Future Evolution of Consciousness
If the evolutionary
advantage of consciousness is that it "improves the capacity
to develop novel adaptive responses", then further improvements
should continue to offer an advantage. One of the specific improvements
needed, according to the paper, is the ability to prevent goals
supported by the "hedonic system" from controlling sequences
of thoughts and behavior. Interestingly, the author concludes that
this is exactly what organized religion has been trying to do for
thousands of years. This could mean that beings (humans or robots)
with consciousness augmented by religion have an evolutionary advantage.
Like Daniel Dennett, Stewart believes scientific study of religion
should be a priority of scientists.
Evolution of Consciousness
By John Stewart
What potential exists for improvements in
the functioning of consciousness? The paper addresses this issue
using global workspace theory. According to this model, the prime
function of consciousness is to develop novel adaptive responses.
Consciousness does this by putting together new combinations of
knowledge, skills and other disparate resources that are recruited
from throughout the brain. The papers search for potential
improvements in the functioning of consciousness draws on studies
of the shift during human development from the use of implicit knowledge
to the use of explicit (declarative) knowledge. These studies show
that the ability of consciousness to adapt a particular domain improves
significantly as the transition to the use of declarative knowledge
occurs in that domain. However, this potential for consciousness
to enhance adaptability has not yet been realised to any extent
in relation to consciousness itself. The paper assesses the potential
for adaptability to be improved by the conscious adaptation of key
processes that constitute consciousness. A number of sources (including
the practices of religious and contemplative traditions) are drawn
on to investigate how this potential might be realised.
An improved capacity to develop novel adaptive responses has often
been given as the reason why evolution favoured the emergence of
consciousness. Consciousness is increasingly seen as a process that
confers evolutionary advantage by enhancing the ability of an organism
to discover new and better behavioural adaptations (Baars 1988;
Dennett 1991; Metzinger 2003 and DeHaene and Naccache 2001).
Global Workplace (GW) theory attributes this capacity of consciousness
to its ability to assemble novel combinations of knowledge, skills
and other resources for the development of new adaptive responses
(Baars 1983, 1988 and 1997). This enables consciousness to, for
example, recruit the resources needed to construct composite mental
representations of alternative responses and their consequences,
enabling the most adaptive response to be identified.
This paper explores the extent to which the adaptability conferred
by consciousness can be enhanced in humans. In particular, it seeks
to identify the potential for changes in the functioning of consciousness
to improve its ability to discover better behavioural adaptations.
Addressing this issue has been greatly assisted by the recent development
of information processing theories of the functioning of consciousness.
An understanding of consciousness from an information processing
perspective enables us to assess its potential for further improvement.
We can judge how well consciousness performs its functions, and
whether changes in the processes that constitute consciousness could
overcome any limitations and enhance its ability to adapt behaviour
This paper uses the information processing framework embodied in
GW theory to assess the potential for improvement in consciousness.
Of the competing information processing accounts of consciousness,
it currently attracts the widest support (Baars 2002; DeHaene and
Naccache 2001; Kanwisher 2001; and Dennett 2001).
The paper focuses on those improvements that can emerge through
the processes of cultural evolution, rather than through genetic
change. It therefore considers only changes that can be learnt and
can be transmitted culturally.
We begin in Section 2 by outlining and developing the main features
of Baars GW theory that are relevant to our task. This analysis
of GW theory is drawn on in Section 3 to identify how the functioning
of conscious processes might be improved to enhance the adaptability
and evolvability of humans. The search for potential improvements
is aided by developmental research that identifies how adaptability
is significantly enhanced in other domains when declarative knowledge
is used to assist adaptation. In section 4 we use GW theory and
other sources to begin to identify practices and experiences that
could enable humans to acquire skills and capacities that would
realise the potential to improve the functioning of consciousness.
Religious and contemplative traditions have accumulated a substantial
body of declarative and procedural knowledge about how to modify
the functioning of consciousness. This knowledge has the potential
to significantly increase human adaptability and evolvability. By
enabling conscious processes to be modified, it opens the way for
declarative modelling to optimise the functioning of consciousness.
