20 page pdf here
In short, the theory is that there is a quantum non-local realm that chooses from the uncertain multiple possibilities of the physical world. This is free will. It affects tiny things in ion channels in the brain, but those are trimtabs that affect behavior. Physical particles are the interaxion of a maybe-wave traveling forward in time, and a deciding-wave traveling backward.
The hard problem contrasts with easy problems of consciousness like 'how can a person verbalize his internal states'. A functional explanation will suffice for these easy problems.
"Because its subjective nature makes it unavailable to objective investigation, reductionist descriptions identify subjective consciousness with functional attributes of the brain, inferring computational machines might also possess consciousness. At best in such views, the subjectively conscious mind remains an enigma considered to be merely a passive 'epiphenomenon'. However it is the physical world which is secondary to our personal experience, a consensus of stable subjective representations we assemble into our real world view. It thus remains unclear whether a physical universe without conscious observers could exist [...] Subjective consciousness may be necessary for the actualization of physical reality, and thus fundamental to physical existence in a cosmological sense"
Chalmers says: "If the existence of consciousness cannot be derived from physical laws, a theory of physics is not a true theory of everything [because physics only deals with the physical]. So a final theory must contain an additional fundamental component. Toward this end, I propose that conscious experience be considered a fundamental feature, irreducible to anything more basic."
But the brain seems to have been created by a haphazard evolutionary process, not anything cosmic - so how do we reconcile cosmic consciousness with this? We could claim that consciousness existed before the brain, and the brain taps into it, "claim that the brain is accessing universal properties of a quantum nature". This is basically what Aldous Huxley claims in The Doors of Perception, or kunzhi in Dzogchen.
In addition to the problem of conscious experience (the Cup), there is also the problem of conscious volition (the Wand). We assume that we have conscious control of our actions as a matter of common sense, but this "contradicts physical determinism".
Chaotic processes are potentially able to inflate arbitrarily small fluctuations, so molecular chaos may inflate the fluctuations associated with quantum uncertainty. (The principle of sensitive dependence on initial conditions). King thinks this is a counterargument to those who say quantum randomness is irrelevant at the large scale.
We can slow down the stream of light in the double-slit experiment until one photon goes thru at a time - we'll still get interference. This means each photon must pass thru both slits.
When the photon is going thru as a particle (because we're measuring it), there is no way of predicting which slit it will go thru; we can only make probabilistic statements about which it might go thru. "Hence the probability is spread throughout the extent of the wave function, potentially extending throughout the entire universe at very low probabilities. Quantum theory thus describes all future (and past) states as probabilities. Unlike classical probabilities, we cannot find out more about the situation and reduce the probability to a certainty by deeper investigation, because of the limits imposed by quantum uncertainty." In other words: universe contains a maybe.
Here we see the parallel to free human choice - the photon seems to choose from multiple possibilities. (In the multiple worlds model, you could say we are choosing which of the worlds we will step into.)
Wheeler delayed choice experiment: arrange the two slits so that they go on either side of a distant galaxy. When the photon is in transit, add a detector to destroy the interference. You seem to have altered a distant photon and rewritten history. "collapse may involve the situation at the end of the path influencing the earlier history"
We can only sample one outcome, one quantum choice, but maybe we could find out more by emitting multiple correlated particles (like in a Bose-Einstein condensate or a laser), and measuring one. This happens when an excited calcium emits two photons; when we measure one, we collapse both. This is entanglement.
The detector doesn't just change how the photon is, it changes how it has been since it left the atom - backwards causality. One explanation appeals to a retarded wave. This interferes constructively with one - and only one - of the maybe-waves that the particle followed on its route. This is called the transactional interpretation, and is the basis of King's theory.
