How a trippy 1980s video effect might help to explain consciousness
Explaining consciousness is one of the hardest problems in science and philosophy. Recent neuroscientific discoveries suggest that a solution could be within reach – but grasping it will mean rethinking some familiar ideas. Consciousness, I argue in a new paper, may be caused by the way the brain generates loops of energetic feedback, similar to the video feedback that “blossoms” when a video camera is pointed at its own output.
I first saw video feedback in the late 1980s and was instantly entranced. Someone plugged the signal from a clunky video camera into a TV and pointed the lens at the screen, creating a grainy spiralling tunnel. Then the camera was tilted slightly and the tunnel blossomed into a pulsating organic kaleidoscope.
Video feedback is a classic example of complex dynamical behaviour. It arises from the way energy circulating in the system interacts chaotically with the electronic components of the hardware.
reading How We Became Posthuman and thinking about conciousness