One in a series of talks from the 2019 Models of Consciousness conference.
California State University, San Bernardino
A scientific understanding of the process whereby physical entities produce consciousness has not come about, despite decades of investigation. This suggests exploring the reversal of the celebrated “hard problem of consciousness,” i.e., take consciousness as fundamental and the physical world as emergent. We describe D. Hoffman’s Interface Theory of Perception in which perceptual experiences do not approximate properties of an “objective” world, but reside in simplified, species-specific, user interfaces. Building on this, the Conscious Realism Thesis states that the objective world consists entirely of a social network of ‘conscious agents’ and their experiences, which together create the objects and properties of our common physical world.
Using evolutionary game theory, we justify interface theory by showing that perceptual strategies reporting the truth will be driven to extinction by those tuned instead to fitness. We state further theorems on fitness beating truth, by showing that perceived structures, such as symmetries, partial orders and probabilities, will likely not be possessed by a world. We define “conscious agents,” suggesting that space-time is a property of the perceptual interface of human conscious agents: physical “objects” are akin to icons on that interface; physical “phenomena” are properties of apparently interacting icons.
Filmed at the Models of Consciousness conference, University of Oxford, September 2019.