Steve Paulson: Roger Penrose On Why Consciousness Does Not Compute – Nautilus

Like many others, Penrose struggled with the weirdness of quantum theory. “As Schrödinger clearly pointed out with his poor cat, which was dead and alive at the same time, he made this point deliberately to show why his own equation can’t be the whole truth. He was more or less saying, ‘That’s nonsense.’ ” To Penrose, the takeaway was that something didn’t add up in quantum theory: “Schrödinger was very upset by this, as were Dirac and Einstein. Some of the major figures in quantum mechanics were probably more upset than I was.”

But what, I asked, does any of this have to do with consciousness? “You see, my argument is very roundabout. I think this is why people don’t tend to follow me. They’ll pick up on it later, or they reject it later, but they don’t follow argument.” Penrose then launched into his critique of why computers, for all their brute calculating power, lack any understanding of what they’re doing. “What I’m saying—and this is my leap of imagination which people boggle at—I’m saying what’s going on in the brain must be taking advantage not just of quantum mechanics, but where it goes wrong,” he said. “It’s where quantum mechanics needs to be superseded.” So we need a new science that doesn’t yet exist? “That’s right. Exactly.”

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