The physicist responsible for the world’s first commercial microprocessor knows something about artificial intelligence, and he thinks we have it all wrong 🤯
Federico Faggin is a physicist, engineer, inventor and entrepreneur. He is best known for designing the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004. Faggin also created, while working at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1968, the self-aligned MOS (metal–oxide–semiconductor) silicon-gate technology (SGT), which made possible MOS semiconductor memory chips, CCD image sensors, and the microprocessor. After the 4004, he led development of the Intel 8008 and 8080, using his SGT methodology for random logic chip design, which was essential to the creation of early Intel microprocessors. He was co-founder and CEO of Zilog, the first company solely dedicated to microprocessors, and led the development of the Zilog Z80 and Z8 processors. He was later the co-founder and CEO of Cygnet Technologies, and then Synaptics.
Here’s a link to his foundation dedicated to the scientific study of consciousness.
Full Transcript Below
Dr. Z: Guys, Dr. Z, welcome to “The ZDoggMD Show”. Today I have Federico Faggin, author of the book, “Silicon”, which is a memoir. You guys don’t know who this guy is, he kind of invented the world’s first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004, and the technology actually before that at Fairchild, the Silicon gate, MOS technology, the MOS technology that pretty much runs computers around the world. If you’re using a phone, the stuff that this guy invented kinda is the reason that phone exists. It’s just a thrill to have him in the studio. And what we’re gonna talk about is why he thinks that computers can never be conscious and will never supersede humanity in the way that our dire predictions predict they will, but they might do other harm, and why we may be living in a virtual reality, but not the way you think. So, it’s gonna get deep. So, come along for the ride. Federico, welcome to the show.
Federico: Thank you, thank you.
Dr. Z: Man, I read your book, your son had reached out because we have a mutual acquaintance, Don Hoffman, and Don’s been on the show talking about consciousness, and cognitive scientist, computer scientist, and we have another mutual acquaintance, Bernardo Kastrup, computer scientist, fascinated with consciousness. What is it with consciousness and computer scientists?
Federico: Well, I think because computers have a lot of us in them.
Dr. Z: Ah.
Federico: And when you play with a computer, your mind goes into the computer, in the algorithm that you figure out, in the way that you, it’s like a little obedient slave that you make him do what you want, but what you want comes from your mind.
Dr. Z: So, and this is a fundamental thing, because we seem to think of computers as these things that have selves and some kind of a personification of their own, but what you, and remember, you’ve been working on this a whole career, you built these microprocessors, you talk about it in the book, it’s just stunning how the creative process working in teams at Intel in the early days and and all the drama like, oh, and Andy Grove and this and that, it’s really fascinating just as a soap opera, but as a human creativity piece, you should know this better than anyone that the computer is just stuff, and what you said, where we put ourselves into the computer, whether it’s through designing the software, teaching it the algorithms, or using it in unique and creative ways, it then becomes an extension of our own soul, for lack of a better word. And when you first came into the studio, we were talking, and I said, “I used to be a big computer geek. “I had the Apple IIe, the 6502 processor “Assembly Language for Dummies book. “And I was so obsessed with this computer.” And when you told me this idea that this thing is like an extension of who we are, it all clicked for the first time, that’s why I saw it that way.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: Yeah, and that’s why many people are fascinated with computers, and they don’t necessarily realize what is the cause of that fascination. So, the ability to essentially tell a machine what to do can also be really play with your mind a little bit, right? Especially if that machine does it much, much faster than you, whatever you tell him to do, which is the real advantage of computers, computers can do gazillions of time faster what for you takes 10 minutes, for example, right? So, they are complimentary to us. They’re not competing with us because they don’t understand anything. They just do what they do.
Dr. Z: They don’t understand–
Federico: Without knowing anything, without being aware of it, and they will never be aware of it, and we can talk about that later why.
Dr. Z: Yeah, see, that’s I think the crux of the later part of your book where you kind of woke up a bit, having worked in this materialist paradigm, you grew up in Northern Italy, it was war torn, you talk about your family, your father was a scholar. And this idea that you were fascinated with electronics and building, and by the way, there was one part of the book later where you started having your own kind of awakenings where you realized, oh, it’s kind of the middle-aged crisis that we all go through where you had an experience where you remembered this kind of old memory of building a radio-controlled plane, which was sort of your passion when you were young, and running upstairs to show it to your father, and it’s this complicated thing. And your dad saying, “I’ll be down in a minute,” working on his books and his scholarly stuff. And, “Dad, are you coming?” “One minute,” and then finally you giving up, and going back to your room, and kind of having suppressed that memory, and then it coming back all those years later, and feeling the emotion of wanting to kinda show your dad what you had done. And it was a beautiful human moment in the book that actually I found I resonated with myself.
Federico: Yeah, thank you.
Dr. Z: Yeah, so this idea then that getting back to materialism , and is that stuff is real and computers, therefore, if we just make them complex enough, because you’re working on computer brains, more or less, maybe they’ll be aware like we are, because clearly matter creates consciousness, and so on. And you’re arguing, I think, quite compellingly in the book that that’s where no, we’re totally wrong, and in that wrongness, we’re doing harm to our own humanity and our future.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: Yes, yes, we do because if we believe that we are machines, we’re going to behave ones. So, it’s as simple as that. A belief in something is a very strong directive to over what you believe. So in 1986, I started a company called Synaptics. And at that time, I wanted to make computers that learn instead of being programmed, using neural networks, which in those days were considered a bad idea by the “Cognizanti” of AI. Basically, it was considered a bad idea.
Dr. Z: Neural networks.
Federico: That’s right, they will never work, right? So, but I wanted to do not what people do now, which is simulation of neural network, but emulation of neural network by building physical structures that would behave like an neural network using this floating gate transistors which are both a memory, long-term memory that can be written and erased, but written a little bit, or erased it a little bit so that they are like a synapse. You can move them up and down and they are permanent memories, so as well. So, and they can do a multiplication and an addition. So, with two transistor, you can do a multiplication, an addition, have it long-term memory that you can change in analog so that you have. So that was the idea. Well, it was through that activity, and reading neuroscience books in those days to trying to understand how the brain works, and being concerned, or actually more than concerned, marvel that nowhere in this very thick books of neuroscience the word “consciousness” was mentioned. They were describing how the brain works as if my sensations and my feelings are electrical or biochemical signals.
Dr. Z: Mm, so a true reductionist-materialist sort of paradigm. Now it’s really about the algorithms, the electrical signals, et cetera. So, if you’re looking at a rose, you are seeing photons, they’re triggering an electronic impulse through the retinal nerve and somehow interpreted through the complex neural network of the synapse. Forget that it looks beautiful, and red, and has meaning, and yeah.
Federico: Yeah, so, and clearly the brain can do all of that what you just said, right? But we have something more than those signals that come out of the neural networks, we perceive them as feelings, as sensations. And we know through sensations and feelings, and those are a different class of phenomena. Nobody can explain how we feel. Computer doesn’t feel anything. People promise that in the future, they will have consciousness, but only because it’s an extension of what they believe the machines like us are conscious, therefore computers must be conscious, but that was it, that’s the only logic in that argument. There is absolutely no idea of how that is possible.
Dr. Z: Right, so this so-called “hard problem” of consciousness, so assuming that we believe this dominant paradigm that humans are machines made of classical elements that behave algorithmically, and somehow through complexity, emerge the taste of chocolate or whatever, that means that we can then project, well, if we just make a computer based on similar paradigms that are eventually discoverable, that computer will have an inner life, and be able to not just see a rose electronically, but to experience a rose. And that’s the paradigm. And you’re saying that paradigm has no evidence that this is actually true.
Federico: No evidence whatsoever. I actually bought that myself.
Dr. Z: So did I.
Federico: I’m a physicist, so you can expect it over the years, I forgot all I knew about religion and that there is a soul or whatever.
Dr. Z: It’s funny how that happens, yeah, yeah.
Federico: Yeah, yeah, so, and therefore I thought, well, I should be able to make a conscious computer. And it was through that desire to understand how it would be possible to do that that I understood much more about what consciousness is because it was impossible to find a way to convert electrical signals, in the case of a computer, they’re only electrical signals, into sensations and feelings. And so, that kind of got me into thinking that consciousness must be something else. And it was through that desire to know that I had an extraordinary experience of consciousness that told me that there is more to it, that if I thought the consciousness was just my ordinary consciousness, when you have experiences of extraordinary situations, man, all bets are off, and I’m not talking about taking drugs.
