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commented on July 18, 2014
Let us start with this recent TEDTalk by David Chalmers. In his talk he mention a theory on consciousness put forth by Giulio Tononi.
"A really exciting thing is in recent years a neuroscientist, Giulio Tononi, has taken this kind of theory and developed it rigorously with a mathematical theory. He has a mathematical measure of information integration which he calls phi, measuring the amount of information integrated in a system. And he supposes that phi goes along with consciousness. So in a human brain, incredibly large amount of information integration, high degree of phi, a whole lot of consciousness. In a mouse, medium degree of information integration, still pretty significant, pretty serious amount of consciousness. But as you go down to worms, microbes, particles, the amount of phi falls off. The amount of information integration falls off, but it's still non-zero. On Tononi's theory, there's still going to be a non-zero degree of consciousness. In effect, he's proposing a fundamental law of consciousness: high phi, high consciousness."
Also see, "Phi – A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul" by Giulio Tononi
I've been meaning to read the book and the talk has encouraged me to do so, sooner rather than later. But lets discuss this concept of "phi."