Colin Hales - Twenty Years of the Science of Consciousness - Singularity Summit Australia 2012





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Published on Nov 4, 2012

Twenty Years of the Science of Consciousness: Lessons from a nascent science

The mainstream empirical science of consciousness is now two decades old. What has been learned? What are its prospects for the next two decades? We now have a small, stable terminology and an embryonic education system. Twenty years has also delivered what does not cause consciousness and multiple theories of consciousness, none of which has found general acceptance. This lack, along with unusual attributes of the science, is explored as empirical evidence of a systemic anomaly in science method overall.

The result is that the lack of an observer in physics, and the 'explanatory gap'/'hard problem' in the neuroscience of consciousness share a common origin: the lack of causal mechanism in our current form of 'laws of nature'. The result suggests the next 20 years will require a fundamental shift in our understanding of what kinds of laws of nature are possible, and when we have evidence.

This work is the outcome of a decade-long empirical scientific study of scientists and our scientific behaviour. It reveals the discovery of the full scope of scientific behaviour, which is currently only 50% implemented (that is, the current form of 'laws of nature' is one of a pair of possible forms, and that the second form is unrecognised and masked by our procedures). It demonstrates that the philosophy/science divorce of the 18th century, combined with explosive science sub-discipline proliferation, left science in an unmanaged state, and that it remains in that 300 year old fossilised state, maintained by mechanisms that will be outlined. The needed change is also outlined, along with its implications. This outcome formulates a long overdue modernisation of the process of science.

The work presents a cogent case for the imminence of a paradigm shift impacting the whole of science, but felt most keenly in physics (cosmology) and neuroscience. The key take-home message is that science has discovered, and must adapt to the reality, that the science of consciousness is actually the scientific explanation of ourselves -- the scientific observer.


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