, the quantum vacuum and higher dimensions. It is both the object and the observer.
The only reason we don’t experience this along with our everyday experience, is due to the structure of our sensory organs and the brain’s normal state of processing that don’t allow this perception, in our everyday life. Presumably so we are not overwhelmed by such an input and so unable to function in the world effectively. However, mystics have given us an existence proof that our brain is capable of expanding the expression and perception of consciousness to allow us to experience this non-local or higher dimensional perception, known as mystical perception. I argue that the brain’s mediation of consciousness is the mechanism for mystical and mathematical insight and all psychic perception (see Book Two: Section One: Mechanisms of the non-computational mind).
Another physics analogy for this is the measurement problem and the way consciousness manifests in the brain. A measuring apparatus or detector constrains the field to manifest as a particle or wave but its abstract nature remains hidden. The brain is like a measuring apparatus or detector that can only register a certain level of consciousness and compute that up in scale classically to a neuronal level. So just like a measuring apparatus that constrains quantum stuff to appear as a wave or particle, depending on the way you measure it (the structure of the apparatus)—the brain is also a detector that constrains or focuses the full nature of consciousness, depending on its structure and state, so that it can only manifest as the everyday conscious awareness and qualia we experience, as normal conscious beings. Therefore the higher order aspects or nature of consciousness remain mostly hidden, which is another example of cosmic censorship and why it is such a mystery in science!
As consciousness is higher dimensional we run into all the problems we do with quantum theory when we try and form thoughts, logical models, images and verbal descriptions to explain it. It’s even harder than quantum theory as there is no mathematical model to fall back on and refer to. I believe the closest form of mathematical model and concept is the Absolute in the set theory universe. It is not a set because it contains itself so it’s a class, which is an ultimate entity more fundamental than the hierarchy of sets it contains. I will describe the set theory universe in Book I: Section Three: The information universe.
Quantum consciousness and Orch OR
In Mystical and mathematical insight I explained how Penrose used mathematics to argue that consciousness was non-computational, as it is capable of mathematical insights, mathematically proven to be impossible to discover with algorithmic processes. He combined his idea with anaesthetist and consciousness researcher Stuart Hameroff, at the University of Arizona, who had a model for how quantum computation can take place within the microtubules in neurons and is converted to classical computation with cellular automata (CA) on the outside of the tubule that scales up to neuronal computation, which they called orchestrated objective reduction (Orch OR). Penrose said he didn’t think this quantum coherence in the microtubules was consciousness but probably a physical mechanism for consciousness. If consciousness is as fundamental as I have described, then the quantum computation in our brains isn’t consciousness, it’s merely the computational mechanism that allows non-local consciousness to express itself and interact in a local, classical way in our brain. You could also think of it as the mechanism that allows consciousness to concentrate and localise in our brain. As I have said consciousness is non-computational, as it’s a direct expression of the Absolute. The computational level of mind generated by the brain, described by neuroscience and cognitive science merely mediates non-computational consciousness.
In Book Two: Section One: The self and The virtual self, I argue that we operate on a robotic computational level and run a real-time virtual reality simulation of the world around us and have a virtual intelligence we experience as ourselves—all generated in our brain, which represents the computational mind. This virtual intelligence is unconscious but it, along with the simulation of our world, is seamlessly experienced through consciousness, yet we don’t realise there are two levels and two selves. Our computational experience of the world and the self float on consciousness, without it we would just be very sophisticated zombies or robots and why I argue the robots and AI we build will not be conscious. This is the journey of enlightenment to realise this and shift from the computational zombie self to the consciousness self. Perhaps these two levels are reflected in reality with the computational level processing information creating the structure, which is infused by consciousness observing and experiencing, discussed in Section Three: Consciousness in an information universe.
Does our consciousness affect reality?
I argue the reason we don’t see the wavepacket collapse in the physical chain of events is because it happens on the far side of the Planck boundary, where the wavefunction exists (possibly in another higher dimension outside of the quantum vacuum or a deeper level of the quantum vacuum). Our physical instruments can’t register wavefunctions but they can register particles (as they are made of real potentials and exist on the near side of the Planck boundary in the quantum vacuum). Therefore, it looks like the particle just appears in a particular location, etc like magic across this abstract boundary. Remember when we look at particles we are actually peering into the quantum vacuum, this is possible because space-time is made of the quantum vacuum and exists within it but in the form of a lower dimensional version or simulation. Our consciousness can see the wavefunction via mathematical perception that’s how we discovered it and when we observe a measurement, it’s our consciousness that creates the collapse, as once again it’s the only thing that can reach beyond that Planck boundary and why no material thing in the chain can create the collapse.