This would enable the full capacity of consciousness to discover
new adaptations to be used to adapt and enhance consciousness itself.
However, the development of these capacities would not just significantly
enhance adaptability - it would also change what occupies the GW
through time, and therefore what an individual is conscious of.
It would change the experience of what it is to be a human being.
However, the explanations and interpretations developed by the contemplative
traditions to account for the practices they use and the experiences
and capacities they produce are prescientific. Their theories have
not been disciplined by the scientific method. In particular, they
have unnecessarily introduced a plethora of theoretical entities
unknown to empirical psychology and science that have little predictive
value. Nor have the theories taken advantage of the powerful models
and understandings embodied in standard learning theory, clinical
psychology, information processing models of cognition, and other
areas of cognitive neuroscience.
It can be expected that these deficiencies will be corrected as
the knowledge accumulated by the contemplative traditions is integrated
into the framework and practice of scientific psychology. As this
integration proceeds, it is likely that far more powerful models
of the phenomenon and associated processes will be developed, and
that these in turn will enable more effective practices and interventions
to be developed. Such a re-interpretation of pre-scientific declarative
and procedural knowledge in the light of the conceptual frameworks
and models of other domains is an important step in the declarative
transition in any domain. In particular, it enables discoveries,
models and understandings from other areas to be applied to the
domain in question, and vice versa. Science has been the key vehicle
for this process in the most recent 400 years of human evolution.
This paper is a contribution to the early stages of this interpretation
and integration process for consciousness (see Walsh and Shapiro
2006 for a recent overview of progress).
The integration of the discoveries of contemplative traditions with
scientific psychology can be expected to greatly assist and accelerate
the unfolding of this declarative transition across humanity in
general. The successful accomplishment of the transition would open
up adaptive possibilities of great evolutionary significance. It
would, for example, provide humans with the possibility of choosing
to pursue evolutionary goals directly, rather than continuing to
pursue proxies for evolutionary success. It would also enable these
goals to be pursued more creatively and successfully. Furthermore,
as the transition extends to more aspects of consciousness, humans
would increasingly be able to choose to adopt particular modes of
consciousness to match the needs of different circumstances, just
as we now can choose to adopt particular physical postures to match
the needs of different physical tasks.
You can download the
full paper as a *.pdf
on Old and New ENERGY
An immersed experience of a Do-Tank
April 17 & 18, 2007
Max. 20 Delegates
Director, Club of Amsterdam, Innovation
With the Thought Leaders
Horbach, Centre for Energy, Petroleum
and Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee, UK
van Agt, International Energy
Nanotechnology & Energy, France
about the future of Consciousness
is intimately interwoven with human biology
There is reason to believe
that, to some degree, spirituality is hard-wired into the human nervous
using thermal imaging indicate that brain activity during a "transcendent"
experience is highest in the limbic system, that part of the brain
which is associated with emotions and motivation, and in the connecting
hypothalamus, amygdala and the hippocampus. Neurobiologists Andrew
Newberg and Eugene d'Aquili have conducted research in the field of
"neurotheology" using brain imaging technology ( Single
Photon Emission Computed Tomography, or SPECT for short ).
They suggest that "religion is intimately interwoven with human
biology." Their studies of praying Franciscan nuns and meditating
Buddhist monks reveal that certain religious experiences, like meditation
and prayer, are linked to increased activity and changes in the structure
of the brain and nervous system.
Mystery of Consciousness
by Steven Pinker in Time
[...] As every student in Philosophy 101 learns, nothing can force
me to believe that anyone except me is conscious. This power to deny
that other people have feelings is not just an academic exercise but
an all-too-common vice, as we see in the long history of human cruelty.
Yet once we realize that our own consciousness is a product of our
brains and that other people have brains like ours, a denial of other
people's sentience becomes ludicrous. "Hath not a Jew eyes?"
asked Shylock. Today the question is more pointed: Hath not a Jew--or
an Arab, or an African, or a baby, or a dog--a cerebral cortex and
a thalamus? The undeniable fact that we are all made of the same neural
flesh makes it impossible to deny our common capacity to suffer. [...]
of Amsterdam blog
of Amsterdam blog
Future of Consciousness
the Art of Value-Webbing
about the Future
The Venue VBOX - basically a huge shipping
container that can be tricked out with cool features and even cooler
products - is taking the idea of pop-up retail stores to an extreme.
