Roger Penrose on Why Consciousness Does Not Compute

Sir Roger Penrose, Visitor (1980) in the School of Mathematics, discusses his controversial theory about the quantum origins of consciousness.

He starts with the premise that consciousness is not computational, and it’s beyond anything that neuroscience, biology, or physics can now explain. “We need a major revolution in our understanding of the physical world in order to accommodate consciousness,” Penrose told Steve Paulson of Nautilus in a recent interview. “The most likely place, if we’re not going to go outside physics altogether, is in this big unknown—namely, making sense of quantum mechanics.”

Read more from Penrose on his explanation of mental life, inspired in part by former Institute Professors Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel, and frequent former Member Paul Dirac, with thoughts from other IAS affiliates including Lee Smolin and Max Tegmark.