Our best mathematical theory of consciousness is sparking a rethink of one of science’s hardest problems – how simple matter gives rise to a complex mind
29 April 2020
LIFE at the moment seems full of questions where everyone has an opinion, but few can supply a convincing answer. By way of diversion, let us instead consider a question that invites few coherent opinions, but screams what seems to be a correct answer.
Ask “is the universe conscious?”, as we do on this week’s cover, and the brain-jerk answer is “no”. Consciousness is a case of the haves and have nots. Humans clearly have it; a rock, a star or other agglomeration of physical matter, such as the wider cosmos, doesn’t. The venerable philosophical idea of universal sentience, or “panpsychism”, says otherwise when it comes to inanimate things, but …