Consciousness Rendering: A New Science
Why we need to observe the Observer.
What’s out there? That’s the question behind the mystery. Behind every mention of aliens, ghosts, and ‘the simulation’, is the intrigue of unknowing.
The feeling, that what if, there was something more just lurking behind the facade. What if you could find it — the portal to the mystery?
This is the engine of exploration; the quest into the question, ad infinitum.
In the Yogic tradition, the answer to seeking infinity is to look inward, in the immaterial; beyond the boundaries innate in the physical. And this is increasingly the direction some scientists are also beginning to take in embrace of the biggest mystery in science: “the hard problem of consciousness.”
There are those going beyond assumptions that consciousness emerges out of physical reality based on correlates between conscious experiences and the brain. This is, as they highlight, without any real basis, only correlations.
Donald Hoffman, a cognitive psychologist, has come to fore with a new theory called “Conscious Realism.” He, with his colleagues posit that Consciousness is fundamental to reality, not space-time.
Using a mathematical framework based on Evolution by Natural Selection, they argue that our sensory input is really an interface that renders reality for us, simply. Evolution has shaped our senses in order to acquire “fitness payoffs”, like food, from which a supportive perceptual infrastructure emerged that included space-time understanding.
If you want a fitness payoff like an apple from a tree, you need to know how far away it is, and how high to go, and senses that afford you that knowledge. But here’s the kicker: that apple? It isn’t really what you perceive it to be.
According to Hoffman, in the same way that a desktop interface visualizes computing processes to allow us to interact with it, so do our senses with reality itself.
A file icon doesn’t actually show you what that file looks like in reality, rather it acts as a visual representation of the information in the computer; so, when you want to attach that file to an email, rather than map out that process manually you simply drag the icon and drop it where desired.
Similarly, a fitness payoff such as a piece of fruit is rendered in the look and form of an apple, providing us with an efficient way of interacting with reality without having to make apparent the actual information behind it.
Reality, in this view is an interaction between “conscious agents”, from “1-bit-agents” to humans, who are made up of trillions of such bits, who themselves perhaps make up even higher levels of conscious agents of which we are unaware.
In this way, the fundamental basis of reality becomes consciousness itself; in which conscious agents like us perceive the universe through our senses, which depicts it as material, and based on space-time principles in order to allow us to interact with it 3-dimensionally.
This would solve at least to some extent, the question of where consciousness emerges from, but leads to an even greater inquiry: What does reality actually look like?
In crafting the visual effects for the film Interstellar, Nobel Laureate physicist Kip Thorne while consulting on the film, provided the visual effects team with mathematical equations that described black holes.
The VFX team then used those formulae to create a simulation of a black hole by plugging in that information into their visual rendering software.
This resulted in more that just the awe-inspiring visuals for the film —the visual information provided by the simulation showcased in the movie produced two scientific papers on black holes, published after it’s release.
Simulating the phenomenon provided astronomers with crucial new insights that confirmed the effects of their equations visually. Could this process of simulating unseen phenomena be the key to understanding consciousness?
Can consciousness be rendered visually based on its mathematical representations? And if Hoffman and his colleagues are correct, could this provide a window into what reality actually looks like?
Perhaps we might finally be able to look inward collectively, as a species — but such a capacity would go beyond theoretical applications.
In their efforts to identify universal grammar — the universal features among humans out of which emerges the capacity for language — linguists also undertake a secondary effort: identifying the basis for human nature itself.
Such a discovery could provide more than just a new understanding of humanity, it may, as linguist Noam Chomsky puts it, lead to a new field:
“Conceivably, we might in this way develop a social science based on empirically wellfounded propositions concerning human nature. Just as we study the range of humanly attainable languages, with some success, we might also try to study the forms of artistic expression or, for that matter, scientific knowledge that humans can conceive, and perhaps even the range of ethical systems and social structures in which humans can live and function, given their intrinsic capacities and needs.
Perhaps one might go on to project a concept of social organization that would — under given conditions of material and spiritual culture — best encourage and accommodate the fundamental human need — if such it is — for spontaneous initiative, creative work, solidarity, pursuit of social justice.”
— Noam Chomsky, Language and Freedom
Being able to empirically identify the features of human nature could, according to Chomsky, open a new field of scientific inquiry into the capacities humans have access to and how best to nurture them.
This field could transcend and encompass all current social-sciences, from economics, to sociology, to psychology; not to mention help envision, objectively, the best form of social organization to meet the needs of humanity.
But what if there was another way of achieving this feat? Another way of finding the portal. What if you could visually render consciousness?
Going beyond linguistics, to actually simulating consciousness opens the possibility for a new unified field of academic study, one that includes both the natural sciences and the humanities.
If consciousness is fundamental, finding an objective way of studying it could achieve both a new conception of improving society for everyone, as well as a more accurate model of reality; synthesizing the efforts of the humanities and physics into one cohesive exploration.
Such a simulation could also be interactive. Visually rendering consciousness could allow people to interact with it physically through virtual reality, providing everyone with creative access to their own conscious experience.
Similarly, an interactive representation of a new society could also be rendered virtually. As such, society can be continuously improved upon by participants as a living legislative document, informed by their own inquiries into the foundation of their being.
In this way, mobilized by an empirical exploration of consciousness itself, all future employment can be oriented around improving society by actuating this collective vision.
No longer will legitimate inquiry, or legislation, be exclusive positions to be held by academics or policy-makers; improving society and exploring reality becomes a collective effort, one of looking inward.
How might the implications of these insights affect the development of artificial intelligence? Could studying consciousness in this way allow us to make sentient our machines?
Or might we find that all matter itself is inherently “conscious”?
In Virtual Reality, only the section of the 3-dimensional environment that a participant is perceiving is rendered in order to optimize for the processing power required to do so.
Perhaps, if reality is hidden from our interaction with our senses, we might find, as some physicists have begun to, that reality itself actually simulated; rendered individually and collectively in congruence with where we orient our perceptions.
This is also the postulation by Riz Virk — author of “The Simulation Hypothesis” — who uses his experience as a video-game developer to demonstrate how virtual reality rendering can offer deep insights into the ways reality itself might be rendered based on the direction of our perception.
Or, as Donald Hoffman speculates, that through his theory we might find a mathematical framework to describe God — a super-consciousness made up of the interaction between all conscious agents, just as we are made up of countless 1-bit agents ourselves.
As Jason Louv — a foremost Occult expert — describes the enlightened insight of The Buddha:
“2,500 years ago The Buddha was sitting under a tree in Northern India and he became enlightened…The Buddha came to essentially a major discovery in Human history; this incredible insight which is that the true self is not within you, it’s in the network, it’s in the connections between beings. This concept is called ‘Dependent Arising.”
Just as a computer’s desktop interface hides the many bits of information that interact with each other in order to allow us to engage with it simply, our senses could be hiding the bits of information that make up our simulated reality, or our collective consciousness.
Can Consciousness Rendering as a new field of inquiry show us a way to do collectively what the methods of meditation do individually? How can we transcend the limited view of our senses and point our perception beyond the physical?
As humanity learns to embrace the mystery of what’s out there, we may be required to commit to another path calling our attention.
It’s time we look within.