Dissecting Consciousness

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku describes his new theory of consciousness.

By | April 1, 2014

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Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 164

April 17, 2014

Once again, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Great, a physicist taking a thermostat, a flower, and a snake, and then throwing in "feedback loops", ooooooh, to state nothing new.  Michio, please stick to astronomy.

Avatar of: Hugh-F-61


Posts: 67

April 17, 2014

A fine account of what consciousness DOES! Is that the same as what Consciousness IS? Yes, and THE feedback loop is language, so that we can label things, especially abstract things or concepts that are not apparent to any of our senses, and then we talk to ourselves and analyse and modify our words to refine our thoughts.

I don't think that "quantifies" consciousness by units but it does reflect a very real but continuous quantitative gradation from very simple information processor (e.g. an insect or plant) through animals which can solve simple problems to humans who have a way to describe subatomic particles/waves to a  particular level. 

The real trouble with "consciousness" is that there is no agreed definitin of it, and different people mean or understand different things by it. It is as vague as "good" or "evil" or "religious".

Avatar of: Guy C.

Guy C.

Posts: 1

April 18, 2014

Very interesting. However, it's difficult to argue that animals don't have a sense of  time and can't plan for the future. We can, to a large extent, understand a sense of time in animals  by circadian biology. Planning for the future is currently more difficult to crack. For one thing, the ability to plan for the future is not necessarily an extension of having a sense of time. The bird-brained (a big misnomer) corvids (crows, jays, ravens...) have been shown to stash food items and return to retrieve them many months later. Some corvids appear to do so in reversed order of freshness. One report suggests that some corvids re-hide their stash if others are stealing from their loot. Another suggests that some birds (not sure if they are corvids- think I watch this in a recent documentary) would preferentially stash more grubs in the environmental and temporal environments that don't have a continous supply of food. Even some squirrels stash food for future retrieval. Do these behaviors not require a sense of time and planning for the future? Can ultradian behavior, an extention of circadian rhythm, explain some of these? Yet another report suggests that corvids can recognize 'self' in a mirror. Many would argue that self-awareness is a form of consciousness. Several behaviors previously considered uniquely human have been subsequently shown in other animals. Seems like the difficulties are in designing experiments and, maybe, developing methods for recording and observing the behaviors in non-human subjects, and in determining what to look for. Would be really interesting to know whether it is a matter of gradation or that some things do set humans apart, though.

Avatar of: factotum666


Posts: 5

April 19, 2014

I very recently saw a short video of a bird making a tool to obtain some food.  How else can a bird do that if the bird did not have the ability to see into the future and make plans?


Perhaps the good astronomer could visit the zoo and see planning by monkeys

Nice theory.  It was falsified.


Dr. kaku is demonstrating that the Dunning kruger effect is not limited to people of limited intelligence.

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