One of the interesting implications of that definition—I discovered as I was playing with it—is that when I took two conscious agents and had them interact, and looked at the system of two conscious agents, that system actually satisfied the definition of being a single conscious agent. And so this continues ad infinitum: you can keep taking pairs of agents and combine them. And so this suggests a really interesting structure.
from Reality Isn't (2019)
Donald David Hoffman is an American cognitive psychologist and popular science author. He is a Professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, with joint appointments in the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, and the School of Computer Science.
Hoffman studies consciousness, visual perception and evolutionary psychology using mathematical models and psychophysical experiments. His research subjects include facial attractiveness, the recognition of shape, the perception of motion and color, the evolution of perception, and the mind-body problem. He has co-authored two technical books: Observer Mechanics: A Formal Theory of Perception (1989) offers a theory of consciousness and its relationship to physics; Automotive Lighting and Human Vision (2005) applies vision science to vehicle lighting. His book Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See (1998) presents the modern science of visual perception to a broad audience. His 2015 TED Talk, "Do we see reality as it is?" explains how our perceptions have evolved to hide reality from us.
April 13, 2019
What if the way our senses perceive reality is not at all representative of its true nature, but rather a highly abstracted interface? Donald Hoffman is working on a mathematical theory to find out.