LifeOS: exploring the system that executes DNA

March 8, 2010

What is Consciousness?

What is consciousness? That which observes fields of information, matter and energy, and calls them reality. Need it be more complex than that? Fields of information, matter and energy comprise our environment. Our consciousness interprets the environment and acts within it. We watch.

If that isn’t enough of a definition for you, there are more involved version to be found almost everywhere you look. Everyone wants to take a shot at it; we all have one. There is Consciousness Online, Center for Consciousness Studies(U of A), as well as dozens of universities, new age retreats and thousands of blogs that tag themselves as relating to the subject. The variety of descriptions reflects the difficulty of the enterprise. Every individual is describing a unique view of “reality”, that has been learned within a unique context. Every field of study has its own unique viewpoint, (piece of the elephant) that influences their observations. On top of that, each discipline develops a unique jargon to describe what they “see”. I call it the Tower of Babel approach. The more you read, the worse it gets; agreement on this subject is rare.

What this discussion really needs is a common denominator. The inquiry needs to be scaled to a level of functionality, where language and terminology can be used in common.

Rather than looking at consciousness from our human perspective, we need to look at how reality and consciousness relate to biological systems in general. Rather than concentrating on the complex internal details, let’s look at how the process functions at this higher level. At this level, the functionality of mobile species is simple: they move, eat, grow, expel waste and reproduce. We don’t care what goes on in their heads, just that they function within the environmental system they inhabit. However, we can note that the ability of an agent to be aware of its surroundings, is essential to three out the five functions. In its simplest form, awareness involves the processing of information. Here we can find some common ground.

The studies of complex systems, quantum mechanics, cybernetics, cellular biology, single celled organisms, chaos theory, fractals, holography, bioelectrics and information technologies share some common conceptual underpinnings. They are all explorations into information processing. There are many rules and laws that are consistent across these fields of study. They share common formulae for the construction of networks, for example.

The language developed by information technologies is known and understood across all languages, national and cultural boundaries. It was developed with functionality as it’s goal, and information processing and distribution it’s primary functions. Biological systems exhibit nearly identical patterns of functionality.

We find the same patterns of process in action in cells where DNA finds, copies and transfers genetic information. The universal rules and laws governing robust digital networks, outlined by Information Technologies offers the foundation for a common language to discuss consciousness, biological life and the material universe, as well.

The second common denominator is that consciousness, cellular activity, quantum mechanics, atomic structure are characterized by fields. Just as our consciousness is the result of waves of firing neurons(fields), matter is the result of waves of atomic particles interacting through fields of force(energy).

From plasma experiments, to growing tips of plants, to firing neurons, it is fields, processing information, that guide interactions. Consciousness is just such a field, processing input and directing actions. Looking at it in this light, all biological processes cycle through a phase of pure information, on the way to a phase of pure matter. Once it is seen as a fundamental function of biological systems, rather than an exclusive attribute of human evolution, consciousness reveals itself.

cheers,
jim

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9 Comments »

  1. Wow! Thank you for that. In my own exploration of all of the above I have gotten to Xs and Os. Incarnate and disincarnate energy. You mention but do not cite “rules and laws” that govern what I call the flow and interception of information. Would you be so kind as to email your list of rules and laws, or send me a link or two that sets these out in an understandable-to-the-unschooled mind format? Thank you.

    Comment by Mary — March 9, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    • Thanks, Mary! Just one of those days when i could use a “Wow”. =-)

      I haven’t gotten to a list of the rules. So far, i’ve just been describing general similarities, trying that show that IT concepts are the place to start building some sort of common language. At the very basic level, information processing breaks down three fundamental steps: intake, process and output. Feedback cycles a bit of output back as intake. I leave it to the folks who study things like, networks forming in complex systems, to come up with specific rules. Like they have said that networks from diverse systems, from the internet, to our cardiovascular system, to the branching of rivers and trees, are constructed using the same fractal power laws. I’ve seen the formula, but it doesn’t make any real sense to me. I can see the law in action, but i can’t write it down.

      Another law that is important is that strings of code represent concepts that are independent from the code itself. That is like a story can be told in different media. The story is essentially the same, but is expressed in different forms. When we look at biological systems in this light, we see that concepts are also independent of the DNA code. Throughout Nature we can see basic concepts repeating, being expressed by very different code strings of code. The basic processes of metabolism, digestion, reproduction, senses and such, are concepts first, being expressed by very different sets of code. If the concepts, the story, came first…

      Anyway, this point of view messes with the current rules no end, but it doesn’t lay out the new ones, exactly.

      cheers,
      jim

      Comment by insomniac — March 9, 2010 @ 11:49 am

  2. LOL, just made the connection between your linked post in my blog and you as commentor. Am glad I checked and found the connection, because I got to read the above. Loved the utube segment you suggested. And you wrote “Feedback cycles a bit of output back as intake” and “fractal power laws” which I tie together in my understanding of self-referential complex systems. Again, thank you for making your ideas available to us. Will spend some more time in the days ahead reading more. By the way, what did you ‘mean’ by “characterized by fields”? Trying to get my head around that language.