"The VBOX enables
a brand or company to follow an event they wish to align their brand
with, or pop up where consumers least expect it. Tag along with
a photography exhibition or set up shop temporarily at a large sporting
event. Brands can even showcase items that consumers may not otherwise
be able to purchase elsewhere: just fill the VBOX with one-offs
or special editions and you'll pull in consumers with the prospect
that they'll able to purchase something unique.
The VBOX comes self-contained
and equipped with an iMac and iPod HiFi. It's entirely ready to
go; all that needs to be done is fill it with enticing products.
To date the VBOX has housed collections by some of the fashion worlds
most prestigious names: RAF SIMONS (Prada Group) and limited PUMA
designer co-labs by Alexander McQueen, Christy Turlington, Mihara
Yasuhiro as well as CDs, magazines/books and Motorola phones."
MIT researchers unveiled
a new social networking application that will make it possible for
anyone on the Institute's 168-acre campus to locate anyone else,
via their laptop.
Known as iFIND, the
new technology was developed by researchers in the Institute's SENSEable
Carlo Ratti, director of the SENSEable City Lab, described this
new form of social networking as "friendspotting": "Imagine
coming out of a class in a faraway corner of the MIT campus, and
instantly knowing which friends are nearby, or being able to dynamically
schedule an appointment with a faculty member based on his or her
proximity to you," he said.
With almost 3,000 WiFi
access points, the MIT campus is one of the most densely networked
areas in the world. Such connectivity has changed the nature of
social encounters on campus.
future of Consciousness
January 25, 2007
Registration: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Where: EnlightenNext, Oudeschans 46a, 1011 LC Amsterdam
for € 30, € 20 [discount] or € 10 [students]
and the development of man as a new more conscious being have to go
hand in hand.
and including individualism, how do you do that?
What Color is Your Collective Intelligence?
Member of the Club of Amsterdam Round Table
Sacred Depths of Nature
by Ursula Goodenough
Ursula Goodenough is an internationally recognized cell biologist;
she is also an accomplished amateur theologian--an unusual combination
of interests in a time when science and religion are widely divided.
In The Sacred Depths of Nature, she proposes what she calls a "planetary
ethic" drawing on the lessons of both science and metaphysics,
celebrating some of the mysteries that are central to both: "the
mystery of why there is anything at all, rather than nothing,"
for one, and "the mystery of why the universe seems so strange,"
for another. Exploring scientifically based narratives about the creation
of the universe and the origins of life, Goodenough forges a kind
of religious naturalism that will not be unfamiliar to readers of
New Age literature--save that her naturalism has the hard-nosed rigor
of a laboratory-trained scholar behind it. Goodenough offers a crash
course in the life sciences for her readers, encompassing the basics,
for instance, of biochemistry in just a few paragraphs (and getting
it right in the bargain), touching on Darwinian biology and population
dynamics and even chaos theory to make "an epic of evolution"
that has all the hallmarks of an origin myth. Faith and reason, in
her view, are not mutually exclusive, and her well-written treatise
makes a good argument for bridging the gap between the two.
SKM Anthony Hunts
The Cardboard House
Stutchbury and Pape, working in association with the Ian Buchan
Fell Housing Research Unit at University of Sydney
Bubbletecture Maihara Kindergarten
Shiga Shuhei Endo Architect Institute
Energy Technology Outlook - 2050
By European Commission
study has developed a Reference projection of the world energy system
and two variant scenarios, a carbon constraint case and a hydrogen
case. These scenarios have been used to explore the options for
technology and climate policies in the next half-century.
All the projections to 2050 have been made with a world energy sector
simulation model the POLES model that describes the
development of the national and regional energy systems, and their
interactions through international energy markets, under constraints
on resources and climate policies.
