In an interview with physicist Christian de Maurice Smith, Quantum Physics of Consciousness (23/8), you did not explain why the rapid deviations in consciousness must be explained by quantum mechanics. Things can also tilt in classical mechanics, and this certainly applies to operations in computers and neural networks. Underestimating the surprising new properties that can arise from specific neural formations often leads to references to mysterious physical processes, in my opinion. As if physicists, because they sometimes study elusive processes, suddenly understand all that is difficult.
However, consciousness is a product of evolution, so it is rather fodder for biologists. From the perspective of evolution, it is understandable why resilient organisms have to experience the consequences of their “right” and “wrong” decisions: modifying their behaviour. Pleasure and pain can have their educational effect only if they are powerful experiences, not based on subtle phase differences or collapsed wave functions (as described in Physics), but on a network of powerful fibers that can receive, transmit and amplify signals. The subtle mood swings of a small group of vertebrates have nothing to do with the different states of elementary particles: it is sometimes difficult to determine whether things and situations are dangerous. The organism must be able to quickly adjust its judgment about the situation and, if necessary, its self-image on a regular basis.
It is nice that De Morais Smith realizes that consciousness can only be understood through the cooperation of physicists, chemists, biologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers. But with a biological phenomenon, it is important to start with biology.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of August 30, 2021