The Quantum Basis of Natural Intelligence

Copyright 1996-2000 by Donald R. Tveter,, commercial use is prohibited. This material cannot be quoted at length or posted elsewhere on the net or included in CD ROM collections. Short quotations are permitted provided proper attribution is given. But better yet, since I'm hardly an expert on the subject, don't quote me.


* Physicist David Bohm's book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, (Routledge, 1980) is a collection of 7 essays. The first three deal with very general considerations of how people view the world, fairly pointless essays if you're interested in the physics of things and quantum mechanics. It is only starting in Chapter 4 that the physics shows up. Bohm is a very good and careful writer and he does a nice description of how quantum mechanics as we know it could be the result of yet more complicated principles that we don't yet understand. A key idea of the book is that quantum physics is telling us that everything is related to everything else at some deep level that we don't yet understand.

* Philosopher Huw Price has a book out called Time's Arrow & Archimedes' Point published by Oxford University Press, New York, in March, 1996. The book's table of contents and introductory chapter are available online. It considers the physics of the universe from the standpoint of an observer outside the universe, outside of space and time. It offers a viewpoint on physics, time and QM where the universe has a future that exists every bit as much as the present or the past and the future can affect what happens now. As these things go its fairly easy to understand. This would have implications for intelligence as well since conditions in the future would force things to happen in the present in order to make the future that does exist. So one example might be that because Beethoven was writing great music in 1800 it forces him to write music in 1799 which forces him to write music in 1798 and so on back in time moment by moment and when the young Beethoven first plays a piano it forces him to take a keen interest in it. (This is not Price's example, it is one I made up show how the physics of the idea has implications for thinking.)

* The link, Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality is just the preface to the book by John Gribbin. I've got the book and its pretty good.

* The Emperor's New Mind and the following one Shadows of the Mind> by Roger Penrose are THE controversial book on the subject of quantum computing in the human brain and what quantum computing can or cannot do. It is in effect an attack on AI researchers who think digital computers can do what people do. It has spawned endless debates among scientists and mathematicians on just what a computer can or cannot compute, debates that are all in all too abstract for the general public and debates which actually get you no where. The commentators all see everything a little bit differently so what is obvious to one is silly to the next. And of course there is plenty of room for every commentator to misinterpret quantum mechanics, a subject which even the physicists can't agree on. They might as well be arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. What I'd recommend is fewer arguments and more research into exactly what is going on in the brain and in the microtubules. This book is great stuff for ivory tower academics but it has too many equations and mathematical arguments for the general public not to mention most computer scientists. Of course between the "gibberish" there are lots of interesting insights on the subject.

* This URL is essentially an online ad by the publisher for Roger Penrose's second book, Shadows of the Mind. This book continues the computability argument but also introduces the possibility that the microtubules are responsible for quantum computing in the brain.

Note that the two online html articles ( one two ) by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff cover the Physics and Biology of the subject but not the computability issue so if you want to get a taste of the topics get these.

Note, too, that Nanopoulos in his online article may have solved the problem Penrose is interested in and the Nanopoulos article is available free online it is shorter than the Penrose book and is more readable as well.

* Rethinking Neural Networks: Quantum Fields and Biological Data edited by Karl H. Pribram, International Neural Network Society Press and Lawrence Erlbaum, 1993. This is a collection of articles on the subject that includes quantum mechanical theories of the mind and a lot of information on microtubules. Much of it is mathematical equations and technical "gibberish" and therefore difficult for normal people to follow but as in all such works there is a little bit of plain English around and the plain English parts are very exciting. For instance there is one theorem there that says that if the brain (as a quantum mechanical system) ever understood itself it would cease to function!

If you have any questions or comments, write me.

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