TITLE: Data Compression and the Complexity of Consciousness AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 28, 2017 11:27 AM DESC: bew ----- BODY: Okay, so this is cool: Neuroscientists stimulate the brain with brief pulses of energy and then record the echoes that bounce back. Dreamless sleep and general anaesthesia return simple echoes; brains in conscious states produce more complex patterns. Then comes a little inspiration from data compression:
Excitingly, we can now quantify the complexity of these echoes by working out how compressible they are, similar to how simple algorithms compress digital photos into JPEG files. The ability to do this represents a first step towards a "consciousness-meter" that is both practically useful and theoretically motivated.
This made me think of Chris Ford's StrangeLoop 2015 talk about using compression to understand music. Using compressibility as a proxy for complexity gives us a first opportunity to understand all sorts of phenomena about which we are collecting data. Kolmogorov complexity is a fun tool for programmers to wield. The passage above is from an Aeon article on the study of consciousness. I found it an interesting read from beginning to end. -----