Is consciousness to be found in quantum processes in microtubules?

Discussion in 'Pseudoscience' started by Write4U, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Well, videos don't show neural activity real time. Most neurons fire at rates between 3-20 times per second, which is a rate you can't really see on a video. That would equate to a "processing speed" of .00002 MHz (or .00000002GHz.) But that's deceptive, because we have 100 billion neurons all working away at that same slow rate.
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    So did the flat earth theory. And the idea that rockets need air to push against. And the idea that the seasons were caused by the Earth varying its distance from the Sun.

    But just because something "sounds so right" is not actually evidence than it is.
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    How about "looks right", would that count as evidence? Even if the illustration is artificial?

    We're dealing with the transmission and processing of nano scale values and functions .
    We can't see that, except for still images. But from these images we can deduce function at that scale. At some point the processes are wholly mechanical, i.e. computational processes

    But if we can be confident of such an evolved computational network, I can take the next leap to "conscious" and even more complex to "self-conscious"

    What am I missing?
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    A clear idea of what you are talking about, perhaps? What does the transmission and processing of "nano scale values and functions" mean? And what are these "images" from which we can deduce "function at that scale"? You seem to be having your customary trouble using the word function again.

    There is no evidence that you need any particular computational mechanism in order to make the jump to "conscious" or awareness of self. Any complex enough processing and memory capacity, by whatever means that is achieved, can be inferred to bring that about. There is no special ingredient, added by the quantum computing hypothesis, that overcomes some barrier to consciousness, so far as I can see.
    ajanta likes this.
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Are you seriously asking if "looking right" to someone is any proof of accuracy? If you are really asking that, then the answer is "no."
    Sure. Or you could take the leap that God did it and we will never understand it. That "looks right" to a lot of people, too.

    Consciousness is an emergent property of a neural network. It does not require microtubules, or God, or taking the right vitamins, or seafood, or a brain that looks like a big walnut. It happened by accident, and was retained because many of the characteristics of consciousness (the ability to be introspective, ability to separate oneself and one's desires from those of others, ability to perceive a linear progression of time, a desire to maintain awareness, the ability to extrapolate what other people are feeling based on what you feel) are useful in keeping us alive and functioning within a society.
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  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I don't know enough yet to give a list of all the things microtubules "do", But they do a lot of things. They are functional nano structures. For one, they power flagellas. Thus it appears that even at that small scale chemicals can interact to produce propulsion, i.e. "animation", a large evolutionary step with many implied evolutionary consequences.
    Would you consider a computational system consisting of billions of tiny individual processors complex enough to have the potential for consciousness?

    What is more complex than a processing network consisting of billions tiny processors within the neurons of the neural network? Can you name an aspect of the neural information system more suited to the task than microtubules?

    p.s. I know Hameroff goes as far as predicting that microtubules are quantum processors, but I am not qualified to comment on that aspect. The point is that microtubules do process lots of information of several kinds, including chemical and electronic information. These functions have been experimentally observed and as far as I know has been persuasively proven and verified.

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    I believe this falls under the function of chemically induced "animation". I believe the main debate about microtubules is over functional details rather than ability to perform work. Am I wrong?
    Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I agree, consciousness is an emergent property of a neural network and a neural network consists of microtubular processors among a few other organelles, and not God (whatever that means).

    That is my main thrust; microtubules are the processors that makes neurons function, both in processing information and also memory. We have conscious neural functions and subconscious neural functions. The subconscious control network only warns us consciously when control goes wrong. Until then we do not need to know the status of our ...spleen or some other obscure but important organ. The brain keeps several levels of conscious information processing and subconscious motor functions. How does anesthesia work?

    I call that a serious candidate for being a fundamental aspect of consciousness at various stages of evolutionary development.

    p.s. if you have watched the Anil Seth and/or Stuart Hameroff presentations on consciousness, do you have a comment?
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
  11. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    how big is consciousness ?
  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    It's a PROCESS

    Has no physicality hence no size. Possible maybe a minimum number of neurones required for memory storage and ability to process numerous inputs

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  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    You don't know what a neural network is. Read this:

    There is, I say yet again, NO evidence that human or animal neural networks make use of computation within "microtubular microprocessors". This is an unsubstantiated speculation by Penrose and Hameroff.

    Your "main thrust" is an entirely unsubstantiated notion that seems highly doubtful. You just happen to like it, even though (or perhaps even because?) you don't understand it.
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Right. But cells also have fat in them. Does consciousness require fat? Cells also have potassium in them. Does consciousness require potassium? Cells also have mitochondria. Does consciousness require mitochondria?

    Answer to all of that - no. It requires the function performed by neurons. If you could create neurons that worked identically without microtubules, or mitochondria, or potassium, you would still get consciousness.
    Completely unsupported. Neurons are very simple cells, like transistors in a computer. By themselves they don't do anything other than fire (or not fire) - again, like transistors. It is only when you connect them in massive arrays that you get cognition and consciousness.
    Completely wrong.
    You do not need to know the status of your stomach. But you do.
    You do not need to know the position of your legs. But you do.
    You do not need to know the status of your feet. But you do.
    By interfering with, or shutting down, parts of the CNS.
  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Hm. This is a bit of an overreach.

    "If you could build a rocket that 'worked identically' but without fuel, you would still get to space."
    That does not mean it can be done. As far as we know, a rocket really does need fuel to get to space.
    We can't prove otherwise ... until we can prove otherwise. and it's futile to speculate on hypotheticals.

    IOW, it is at least possible that microtubules are the only way consciousness occurs.

