Monday, March 20, 2006

A universe of Qualia

In my previous posting I applied Tegmark's idea that every mathematical model is a universe, to humans. This leads to the conclusion that we can think of our minds as universes in their own right. If we think of the universe we live in, we usually think of the objects we see around us, their properties and how they behave.

In case of our mind considered as a universe, the laws of physics are contained in an exact description of the way our neurons in our brain interact with each other. This description is, of course, enormously complicated. Alternatively, we could think of the neurons in our brain as simulating ''emergent laws of physics'' that describe the qualia we experience.

Just like one can do organic chemistry without solving the Schrödinger equation for complex organic molecules, we can talk about how we feel, what we see etc. without referring to what exactly our neurons are doing in our brains. We can thus think of the qualia as ''events'' in our personal universe. These are described by ''effective laws of physics'', analogously to the imprecise laws of, say, organic chemistry or biology.

Since we experience the qualia and not the fundamental processes that give rise to the qualia (this follows from the Simulation Argument: If the brain were simulated on some computer, it would have the same consciousness), we should consider the qualia as fundamental objects of our personal universe. The universe on the level of the qualia is where the mind really resides. It is here that the notions of pain, anger, happiness, colors etc. exist.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Humans as Universes

Even though we roughly know how the universe works, we still don't have a satisfactory way of describing our personal experiences. The laws of physics, as we know them today, allow one to accurately simulate the time evolution of a person who is being tortured. But this doesn't explain the feeling of being tortured. Or perhaps it does? Perhaps all there is to our experiences of the physical world is a calculation. There exists a mathematical description of us and that is precisely what we are. The universe in which we live is ultimately also just a mathematical object in which we are embedded. So, in certain sense, we are universes in their own right.