Dr. Z: No, no drugs, yeah.
Federico: I’m talking about spontaneous experience.
Dr. Z: You talk about it in the book, yeah.
Federico: That’s right, and that gave me this is opening and this also desire to understand what is consciousness then? If I can experience myself as the world that perceives itself, that looks at itself, which is something that is mind twisting, there must be more than even thought to consciousness.
Dr. Z: So, let’s dig into that a little bit, because this to me is very interesting. The first question that comes to mind is you’re worried about how these neural networks, are they conscious or not? No one also seems to be worrying about this. Why do we care whether they have awareness? In other words, why does it matter to the thinking ability of the computer or the intelligence of the computer that it’s aware?
Federico: Yes, or to be able to answer that question, it took me another 20 years.
Dr. Z: And I’m like, “Give me a sound bite, Federico.” Can you summarize it?
Federico: Yeah, of course. But the point is that it’s not obvious, and in the beginning, there was no sense of what beyond feelings and sensations, what is it that consciousness does? What does it do? Which is exactly the question that you asked me, what’s so important about consciousness? There are some people, some neuroscientists that, they measure, they give you a scene for a couple of, you see a scene for a couple of seconds, then they interrogate you on what can you describe what you saw right? And then, you can only remember a few thing. And so, they say, well, the consciousness, the bandwidth of consciousness is very small, and there are maybe 20 bits per second, or 200 bits per second, so not big deal. But if you’d look at what you actually felt, you don’t remember because you don’t have the memory, the short-term memory of what you saw to be able to describe it, but you actually saw a hell of a lot more that you remember two seconds later, your experience was very rich. You understood a lot of what was going on in that two seconds, but you cannot explain it to somebody that asks you silly questions, like was there a cat? No, and things like that. You see, so even scientists don’t have the foggiest idea what consciousness is and they look in the wrong place. Or we ask the wrong question.
Dr. Z: That little journey was the best description of how ineffable the conscious experience really can be. You can not, you can describe, you can, artists, it’s the job of writers to evoke this kind of thing, but really look at a rose, experience it, oh my gosh, you can’t begin, the bandwidth of that, how do you even describe it in terms of bandwidth? Can I ask a question, why do we continue to use, and this a little side note, why do we continue to use the language of computers to describe how the brain works when they are not the same?
Federico: But because to most people, they are considered to be the same.
Dr. Z: The computer is just a wetware, the brain is just wetware.
Federico: The computer is wetware, in fact, they use exactly that word, or what the computer does is, basically what the computer does is the software running in the computer, and the consciousness is the software running in a computer.
Dr. Z: What does that even mean?
Federico: This software is not conscious .
Dr. Z: Yeah .
Federico: The bitsy memory, which is the physical manifestation of that algorithm, they’re not conscious of what they mean or what they’re doing or whatever, right? So, it’s basically we want it to be that way and we don’t make the effort to understand what consciousness is. And it was only because I had this extraordinary experience that I actually started to and I wanted to understand it. And it took 20 years, as I said, to arrive to the conclusion that consciousness cannot be a phenomenon of classical systems like a computer. A computer is a classical system. It works with bits, one or zero. And consciousness must be a quantum phenomenon, quantum phenomenon, a quantum phenomena work with qubit. Quantum bits, quantum bits are actually, they represent an infinity of states versus bits that represents only two states, one or zero. And a qubit in this realm manifest, in our realm, in our space time, as a bit. So, all you can know about that qubit, which is an infinity of states, becomes zero or one. So, that tells you that there is a reality, a quantum reality which is far, far vaster than the classical reality, that is so reductive because an infinity is mapped into one or zero.
Dr. Z: I love the way you described that because that is there are two realms that are on a continuum, and that the quantum realm is the realm of probability and these almost infinite possibilities within some parameters, and that manifests as *shhhhhop*, as this reality that we see in the classical world. And the fact that the computer is this classical residua of something more complex means that it in itself cannot manifest the intelligence, or the creativity, or the awareness that a creature that lives in both realms, like us, can do. And why is it important? From your book, what I derived, and tell me if I’m wrong, is that intelligence, true intelligence requires comprehension, in other words, an understanding, a meaning that then instantly connects to past experience and meaning, and then creates a solution that cannot be recreated just by programming in a trillion algorithms.
Dr. Z: And in order to do that, you need a space in which that can be experienced.
Dr. Z: And consciousness is that space, and a classical computer, which is this residua of bits, like you said, just one and zero, can’t do that. And another, and again, I’m gonna go on a rant for a second because your book really triggered this in me, the way you described this interaction between the classical world and the quantum world was like this. Imagine you have a coin with heads and tails, and you flip it, when you see it, all you see is heads or tails. That’s our classical world, on, off bits. But in the world of the quantum space where the action is actually probabilistically happening in qubits, there’s an infinity of different spins and possibilities that it’s going through, and all we know is, while there’s a probability, it will be 50, 50 heads or tails, and so such a vast thing happening here, but what we end up seeing is just , this decision, does that sound right from the, yeah?
Federico: Yeah, it’s good enough because frankly, it’s almost impossible to imagine what’s going on in the quantum world, because the quantum world can only be described in Hilbert space, is a space of N dimensions where N could be infinite. So, that’s a lot .
Dr. Z: I still consider one dimension too many .
Federico: Then, so you have that, but then each dimension is a complex number. A complex number is a real number plus an imaginary number, and imagined numbers is basically, the fundamental imagine number is i, which is the square root of minus one, which–
Dr. Z: Only an imaginary number, all righty, I love it. But it points to how unintuitive this space is.
Federico: Yeah, and of course, no real number has a square root of a negative number, it’s not a real number, because the square of any number, whether it is positive or negative, is positive. So, there is no square of a real number that is negative, you see? So, that’s i, i as a symbol stands for square root of minus one. And so, this Hilbert space is unimaginable, because we just can only imagine, we in fact, we can only imagine three dimensions plus time, right? That’s the ordinary experience.
Dr. Z: But you’re saying that this is actually how the universe measures out, and quantum mechanics says that exists, and it’s actually predictive of what we see in the classical space to some degree, right?
Federico: Yeah, yeah, but for the longest time, people thought that that was only a representation of something, it wasn’t real, okay? But now we are designing quantum computers, and quantum computers operate with qubits, but qubit cannot exist in our space time. So, where are the operations made? A quantum computer can operate much, much faster for certain problems than classical computers. It doesn’t matter how fast you make a, essentially a classical computer, it cannot measure up, because in this quantum reality, you can operate in all those possible situations simultaneously because of entanglement, the property of entanglement, so, and it’s…
Dr. Z: That’s another, yeah.
Federico: That we won’t go there because too much to explain that we don’t have enough time.
Dr. Z: Another time we will, yeah, yeah.
Federico: But because of that, okay, you set up the problem in this space time, and you get the answer in this space time, but the operation cannot occur in space time. So, there’s got to be something real if you do computation out of thin air.
Dr. Z: Where is it happening?
Federico: Where is it happening? Okay, so there is some reality there that I would say that only quantum computers are forcing us to face. It’s not an answered question. Nobody knows what’s going on. We’re taking advantage of it, but we don’t know what’s going on.
Dr. Z: And that’s where in your book, you start to, and it was fascinating because in your book, you talk about this whole painful, and amazing, and inductive, and beautiful, and strife-filled process of developing the first commercial microprocessor, and then the calculator it went to, and then you donating that calculator to the Mountain View Museum of Tech, and I saw it there years ago when I was there. And I didn’t know anything about you. And you really are the father of a lot of this stuff that we use now. And when you start to pivot in the book where you have your own experience, like you said, this very ineffable experience of opening and love, and I would tell people, read about it, and at some point we’ll get into it more in detail, but it’s one of those things that you can’t describe so well, but once you feel it, you go, oh, there’s something going on. Then you’re talking about quantum computers, where there is this realm where things are infinitely possible, there’s probability, and it’s different than the classical realm that we’re used to where I know your physical here, I think you’re made of stuff and predictable through Newtonian laws. In fact, if I had enough computer power, if that’s all true, I could predict all of the past and all the future by knowing the positions, and spins, and momentum of every particle now. It’s that reductionistic. But we know now that’s not true, right?
Federico: Yeah, yes.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: Yeah, the idea of the Laplace’s demon that was the idea that you just expressed, which is if we know the initial condition of everything, we can compute everything, both in the future and in the past. And many people still believe this, however, because they say, well, yeah, this is essentially valid in the classical world, even if in the classical world, we have chaotic system, which require you to know the initial conditions to a precision, which is impossible to achieve, because it would violate the Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle. But the Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle is quantum. And so, people say, yeah, but it’s quantum. So, classical, we could do it.
