Retrosignaling in the quantum substrate


The retrosignaling described below does not lead to paradoxes like the grandfather paradox because of its stochastic nature.


From A, many possible paths with A as the source are generated. This are the possible paths of a particle originating from A.

The paths end up at possible endpoints B[1], B[2], … . Each B[i] could be the endpoint for several paths. (In a path-integral formulation, each path “carries” on a channel a (changing) unit (circle) complex number (UCN).

From each B[i], retrosignals (backwards-in-time signals) are sent on path backchannels to A. (These are “weights” – computed as the modulus of the sum of UCNs received at B[i] – carried by each path backwards in time to A.

A gets all these retrosignalled weights (effectively resulting in a probability distribution on all paths) and selects a single path. (This occurs at the very same time that it generated the paths.)

Result: There is only one B[i*], and only one path leading to B[i*].

The paths are like A‘s litter (of children). It gets signals from the future on the prospects for each child. A kills off all its children but one. The quantum substrate is a cruel world.


In the EPR experiment (where a source S transmits a particle with a path to endpoint A and transmits a particle with a path to endpoint B): A signal with information about A is backchanneled on the first path to S. A signal with information about B is backchanneled on the second path to S. These retrosignals are received at S simultaneously, and are used by S to stochastically select the states of the (heterogeneous) twin particles.The quantum substrate has a weak clairvoyance.


Philip Thrift


Mathematical pulp fictionalism


I propose an easy-road approach to mathematical fictionalism, vs. a hard-road of nominalization. (Pulp fiction is easy-to-read, “cheap” fiction.)

One starts with the basic premise: The objects of mathematics (numbers, curves, sets, relations, …) do not exist, but objects of the basic sciences – physics, chemistry, biology – (particles, galaxies, molecules, …) do exist.

How then does one find (some) mathematics useful in science?

The key concept is that matter has codicality: It has a programmatic, or codical, nature. It follows repetitive behavior that can be described programmatically. (Possibly, matter that does not have this nature would fall apart and could not form a universe.)

The codical nature of matter is called hard code. It is something like the hardware produced by hardware compilers (e.g., floating-point gate arrays and hardware neural networks). Such hardware can be reconfigurable: its behavior evolves over time. Synthetic biology is now producing bioware out of biochemcal matter.

Programs, or soft code, are converted into hardware (or bioware) via matter compilers / assemblers (e.g., molecular assemblers, and bicompilers in synthetic biology). In the case of natural “hardware”, science plays the role of reverse (code) engineering: it produces a “program” (called a theory or model) that matches the behaviour of the natural object.

The language of this reversed-engineered code has typically been mathemaiical language. It doesn’t have to be – it could be Python, Go, or Haskell. In the case of mathematics, it is should not be surprising then – given that the natural object has been reversed-engineered – that even though the objects of the mathematical language may not exist, the theory (the collection of mathematical expressions) is useful in modeling the natural world.


Philip Thrift


Would a conscious robot be an idealist or a materialist?


(Photo: NASA)


Suppose there is a future Mars rover (call it Marv) that is conscious. Suppose it is possible that some future scientists and engineers make Marv out of sufficient hardware and software (beyond what we can do in 2018, and perhaps with new materials such as that generated by synthetic biology) that enable Marv to have consciousness. Marv is alone on Mars, is self-aware, and has all sorts of ideas.

Now Marv knows its own entire history, too. It knows — it was told — how the scientists put its own self together and sent it to Mars.

It’s hard to tink think that Marv would think that its “body” is just a mental model it had of itself, or that the team of scientists who made it was some fantasy. It would be aware of its own material origin and composition. I don’t think it would be “brainwashed” into thinking all that was just a “idea” in its “mind”.

We are not (we presume) like Marv made by a team of scientists, but we are at least led to believe we were made by processes of evolution. We are aware of our own material origin and composition. To that extent, we are just like Marv.


Philip Thrift


The matter of consciousness and the consciousness of matter


1. Matter is all there is.

but …

2. Matter has a dualistic aspect: Code. This is the core of Codicalism.

3. Code is Language, and Language is connected to Consciousness.

4. Thus: Consciousness (at varying levels) is potentially co-extensive with Matter.

but …

5. Consciousness has two aspects:

a. experientiality: There is no experience without material presence; cf. matter (e.g. bio-) compilers. Information alone does not capture the “presence” of matter.

b. linguisticity: The linguisticity (codicality) of x is the linguistic (codical) status of x. Language levels correspond to (proto)consciousness levels.

