An information-and-computation-based metaphysics is fundamental to several recent sources (as well as my own metaphysics) – even if the specialist scientific researchers often don’t concern themselves with metaphysical aspects of ontology. Most recently John C Doyle and Mark Solms for example – information and its processes are simply taken as more fundamental than any other aspect of physics. The self-organisation and emergence of multi-layer systems and their architectures, Markov-blankets, active-inference, systems-thinking and the like then explain how more recognisable physical (and living and conscious) things arise and behave.
Sadly there’s a “bug” in orthodox science (Doyle) that rejects these descriptions where objective chains of causality appear to be broken by abstract patterns of information and which naturally bring the subjective aspects of consciousness into consideration. Empathising with the subjective is a “Rubicon” orthodox science needs to cross (Solms).
“Minimal physicalism as a scale-free substrate for cognition and consciousness.”
– Chris Fields, James F. Glazebrook and Michael Levin
Is a paper from an August 2021 special edition of the journal “Neuroscience of Consciousness” – citing several authors already relevant here – and referenced earlier by Anatoly Levenchuk as being relevant to systems thinking and an information-and-computation-based metaphysics. I’ll say, (MP = Minimal Physicalism) it concludes:
In direct contrast with strict Cartesianism, MP holds that we can better understand our own awareness by understanding the awareness of our more basal cousins. Our homeostatic/allostatic drives and the mechanisms that satisfy them are phylogenetically continuous with those of prokaryotic unicells …
… The tradeoffs that we implement, and adjust in real time, between perception, memory, and planning are tradeoffs that have been explored and adjusted in niche-specific ways by all organisms throughout evolutionary history. We can take advantage of these fundamental mechanistic similarities to design theoretical and experimental paradigms that reveal and assess scale-free properties of consciousness in both natural and engineered systems.
“better understand our own awareness by understanding the awareness of” more primitive organisms … “both natural and engineered systems”.
No real review, just some extracted highlights which I can link to previous work here:
MP is Minimal Physicalism – That is, there are no physical assumptions beyond quantum information theory. (Not sure why “quantum information” specifically – but certainly information theory/ies more fundamental than anything else in physics.)
All physical interaction IS information exchange. (Agreed)
There is no Hard Problem. That is HP is not a problem to be solved, rather a set of inhibitions to be overcome. (Absolutely! It’s only orthodox science’s denial of subjectivity that gets in the way of explanatory understanding – see Solms above.)
There is no Combination Problem of psychist / subjective elements. (Ditto. Never was!)
“Bow-tie” systems topology. (Interesting. Something I’ve used in real world systems engineering before, and which Doyle’s work often uses. Maximum diversity in higher and lower layers, minimally diverse, exploitable bottlenecks, in middle layers. Everything comes in threes, even individual layers.)
Markov Blankets (MB) – both Pearl and Friston forms covered. Also Tononi. (but no Dennett or Doyle). Also Boltzmann (1995 !*) Hacker, Heilighen, Damasio and Csikszentmihalyi (flow!) (* 1844 – 1906)
Not just Homeostasis (steady state) but Allostasis predictive of future demands.
Many testable “predictions” (the point of this paper?) … including
– use of “Quantum Zeno Effect” (Henry Stapp is also a joint reference)
– interoception and “the self“. (More Solms).
Prediction 15: The “self” comprises three core monitoring functions, for free-energy availability, physiological status, and organismal integrity, and three core response functions, free-energy acquisition, physiological damage control, and defense against parasites and other invaders. These will be found in every organism. Indeed they are found even in E. coli, which has inducible metabolite acquisition and digestion systems (Jacob and Monod 1961), the generalized “heat shock” stress response system (Burdon 1986), and restriction enzymes that detect and destroy foreign, e.g. viral DNA (Horiuchi and Zinder 1972). All of these responses act to restore an overall homeostatic setpoint, i.e. an expected nonequilibrium state; hence they can all be viewed as acting to minimize environmental variational free energy or Bayesian expectation violation. (Friston 2010; 2013).
Templeton funded – Christian religious funding an interesting feature common to much research that questions fundamentals of science itself.