Dr. Z: ‘Cause it’ll average out, it’ll just average out. Right, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Federico: And of course, that’s not true, okay? But the point though is that classical physics describes reality as if reality was real. In other words, there is an object that moves in space and time, it goes through a trajectory, and you can tell every point of the way where this object goes because that’s reality.
Dr. Z: It’s a thing that moves, yeah.
Federico: So, it’s about ontology. Classical physics describes the ontology of the world.
Dr. Z: The being, the true thing in and of itself.
Federico: Yeah, the stuff of which the world is made and interacts in certain ways according to certain laws, which are deterministic. But quantum physics is not that way at all. Quantum physics is epistemic.
Dr. Z: Epistemic.
Federico: It can only tell you what you can know about a system, which is vaster than what you can measure, because to describe the system, you had to describe all the possible states that the system exists in, which are in superposition in the quantum reality, and the entanglement of these states, which have no correspective in the classical world, okay? Then you have the collapse of the wave function, which is the sort of the mantra.
Dr. Z: Observer, yes, yeah.
Federico: Basically, when you actually go to find out what you’re going to measure, of all these many states that were in superposition, you will measure only one. But the theory doesn’t tell you which one you’re going to measure. So, you don’t know. So, the description of quantum physics tells you all that you can possibly know, and all that you can possibly know is probabilistic, non-deterministic, probabilistic, because only one of those will show, if you repeat that experiment many, many times, you will verify that the probability is what the theory is telling you. But that also require that you can repeat the experiment, which is not necessarily possible in complicated situations. Try to repeat an experiment on a cell, on a living cells that has 10 to the 14 atoms. How are you going to prepare these cells which are in exactly the same quantum state to repeat the experiment? You cannot do it. Okay, you can do it with particles, and so on and so forth, electrons or atoms, but.
Dr. Z: So, this quantum probability means that you can’t, you can say probabilistically, but you can’t say exactly what you’ll find. Now in your argument then, you’re saying, well, in this quantum space is where the more, how do you even say this? The hard problem of consciousness is actually to some degree solved in that this is a space that has all this vast depth and complexity, and that the reason that you can’t predict what’s coming out the other side beyond probability is that what’s happening here to some degree is a free will decision of whatever is fundamental to the world, in other words, what is the true ontology of the universe? What’s it really made of? If it’s not made of the stuff, made of bits that we measure in the classical world, what is it? And that stuff spans the quantum space, and the classical space, and creates us, and we’re this interface. And free will generates this true objective creation that then we measure as randomness, or probability, or something.
Federico: Yeah, but.
Dr. Z: Or am I totally crazy?
Federico: No, no, no, it’s okay, that’s one of the aspects, but there is another aspect, which is qualia. Qualia is the fact that we have an experience.
Dr. Z: Qualia is an experience, right, yeah.
Federico: The feelings, and the taste of chocolate, or the taste of wine, I prefer it to chocolate .
Dr. Z: I prefer wine myself, yeah. I’m using Don’s example of chocolate, because, you see, he doesn’t drink.
Federico: But the point is that qualia in the model that I have developed with Professor D’Ariano, it will be published shortly, in that model, certain systems that are in a pure state, this is very special kind of state in quantum physics, again, to explain it will take a long time, but take my word for it, there are pure quantum states, we are postulating that the system that is in that state actually experiences that state. So, the pure quantum state is the only the informational aspect of a reality that also has a semantic aspect, which is the feeling of that state. Witness the fact that that pure quantum state cannot be cloned, cannot be copied, is private exactly like your consciousness is private. I can not know what you’re feeling. I can only know what you tell me. But what you tell me uses classical symbols, words, sounds, vibrations, but I cannot share your experience. That your experience and so is mine, so is everybody else, is completely private. In a classical computer, a bit can be copied, a bit is public, a bit can be read without disturbance. In the quantum world, anytime you take a qubit and you read it–
Dr. Z: It changes it.
Federico: You have a one or a zero with a certain probability, right?
Dr. Z: Right, right, right.
Federico: So, you see, so now we have, how do you say? A way to understand that the property that we actually observe, are conscious, are reflected in this properties of pure quantum states, okay? And the key thing is that when you are in that state, you have a definite experience It is not a probability, that state, as far as you are, that system, that quantum system is in that state. It knows that it feels that way. You don’t know how I feel, because first of all, that information cannot be copied, it cannot be see… No one can look at that, nobody can know. In fact, that information doesn’t even exist for the person, for the self, for the entity, for the system that experiences it. It is the experience of that what we call pure state, which is the knowing, the semantics, is the information, is the ontology. So, that system is in an ontic stat.
Dr. Z: Meaning primary being, it is truth, yeah, right.
Federico: It is experiencing that state. Looking from the outside, I can only give a probability to that state, because the system could have been in many other states. And so, I could only know the probability for each of the possible states that this system is in the quantum state, that’s all I can know from the outside. So, that state then is epistemic for an observer. So, there is an owner, which has the experience, and everybody else has an epistemic knowledge, which is only a set of probabilities for all the possible states.
Dr. Z: Epistemic meaning the knowledge of instead of ontology, meaning actual thing.
Federico: Yeah, what I can know about something, right? What I can know about something.
Dr. Z: So, you added interiority now to this, you’ve added this primary sense of is-ness of experience to this state that then when you look at it from outside, it shows up probabilistically as a collapsed…
Federico: Yeah, a collapsed, yeah, collapsed wave function, a collapse, a collapse, yeah.
Dr. Z: The voodoo that they talk about, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Federico: That’s right. So, it is clear that the fact, for example, that we can not know the state that we are in in this real world, we can only probe and find signals, okay? But no experience in the brain, only electrical and biochemical signals, that is telling you that consciousness cannot be classical because a classical information can be copied. You should be able to copy it. So, if an experience was just information, classical information, you should be able to copy it.
Dr. Z: Right, I should.
Federico: But you cannot, but you cannot. I cannot have your experience, you can not have mine. Each person has its own private reality, private experience.
Dr. Z: And this idea then, that that really argues against this reductionist idea that material somehow emerges consciousness, because then you could copy the material and emerge the same consciousness in theory, but if I cloned you molecule for molecule, which also would be a little tricky ’cause of qua–
Federico: No, you cannot do it, no.
Dr. Z: You can’t do it ’cause the cells themselves are not classical purely, right?
Federico: You cannot do it, but you cannot clone a quantum state, that’s the point.
Dr. Z: Yeah, yeah, so it can’t be done. So, even the thought experiment is dumb, yeah.
Federico: Yeah, no, you cannot do it.
Dr. Z: So then, what’s interesting then is, and we’re gonna take it from this very heady idea and bring it back to something simple, so we could say, so then if this stuff, if this book is not the ontological primary thing, in other words, it’s not really a thing, it’s a symbol, it’s a collapsed wave function that we see of a bunch of different quantum states, then what is fundamental, what is the primary?
Federico: What is fundamental is the experience itself, is consciousness.
Dr. Z: Consciousness.
Federico: Yes, in fact in our model, we say consciousness is fundamental.
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: Then quantum information emerges or quantum information supervenes on consciousness, emerges from conscious.
Dr. Z: So, it’s backwards from what the materialists say.
Federico: Yeah, of course.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: But then quantum information supervenes or is out of which emerges–
Dr. Z: Classical.
Federico: No, quantum physics.
Dr. Z: Oh, oh.
Federico: Quantum physics, the way it’s done is not pure information, is not pure quantum information, has also some ontology in it, it’s mixed up, it’s both ontological–
Dr. Z: Electron cloud.
Federico: And epistemic, okay, but mostly epistemic. But then from quantum physics emerge classical physics. So, in other words, we have a series of Russian dolls–
Dr. Z: Yeah, nested hierarchy.
Federico: A nested hierarchy where quantum physics is basically fundamentally is information, quantum information in this model. And quantum information is really the outer aspect of a reality that also has an inner aspect made of meaning, made of, and the meaning is carried by qualia, by sensations and feelings.
Dr. Z: Right, so that’s the consciousness at the core. So, if the stuff of the universe–
Federico: That’s how we know.
