Harvard Science Book Talk: Christof Koch in conversation with Gabriel Kreiman, “The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread but Can't Be Computed”


Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 7:00pm

Where Online: REGISTER
Organization/Sponsor Harvard Division of Science, Cabot Science Library, and Harvard Book Store
Christof Koch (Allen Institute for Brain Science)
Gabriel Kreiman (Harvard)      
Cost free
Contact Info science_lectures@fas.harvard.edu

In his book, Koch describes how the theory explains many facts about the neurology of consciousness and how it has been used to build a clinically useful consciousness meter. The theory predicts that many, and perhaps all, animals experience the sights and sounds of life; consciousness is much more widespread than conventionally assumed. Contrary to received wisdom, however, Koch argues that programmable computers will not have consciousness. Even a perfect software model of the brain is not conscious. Its simulation is fake consciousness.

Consciousness is not a special type of computationit is not a clever hack. Consciousness is about being. Psychologists study which cognitive operations underpin a given conscious perception. Neuroscientists track the neural correlates of consciousness in the brain, the organ of the mind. But why the brain and not, say, the liver? How can the brain, three pounds of highly excitable matter, a piece of furniture in the universe, subject to the same laws of physics as any other piece, give rise to subjective experience? Koch argues that what is needed to answer these questions is a quantitative theory that starts with experience and proceeds to the brain. In The Feeling of Life Itself, Koch outlines such a theory, based on integrated information.

Prof. Koch will be joined in conversation with Prof. Gabriel Kreiman (Harvard Medical School).

For more information and videos of Harvard Science Book Talks, see https://science.fas.harvard.edu/book-talks.