6. Human consciousness is (somehow) built from both the experientiality and linguisticity of the brain’s physics, chemistry, and biology.



This note puts a spotlight on the linguistic aspect of consciousness. While the experiential (presentness) aspect is necessary (and is the focus of many panpsychists), an exploration of the “linguistics” (code) of matter – from physical to chemical to biological – could be a useful effort in connecting consciousness to the diversity of matter and in helping to solve the hard problem of consciousness.


Least radical approach to panpsychism: Materialism (Too).

The batural sciences study the physical, chemical, and biological (PCB) domains. Consciousness is both real and a “hard problem”, but it can be understood as a new property of matter within the PCB spectrum — not (necessarily) presuming physicalism (reducing CB to P); i.e., materialism > physicalism — just as decoherence became understood as a new property of the quantum-physical domain.


Philip Goff, William Seager, Sean Allen-Hermanson: Panpsychism [SEP]

Galen Strawson, Panpsychism vs. Physicalism?, Realistic monism: why physicalism entails panpsychism, Galen Strawson on Panpsychism

Yair Neumana, Ophir Nave: Why the brain needs language in order to be self-conscious

Cornel du Toit: Panpsychism, pan-consciousness and the non-human turn: Rethinking being as conscious matter

David Chalmers: The Hard Problem of Consciousness

cf. “Spinoza’s psycho-physical parallelism” in Panpsychism (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy); review of Philip Goff’s Consciousness and Fundamental Reality (2017); It’s (probably) the chemistry, stupid.


Philip Thrift


The Noumenality of Matter


Nanogears no more than a nanometer wide could be used to construct a matter compiler, which could be fed raw material to arrange atoms and build a macroscale structure. Courtesy of NASA Ames Research Center. [ref]


Our theories (models) of the cosmos stand in an uncomfortable relationship with the things (matter) of the cosmos. (“It is models almost all the way up and models almost all the way down”, according to Ronald Giere.) The models say something about what the material things are, but is what they say the essential nature of matter, or does matter itself remain forever noumenal — the thing-in-itself beyond our conception?

To the “rescue” comes the (hypothetical) KANT: Kantian Analogical Noumenal Translator (a universal matter compiler). It is like the matter compilers or molecular assemblers of science fiction, the biocompilers or bioprinters of a future synthetic biology, and the technology of making synthetic materials and chemicals.

KANT is a universal code-to-matter compiler. Want a conscious brain (CB)? Input a CB program (which could be in a humongous GitHub code repository) and KANT outputs a biological CB. (There is already a codebase developing for the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans.) Whether other materials could be used in place of the biochemicals of our natural brains is an open question.

If there is KANT, could there be deKANT (a decompiler that can take the outputs of KANT (matter) and reverse compile them into programs (code)? (Science basically works like a deKANTer: Matter in, models out.)

But in the end, even with KANT and deKANT, there is a noumenality to the material things that KANT makes. But perhaps it’s the best we can do, unless we become the outputs of KANT.


Kant could be considered the father of the “anti-metaphysics” 20th century philosophers:

In Kant’s Wake: Philosophy in the Twentieth Century
Google Books

There is the cosmos-in-itself, but we only have percepts and models of it.

(The mistake of Platonism is the confusion of models with the itselfs of the cosmos.)


Philip Thrift


What’s the matter with fiction?

The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.

Tom Wolfe


Punning aside: What is the relationship between fiction [fictionalism] and matter [materialism]?

Fictionalism (in philosophy: “claims … not best seen as aiming at literal truth but are better regarded as a sort of ‘fiction'”, SEP:Fictionalism) [perhaps should have been named “phictionalism”] is a genre that includes mathematical, mental (psychological), modal, moral.

There is the fictional/material — or codical/noumenal — distinction, but …

Fictions (e.g. phictions) cannot exist without a material substrate.

The matter-substrate for fiction can be

– memory in brains
– memory in computers
– printed material in books

and play out as simulations in biological and other machines.

(But not (as Platonists or mentalists would think) abstractions in a non-material realm.)


cf. Fictionalism, et al. in codicalism

Philip Thrift