Dr. Z: That’s how we know. And so, if the stuff of the universe, the primary component of the universe is awakeness, awareness, consciousness, it then manifests through this nested series of dolls, like you say, from quantum information to quantum physics to classical physics, and the way that you and I know each other’s experience is largely in the classical realm to start. So, I see you as this image, I hear the sound in the ear. But then it is translated into qualia, experiences that are mine and mine alone, that then connect to meaning, emotion, a sense of perhaps purpose and direction, that to bring it back to the computer analogy, that classical-only computer system that we built can never have, yeah.
Federico: Yes, in other words, the computer is a purely classical system, but we are a quantum classical system. Ourselves are not classical. They are quantum classical.
Dr. Z: So, it’s a hybrid.
Federico: So, it’s a hybrid, and therefore, our body is actually connected with a quantum system, which is our consciousness, that cannot manifest in this, directly in this world, can interface with our body. So, my experience is not in this physical world, like a qubit cannot be in this physical world. Here, we only have a bit.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: Okay, there we have a qubit, and the qubit, just for simplicity, has a sense of itself in a way, right? An elementary sense of itself. And so, the consciousness and the experience of our world doesn’t exist in our world, even if it is an experience of a classical object, because the experience is a conscious, experience means feelings and sensations, that’s what experience, thought is also an experience, a spiritual feeling is also an experience, those can only exist in the quantum world. So, we think that what we experienced happens here because we interact with classical objects here, but no, the experience is somewhere else. It’s exactly like when you are controlling an avatar in a computer. When you have an avatar in a computer that you control–
Dr. Z: Virtual reality.
Federico: Which is virtual reality. So, it’s in virtual reality, you think that you are playing, that you are really there, especially if you are a kid, you get so–
Dr. Z: Lost, identified with the game.
Federico: Yeah, lost in the game, identify with the avatar in the game, and that reality, that you forget that soup is ready, probably Mom will call you, whatever. And so, in that case, you think that you are the avatar.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: But in fact, your experience is in the body that controls the avatar. But then I’m saying no, even the experience of you playing a game is in that self, the real system which is in the quantum world because you cannot experience anything even in the physical world, which is quantum classical. You have to be a quantum system in a pure state.
Dr. Z: Let me repackage what you just said and see if it makes sense. ‘Cause that’s–
Federico: It’s a mouthful.
Dr. Z: It’s a mouthful, but it’s, okay, I’m gonna repackage this, and then you’re gonna tell me where I’m wrong. So, many people talk about life being a virtual reality. And that means that there’s some simulator, some alien system that’s creating this thing that then we’re going through. And when we unplug from that matrix, we’re in another matrix. And here we are as another body in another matrix, programming a very complex computer, because as we know, consciousness emerges from stuff. Okay, so that’s paradigm that a lot of people think when they talk about we’re living in a simulation. What you’re saying is something radically different. You’re saying that the simulation, and this is all metaphor, okay, we’re not saying this exactly, but this is a metaphor, we’re saying the simulation is the classical world. This is the world we’re walking through that we think is real, and that this book is real, that you’re real, and we talk to each other, we exchange information in the system across the game.
Dr. Z: But really, the “body” that’s controlling this game is actually the quantum world awareness that we fundamentally are, that interfaces with this classical world through a quantum-classical hybrid, which is our body and ourselves.
Federico: That’s correct.
Dr. Z: And this interface is the avatar that we wear that allows us to simultaneously have an interior experience of love, and connection, and meaning, and purpose while having an exterior experience of the classical world that allows us to know other entities that are exactly the same as us, but a different perspective, manifesting a different avatar, and the world itself is the collective manifestation of all these things interacting, does that sound right?
Federico: Yes, that’s perfectly right, yeah.
Dr. Z: Dang.
Federico: You got it right not got it wrong.
Dr. Z: Now, this to me is fascinating because we have this intuition, and you can have, like you’ve had, spiritual experiences where you step out of that body, and either it’s a near-death experience, or it’s a sense of unitary consciousness, or some people get it through psychedelic drugs, the sense that you suddenly unplugged from your individual avatar and gone back to a higher mind that’s behind that. And so again, we can say that those experiences are real and they’re ineffable, they’re hard to describe, but it’s tough to say, well, then we can science that because science is all about the measurement of the classical world, yeah.
Federico: Yeah, the crucial difference between the typical simulator, the universe as a simulator and that kind of stuff, right? Or the the virtual reality world and so on is that if all there was is a computer, classical computer, that computer could not be conscious, could not have an experience. The experience is the one that actually creates, because we haven’t gone there yet, but that world, the quantum world is creative, and we’ll get to it. But so, take that for good for now.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: So, that world is creative. We have created the computers. The computer has not created us, as far as I know, okay?
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: So, we have created the computer and we haven’t created the computer by random variations and selection, but by intelligent think… thoughts, creative thoughts and variation. So, those creative variations that were better than what was there before, not random, better, and the selection of the marketplace that accepted what we did. And so, through a process of good variations, instead of random variation, good variation and selections, we have created the computers that we have today. So, those computers, however, they are all classical and they cannot be conscious. But we are the ones giving them consciousness by telling them what do, making decisions for them, because we have comprehensions, because we know what we’re doing. And so, our opportunity here is to use intelligently artificial intelligence robots, and so on, instead of being scared that they are going to be better than us, and they’re going to kill us, or whatever, which is silly stuff, okay? AI is great, but it’s great only, only, if we work with it in a co-operative way, not if we put ourselves in competition as machines against another machine, which is what the mythology of the day goes, okay? If that goes that way, it’s because somebody of ill intent is behind those machines and wants to control us if we believe that we are machines.
Dr. Z: That is the fundamental truth from all of this is that this mistaken paradigm that humans are machines, and I gotta say this, this is your processor, the Z80. This is the Zilog that was a company you founded after Intel, after you worked at Intel and Fairchild, this incredibly beautiful and complex thing, which is still a classic, which powered the ColecoVision, which I played as a kid, which is, okay, that came from the minds and creativity.
Federico: It did not self-assemble.
Dr. Z: It did not self-assemble, it did not probabilistically appear, it was not some Heisenberg equation that collapsed in a wave function and just happened to hit all, no, it was the result of human creativity that came from a conscious team of people that you were leading.
Federico: And comprehension.
Dr. Z: And comprehension.
Federico: And comprehension, and intention, and purpose.
Dr. Z: So, explain comprehension to me a little bit more, because this is where people say, well, a computer can understand all the math and stuff, right? But that’s not what it’s doing.
Federico: No, no, there is a fundamental difference. I guess that the best way to explain it is when they made the first experiment with self-driving cars.
Dr. Z: Ah, it’s a good example, yeah.
Federico: There was an unfortunately, someone was killed, the person that was killed, he had a bicycle, and he was walking with the bicycle. And the computer was only given examples of people on the bicycle, pedaling on the bicycle, not walking with their bicycle next. And so, it didn’t recognize, and he went through him or her and killed that person, why? The computer doesn’t understand anything. There is no consciousness, consciousness, because understanding is not algorithmic. It goes beyond algorithm, it is a creative process. You get it, have you ever considered, when you have been trying to understand something complicated, and at one point say, ah, now I got it, right? Eh, yeah, you have that moment.
Dr. Z: That aha moment.
Federico: That moment of joy, right?
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: Why, why is that? Because something got connected, something that was disconnected before, got connected into a meaning, a new meaning, comprehension is about meaning, is a semantic property of reality, which doesn’t exist in this symbolic reality, which is the physical reality or the classical reality. Classical reality is just symbolic, period. There is no meaning, there is nothing, just things hitting each other, doing whatever they do, according to laws, which are algorithms. They are deterministic laws in classical physics, they are algorithms. That is the reality that we think we are. That’s wrong, we are that other reality, which understands, which gets meaning, gets joy out of life, love people, loving their dog, whatever, that is the difference. So, comprehension is nothing to do with the recognition of a symbol, even the recognition of a symbol in a reasonably simple context, which is what AI can do and can do better than, when the problem is reduceable to that, AI can do better than us. But it’s exactly because they can do better than us in certain things, the mechanical intelligence, not the known algorithmic intelligence, but the algorithmic intelligence, they can do better than us. The non-algorithmic intelligence they can do nothing.
Dr. Z: They can do not at all.
Federico: They can do not at all.
Dr. Z: Not at all.
Federico: Is blind.
Dr. Z: And your argument is they will never be able to do that.
Federico: They will never because they are classical systems.
