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If there was a form of consciousness that developed early on in the timeline of a universe, which processed information via quantum mechanics rather than the chemical impulses of lifeforms we're familiar with - what might the structure of these beings look like?

Further clarification: I'm looking for some kind of matter that might act like a medium for something analogous to brainwaves/neural oscillations, while also being much much simpler than organic life as we know it. The Boltzman brain suggestion is in the vein of what I want but it doesn't specify the physical aspect in any useful way.

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closed as too broad by Slarty, Ash, Vylix, Green, Mołot Oct 15 '17 at 15:09

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds almost like a Boltzmann Brain. I'm not really a physics person, so not answering, but here's a link. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain $\endgroup$ – Lot-Of-Malarkey Oct 15 '17 at 8:29
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    $\begingroup$ I think you need to be a bit more specific in you question as its a bit nebulous $\endgroup$ – Slarty Oct 15 '17 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ To get this reopened, I think you'll have to lay down a couple specifics. So think about what you'll need... You'll need a mechanism for communication of impulses. You'll need some kind of structure to store information. I mean the first thing that comes to mind is superstring "neurons" connecting exotic matter nodes ("memory") and sending impulses as monopoles along the strings. Thought happens in little bits in each node, like a token-ring network. But that's just me. ;D $\endgroup$ – akaioi Oct 16 '17 at 0:55
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There is speculation that the early stages. immediately after the Big Bang, when the universe was much smaller that it was awash with dense amounts of matter and energy.

There could have been a brief window of opportunity for complex structures and functions to form based on the abundance of particles and radiation. This could have assumed the richness of organic life. (In fact, what you are for is akin to biology but made of stuff other than the usual molecules of life as we know them on planet Earth.) Before the universe expanded sufficiently for it to cool down and become inhospitable for early hot life which could included early hot intelligence life too.

The science fiction writer who has employed this concept in some of his works is Stephen Baxter. One version of this concept appears in his recent novel Xeele; Vengeance (2015). Another version on a vaster cosmological scale is in Baxter's short story "Artefacts" which may be found in his collection Obelisk (2016).

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We are still far from understanding what makes consciousness in our organic brains.

And we are just starting to speculate on what can be consciousness in silicon based devices, aka AI.

Without these ground knowledge, any thought on what you ask is purely based on handwaving.

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Fred Hoyle, the big bang skeptic, wrote a great novel in 1957 The Black Cloud which has a giant, space-faring non-organic life form. It posits that life like ours (small and meaty) is "very rare".

This doesn't answer how such a consciousness might form but it's great to study, especially given it was written by a renowned physicist.

Re quantum mechanics, I like the Dennis E. Taylor's take on the subject in We are legion (We are Bob) (2016), which says something like 'quantum effects is just code for "we don't understand it"' . Quantum mechanics is indeed too hand-wavy.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Cloud was only one of many space-faring beings. The rare intelligent life was also planet-based. It's a pity that brilliantly creative scientist is only remembered as a big bang sceptic (he did coin the term "Big Bang"). His work on nucleosynthesis should have won him the Nobel Prize with his collaborators. He was too iconoclastic and embraced less sensible ideas in his latter years. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 15 '17 at 11:39
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For a purely fictitious look at this question, because we know too little about consciousness to have any other kind, I would suggest two pieces of reading, the first concerns the C'tan intelligences spawned in the great charged gas clouds of the early universe. The second is "The Island" by Peter Watts which concerns a huge creature living in orbit of a world. You are very deep into handwaving territory here which isn't to say we can rule out such a super consciousness, we don't know enough to either rule it out or explain how such a being might form if it is possible.

There are two other consciousnesses regularly described as "godlike", for one see the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the Great Old Ones are said to be godlike beings from the beginning of time. The other avenue is a timeless quantum A.I. for that your best source of reading is Charles Stross's Eschaton series starting with Singularity Sky because the Eschaton can act across all of time its actual date of origin is not terribly important, as long as you remember the Eschaton's third commandment that is.

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Another great question. You need to start with what we do understand about consciousness. You probably have given this a lot of thought. As we understand consciousness in our limited form, it is self-awareness which requires memory which necessitates time. Brains are nice because they allow us to store memory, etc. Early consciousness would not have a brain as we understand it, and if you are thinking of consciousness from the anthropomorphic POV, then yu need another way to store 'memory.' Perhaps through radioactive decay. Time is trickier, because you seem to be getting into omniscience here, and time is a function of matter.

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  • $\begingroup$ I hope you mean "great" as in "too broad". This question is an example of interesting question, but poorly presented in WB.SE format. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Oct 16 '17 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ Nope. I mean it is a fantastic question. $\endgroup$ – DPT Oct 16 '17 at 3:55

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