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Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness (IIT)

Last updated Mar 4, 2022 Edit Source

See also: a refutation against IIT

First-order sensory theory of consciousness, a form of panpsychism


Consciousness is integrated information

In this context, information refers to information that is specified by a system that is irreducible to that specified by its parts.

The amount of information $\phi$ that the entire complex system has beyond the information available from the sum of its parts (i.e. Information that can’t be localized in the system’s individual parts.)

Acknowledges that one cannot infer the existence of consciousness starting from physical systems. Instead, IIT starts from the experience itself, identities its essential properties (axioms), and then infers what kind of properties physical systems must have to account for its essential properties (postulates), and determines ‘how conscious’ a system is based off of these postulates.

Axioms of IIT

  1. Intrinsic Existence: consciousness exists, each experience is real and actual (my experience exists independent of external observers)
  2. Composition: Each experience is composed of multiple phenomenological distinctions
  3. Information: each experience is the particular way it is (it is different from other possible experiences)
  4. Integration: each experience is irreducible to non-interdependent, disjoint subsets of phenomenal distinctions (I experience the whole scene, not just the left side independent of the right side)
  5. Exclusion: consciousness is definite