Dr. Z: A classical system. And so, the akin to saying this, you’re in a virtual game, you’re wearing an avatar, and you’re walking around in this virtual world, and you decide I’m gonna build a computer in my virtual world, and this computer is gonna be aware. It’s never gonna happen because the computer is made of symbols in the virtual world. Our real world is equivalently made of symbols, the classical world, the true inductive, creative imaginary intelligence that comprehends, that has meaning, that has even a telos or a purpose it’s going towards, which is increased knowledge or understanding, whatever it is, that world is the driver of the avatar, which is this hybrid between the worlds. And so, when we talk about computers being awake, never will happen, when we talk about us being awake, that could happen .
Federico: Well, I hope that it does happen a little more than what is happening now.
Dr. Z: ‘Cause we’re kind of asleep. Because when we believe we are machines. Now, here’s an interesting thing. So, Kurt Vonnegut, an American author, real famous author wrote a book, called “Breakfast of Champions” in the early ’70s. And the premise of the book was a guy who reads a science fiction novel that convinces him that humans are machines, that we’re robots.
Dr. Z: And he loses his mind because he can’t reconcile his own inner experience with the fact that we’re all machines. And he goes on a murderous rampage.
Dr. Z: And I think that that’s extreme, but it it is the equivalent of what we’ve done in our enlightenment physiology, enlightenment thinking, which is we are machines, once we figure out the machines, we’ll figure out consciousness, then we’ll figure out how to bottle love. And instead we have mental illness gone wild, we have a reductionist medical establishment that says we’ll just throw a pill at a problem that’s so complex. And so, that’s why this matters, right?
Dr. Z: You’re now in your fourth life . The book goes through all these different lives. Here you are building radio controlled planes in Italy. Then here you are learning physics. And then, here you are building microprocessors and an entrepreneur. And then, here you are going, what is it all mean? It’s all consciousness all the way up and down. And it can be described in scientific terms. And we should look for that instead of trying to reduce everything to non-existent symbols, yeah.
Federico: Yeah, it is almost as if we had a vested interest in being machines. Come on, why do you want to be a machine? That beats me, frankly. Why does anybody want to be a machine? It’s actually mind boggling to me to think about people just accepting this without any critical thought.
Dr. Z: It’s easier to be a machine.
Federico: Of course it is easier.
Dr. Z: Yeah, you can be asleep at the wheel and be a zombie.
Federico: Of course, you can.
Dr. Z: You take a pill to calm down, you take a pill to wake up.
Federico: But that’s what you end up being if you accept being a machine.
Dr. Z: That’s right, that’s right.
Federico: Then you accept better machines to control you. And behind those better machines, there are people that like to monetize you, okay?
Dr. Z: Yeah, tell me about the social media, for example, great example. We’re in the Silicon Valley.
Federico: This is what’s going on.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: And we need to wake up to that fact that we are not of this world. We are of this world and not of this world. I think some famous person said that before me. But we are both, we are quantum and classical. And but the quantumness survives death.
Dr. Z: Ah.
Federico: And that’s another not, you might be happy to know.
Dr. Z: That’s a whole nother show.
Federico: Right, you might be happy to know that you don’t need to download your consciousness in a computer to live forever, first of all, because the computer cannot be conscious.
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: Secondly, you don’t even know what experience is or where it is to download it, okay? But most importantly, because you don’t have to, because you don’t die. Who you are, who you really are is not the body. The body is an interface. And who you are is a being that once exists, can not be destroyed, so that is, to me, that’s a pretty important thing to try to find out if it’s true on your own, because I don’t want you to believe me. You need to find out for yourself. But man, do you want to be a machine because you believe somebody that told you that you are a machine? How can a machine understand anything, just think about it? Just an algorithm that goes through its paces. We are making attribution to that algorithm. We say, oh, it recognized the move, that’s a good move. It recognized it. No, it didn’t recognize anything. It just went through a bunch of exhaustively to a game. A game, by the way, you can much more easily go exhaustively through all the possibilities because the computer is so much faster than us. And then, somehow you find the right move, right?
Dr. Z: And it looks brilliant, it looks brilliant, right.
Federico: And it looks brilliant. But only because we are not made like a machine, okay? If you think about it, it is amazing that we can even play against the computer, and sometimes win, given that we are so poor when it comes to mechanical intelligence, algorithmic intelligence, we were not built to be algorithmic. We were built to know through experience, not to know nothing, which is, if we were a pure machine, we couldn’t know anything. We simply would go through the paces, whatever are the paces that we were either exposed to, because we were given that data or we even took it ourselves. But then it’s almost a random walk, that is because consciousness and comprehension go together. And without comprehension, you go through random walks. But of course, that’s exactly what many scientists are telling us, that life has no meaning. And the only way to have creativity is to go through random variations and selection.
Dr. Z: I love it, you’re preaching to the choir obviously. And a lot of people will say, but well, of course, this is wishful thinking, we just wanna believe that because we’re humans, and we’re so human centric, and so on and so forth, but the truth is, I think, it’s funny, it just made me think about the middle age crisis that many of us go through. I went through four of them probably . Where it is this awakening where you look at the material world and go, this has brought me no joy, it has brought me suffering, it’s a constant struggle, and when I look inside myself, I see this vast open thing looking for meaning that’s creative but is not allowed to be by the mechanization of what I’m doing. So, in order to wake up, I better either have to sacrifice this or transcend it and both look scary and hard. And then you struggle. And I feel like it’s pointing to this idea that you, one thing you said, we get back to, which I think we should now is this idea of creativity, of novelty entering the universe, because in a reductionist mechanistic world, nothing new exists, nothing’s created.
Federico: Nothing, it’s just a new combination of things.
Dr. Z: New combination of whatever was there.
Federico: Whatever’s there.
Dr. Z: How is consciousness, that quantum side of consciousness that we are different than that?
Federico: Well, because qubits, let’s talk about quantum information, you can entangle qubits. So, when you entangle qubits, they have something in common, and something in common that is so powerful that even if you take those two particles apart, once you measure one, immediately without waiting for a signal to propagate with the speed of light, the other one changes immediately as if there was no space and time. So, that property of entanglement allows you to create new states that never before existed. And that once they are created, they can no longer be expressed as combination of previous states, as a regular combination. So in other words, you can create, and of course that solves what is called the combination problem of panpsychism. Panpsychism is the idea that everything is conscious, okay? But panpsychism applied to classical objects, classical structures, doesn’t work, it has this problem, combination problem, no creativity.
Dr. Z: How do you add up, right?
Federico: No creativity.
Dr. Z: No creativity. Just a bunch of electrons within our lives, how do they add up to a brain, right?
Federico: There is no whole in the sense that that is something new, because the whole is simply the sum of the parts. And I’m not talking about algebraic sum, but the combination of the parts, okay? So, the combination of the parts is the new thing, but that’s not it, when you have a whole which is more than the sum of the parts, you need to be in the quantum domain. This can not happen in the classical physics domain.
Dr. Z: So a cell, a human cell.
Federico: A human cell is in both areas and can be creative. And I believe is creative. There would not have been the evolution that we’re seeing if there was no creativity. Now, we attribute that creativity to random variation and selection. I say, no, no, those cells are conscious, they are connected with conscious entities in the quantum world, and those quantum entities are actually in part controlling what those cells do.
Dr. Z: The cells are the quantum entities’ avatars in a way, right?
Federico: Yeah, no, absolutely, but those entities are not all powerful, they can do whatever they want. No, they also have to learn. They learn through this process. So, this process appears as variations and selection.
Dr. Z: So, so you–
Federico: But the variations are not random, they are the best variation that those entities can figure out. Like when we solve a problem, we make mistakes. But little by little, we understand more. And then, eventually we had the right solution, right? So, we made variations. Each variation is intelligent, is done by comprehension, and still, we don’t get it all in one shot. This is not creationism, in other words–
Dr. Z: Right, right, it’s not intelligent design by a top-down creator, right.
Federico: Absolutely, I just want to distance myself from that point of view, because that point of view is completely wrong and unacceptable in my point of view, because that basically there is some God that creates everything and it’s an instant creation. But that’s not what I’m talking about at all. So, I’m talking about variations that are actually based on comprehension. Comprehension is not all powerful. We have to look at ourselves.
Dr. Z: We don’t know everything, yeah.
Federico: We understand a little bit step at a time, a little bit. It took me 30 years to figure out that this model and it may still have a lot of things wrong. So, but made a lot of progress in 30 years, right? Same way, same way works. And just imagine what it would take for a living cell to self assemble. Ah, we don’t know how is that possible now, nobody have come even close to explaining how the first living cell came to be through random variation or constrained by environments, but still are essentially random variation and selection. It doesn’t work. There are too many possibilities. Besides they’re quantum entities that you’re trying to assemble together into a system, they’re not even classical. So, all bets are off.
