Qualia Research Institute

Building a New Science of Consciousness



Conscious experiences form the bedrock of our values — we care that the lights are on — that the lives of those we most care about are filled with positive experiences. But today, there aren’t many objective, scientific ways to talk about conscious experience.

We believe better philosophy should lead to better neuroscience, and better neuroscience should lead to better neurotechnology.

Qualia Research Institute is working to solve these problems. We are building a new way to talk about consciousness and consciousness affecting technology in a consistent, meaningful, and rigorous way. As we gain more power over our surroundings, and more dimensions of self-authorship, it seems increasingly important to understand which futures are worth building.



We aim to make testable predictions that allow the creation of technologies which empower all conscious beings to have meaningful, joyous lives free from unnecessary suffering and pain. This research impacts philanthropic efforts to improve the world in two ways in the immediate term:

1. Improve how we measure impact

Understanding the positive and negative aspects of conscious experience in a way that applies equally well to humans, animals, and any artificial systems we create would enable the creation of new and better ways of measuring philanthropic impact.

2. Build technologies that improve lives

Practical mental health technologies that are dramatically more effective opens the door for large scale impact in global health, criminal justice, and political coordination.


“A radically better future doesn’t happen by default. Someone has to build it.”

Mike Johnson  |  Co-Founder



The core of QRI’s strategy is a “full-stack” approach to understanding the mind. Roughly speaking, this involves:

  • First-principles philosophy: clarifying what the goal of consciousness research is and the nature of knowledge in this field, identifying phenomenological natural kinds, building a naturalized theory of epistemology, and working through issues of identity;

  • Improving neuroscience: applying considerations from our theoretical work in order to extend and unify existing neuroscience models;

  • Building better neurotech: applying insights from our work in neuroscience in order to identify better ways to measure what’s going on in the mind, and better intervention points for managing this.


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