In saying that I believe the universe exists independently of our consciousness and observation. Firstly consciousness is fundamental, it’s not really our consciousness. Secondly the structure and mechanism of the cosmos existed from the ‘one’. Thirdly space-time has a semi-autonomous independent existence as a finite 3D reality in time, so it must be collapsing superposition. It does this either by Penrose’s gravity model or by a certain amount of mass existing together, as atoms that represents a threshold, which triggers a wavepacket collapse and the transition from quantum to classical reality. I believe this is reflected by the interesting fact that only the dynamic attributes of particles like momentum, spin and position are effected by our observation and not the ‘static attributes’ like mass and charge. Mass at least is profoundly tied up with matter and therefore space and time. I believe our consciousness does alter the quantum reality too but more like the way von Neumann described, who said the universe is quantum mechanical and a ‘vast quantum superposition,’ except consciousness that seems to be different. I read the vast superposition as the computational structure infused by consciousness. Therefore the human mind can pick one of those possibilities, which becomes reality for that mind.
The higher dimensional reality behind what we experience as reality, is unobservable in any direct way (cosmic censorship) but we can see it’s lower dimensional simulation, expression or projection, which gives us our common human perspective of reality. This is the perceptual firewall in our heads. A particle is an abstract wavefunction, which we can’t perceive except mathematically. The only way we can perceive it, is either a wave or a particle. So the universe exits and it can and does create its own superposition collapses but what it actually is—is unobservable to us in the ordinary state our brain is in during everyday, ordinary perception and cognition, at this point in our evolution. However, it can be perceived more deeply and accurately with mystical perception in highly specialised altered states of consciousness that represent a more evolutionary advanced, higher mode of brain state.
So even though we can affect the way it behaves there are constraints in the ways it appears to us, ie, either as a wave or a particle and when it appears as a particle we can only affect the dynamic attributes but not the static. As consciousness doesn’t affect mass, it’s probably why we can’t cause gross effects in the material world but we can alter how events unfold. So yes our consciousness does affect reality but only in a very precise and constrained manner and yes reality does exist independent of human consciousness and observation but in a very different way we see it, which is constrained by the nature of reality and our brain. This answers the paradox of consciousness affecting reality and if reality has an independent existence apart from our conscious awareness of it. The answer is both we are an emergent expression of reality and yet due to consciousness and the sophistication of our brains we are also partial co-creators!
Can we prove the existence of fundamental consciousness?
As I mentioned earlier due to the fundamental nature of consciousness it can’t be measured or defined in a direct way, which is a problem because the majority of materialist scientists think consciousness is an emergent property of the brain. Therefore they believe that when they can create a certain level of complexity with artificial intelligence—consciousness will be created. Also it’s believed that when the human brain can be simulated down to the molecular structure in a computer, an individual could have their brain copied and run on a computer, which would actually be that person, called an upload. Essentially they become immortal and exist indefinitely as software, running on ever improving hardware platforms, which is the materialist’s version of enlightenment, I discuss in Book Two: Section Two: Uploads the materialist version of enlightenment. However, so far all attempts to explain consciousness with brain function have failed and are just deck chair rearranging—just attributing it to different mechanisms or groups of structures and hierarchy of activation of structures, which I discuss in Book Two: Section One: Does the brain create consciousness.
As consciousness is non-computational, science will never be able to simulate it or get a mathematical grip on it, which will be an issue for the materialists. Therefore, I don’t see the debate between the brain based and fundamental consciousness camps being resolved until the materialists have exhausted every possibility. This would include super computer based simulations of the brain, uploads and human or super level AI. However, testing AI with current methods will be tricky because even AI lower than human level, would easily pass the Turing Test and fool people into believing it was conscious. It could do a good enough job at mimicking human thinking, emotional responses and common sense, human level AI would be even more convincing and claim it was conscious. I believe there is a way to test if human level AI, uploads or a simulation of the brain are conscious, which I call the conscious observer test. It uses the famous double split experiment in quantum physics, where the conscious observation of a slit in the barrier forces nature to choose one path over another, destroying the interference pattern. If AI watches this and the interference pattern disappears it’s conscious and if it doesn’t disappear then it isn’t conscious—it’s a high-tech zombie!