"Causality with its symmetry-broken sequential time [i.e. one directional, traditional, past-influences-future causality] and supercausality with its time-symmetric handshaking [i.e. retarded 'choice' waves adding to advanced 'maybe' waves] form complementary domains, which is why the model is also called dual-time supercausality"
"Notice also that the past contains causal records as well as superpositions, but the future is purely extrapolation plus superpositions [i.e. the future is a bunch of maybes]. It is at this point that the influence of the conscious observer and the hard problem become pivotal."
Maybe all particles have transmitters and absorbers, like photons in double-slit experiments. Maybe the birth of the universe was the ultimate transmitter, which is why time runs forward from there.
"The hand-shaking space-time relation [between forward-moving maybes and backward-moving choices] implied by the transactional interpretation makes it possible that the apparent randomness of quantum events masks a vast interconnectivity at the sub-quantum level, reflecting Bohm's (1980) implicate order."
The transactional interpretation, "because this connects past and future in a time-symmetric way, it cannot be reduced to predictive determinism, because the initial conditions are insufficient to describe the transaction, which also includes quantum 'information coming from the future"
"However this future is also unformed in real terms at the early point in time emission takes place. My eye didn't even exist, when the quasar emitted its photon, except as a profoundly unlikely branch of the combined probability waves' of all the events throughout the history of the universe between the ancient time the quasar released its photon, my eye developing, and me being in the right place at the right time to see it. Transactional supercausality thus involves a huge catch 22 about space, time and prediction, uncertainty and destiny. It doesn't suggest the future is determined, but that the contingent futures do superimpose"
"The transactional interpretation may combine with quantum computation to produce a space-time anticipating quantum entangled system which may be pivotal in how the conscious brain does its computation". The brain is always anticipating possible futures - maybe out of the superpositions of the future that exist.
"In a sense, space and time are complementary dimensionalities, which behave rather like real and imaginary complex variables"
"When time is squared it has a negative sign just like the imaginary complex number (iota equals the square root of minus-one) does."
"Stephen Hawking has noted that if we treat time as an imaginary variable, the space-time universe could become a closed manifold rather like a 4-D sphere, in which the cosmic origin is rather like the north pole of Earth, because imaginary time will reverse the above negative sign". (In other words, time flips at the Big Bang. If you walk North to the North Pole and keep walking, you are now going South. Similarly, if you try to go back beyond the Big Bang, you find yourself going forward.)
"significant feature of special relativity is the fact that the relativistic energy-momentum equation E2=p2+m2 has dual energy solutions: E= +/-(p2+m2)" [note the plus OR minus - a positive solution and a negative one are both valid] "The negative energy solution has reversed temporal direction. Effectively a negative energy anti-particle travelling backwards in time is exactly the same as a positive energy particle travelling forwards in time in the usual manner..... A photon is its own anti-particle so in this case we just have an advanced [forward in time] or retarded [backward] photon."
Electromagnetic fields "are" the result of virtual particles, i.e. force-carrying particles that "have no net positive energy and appear and disappear entirely within the window of quantum uncertainty". "The electromagnetic force is generated by virtual photons exchanged between charged particles existing only for a time and energy permitted by the uncertainty relation."
"We can find the force between two electrons by integrating the effects of every virtual photon which could be exchanged within the limits of uncertainty and of every other possible virtual particle system, including pairs of electrons and positrons coming into a fleeting existence. However, we can't eliminate the wave description because the amplitudes with which the particles are propagated from point to point are wave amplitudes [like the probability waves of high and low amplitude on the double-slit experiment; quantum maybes of high probability and low]. Uncertainty not only can create indefiniteness but it can actively create every conceivable particle out of the vacuum, and does so."
"The virtual particles of a force field and the real particles we experience as radiation such as light are one and the same. If we pump energy into the field, for example by oscillating it in a radio transmitter, the virtual photons composing the electromagnetic field become the real positive energy photons in radio waves entering the receiver as a coherent stream of real photons, encoding the music we hear."
