Self-Organization, Quantum Computation, and Conscious Choice
Director, Institute for the Study of Conscious Systems Boulder, Colorado
The butterfly effect that makes our weather and climate so difficult to predict also operates in our brains and cells. They, too, are open systems “far from equilibrium,” which are characterized by alternative steady-states and chaotic sensitivity to initial conditions. In living systems, that sensitivity may go down to the quantum level, amplifying, for example, changes in the conformation of proteins or microtubule states that are best described in terms of the indeterministic collapse or decoherence of wave functions. Is it possible that in certain living systems, alternative biological states are somehow represented in wave functions and conscious choice is reflected in the collapse of those wave functions, iteratively favoring the preferred biological state? Evolution would then have selected for those electromagnetic configurations that could exploit the contributions of conscious decision-making to biological self-organization. This paper explores this possibility seriously, as an hypothesis that could be further developed and potentially tested in collaborative research that integrates areas of neuroscience, complexity theory, evolutionary biology, subtle energies research, and quantum theory. We consider, specifically, how electromagnetic oscillations associated with alternative biological states may have an organizing effect on vacuum fluctuations, setting up wave functions that represent these alternatives as options for conscious consideration; and how conscious choice among these options may have “entangled” consequences at disparate physiological locations that iteratively favor the chosen state. If such “bio- quantum computing” does occur, the difference between life and other electromagnetic systems, such as atoms and molecules, may be a difference of degree rather than a difference of kind, implying the pre-adaptation of the universe for conscious life, as well as the possible consciousness of the universe itself.
Larry Goldberg is a philosopher of science, environment, and mind who has applied his interdisciplinary methodology to program development at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the University of California, San Diego; Texas A & M University; the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and the Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Health Sciences campuses of the University of Colorado. He has designed undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and public participation programs in global change, computational science and engineering, bioethics, and air pollution control. He has been program chair in recent years of conferences on the convergence of science and spirituality and is writing a book on quantum theory, the brain, and consciousness.
Recorded at the 27th annual SSE Conference in 2008 in Boulder, Colorado, USA.
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Published on November 13, 2018