We believe we have methods, assumptions, and tools which can cut through most of the confusion around consciousness, and turn what is now a rather barren & grim research landscape into a real science. The problems we’re working on include:
Qualia Cartography: humans inhabit a very small corner of the landscape of all possible qualia. Intense experiences and psychedelics can give us a taste of what else is out there- but if we want to map the shape and structure of the state space of qualia, we’ll need better theory and better technology.
Valence Research: a particularly important mystery here is what determines a conscious experience’s valence, or how pleasant or unpleasant it feels. We think this this could be surprisingly tractable, and will be critically important for ethics.
Substrate Research: is consciousness a problem in information theory , or a physics problem, or something else? This is critically important for many reasons, but especially for understanding machine consciousnesses, avoiding ethical disasters, and mitigating existential risks.
Consciousness & Computation: we’re interested in better understanding the interplay between consciousness & computation. E.g., are certain states of altered consciousness better for solving certain problems? Are certain kinds of computational processes more likely to be pleasant to experience?
Patternceuticals: finally, we’re using our theories to explore practical information-theoretic interventions which alter consciousness in interesting & useful ways. We’re provisionally labeling these interventions “patternceuticals”, and expect they could be both more effective and safer than conventional pharmaceuticals.
These are all hard problems, but we believe they’re much more tractable than conventional wisdom thinks. They’re also incredibly pressing issues for humanity to figure out, with practical consequences, and we believe solving them sooner leads to better futures.
Our members each bring a different research focus to the table. For more, check out the individual landing pages.