The development of
the world energy system in the reference projection
The Reference projection describes a continuation of existing
economic and technological trends, including short-term constraints
on the development of oil and gas production and moderate climate
policies for which it is assumed that Europe keeps the lead.
World energy consumption
The total energy consumption in the world is expected to increase
to 22 Gtoe per year in 2050, from the current 10 Gtoe per year.
Fossil fuels provide 70% of this total (coal and oil 26% each,
natural gas 18%) and non-fossil sources 30%; the non-fossil share
is divided almost equally between renewable and nuclear energy.
Energy efficiency improvement
The size of the world economy in 2050 is four times as large as
now, but world energy consumption only increases by a factor of
2.2. The significant improvement in energy efficiency arises partly
from autonomous technological or structural changes in the economy,
partly from energy efficiency policies and partly from the effects
of much higher energy prices.
North-South balance in energy consumption
Energy demand grows strongly in the developing regions of the
world, where basic energy needs are at present hardly satisfied.
The consumption in these countries overtakes that of the industrialised
world shortly after 2010 and accounts for two thirds of the world
total in 2050.
Oil and gas production profiles
Conventional oil production levels off after 2025 at around 100
Mbl/d. The profile forms a plateau rather than the peak
that is much discussed today. Non-conventional oils provide the
increase in total liquids, to about 125 Mbl/d in 2050. Natural
gas shows a similar pattern, with a delay of almost ten years.
Oil and gas prices
The prices of oil and natural gas on the international market
increase steadily, and reach 110 $/bl for oil and 100 $/boe for
gas in 2050. The high prices mostly reflect the increasing resource
Electricity: the comeback of coal, the take-off of renewable
sources and the revival of nuclear energy
The growth in electricity consumption keeps pace with economic
growth and in 2050, total electricity production is four times
greater than today. Coal returns as an important source of electricity
and is increasingly converted using new advanced technologies.
The price of coal is expected to reach about 110 $/ton in 2050.
The rapid increase of renewable sources and nuclear energy begins
after 2020 and is massive after 2030; it implies a rapid deployment
of new energy technologies, from large offshore wind farms to
Generation 4 nuclear power plants.
The deployment of non-fossil energy sources to some extent compensates
for the comeback of coal in terms of CO2
emissions, which increase almost proportionally to the total energy
consumption. The resulting emission profile corresponds to a concentration
of CO2 in the atmospheric between 900 to
1000 ppmv in 2050. This value far exceeds what is considered today
as an acceptable range for stabilisation of the concentration.
European energy system in the reference projection
Total primary energy consumption in Europe increases only a little
from 1.9 Gtoe / year today to 2.6 Gtoe / year in 2050. Until 2020,
the primary fuel-mix is rather stable, except for a significant
increase in natural gas consumption. Thereafter the development
of renewable energy sources accelerates and nuclear energy revives.
In 2050 non-fossil energy sources, nuclear and renewable provide
40% of the primary energy consumption, much above the present
20%. The consumption of electricity keeps pace with economic growth;
the market for electricity remains dynamic because of new electricity
uses, especially in the Information and Communication Technologies.
This combination of modest climate policies and new trends in
electricity supply results in CO2 emissions
that are almost stable up to 2030 and then decrease until 2050.
At that date CO2 emissions in Europe are
10% lower than today.
Because of relatively strong climate policies, European electricity
production is 70% decarbonised in 2050; renewable and nuclear
sources provide 60% of the total generation of electricity and
a quarter of thermal generation is equipped with CO2
capture and storage systems.
Hydrogen develops after 2030, with modest although not negligible
results: it provides in 2050 the equivalent of 10% of final electricity
The carbon constrained
world energy system
The carbon constraint
This scenario explores the consequences of more ambitious carbon
policies that aim at a long-term stabilisation of the concentration
of CO2 in the atmosphere close to 500 ppmv
by 2050. Early action is assumed in Annex B countries, while more
time is allowed for the emerging and developing countries.
A Factor 2 reduction in Europe
In this carbon constraint case, global emissions of CO2
are stable between 2015 and 2030 (at about 40% above the 1990
level) and decrease thereafter; however, by 2050, they are still
25% higher than in 1990. In the EU-25, emissions in 2050 are half
the 1990 level; on average they fall by 10% in each decade.
