I’ve recently finished reading this book. I was slightly put off by the title when I first saw the book (I figured it would be another variant of Orch-OR or something similar), but I eventually got around to reading it, and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised.
Satinover explains how quantum processes may underpin the workings of the brain, but not in the usual Penrose interpretation of microtubule activity leading to large scale quantum coherence, but more from a quantum chaos point of view. Satinover argues that quantum chaos can lead to enhanced pattern stability compared to classically chaotic systems, which then persist up to larger scales.
The philosophical implication from these arguments is intriguing: Because quantum mechanics is a non-deterministic process (to the best of our knowledge) then if the brain acts as a quantum amplifier in some way, then it too may also take advantage of this non-determinism.
The idea of a ‘quantum amplifier’ is introduced via our old friend Bob, who cannot decide which of two women to marry. He is struck by the fact that if he is a fully deterministic, mechanistic being, then the person whom he will marry will, in some way, have been preordained. He dislikes this idea, and so bases his choice on the outcome of a quantum mechanical experiment, such as the beam-splitter experiment, whereby a photon has a 50-50 chance of either passing through a half silver mirror or being reflected from it.
In this way the outcome of a quantum process *can* affect the behaviour of a macroscopic system.
Of course this is all very interesting with regards to the question of simulating the human brain at a very low level (one where QM does start to come into play). Just how low is low? Your opinion may change slightly after reading this 🙂
These are just a few of the very interesting ideas explored in this book. I’d strongly recommend it.