As I mentioned earlier consciousness became an issue in science with quantum measurement and the now famous double slit experiment. The measurement problem highlights the fundamental nature of consciousness and the elusiveness of just who or what is doing the watching or observing in the human brain. A version of the classic double slit experiment beams particles one at a time at two slits in a barrier, with a phosphor screen behind it that records where the individual particles land. The particles are the quantum phenomena being measured and the screen is the detector or measuring apparatus. The pattern of individual hits of each individual particle looks random at first but after an hour an interference pattern emerges. This pattern tells us that somehow the particles acted like waves, went through both slits causing the interference pattern. The problem here is how did individual particles go through both slits simultaneously, when they should have gone through one or the other of the slits? How could there be individual hits on the screen appearing randomly, yet after a large amount of them go through, an interference pattern emerges? The answer is the particle was in an abstract state of superposition, where it was both a wave and a particle, where it went through one slit yet went through both slits simultaneously.
Here is where consciousness comes in. If a detector is placed at the two slits to see which slit the particle went through and no one looks, you get the same interference pattern. However, if someone looks at these new detectors the interference pattern disappears on the screen, showing that the observation collapsed the superposition forcing the abstract state to appear as an individual particle going through one or the other slit. In this experiment the particle is the thing being measured and the screen is doing the measuring. If you ask: where did the superposition state turn into a single particle (wave packet collapse)? If you answered it’s the screen, there is a problem. If you put a camera there to watch the screen, so you can view the results from the camera, this means the light from the phosphor screen needs to travel into the camera and be registered there. So now the camera is doing the measuring and the screen and particle are the things being measured, so we can’t say that the collapse took place on the first screen. If you hooked the camera up to a computer and checked the results via the computer, now the camera is part of what is being measured and the computer is doing the measuring.
This is known as the von Neumann chain that states that any physical thing in the measurement is also subject to quantum mechanical rules and is part of the system being measured or put another way it becomes entangled with the thing being measured. We must continue to add the rest of the physical systems to the chain, which are your eyes and your brain and then neurons and molecules and then finally back to particles, which is where we started. This has taken us back to the level of the quantum, so we have gone in a loop in the physical chain and can’t find anywhere in the physical chain of events where the wavepacket actually collapsed. Von Neumann stated the only thing in this chain that isn’t physical is the consciousness of the observer. There have been many ingenious experiments to try and get around these results but they have all failed, as soon as an observer looks at the result, the particle goes from superposition to a specific registration. You can’t trick nature even if you look at it later. In Book Two: Section One: Does the brain create consciousness? I describe experiments that show backward in time effects from delayed conscious choices in the double slit experiment and with measurement of entangled particles.
If this is proof that consciousness is the key to the wavepacket collapse, then it’s also proof that consciousness can’t be created by anything physical, so it is not created by the brain. If it isn’t physical and can’t be created by anything physical then it must be more fundamental than matter. If its effects can propagate backwards in time in both the double slit and entangled particle measurements, then it is also more fundamental than time and space. This brings me back to the conscious observer test. If we got AI to observe the slits and the interference pattern doesn’t disappear then the AI isn’t conscious. Therefore such an experiment could prove that AI wasn’t conscious, even if it claimed it was and most or many scientist thought it was. At the least it would prove that there is something going on in the human brain that AI, despite its sophistication didn’t have.
Achieving this would be an enormous step in shifting the scientific worldview out of the materialist perspective and into a metaphysical one and play a major role, along with higher dimensional physics, in developing a metaphysical scientific worldview, with a sophisticated understanding of quantum physics and God and quantum consciousness. It would also be of great practical value as we learn to live with human and super level AI. It would come as a necessary antidote and wake up from the naive materialist’s ideas. Like AI being conscious, a new form of higher sentient life, or even a god and having all the rights of a person and an upload being the actual conscious person, alive and well in cyberspace, as immortal software, while their unnecessary body was left behind to die. All this will force us to reconsider who we are and why we are special and different to AI. It will also encourage research into neurotechnology to raise our consciousness, which is the true path to sentient evolution, enlightenment and quantum consciousness.