Dr. Z: So, one thing you pointed out here, by the way, what you just talked about is a whole discussion, that’s like a four hour discussion. And even then, you’re only scratching the surface of it. And I think you’re onto something very important, which is the nature of things being made of these conscious units, what Don Hoffman calls conscious agents, all the way up and all the way down from a one bit simplest conscious unit all the way up. And a cell is a manifestation of complexity of those.
Federico: Yeah, by the way, there is a fundamental difference here that I should point out, Don Hoffman believes that the conscious units start very extremely simple.
Dr. Z: Right, one bit conscious agent, right.
Federico: Like a one bit, okay. And he also doesn’t believe that those consciousness units have to be quantum. That’s a fundamental difference between what Don Hoffman believes and what I believe.
Dr. Z: So, I was gonna ask you.
Federico: Yeah, so in my model, a consciousness, what I call conscious a unit, is a much vaster entity in the quantum world. It needs to be already what I call a part whole.
Dr. Z: Part whole, mm-hmm.
Federico: A part whole. So, it has the potential of an infinite potential, okay? And so, it has the potential of the whole.
Dr. Z: Interesting, so it has the potential of the whole but it’s also a part of a big whole.
Federico: But also a part of one, what call One, which is the whole.
Dr. Z: What you call One in the book, yes, yeah.
Federico: Yeah, in the book, yeah.
Dr. Z: It’s the everything.
Federico: Yeah, it’s the everything, yeah, so first of all, it has to be quantum, it cannot be classical, and it has to be of a level of sophistication to start with, which would be like a cell. In this world, the simplest conscious entity is a cell, a living cell, that is everything else is only symbols. The stones or, so I’m not a panpsychist in the sense that everything is conscious. Yes, everything is conscious, but the expressions in this physical world of that consciousness can be themselves conscious or not.
Dr. Z: Right, right, right.
Federico: So, okay, so, a stone is not an expression, that is not conscious.
Dr. Z: This is not conscious.
Federico: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Z: But it is made of–
Federico: But it is made of conscious entities.
Dr. Z: That’s right, that’s right. So, it’s a symbol that conscious entities use to communicate made up experience, yeah, got it, yeah. And that makes sense, because I think one of the concerns, Don says, well, this is an interface pointing to a network of conscious agents that we don’t have access to their interiority, but you’re saying, well, no, it’s actually, there are bigger conscious agents that are generating this a symbol, and it’s not necessarily aware itself.
Federico: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Z: Which intuitively feels more right, yeah.
Federico: Yeah. But it’s like, I used the example in the book of of a crowd of people.
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: So, in a crowd of people, every entity is conscious.
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: Okay, but the crowd qua crowd is not conscious.
Dr. Z: Say that again.
Federico: The crowd as crowd, qua.
Dr. Z: Aha, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You and your Latin . You smart people invent microprocessors, write books, come here, teach me about the nature of reality. How dare you come in here and be smarter than me ? So, the crowd as crowd.
Federico: Yeah, the crowd as crowd, it doesn’t have a consciousness. In other words, there is no entity called crowd that can decide, let’s go over there or let’s do this. If there were to happen, it’s really a spontaneous agreement among conscious entities, but it’s not that the crowd itself as a self, or as an entity, you see? But for example, the emergence of an entity that can control a whole, that can control the parts, like in our case, is again only is a creative phenomenon that can only happen in the quantum world, because a classical system cannot do that, because the whole is just the sum of the parts. In classical physics, there is no top down causation, it’s only bottom up.
Dr. Z: Yeah, little particles assemble, and yeah.
Federico: Assemble, and you can explain what happens at the top at the total system.
Dr. Z: By what happens by what happens to the parts.
Federico: By what happens by what happens to the parts. In other words, the description of the parts is a complete description of the whole. In quantum physics, that’s not the case, okay? The whole is more than the parts, and that’s point.
Dr. Z: And so, a term that you used part whole, a philosopher, Ken Wilber, uses the term holon, which is similar.
Federico: Yeah, similar.
Dr. Z: Similar thing, and the idea of that holons, each emergent complexity in the hierarchical levels of holons is bigger than the sum of the holon that make it up. So, it’s the same idea that, that if we’re made of cells, the human body, it actually manifests as something that’s not a combinatoreal thing of ourselves. It’s something beyond that, that emerges a new reality. And that in itself is a creative process.
Dr. Z: That’s creation, that’s evolution, evolution is almost an imagination of new things that have never existed. And you could say, and I’m gonna get weird and political for a second, but you could say that even human schools of thought, like we started out as tribal, animalistic, fight each other, power, to go to hierarchical, Catholic church hierarchy, to then go to a capitalist, rationalist meritocracy, to go to pluralistic, multicultural, those worldviews emerged, they did not exist prior to being collectively imagined and brought into reality. So, it’s a constant creative process.
Dr. Z: It’s not like we’re finding these things, they’re emerging and being created.
Federico: Yeah, but it is not out of the question that with this new model that could have been imagined in the quantum reality because these entities interact also in the quantum reality, right?
Dr. Z: Uh-huh, how does that work, yeah?
Federico: Yeah, so they’re not islands, right? They communicate with each other, and so on.
Dr. Z: Through symbols.
Federico: Through quantum symbols.
Dr. Z: Right, yeah, yeah.
Federico: Yeah, and so then, what we see here is in part influenced by what they discover there. And so, they are learning too. So, the point is that there isn’t, oh, let’s do this, boom, right? No, no, no, no, in my model, the purpose one is to know itself.
Dr. Z: Itself, yeah.
Federico: Okay, which is, I’m not the first to say this, right?
Dr. Z: Right, right, right.
Federico: Okay, but the purpose of one is to know itself, and of course, to know itself, you need to experience, right? Knowing is based on experience. It’s not about repeating symbols, reading a book without understanding and repeating it like a computer would do, that’s not knowing, there is no knowing there, it’s just imitation, repeating, okay? So there is, again, the idea that comprehension is not of computers is fundamental. And of course, people that are working in AI now are finding out that those neural networks, they can only go so far. But then when you get to complicate a situations, the computer cannot figure out what to do, because it never had an example of that because they need an example of everything. In fact, they need them many examples of everything in order to learn something.
Dr. Z: Whereas humans need a couple.
Federico: One example.
Dr. Z: One example. Human walking a bike.
Dr. Z: Don’t hit that.
Federico: That’s right.
Dr. Z: That’s a conscious creature, bad, yeah .
Federico: Even if it’s the first time that you see a human walking with a bike, you’re not going to say, well, that doesn’t exist, boom.
Dr. Z: You don’t need a memory to go don’t hit it, yeah, right, right, right.
Federico: That’s right, so you see, those are the things that people don’t understand because we have been indoctrinated, to first of all, to think that we are machines, second of all, the classical world is essentially all there is.
Dr. Z: Real.
Federico: Yeah, the real stuff in, and quantum is kind of, yeah, oh yeah, of course you have to put up with it, but really the real world is the classical world. And so, if it’s a classical world, there is no free will. Forget soul–
Dr. Z: it’s all determined because you can measure the span and the, yeah.
Federico: Yeah, yes, there is this chaotic systems that kind of a pain in the ass, but.
Dr. Z: Predictably unpredictable, yeah.
Federico: Not big deal, not big deal. Right, so essentially, it’s like it was. We don’t want to change, that is the mindset right now. And that mindset is actually devastating to who we are because it’s basically saying that there is nothing to spirituality, there is nothing more than just being a machine. It’s so devastating if you think about it.
Dr. Z: You know what I think this does? I agree 100%, it’s nihilistic, it reduces what we are, what we know we are. This is the thing, it’s not like we’re blind to this.
Dr. Z: We’re born with this. It’s our birthright, you say it in the book. Our birthright is consciousness, it’s awareness. So, we’re born with it, we see it, and then, we’re told we’re machines, and then we’re actually treated to some degree like we’re machines, and we’re commercialized, and productized, and monetized, and so on. And then, what happens? We either feel this dissonance.
Dr. Z: We become depressed, we go down these routes, or know we have middle-aged crisis . or I think some people turn back to earlier religious doctrine and say, well, I find meaning in that, and you know what? Hey, that’s better than we’re robot.
Federico: Better than pills.
Dr. Z: Yeah, better than pills, right. But you’re saying there may even be a higher game, which is when we realize that we’re all made of this stuff and this is what we are, and death is this thing and life is this thing.
