Integrating information in the brain’s EM field

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Integrating information in the brain’s EM field: the cemi field theory of consciousness 

Johnjoe McFadden

Quote:A key aspect of consciousness is that it represents bound or integrated information, prompting an increasing conviction that the physical substrate of consciousness must be capable of encoding integrated information in the brain. However, as Ralph Landauer insisted, ‘information is physical’ so integrated information must be physically integrated. I argue here that nearly all examples of so-called ‘integrated information’, including neuronal information processing and conventional computing, are only temporally integrated in the sense that outputs are correlated with multiple inputs: the information integration is implemented in time, rather than space, and thereby cannot correspond to physically integrated information. I point out that only energy fields are capable of integrating information in space. I describe the conscious electromagnetic information (cemi) field theory which has proposed that consciousness is physically integrated, and causally active, information encoded in the brain’s global electromagnetic (EM) field. I here extend the theory to argue that consciousness implements algorithms in space, rather than time, within the brain’s EM field. I describe how the cemi field theory accounts for most observed features of consciousness and describe recent experimental support for the theory. I also describe several untested predictions of the theory and discuss its implications for the design of artificial consciousness. The cemi field theory proposes a scientific dualism that is rooted in the difference between matter and energy, rather than matter and spirit.


Not exactly new, McFadden has been promoting this theory for awhile now. I don't personally see this as a solution in terms of proving production of consciousness (impossible IMO) but this is more friendly to Psi & Survival.

However. McFadden himself interestingly enough only accepts the possibility of Survival, as he doesn't think the field can provide communication between minds.
'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


(2020-10-20, 08:41 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Integrating information in the brain’s EM field: the cemi field theory of consciousness 

Johnjoe McFadden

"I describe the conscious electromagnetic information (cemi) field theory which has proposed that consciousness is physically integrated, and causally active, information encoded in the brain’s global electromagnetic (EM) field."

Not exactly new, McFadden has been promoting this theory for awhile now. I don't personally see this as a solution in terms of proving production of consciousness (impossible IMO) but this is more friendly to Psi & Survival.

However. McFadden himself interestingly enough only accepts the possibility of Survival, as he doesn't think the field can provide communication between minds.

It seems to me this theory is a non-starter for a number of reasons. Most fundamentally, the Hard Problem defeats it because consciousness and agency can't be just information, since information's descriptors or properties do not include any of the properties of consciousness - in particular awareness and subjectivity. Consciousness, and information per se, are in entirely different existential categories. 

Aside from that, there is plenty of direct evidence that the mind can't be some sort of EM field, because for one thing people can live and work in very high intensity EM fields all day without their consciousness being affected. Near radar installations, radio and TV transmitters. Near high intensity microwave generators in microwave ovens. And people can spend a lot of time inside very high flux density Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines with no effect on their consciousness.
(2020-10-20, 09:41 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: Aside from that, there is plenty of direct evidence that the mind can't be some sort of EM field, because for one thing people can live and work in very high intensity EM fields all day without their consciousness being affected. Near radar installations, radio and TV transmitters. Near high intensity microwave generators in microwave ovens. And people can spend a lot of time inside very high flux density Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines with no effect on their consciousness.

My understanding is that the human skull acts as a sort of protective barrier.

But I do think this theory might yield itself to ideas Sheldrake has considered, that consciousness is in some ways akin to a field. After all fields are really a grouping of measurement and behavior of a non-local kind.

My guess is the consideration of fields will move the study of consciousness just as quantum biology will, but all of this will hit the very limit you mention - that all of this is just mind/brain correlations rather than a cause.
'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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  • stephenw
His theory is quite confusing to me (and has already been sensationalised somewhat by AI enthusiasts) in that I'm not sure how electric fields translate into things like free will? MedicalXpress (unsurprisingly) made a summary of it here

On a side note, it amazes me how this medical magazine/journal apparently needs a comments section, which apparently includes trolls going by multiple sock puppet accounts. Oh, and there's the usual passive aggressive bashing of dualism, claiming anaesthesia and evolution are 'evidence against it' (when one actually looks into dualistic theories, this isn't exactly the case) and that the LHC has somehow 'narrowed the gap' for exotic interactions (fairly certain this is the same kind of embarrassingly short-sighted assertion that Brian Cox once made when he claimed the LHC had disproven ghosts). 

I skimmed the paper and he admits that there are still some unanswered questions (like the connection to anaesthesia), but that's ok. It's a theory, just one I don't really understand :/ 

I can understand confusion and some criticism of such a theory, but it would help if they actually tried reading or just skimming theough the full paper, not just this article. It would also help if they didn't go around making pretentious assertions and actually accusing the author of pseudoscience, while saying "oh the universe is full of infinities and mysteries we'll never solve but consciousness is definitely still an illusion and you're ignorant if you don't agree with me". That's hardly a mature or academic rebuttal.
(This post was last modified: 2020-10-22, 10:12 AM by OmniVersalNexus.)
I don't think we need a play-by-play of comments sections for every article.
'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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