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Consciousness Does Not Compute (and Never Will), Says Korean Scientist

May 6, 2015

Within some circles in the scientific community, debate rages about whether computers will achieve technological singularity (TS) or strong artificial intelligence (AI)–in other words, self-recognition or human consciousness within a computer–within the next few decades.

Now, however, a Korean quantum physicist has shown that computers will never be able to duplicate human consciousness or be programmed to do so, because they lack the fundamental . . . well, humanity. And his research may finally answer questions that have long stymied brain science researchers.

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In his paper, “Non-computability of Consciousness,” Daegene Song proves human consciousness cannot be computed. Song arrived at his conclusion through quantum computer research in which he showed there is a unique mechanism in human consciousness that no computing device can simulate.

“Among conscious activities, the unique characteristic of self-observation cannot exist in any type of machine,” Song explained. “Human thought has a mechanism that computers cannot compute or be programmed to do.”

And therein lies the kernel of truth that could resolve two problems researchers have until now been unable to resolve: First, that no approach to brain research had ever been able to precisely represent consciousness; and second, that no one actually understood how a network of neurons, also known as the human brain, could somehow give rise to consciousness.

“Non-computability of Consciousness” documents Song’s quantum computer research into TS. Song was able to show that in certain situations, a conscious state can be precisely and fully represented in mathematical terms, in much the same manner as an atom or electron can be fully described mathematically. That’s important, because the neurobiological and computational approaches to brain research have only ever been able to provide approximations at best. In representing consciousness mathematically, Song shows that consciousness is not compatible with a machine.

Song’s work also shows consciousness is not like other physical systems like neurons, atoms or galaxies. “If consciousness cannot be represented in the same way all other physical systems are represented, it may not be something that arises out of a physical system like the brain,” said Song. “The brain and consciousness are linked together, but the brain does not produce consciousness. Consciousness is something altogether different and separate. The math doesn’t lie.”

About Daegene Song

Daegene Song obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Oxford and now works at Chungbuk National University in Korea as an assistant professor. To learn more about Song’s research, see his published work: D. Song, Non-computability of Consciousness, NeuroQuantology, Volume 5, pages 382~391 (2007).

Daegene Song


Source: Daegene Song

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