"Relativistic quantum field theories always have both advanced and retarded solutions [i.e. forward and backward in time], one with positive and the other with negative energy, because of the two square roots of special relativity [the plus or minus we saw before]. They are often described by Feynman space-time diagrams. When the Feynman diagram for electron scattering becomes time-reversed, it then becomes precisely the diagram for creation and annihilation of the electron's anti-particle, the positron, as shown above [i.e. an electron going forward is equivalent to a positron going backwards in time]. This hints at a fundamental role for the exotic time-reversed advanced solutions. [i.e. antimatter going backwards in time is necessary for something as everyday as a radio transmission]" "Virtual photons generating the electromagnetic field have become real ones telling us the news."
As well, as electromagnetism, you can explain the weak and strong nuclear forces this way.
The brain has a lot of parallelism, but only a little serialism: a signal only passes through a chain of 4-10 neurons.
Temporal, parietal and occipital lobes are mostly sensing. Frontal and pre-frontal areas are busy with working memory and "anticipatory models". Intent is part of this anticipatory model. Limbic system is to do with emotional state.
"The onset of dreaming sleep is heralded by activity of cells in the Pons and silencing of cells in the Raphe Nuclei and Locus Coeruleus."
"Walter Freeman's model of chaos in sensory perception, fig 12(b,c), (Skarda and Freeman 1987, Freeman 1991) gives a good feeling for how transitions in and out of chaos - a so-called 'edge-of-chaos' complexity phenomenon (Ruthen 1993), could play a key role in sensory recognition." A smell excites a burst of chaotic activity as it is perceived, then this settles into an old 'basin' (if the smell is recognized) or else into a brand new one (if it's not recognized).
"A fundamental reason for any dynamical nervous system to enter chaos is that chaotic systems are arbitrarily sensitive on their initial or external conditions, so a system entering chaos is capable of being acutely responsive to its environment over time". "biological systems appear to exploit chaos to free up their dynamics to explore the phase space of possibilities available, without becoming locked in a local energy valley which keeps it far from a global optimum." (In other words you must have chaos in you to give birth to a dancing star!)
Creativity is selected for because chicks dig guys in bands
"The organizers of neural systems are also frequently non-pulse coded 'silent' cells capable of continuous non-linear dynamics."
"Despite the classical result of quasi-linearity of the axonal discharge rate with depolarization [i.e. the linear input-threshold-output model], virtually all aspects of synaptic transmission and excitation have non-linear characteristics capable of chaos and bifurcation. For example the acetyl-choline ion channel has quadratic concentration dynamics, requiring two molecules to activate."
"Broadly speaking neurodynamics is 'edge of chaos' in the time domain and parallel distributed in a coherent 'holographic' manner (Pribram 1993) spatially."
The fractal many-to-many architecture of the brain is a conduit to channel this chaos.
"this fractal process runs all the way from the global brain state to molecular quantum chaos".... "The brain is thus an organ capable of supersensitivity to the instabilities of the quantum milieu."
Things like the traveling salesman problem have real survival utility and are best solved by quantum computing.
Supposing what we have said about the future being a superposition of maybes is true. If consciousness is quantum, the it can have hunches and anticipate outcomes - this is more relevant to surviving than just doing quantum computing. "The idea is that this sense organ then found that through the exchange of transactional hand-shaking with its own emission and absorption states, a form of quantum anticipation of its own immediate future, resulted. This anticipation then proved to have significant selective advantage for the organism and thus became fixed in evolution as the sentient conscious brain, complementing computational capacity with transactional anticipation through the chaotically fractal central nervous system."
King does seem to actually believe that this quantum non-local consciousness is responsible for everyday precognition: "nervous systems can access the laws of quantum non-locality to enable a form of temporal anticipation of pivotal survival value, which would hence be strongly selected as a trait."