Dr. Z: We wake up.
Federico: Yeah, and besides, if you are a machine, see, you are essentially controlled by that mantra you are a machine, because ultimately then, if you are a machine, there is no purpose. And in fact, that most physicists would say.
Dr. Z: There’s no purpose.
Federico: The universe has no purpose, no meaning, right? It’s all chaos or randomness. And so, if that is what you believe, which there is no evidence that it is that way, in fact, the evidence is the opposite, because if you’re look inside instead of looking only outside, you will find evidence that it’s not so.
Dr. Z: Right, but the physicists and the doctors and others will say there is only the outside.
Federico: That’s right, because if you believe that there is only the the outside, you will never look inside, and that’s the problem. Only suffering to the Nth degree will make you look inside.
Dr. Z: That’s right.
Federico: Only that will.
Dr. Z: Did you have that?
Federico: Of course I had that. That’s really when I was trying to understand what is conscious, what does it mean, consciousness? Can I make a conscious computer? It was also at a time of middle-aged crisis for me, where I had achieved everything that the world told me, they never told me to become it, right,
Dr. Z: It’s there.
Federico: You got it, right? That’s the message that if you have a great family, you’re healthy, you’re rich and famous, you have made it, you should be happy.
Dr. Z: Check, check, check, check, check, yeah.
Federico: I checked all those boxes, and I was miserable. So, what’s wrong with this picture? Of course, I found out later that it was because I neglected myself. I was living out out there, believing that reality is only out there. That’s why I got into this mess. So, I bought the mantra and it took me to the edge, okay? Because even what they promised and I achieved, because most people don’t achieve those. So, they run like in a maze.
Dr. Z: Until death.
Federico: Yeah, until death.
Dr. Z: All the way.
Federico: In the wheel, right?
Dr. Z: Where’s the success?
Federico: That’s right, that’s right, let me try again, let me try again, because I didn’t get it, let me try again. So, they never even get a chance to pause, to stop, I got everything that I thought that I needed. I had that, I was fortunate because I reached that, and that gave me a moment of pause, and I said, “Wait a second, how come I? “I’m not happy really.” But it was because of the pause that I had time to ask myself am I really happy or am I pretending to be happy? And I was pretending to be happy, of course, because how can you not after you have achieved everything that the world tells you, the world cannot be wrong, right?
Dr. Z: By all intents, you live in Los Altos Hills, you invented the damned Silicon Valley more or less, you’re revered by people in, especially in technology, and yet fundamentally then, you were miserable.
Dr. Z: And so, I’m in just looking at my audience now. So pay attention, pay attention. Because I had an experience that was a one 50,000th of that level of success. Oh, I’m the Stanford doctor, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, my parents are happy, I have a 401k, I have an Acura with a leather interior, what the heck? And I’m rolling around the Silicon Valley with my mortgage and all this, but I’m like, cool, okay, I’m doing well, miserable, miserable, miserable, and felt that the meaning and purpose of what I was doing was reduced to these patients are machines, we patch them up and we put them back out.
Federico: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Z: And like you said, you go right to the edge. You’re looking at the precipice of just oblivion.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: And of course, the precipice is death, right? In that case because and death is the ultimate annihilation.
Dr. Z: In that model.
Federico: In that model, right?
Dr. Z: In that model, it’s the end.
Federico: And so, the first thing that that experience, my first experience gave me was very clear from that experience that I will not die.
Dr. Z: That spiritual opening that you had.
Federico: Absolutely, that told me I am eternal.
Dr. Z: So many people have said this for either spiritual experiences like that, meditative experiences, drug experiences, they all come back saying I’m eternal, my old producer, Tom.
Federico: Clearly not my physical body, that would be foolish, right?
Dr. Z: Right, right, right, right, right, it’s the avatar.
Federico: Yeah, that’s the avatar, but you see, in that model of the body is an avatar, right? Is that suppose you play a game and you are controlling an avatar in a virtual reality game, and you get so engrossed in that game that you think you are the avatar and you think the world that you are living, experiencing, is the real world, maybe only for 10 minutes, okay? Then you are killed. So, then imagine when you’re killed, all the signals that came from the virtual world, stop reaching you. So, now you’re awake, and say, oh no, I didn’t die, I’m a body controlling an avatar. And so, I was not in the computer. I thought I was in the computer, but I’m not. So, I’m out here. Now, suppose that your body dies. Is this just like the avatar dying? The body dies, and you wake up to the other reality, and you realize that many of the signals that you were attributing to the body, they were coming from there, like your thoughts or your emotions, not the physical signals of the world, but thoughts, emotions that stuff that you don’t know where it comes from.
Dr. Z: But that’s the real.
Federico: That’s the real stuff.
Dr. Z: Oh.
Federico: You got it?
Dr. Z: Well.
Federico: And it does not take much to actually corroborate this, because there are tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of near death experiences. And you know about it, right? People that are taken into a into an emergency, heart is stopped, mind, no sign, no vital sign in the brain, they are clinically dead. And because their temperature can be lowered and they can be operated, and so on, they can be patched back together, then when they wake up, many of them tell that they had an experience, okay? And I don’t want to go through that, but the point is that that experience revealed to them that they were not a physical body. Those people are changed by that experience forever, most of them, and most of them do not fear death anymore. Death is there, they know, they’re aware of that, okay? But they found themselves in this environment of light when they met people that were, their parents that were already dead, their friends that were dead, they had an incredible feelings of love, and joy, and belonging, and peace, but then they were told, well, you have to go back because you aren’t finished, you aren’t done, you’re aren’t finished with your stuff. So, they wake up themselves into the recovery room, the hospital room.
Dr. Z: And they’re like, “Damn it.” I was so close to being awake. And I’ll take it one step further and go, every single one of us has this experience every day when we dream, we create this world of symbols that’s entirely mind generated. And then, we die when we wake up, and we go, oh, wait a minute, I’m not, oh, I’m the dreamer, I’m not the dream.
Federico: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, exactly, it’s the same, except the dream, the compared to an ecstatic experience or an experience like a near death, by the way they are accounted.
Dr. Z: Feels more real.
Federico: No, they are like few dreams that you might have in your life. They are the very vivid dreams, the ones that are so powerful, ideally even the dreams in which you wake up, in the dream.
Dr. Z: A lucid dream, yeah.
Federico: A lucid, yes, those are the dreams full of intensity, and they would compare to those kind of those experiences.
Dr. Z: And many people who’ve had those experiences say that it felt more real than real, like this feels not real now, yeah.
Federico: I had some dreams that I remember more vividly than any waking experience.
Dr. Z: Waking, hmm, mm, mm.
Federico: Just so powerful.
Dr. Z: So, does your family think you’re crazy?
Federico: Hm-mm, mm.
Dr. Z: Because I have these conversations sometimes, and they’re like, “Are you okay?” And I’m like, “I’m better than okay actually. “I feel like waking up a little bit.” It’s still hard.
Federico: Yeah, I am much, much happier, and I know now the difference between what it means to be happy and what it means not to be happy because I’m quite aware of my state, of my inner state, where when I was 40 year or up to my late 40s, I didn’t want to look inside. It was just, I was always all living outside. So, I didn’t know. And that was exactly why I was so desperate at the end of that process, because I had totally neglected who I am, what I want, who am I, what am I here for, and whatever. But partly because I was told that we are here to work, I guess, or to be happy, but even that didn’t work. And so, what the hell ?
Dr. Z: Do you have a go-to spiritual practice that you use now?
Federico: Yeah, it’s actually writing.
Dr. Z: Ah.
Federico: To me, it’s like a spiritual practice, it’s really like a meditation, because I go into a state of receptivity, because and I get unbelievable number of ideas through that, yeah.
Dr. Z: That silencing of the mind and the noise, yeah. So, that’s why I love doing live shows too because it’s this opening of creativity and stuff comes out. Not all of it’s good.
Dr. Z: But I think where the magic comes in, that’s why you have an editor, but you’re editing in real time, but it’s recognizing what ideas are actually connected and good with a meta awareness, and then going with those. And so, you open the gate to the universe spitting stuff out, and then you edit that . And that’s what it feels like sometimes, especially if you’re writing lyrics for a music parody or you’re coming up with ideas to do something for a show, that’s how it feels like for me.