    Comment by Mary — March 29, 2010 @ 7:28 am

    • Howdy Mary,

      Yeah, i’ve been checking out your stuff. I see that you and i have been pondering some of the same things.

      Fields? Well, consciousness, cellular activity, quantum mechanics, atomic structure, all do their thing through the effects of fields. In physics the four forces, gravity, magnetism, strong and weak forces are credited with holding our universe together. These forces all propagate through fields. We think of fields as mindless laws of Nature, but the field we have the most experience with, our own consciousness, is not mindless, on the contrary, it is the thinking, flexible guiding force for our activity. Change what we think and it changes what we do. Part of the character of all matter, energy and information is that it corresponds to one kind of a field or another. I mean that fields are a common denominator. Rupert Sheldrake describes the fields that guide growth as morphic fields. The growing tips of plants project a field ahead of the growth that guides it. None of these fields is isolated, but they share information through resonance, entanglement, harmony and such with the other fields. If we are going to talk about consciousness at all, we need to include the interlocking, interconnected and interacting fields that accompany all matter, living and nonliving. To talk about consciousness as something that only happens in the brain is never going to be productive without considering how it connects with everything else. Fields are the spiritual component of the material universe. All things are characterized by Spirit.

      I guess i just should have said that in the first place, huh? =-)

      cheers,
      jim

      Comment by insomniac — March 29, 2010 @ 11:24 am

  3. Ran into this just a minute ago. Seems to fit. =-)

    “Now to complete this picture, I would offer the proposals of Rupert Sheldrake, a modern, living scientist. Sheldrake is a biologist. Sheldrake suggests that undetectable morphic fields exist and correspond to all material phenomena. They contain the forms and patterns of the material, not simply statically but dynamically as well, thus they also hold patterns of motion and behavior. And these fields are alive in the sense that they can and do change over time. They are a cosmic memory. And all things are in active contact with these fields at all times.”
    more at:
    http://adbzone.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/fascinating-parallels/

    Comment by insomniac — March 29, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  4. I was doing great following you until I got to this: “The growing tips of plants project a field ahead of the growth that guides it.” which is my biggest obstacle in understanding fields in and of themselves which is probably the crux of the problem. There is no such thing as a field in and of itself. Am I interpreting your understanding correctly? The second post sure seems to suggest that. And, the above quote? Bohm’s implicate order, yes? And, my experience with the Universe responding to my conceptions (to paraphrase Thoreau) is the field guiding me? Okay that pulls it together for me. Thanks for your guidance.
    And this: “None of these fields is isolated, but they share information through resonance, entanglement…” succinctly states what I most interested in exploring and will once again quote you in my next blog if I may.

    Comment by Mary — March 30, 2010 @ 7:19 am

  5. “Just as our consciousness is the result of waves of firing neurons(fields)”

    I prefer this the other way around, i.e. the neurons are firing because of the conscious field

    “matter is the result of waves of atomic particles interacting through fields of force(energy)”

    I’d love to understand this more Jim 🙂

    Comment by JJ — November 26, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    • That may be so, and i am inclined to think that consciousness comes first. However, the evidence is clear to me that consciousness and physical matter are connected, or one in the same, at the fundamental quantum level. Our neurons firing produce something different from pure information. Information in thought form is translated into physical tissue that remembers and processes itself.

      I’m reading some stuff from Brian Whitworth that you might dig.
      http://brianwhitworth.com/papers.html
      Specifically…
      http://brianwhitworth.com/BW-VRT1.pdf

      cheers,
      jim

      Comment by insomniac — November 27, 2010 @ 8:49 am

      • I don’t go for the epiphenomenon explanation of seperation, I agree matter and energy are the same thing, although I say energy in the broadest terms 😉

        I also look at the entire body as an antenna, or more appropriately, a transponder – download > translate > broadcast. Of course, we need a second transponder to do the same thing and complete the circuit otherwise the signal is kind of lost…

        For some-thing to be self aware there must be more than just itself, otherwise its back to the old problem of trying to look at your own eyeball without a mirror.

        Thanks for the links, the BW-VRT1 isnt working here or on his website. I had a quick look at one of his other papers and shrank away when I realised he was happy to use the standard models “Big Bang” as an a priori… 😦

        Comment by JJ — November 27, 2010 @ 12:49 pm


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