"Quantum computing on its own does not solve the problem of will involved in decision-making when many choices are available, several of which may be successful to varying degrees. The capacity to make a decision, given many options is pivotal. To explain free choice, it is also necessary to explain all the manifestations of non-computational complexity, such as the creativity which enables a new musical theme, or an art form, or other innovation to be created. None of this complexifying behaviour is explained by any form of computation which seeks a single optimal outcome or even a specific heuristic array of options. Creative variety is the essence of human diversity and our success as a species. Neither does quantum computing alone indicate why we experience a subjective impression of free-choice central to the exercise of subjective consciousness. In the Hameroff-Penrose OOR model, reduction of the wave function is regarded as orchestrated and objective and is thus independent of the conscious will of the experiencer. If intentional consciousness is only a retrospective reflection of an orchestrated objective collapse, it still has no evolutionary role in terms of selective advantage. We thus need to explain not just how computation might be accelerated in quantum consciousness, but the origin of will in the subjective affecting and in effecting physical outcomes"
You can think of the unfolding of events in evolution as universe choosing paths at one crossroads of maybes after another, picking a path thru the phase-space of possible outcomes. At first these were quantum only, but as more complex structures developed, the quantum choices affected bigger, more complex structures (via the principle of sensitive dependence on initial conditions). This might go all the way up to the brain where it appears as conscious decision-making (human free will). In this model, biology is a sort of amplifier of quantum indeterminacy.
Cell membranes are subject to quantum effects - they are excitable by ions moving around. "The Piezo-electric nature and high voltage gradient of the excitable membrane provides an excitable single cell with a generalized quantum sense organ." "While this doesn't solve the hard problem, it does go some way towards a description in which the cellular excitability we do associate with consciousness does have a possible cosmological status in physical terms"
The role of chaos in creating again: "Chaotic sensitive dependence would enable such a cell to gain feedback about its external environment, rather than becoming locked in a particular oscillatory mode."
"Excitation would be perturbed by a variety of modes - chemically through molecular interaction, electromagnetically through photon absorption and the perturbations of the fluctuating fields generated by the excitations themselves, and mechanically through acoustic interaction. Such excitability in the single cell would predate the computational function of neural nets, making chaos fundamental to the evolution of neuronal computing rather than vice versa."
Summing up quantum consciousness: "The sense modes we experience are not simply biological as such but more fundamentally the qualitative modes of quantum interaction between molecular matter and the physical universe. They thus have plausible cosmological status. Vision deals with interaction between orbitals and photons, hearing with the harmonic excitations of molecules and membrane solitons or piezo-electric excitons, as evidenced in the action potential. Smell is the avenue of orbital-orbital interaction, as is taste. Touch is a hybrid sense involving a mixture of these."
"The very distinct qualitative differences between vision, hearing, touch and smell do not appear to be paralleled in the very similar patterns of electrical excitation evoked in their cortical areas. If all these excitations can occur simultaneously in the excitable cell, its quantum-chaotic excitation could represent a form of cellular multi-sensory synaesthesia." This makes sense: although at the perceivable level, the sense organs are very different, their messages get smooshed together to make a gestalt in consciousness a the perceived level. King goes on to say that the quantum process of perceiving evolved before the five senses - consistent with the Buddhist idea of sense-gates.
Trimtab. "many aspects of synaptic release are highly non-linear, with many feedback loops involved in the biochemical pathways. A single vesicle excites up to 2000 ion channels, so a smaller fluctuation could set off a critically-poised ion channel and trigger a chain reaction of excitation." "The fractal model uses the molecular processes of synaptic vesicles and ion channels currently believed to be pivotal in supporting active conscious states. Such a model enables instability at the quantum level to become amplified when the global brain state is critically-poised [i.e. when it's decision time], in a way which could be possible even though the corresponding excitations [i.e. the options] are distributed across the cortex. The situation could in principle enable global excitations to be considered as inflated quanta"
Consciousness correlates with phase-binding in the brain. The best solution to the hard problem would link phase-binding to quantum superposition.