An accelerated development of non-fossil fuels
By 2050, annual world energy demand is lower than in the Reference
case by 3 Gtoe / year. By 2050, renewables and nuclear each provides
more than 20% of the total demand; renewable sources provide 30%
of electricity generation and nuclear electricity nearly 40%.
Coal consumption stagnates, despite the availability of CO2
capture and storage technologies. By 2050, the cumulative amount
of CO2 stored form now to 2050 is six times
the annual volume of emissions today.
Energy trends in Europe
In Europe, the total consumption of energy is almost stable until
2030, but then starts to increase. This is in a sense a statistical
phenomenon arising from the high primary heat input of nuclear
power. Renewable sources provide 22% and nuclear 30% of the European
energy demand in 2050, bringing the share of fossil fuels to less
than 50%. Three quarters of power generation is based on nuclear
and renewable sources and half of thermal power generation is
in plants with CO2 capture and storage.
Hydrogen delivers a quantity of energy equivalent to 15% of that
delivered by electricity. By 2050, half of the total building
composed of low energy buildings and a quarter of very low energy
buildings. More than half of vehicles are low emission or very
low emission vehicles (e.g. electricity or hydrogen powered cars).
energy system in the H2 case
The hydrogen scenario
The hydrogen scenario is derived from the carbon constraint case,
but also assumes a series of technology breakthroughs that significantly
increase the cost-effectiveness of hydrogen technologies, in particular
in end-use. The assumptions made on progress for the key hydrogen
technologies are deliberately very optimistic.
Total energy demand
Although the total energy demand in 2050 is only 8% less than
in the Reference case, there are significant changes in the fuel
mix. The share of fossil fuels in 2050 is less than 60%; within
this share, the demand for coal drops by almost half compared
to the Reference case, and this despite the lower cost assumed
for CO2 capture and storage. The share
of nuclear and renewable energy increases, especially between
2030 and 2050; this behaviour is partly caused by the high carbon
values across the world and partly by the increased demand for
The move to a hydrogen economy induces further changes in the
structure of generation and the share of nuclear reaches 38%.
Thermal electricity production continues to grow and is associated
with CO2 capture and storage systems; in
2050, 66% of electricity generation from fossil fuels is in plants
equipped with CCS against 12% in the Reference case.
Hydrogen production and use
The use of hydrogen takes-off after 2030, driven by substantial
reductions in the cost of the technologies for producing hydrogen
and the demand-pull in the transport sector. From 2030 to 2050,
production increases ten-fold to 1 Gtoe / year. By 2050, hydrogen
provides 13% of final energy consumption, compared to 2% in the
Reference case. The share of renewable energy in hydrogen production
is 50% and that of nuclear is 40%. Around 90% of hydrogen is used
in transport. By 2050, the consumption of hydrogen in transport
is five times as high as in the Reference case, with a share of
36% of the consumption of the sector. Hydrogen is used in 30%
of passenger cars and about 80% of these are powered by fuel cells;
15% are hydrogen hybrid vehicles and 5% are hydrogen internal
The European energy
system in the H2 case
Total energy demand
Nuclear energy provides a third of the total energy demand in
Europe. Oil, natural gas and renewables each provides roughly
20% and coal 6%.
The share of fossil fuels in power generation decreases steadily
and significantly. The use of CO2 capture
and storage systems develops strongly; by 2050, more than 50%
of thermal electricity production is from plants with CO2
capture and storage.
Hydrogen production and use
The production of hydrogen increases rapidly after 2030 to reach
120 Mtoe by 2050, or 12% of world production. Hydrogen provides
7% of final energy consumption in Europe, against 3% in the Reference
case. In Europe, hydrogen is produced mainly from the electrolysis
of water using nuclear electricity. The share of hydrogen produced
from renewables is also substantial (40% in 2050). About three
quarters of the hydrogen produced in Europe go to the transport
The full report is
available as a *.pdf
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February 22, 2007,
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March 29, 2007,
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