Next Article in Journal
A Reference-Free Lossless Compression Algorithm for DNA Sequences Using a Competitive Prediction of Two Classes of Weighted Models
Previous Article in Journal
Evidence for Maintained Post-Encoding Memory Consolidation Across the Adult Lifespan Revealed by Network Complexity
Previous Article in Special Issue
Causal Composition: Structural Differences among Dynamically Equivalent Systems
Open AccessArticle

Integrated Information Theory and Isomorphic Feed-Forward Philosophical Zombies

by Jake R. Hanson 1,2 and Sara I. Walker 1,2,3,*
1
School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
2
Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
3
ASU–SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Entropy 2019, 21(11), 1073; https://doi.org/10.3390/e21111073
Received: 1 August 2019 / Revised: 27 October 2019 / Accepted: 29 October 2019 / Published: 2 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrated Information Theory)
Any theory amenable to scientific inquiry must have testable consequences. This minimal criterion is uniquely challenging for the study of consciousness, as we do not know if it is possible to confirm via observation from the outside whether or not a physical system knows what it feels like to have an inside—a challenge referred to as the “hard problem” of consciousness. To arrive at a theory of consciousness, the hard problem has motivated development of phenomenological approaches that adopt assumptions of what properties consciousness has based on first-hand experience and, from these, derive the physical processes that give rise to these properties. A leading theory adopting this approach is Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which assumes our subjective experience is a “unified whole”, subsequently yielding a requirement for physical feedback as a necessary condition for consciousness. Here, we develop a mathematical framework to assess the validity of this assumption by testing it in the context of isomorphic physical systems with and without feedback. The isomorphism allows us to isolate changes in Φ without affecting the size or functionality of the original system. Indeed, the only mathematical difference between a “conscious” system with Φ > 0 and an isomorphic “philosophical zombie” with Φ = 0 is a permutation of the binary labels used to internally represent functional states. This implies Φ is sensitive to functionally arbitrary aspects of a particular labeling scheme, with no clear justification in terms of phenomenological differences. In light of this, we argue any quantitative theory of consciousness, including IIT, should be invariant under isomorphisms if it is to avoid the existence of isomorphic philosophical zombies and the epistemological problems they pose.
Keywords: consciousness; integrated information theory; Krohn–Rhodes decomposition consciousness; integrated information theory; Krohn–Rhodes decomposition
MDPI and ACS Style

Hanson, J.R.; Walker, S.I. Integrated Information Theory and Isomorphic Feed-Forward Philosophical Zombies. Entropy 2019, 21, 1073.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop