Publications associated with Predictability of Weather and Climate

Human creativity and consciousness: unintended consequences of the brain's extraordinary energy efficiency?

Entropy MDPI 22 (2020) 281

T Palmer

It is proposed that both human creativity and human consciousness are (unintended) consequences of the human brain's extraordinary energy efficiency. The topics of creativity and consciousness are treated separately, though have a common sub-structure. It is argued that creativity arises from a synergy between two cognitive modes of the human brain (which broadly coincide with Kahneman's Systems 1 and 2). In the first, available energy is spread across a relatively large network of neurons, many of which are small enough to be susceptible to thermal (ultimately quantum decoherent) noise. In the second, available energy is focussed on a smaller subset of larger neurons whose action is deterministic. Possible implications for creative computing in silicon are discussed. Starting with a discussion of the concept of free will, the notion of consciousness is defined in terms of an awareness of what are perceived to be nearby counterfactual worlds in state space. It is argued that such awareness arises from an interplay between memories on the one hand, and quantum physical mechanisms (where, unlike in classical physics, nearby counterfactual worlds play an indispensable dynamical role) in the ion channels of neural networks, on the other. As with the brain's susceptibility to noise, it is argued that in situations where quantum physics plays a role in the brain, it does so for reasons of energy efficiency. As an illustration of this definition of consciousness, a novel proposal is outlined as to why quantum entanglement appears to be so counter-intuitive.

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