    Not that I want to fuel W4U's hypothesis... That's why I simply called it an overreach.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    How so?
    That is correct! And we could do it right now with a NERVA engine. They don't need fuel; they carry reactors that heat a working gas (hydrogen) that expands and is then used as reaction mass. There are, of course, many other problems (like aborts and launch pad radiation) but it could work.
    No, it doesn't. We've designed and tested rockets that do not. They need nothing more than reaction mass.
    Sure, it is possible, just as it is possible that no NERVA rocket will ever work, no mass driver will ever work, no space elevator will ever work and no Orion-class spacecraft will ever work. But it is extremely unlikely.
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    OK, bad example.
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member


    I am not talking about cells, I am talking about microtubules inside the cells and inside the neurons. The microtubules are the processors inside neurons and other eukaryote cells.
    No, you can't have functional neurons without microtubules, that's the point....

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    This is like asking if you could make a computer that can calculate without "microchips" you would still be able to calculate. No, you couldn't.
    Not unless you allow information to pass through the network. Microtubules provide the "information" which when distributed throughout the neural network allows us to think and be conscious. What you call "firing" is work of the microtubule! It's guiding principle is a spiral motility, which allows it to function as a motor as well as a dynamic processor and "transmitter" (firing) of information.
    No it isn't. Please do watch the Anil Seth clip. He is the expert on interoception.
    No you don't unless you are hungry. Try to visualize your stomach. You can't.
    Oh, you need to know the position of your feet and legs, but that's easy, those are external observations.

    But you don't feel your spleen, your kidneys. liver, heart, unless they go wrong.
    Yes, but how do you do that? Stuart Hameroff is an anesthesiologist and knows how to do that and what parts of the CNS to leave alone (the subconscious part that keeps us alive).
    Do watch the Hameroff presentation. He makes it so easy for laypersons to understand.

    And Roger Penrose seems to like Hameroff's idea that microtubules are not just micro-processors, but are in fact quantum processors. Yes, microtubules are very small (nano scale and much smaller than neurons)

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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
  19. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Microtubules in neurons as information carriers
    *Department of Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI, USA †Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

    Personal observation; Nothing else inside a cell has the beautiful symmetry of microtubules. Their very simple structure allows for stable use over very large information networks.

    It's an "open" platform......

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    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No, they are not. They are simply one part of the cell.
    And you can't have functional cells without water or potassium, either. It would be foolish to claim that therefore consciousness is based on water.
    I absolutely could.

    I could build a processor that ran basic calculations, and ran basic programs, out of discrete transistors. Or vacuum tubes. Or relays. In fact all those things have been done; microchips are just cheaper and faster.

    You do not need microchips to build computers any more than you need microtubules to support consciousness.
    I'm doing it right now. It's full and gurgling a little because I just had lunch. Now, you may well have some problem where you can't perceive your stomach - but most people can.
    No, they are proprioception. You do not need to see your legs to know where they are. (Which is one reason you are able to run and walk without staring at your legs. Well, at least most people can.)
    This is just the latest fad scientific concept. Next it will be crystals again. (Did you know you have crystals in neurons? Well you do! And crystals resonate! And some people have ESP! Proof that CRYSTALS are what cause consciousness.)
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    This is rubbish. There is, I say for the fourth time now, NO evidence that microtubules play any part in processing information.


    You keep posting reams of irrelevant junk, but you cannot produce any evidence to back up this entirely unsupported assertion. All you have is speculations, by a variety of kooks, none of whom offer any evidence.
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Actually they are responsible for arranging the cell.
    false equivalence.
    microtubules are dynamical structures. Neither water nor potassium is. I would rather argue that microtubules are found even in non-neural organisms such as the single celled paramecium which does not have neurons but it does have microtubules.
    Then you must have prior knowledge of organs and their exact place in the body. Else you cannot feel or see the organ. It's called interoception.
    It does not however provide for "location sensation".
    Biological computers? Microtubules are bio-computer chips.
    Well, I could ask if one needs a brain to be conscious. Human organisms, as well as many other bio-organisms employ microtubules in order to perform dynamic information transportation, including chemical exchanges.
    No they can't. There are no neurons that transmit that data to the brain when it is functioning optimally. It is when something is different, such as the presence of flatulence that you experience pain or discomfort. Warning signals (sirens) if you will.
    Right, I did not say legs or arms, I said internal organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, galbladder, arteries, neural networks , you know the stuff you cannot see or feel. You have to consciously control your muscles. That's why you can flex them and select which muscles to use and even train them.
    Wait aminuteI have not advanced any of those possible examples you are citing.

    Are you saying that we already have a working model of consciousness which excludes the role of microtubules?

    If not, we can't very judge it as woo just yet, can we? There are a lot of scientists at work on this relatively recent development in brain function research.

    Still, Wiki has already some 15 pages of references to publications and lectures by acknowledged experts in the field. There is great interest in the proposition that microtubules are possible bio-computers (perhaps even at some form of quantum level).
    And the quest is just beginning. This is mostly new stuff, that's why there is scepticism, as it should be.

    But unless it is proven to be woo, in the absence of a viable alternative, I'll go with this for now until something better comes up, I'm from old Dutch explorer stock.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    What are you talking about? I can feel my stomach gurgling. I can feel when my heart palpitates. All your organs (except the brain) have nerves that run to the brain.
    I know where my legs are without looking at them. Otheriwse, I would not enve be able to get up off the couch without checking to see that they're close to the floor.

    It is an interesting conjecture that microtubules might be the seat of consciousness, but there is simply no evidence to support it.

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