Stuart Hameroff is a Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology at the University of Arizona — but he's a pariah as far as most neuroscientists are concerned. The reason? Consciousness, he dares say, is far more than just a computational process — it's actually quantum.
Along with the esteemed mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, Hameroff is the co-author of the highly controversial Orch OR model of consciousness (Orchestrated Objective Reduction ) — the suggestion that quantum phenomenon, rather than classical mechanics, can explain conscious awareness.
The theory presents a new kind of wave function collapse that occurs in isolation, called objective reduction. This wave function collapse, they argue, is the only possible non-physical thing that can account for a non-computable process, namely consciousness. They speculate that this could happen inside the brain's microtubules.
Recently, Nikola Danaylov of the Singularity 1 on 1 podcast caught up with Hameroff to learn more. The result is a fascinating one hour interview in which the two discuss a number of topics, including various theories of mind, how anesthesia can inform the debate, the Orch OR model, and why the vast majority of scientists are disdainful of it.
In addition, they get into some weird territory and discuss quantum souls, the afterlife, reincarnation, and Hinduism and Buddhism. They even hit some futurist topics like the Singularity, cryonics, and chemical brain preservation, and also discuss Hameroff's upcoming paper (together with Roger Penrose) where they will review and present new evidence in support of their theory.
Image: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock.