July 18, 2024
In this talk we outline an approach to consciousness science that combines insights from Integrated Information Theory (IIT) and the mathematical formalism of Partial Information Decomposition (PID), which we term Integrated Information Decomposition (ΦID). Through this approach, we lay out a formal argument relating consciousness and causal emergence in any given system based on their respective information-theoretic compositions — providing a principled answer to the long-standing dispute on the relationship between consciousness and emergence. Furthermore, leveraging the empirical tractability afforded by ΦID, we build a revised measure of integrated information, ΦR, and argue that a multi-dimensional description of information dynamics based on ΦR and related quantities may provide a principled way to compare the neural basis of different aspects of consciousness. The ‘modes of consciousness’ outlined by ΦID establish a common space for mapping the phenomenology of different conscious states, which as an example we explore through the concept of selfhood. Overall, Integrated Information Decomposition yields rich new ways to explore the relationship between information, consciousness, and emergence in a way that is mathematically rigorous, empirically driven, and ontologically innocent.