Consciousness as a State of Matter

We examine the hypothesis that consciousness can be understood as a state of matter, “perceptronium”, with distinctive information processing abilities. We explore four basic principles that may distinguish conscious matter from other physical systems such as solids, liquids and gases:the information, integration, independence and dynamics principles. If such principles can identify conscious entities, then they can help solve the quantum factorization problem: why do conscious observers like us perceive the particular Hilbert space factorization corresponding to classical space (rather than Fourier space, say), and more generally, why do we perceive the world around us as a dynamic hierarchy of objects that are strongly integrated and relatively independent? Tensor factorization of matrices is found to play a central role, and our technical results include a theorem about Hamiltonian separability (defined using Hilbert-Schmidt superoperators) being maximized in the energy eigenbasis. Our approach generalizes Giulio Tononi’s integrated information framework for neural-network-based consciousness to arbitrary quantum systems, and we find interesting links to error-correcting codes, condensed matter criticality, and the Quantum Darwinism program, as well as an interesting connection between the emergence of consciousness and the emergence of time.
— Max Tegmark, Consciousness as a State of Matter, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1401.1219v3.pdf

I've been attempting to read this fancy-pants physicsy article, to no avail. As much as I'd like to be able to read shit like this.. I'm severely under-equipped education-wise to even know how to approach it.

That said, I do have my wits about me enough to understand that this is a particularly interesting line of investigation. I reached out to my particle physicist friend to see if he might be able to walk me through some of these high level concepts. Like Hilbert Space Factorization? Wha? And then once you get into the depth of that article, it’s all graphs and formulas. Jesus. I feel as though I’d need to dedicate a significant portion of my life to be able to decode this.

In any case – if anyone out there would like to give me the Sesame Street breakdown of this, please do reach out.

<3