At its most basic, consciousness is considered as an awareness of internal or external existence. Yet despite centuries of analysis and debate between philosophers and scientists, consciousness has remained a topic of much controversy and mystery – perhaps until now.
Professor Johnjoe McFadden, a UK scientist from the University of Surrey believes he has finally cracked consciousness.
I believe this mystery has now been solved, and that consciousness is the experience of nerves plugging into the brain’s self-generated electromagnetic field to drive what we call ‘free will’ and our voluntary actions
Professor Johnjoe McFadden
He believes it is electromagnetic energy which enables the brain to create our consciousness – meaning our ability to be aware and think.
Professor McFadden states consciousness is actually best conceived of as the brain’s energy field.
And further still, this radical theory could potentially revolutionise the development of conscious Artificial Intelligence (AI).
This could result in a reality where AI robots of the future are actually aware of themselves and armed with the ability to think.
Early theories to attempt to conceive what our consciousness is and how it has been created leaned toward the supernatural.
Philosophers believed such a phenomenon meant our species and possibly others had an immaterial soul conferring consciousness.
This consciousness, in addition to thought and even free will, were capabilities lacking in inanimate objects such as rocks and trees.
However, the overwhelming majority of scientists today have long-since jettisoned such a ‘dualistic’ stance.
Most experts today accept more of a ‘monistic’ view of consciousness.
This suggests consciousness is caused by the brain and its network of countless numbers of nerves.
However, Professor McFadden more or less stands alone with his theory.
This is a dualistic theory but based on the difference between matter and energy, instead of matter and soul.
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There is an accepted scientific foundation to his still-controversial theory.
When neurons in the brain and nervous system fire, they not only send the familiar electrical signal down the nerve fibres.
They also send pulses of electromagnetic energy into the surrounding tissue area.
And although this energy is usually disregarded, it does carry the same information as nerve firings, but as an immaterial wave of energy, instead of a flow of physical atoms around the nerves.
This electromagnetic field is well-documented and is routinely detected by brain-scanning techniques, but has previously been dismissed as irrelevant to brain function.
Instead, McFadden proposes the brain’s information-rich electromagnetic field is in fact itself the seat of consciousness, driving ‘free will’ and voluntary actions.
This new theory can also account for the reason why computers have not exhibited even the slightest spark of self-awareness.
However, taking this theory to its conclusion, aware robots that can think for themselves could really one day become a reality.
Professor Johnjoe McFadden said: “How brain matter becomes aware and manages to think is a mystery that has been pondered by philosophers, theologians, mystics and ordinary people for millennia.
“I believe this mystery has now been solved, and that consciousness is the experience of nerves plugging into the brain’s self-generated electromagnetic field to drive what we call ‘free will’ and our voluntary actions.”
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