"The fractal dynamics model proposes that the conscious state corresponds to phase coherent, temporally edge-of-chaos, excitations of coupled regions of the cortex, capable of entering a critically poised unstable state if faced with conflicting stimuli which cannot be resolved from learned experience. This would in turn enable quantum fluctuations at the molecular level to become an unstable 'watershed' which tips the global state towards a resolution." This is consistent with a psychological model in which we are not applying free will when we are acting out of habit.
An advantage of this model (where quantum events affect ion channels) over the Hameroff-Penrose model (where they affect microtubules) is that we don't have to assign a new role to microtubules, which are already known to transport organelles. The Hameroff-Penrose model says that the microtubules are isolated when the brain switches into quantum computing mode - but it's hard to see how this fits in to a smooth experience of consciousness.
"We can model the evolving brain dynamic as a complementation between two processes, an ordered process of computation based on the initial conditions forming a skeleton defining the ordered context and a chaotic, uncertain complement." In other words, the Hodge and the Podge, the facts and the creative lila of chaos.
"The ordered aspect of the dynamic would be a function of initial conditions [the decision you're faced with] but the complementary chaotic, uncertain regime would involve inflated future states [goals] through transactional handshaking [matching the choice to the goals]."
The binding problem is also solved by this quantum non-local consciousness. If the seat of consciousness isn't in the brain, it explains why different processes distributed across the brain are perceived together.
This model gives consciousness an evolutionary advantage - it can help make decisions - whereas epiphenomenalism does not.
"Since the quantum transaction is a fundamental interpretation of all quanta, it is general to all quantum interaction. Its manifestation in resolving the fundamental questions of interaction with the physical world thus adopts a cosmological dimension, in which the sentient conscious brain becomes a central avenue for the expression of subjectivity through quantum non-locality in space time." In other words, this theory explains consciousness the same way it explains physics/cosmology as a whole; as quantum pairs of emitters and detectors, or as a yoga between subjects and objects. King calls it interlacing contingent emitters and absorbers across space-time in a hand-shaking" - using the mildest form of bodily contact for his metaphor!
"The role of consciousness as a cosmological process appears to mediate effectively between the world of the cosmic subjective, represented in physics as quantum non-locality, with the uniqueness of historicity"
Magickal divination uses chaos to read ripples in the causal web. If there is a quantum non-local web determining causality by pushing buttons in physical indeterminacy every so often, this seems like a reasonable thing to do. "It is also possible to model hunches or premonitions as perceptions of partially collapsed contingent transactional ensembles, making certain perceived outcomes more likely than they would have been had no the perception occurred." It is possible that psychic phenomena, such as measured in the Maimonides dream studies or Bem & Honorton's ganzfeld studies, are caused by people reading the unwritten future from the non-local realm.
King suggests that sexual reproduxion evolved in biology because the model of pairing/matching like that already existed on the cosmic level.
"This paper proposes that the existential realm is a complementarity between subjective consciousness and the objective physical universe, of a founding cosmological nature." In other words, life is a yoga.
"Just as uncertainty and unpredictability open the loop hole making free-will possible in the quantum universe, so the subjective aspect of will remains potentially as free of internal conditioning by drive or ego as it is potentially free of becoming completely conditioned by the circumstances of the physical world. [Rise above your attachments and cravings!] In so far as we, as sentient conscious individuals, treat love and will as mysteries in their own right, so they become the subjective complement of an integrated expression of quantum non-locality and an entanglement which permeates the entire universe. In applying our free will, we each contribute collectively to the collapse of the infinite possibilities of the multiverses before us into a beneficent or sterile outcome. Just as the choice is ours at all points to enhance or diminish the diversity and abundance of life, so our world history becomes one of abundance or poverty."
Other complex systems, such as weather, might be affected by the quantum non-local realm, but not in such an intelligently directed way. (Room here for rain dances etc.?)