Ben Goertzel's views on psi

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Ben Goertzel is a mathematician by training, and his main interest is in artificial intelligence. He is the chief scientist at Hanson Robotics, the developers of "Sophia Hanson" (previously described as Chief Humanoid at another of Goertzel's companies, SingularityNET, though apparently they've since thought better of that).

Goertzel has also written a fair amount about psi. In 2014 with Damien Broderick he coedited an anthology entitled "Evidence for Psi: Thirteen Empirical Research Reports". Some links to his other writings and videos have been posted previously here and at Skeptiko. I thought it might be useful to collect some of them here in a single thread.

To begin with, here's the web page on his own site summarising his perspective on psi:

It includes a link to an article he wrote for Humanity+ Magazine in 2010, in response to Daryl Bem's "Feeling the Future" paper, but also including his own thoughts on why psi is a weak effect, the Ganzfeld evidence, replicability and pseudo-scepticism:

And there's also a link to a paper he wrote also in 2010, entitled "Morphic Pilot Theory: Toward an Extension of Quantum Physics that Better Explains Psi Phenomena". Essentially the idea is to introduce a bias into quantum theory to accommodate something like Rupert Sheldrake's concept of morphic resonance:
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Here's an hour-long video presentation by Goertzel from 2017, entitled "Wild-Ass Sh*t: Consciousness and Psi from a Euryphysics Perspective" (originally posted here by Hurmanetar):

Towards the end he says "I went through a whole bunch of weird concepts giving each one much less time than it deserves and probably confusing the fuck out of anyone who's listening," and I think there's some truth in that.

As he says, there are some posts in his main blog, The Multiverse According to Ben, related to morphic resonance, and another blog called Euryphysics in which psi figures more prominently. A paper based on the blog was published by the Journal of Nonlocality in 2017:
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Goertzel elaborated some of his views about morphic resonance in a blog post in 2013:

There is more detail about Goertzel's comparison of Sheldrake's theory with the ideas of an American philosopher named Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), who espoused a theory of "objective idealism", in which "matter is effete mind, inveterate habits becoming physical laws". The idea seems to be that the effete mind loses its freedom of will and so habits assume the inflexibility of physical laws. Goertzel characterises this as nature's "tendency to take habits", and therefore something akin to morphic resonance, in which the occurrence of a set of events makes it more likely that the same events will occur in the future. (I don't think this resemblance comes across particularly clearly from the passage from Peirce that Goertzel quotes.)

Also, Damien Broderick had brought to Goertzel's attention the work of a physicist named Lee Smolin, who had proposed a "principle of precedence", according to which the outcome of a measurement of a quantum system would be determined by picking randomly from previous outcomes of measurements of identical systems:
Goertzel saw this as a rediscovery of Sheldrake's morphic fields and Goertzel's own "morphic pilot wave".

This is all quite thought-provoking, but I find it a bit difficult to understand how a morphic-resonance-type mechanism - in the sense of past outcomes influencing the probabilities of future outcomes - can explain the most frequently studied types of psi. In his 2017 "euryphysics" paper, Goertzel gives some examples of the application to psi, but much of the argument relates to the "eury" ("wider") aspect of the theory, according to which the material world is part of a wider cosmos, rather than specifically to morphic resonance. There is a suggestion of how a morphic resonance mechanism could play a role in telepathy between twins, but it still seems a bit forced to me.

In his 2010 paper Goertzel suggested it might not be too hard to work from the "morphic pilot wave" theory and make predictions about the consequences for particular psi experiments, mentioning precognition experiments in particular (presumably Bem's, though a typographical glitch obscures which studies he is referring to). Unfortunately it doesn't look as though he pursued this. To my mind it seems hardest of all to understand how morphic resonance could explain precognition, if the resonance were assumed to operate strictly in the direction of the "arrow of time". At one point in Goertzel's 2017 paper he seems to be advocating a formulation of morphic resonance that doesn't assume "a direction of causation", in terms of frequencies of patterns in the universe that are more sharply peaked than would otherwise be expected. (It almost sounds more like synchronicity than morphic resonance.) But immediately afterwards he emphasises the link to Smolin's principle, which definitely operates from past to future.
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Sand Talk, Singularity and Psi

B. G.

Quote:...Inspiration Regarding Psi from the Indigenous PerspectiveAnother aspect of Yunkaporta’s book that jumped out at me -- though it was fairly peripheral in his narrative -- was the Aboriginal approach to psi (psychic, paranormal phenomena…).  (For some references on the science of psi, see  here.)

In the indigenous view psi is just there along with a lot of other phenomena -- it's part of the patterns people observe, and part of the correlation between dreaming mind and everyday life, and part of the correlation between ancestors and nonhuman life (including e.g. rocks which Aboriginals consider to have their own sort of consciousness) and human minds, etc.

The mercurial nature of psi phenomena, which gives us such a headache as scientists seeking replicable results, is not a problem from the indigenous view -- it's just how the world works....
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

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That book's been recommended to me. It sounds a lot like one that I'd appreciate.
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