Federico: Yeah, an artist that have worked on themselves also, they have done some introspection and meditation, and so on, also know exactly that, what it means, how out to reach the essence of who you are, know that you are where you’re supposed to be. Before this awakening, I was always, my mind was always going to where I was supposed to be instead of where I was. And so, it was always kind of never present, in many ways. It was always about the future, about what needs to be done, about what now. And so, and yet, my inventiveness came mostly from dreams, waking up with the idea, yeah, so .
Dr. Z: You talk a little bit about that in the book, turning something over in your head and sleeping on it.
Federico: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Z: And coming up with the solution.
Federico: Yeah, that’s right. And so, and I sort of took it for granted. I never kinda gave it that much of a thought, like, oh, okay, yeah. But in fact, now I understand, because that was the part of me that was still connected to my higher being, my higher self, who I am really, that quantum entity that I was telling you before, which I’m a portion of in my model. And so, that connection is always there, even if you don’t know that you have that connection, but now with what I know, it makes sense to me.
Dr. Z: But Bernardo Kastrup and I were talking about, and we all are associates now by proxy, we’re talking about this idea of showing up as an authentic self that you are. And I think you’re talking about, you’re getting at it, which is allowing that creativity to come through as who you are.
Dr. Z: Not trying to force it into a different, into the classical model .
Federico: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Z: That is what this says I should be, right.
Federico: But for example, now I find difficult to prepare myself. I don’t want to prepare myself. You see, I want to be spontaneous.
Dr. Z: How funny, I’m the same way now. And I suck at it still, but you’re much better at it.
Federico: Yeah, in the past, I would be terrified–
Dr. Z: Not to prepare.
Federico: Not to be prepared. It’s sort of anxiety. Now, I actually, I don’t want to prepare, because if I prepare, I come out fake, yeah.
Dr. Z: It’s fake, man, so I’m gonna be 48 this month. And I’m discovering for the first time in my life how to embrace the fact that I want to be authentic and spontaneous, which means I used to feel so guilty that I didn’t prep or that I didn’t prep enough, it was never enough, it was like, you gotta prepare, prepare, prepare, for a talk, I better memorize all the slides or whatever. Now, it’s like, oh, you want me to do a talk, when? Let me show up, well, who’s your audience? Okay, well, this is the thing, guys, and then it’s this. Sometimes it doesn’t hit, but that’s just the nature of–
Federico: But it’s fine.
Dr. Z: Yeah, it’s still authentic.
Federico: But how many times did it not hit even if you prepare?
Dr. Z: Every single time ’cause it’s fake.
Federico: That’s right, you look like a robot, right?
Dr. Z: Robot, and you’re living up to the mantra, we are machines.
Federico: That’s right. Of course, that’s what you are when you do that.
Dr. Z: Now, we could probably put a finer point on that and say preparation helps to allow authenticity. So, it’s putting in that work is still important. It doesn’t mean you just throw it away, right, right.
Federico: That’s right, no, no.
Dr. Z: You would never have been able to make these microprocessors without ridiculous.
Federico: No, of course, but I’m not saying that, this situation I’m talking about is very different, writing a book is something that requires tremendous amount of dedication and really will to get it done, to express yourself properly. But even there, I am open to whatever shows up.
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: And I go with it, okay? But then I read it again, and then I find that perhaps there is a better way of putting this and so on. And so, it is a process, but the creative process, which is the essence, because if it doesn’t come first, you’re not going to make a map by exchanging words, right?
Dr. Z: Right, right, right.
Federico: But trying different combinations, no, no. So, the inspiration has to be there, then you can do better with reason because you are on the base of inspiration. And besides, even when you use your reason, you can still be open to new inspiration and doing even better.
Dr. Z: Now, that brings up something that, and again, this is, again, looking at inside at your own mind, how these connections form. A computer would not make the, what I’m about to say, I’m not saying I’m smarter than a computer at mechanical stuff, but I’m saying that this induction, when you say, one, so the preparation, constraints, things like that, One, the, everything that it is that we’re a part of is striving to know itself, I’ve always struggled with this idea that the world is resource constrained. And I talked with Don on my show about this, that this resource constraint, you’re fighting for resources, for energy, for food, for mates, all of that, that itself drives the evolutionary process because it creates a kind of scarcity and a set of constraints that then gives us structure to grow. If One is trying to know itself, why wouldn’t it arise situations where we feel like we’re separate, we forget that we’re part of a whole, we’re resource constrained, and have to compete and struggle, and then that emerges through the rules and the constraints new knowledge of ourself and growth, am I being crazy?
Federico: Well, to me in some ways, if we’re where fat, dumb and happy.
Dr. Z: Fat, dumb and happy, yeah, I’m getting there.
Federico: Why look for anything, why change, you know what I mean? So, even suffering is essential to find out, is a signal that something is amiss, right? That you need to look there where the suffering comes from. So, I think this reality is like a school. We are here to know ourselves, and we know ourselves not necessarily we don’t complete that learning while we are here, because if you accept for a second the idea of a simulator, right? Here, we are going to screw up. And then, we go out of the simulator, we have some people that know more than us, and we talk about what did I do wrong? So, have you thought about this? And so, you go through a process of understanding based on the experiences that you had had in this world, you see?
Dr. Z: Do you think this understanding that’s gained collectively by awareness as a whole is lost, in other words, is this a never ending repetitive process of growth and destruction, where everything that we’ve learned and evolved is lost? Or do you think there’s some memory, how dow you think about that?
Federico: Oh, no, no. I think there is a continuing growth. I think that no new experience is lost. It would not make sense. Again, if you accept the premise, the premise is that One wants to know itself, okay? And One is the totality that exists and One creates this consciousness units, which are like the monads of Leibniz, they are much closer to the consciousness units than the CAs, the conscious agents of Don Hoffman. So these entities which are part-wholes, they have all the capacities of one, but they are also part of one. And so, but so our ourselves, by the way, they have all the capacities of the whole, which is that, right?
Dr. Z: Ah.
Federico: Same, a cell is a part whole of our body, and we have about a hundred trillion of them, right? And each cell has the entire genome of the body, okay? So, it is a whole in the sense it has all the basic information, even if the portion of that information that they express is a portion of that genome, still they possess all that information.
Dr. Z: So, this seems to be a repeating theme in reality, this idea of the fractalism and part whole.
Federico: Yeah, basically, we are part of One and One is part of us, which is, again, a mind bender, right? Because how can a part of something, part of a whole, the whole is part of me, right? That’s it, but how can a particle be a particle and a wave?
Dr. Z: So again, paradox is also built into the thematic fracture, the structure of reality, yeah.
Federico: But again, it’s the holographic nature of reality. A part that is also the whole. And in a hologram, a portion of the hologram contains the whole.
Dr. Z: Right, right, yeah, and even physicists have proposed a holographic nature of the universe, which is interesting, yeah.
Federico: But in the catch, you can turn around and said the whole is contained in each part of itself, okay?
Dr. Z: Yeah, yeah.
Federico: So, that’s the paradigm that is quantum physics paradigm.
Dr. Z: Right, right, which again, gets back to can a computer have an internal experience, and the answer is how would that ever be possible in this structure?
Federico: In this structure, no, in this structure, no.
Dr. Z: No, no, and again, to answer the question that we started with, are we living in a virtual reality? Yes and no .
Federico: And no .
Dr. Z: Oh, man.
Federico: But it is.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: Because you see, the idea that look, in my second book, I go through many of the things that we believe that can not be possibly right. How can reality be made of black and white, right, wrong, true, false, okay? You can create realities or systems for which that is true. A mathematical theory, for example, lives on the strict regimen of true or false, if something is not 100% true, it’s false.
Dr. Z: Right.
Federico: Okay, so even 99.9999% right, true, if it’s not 100%, it’s false, okay? So, that’s that world.
Dr. Z: Black and white.
Federico: Black and white.
Dr. Z: And your computer bits are the same way, right? The voltages from 0.6 to one or on, yeah, exactly.
Federico: The bit, there is no half bit, there is no quarter bit.
Dr. Z: Right, it’s rounded up to the nearest bit.
Federico: It’s zero or one, there is no 0.9, okay? But even in quantum physics, quantum physics is mostly probabilistic. So, you have only probability, which are not zero. There are more than zero and less than one. But if the was that way, you could not falsify quantum physics. To falsify quantum physics, you must predict situation in which the probability is one or zero that that will happen. And quantum physics does. So, quantum physics can be falsified because it can predict situations in which the probability is one or zero. And so, you can falsify it because one experiment that goes against that prediction is enough to falsify this theory.
Dr. Z: It’s never been falsified though.
Federico: So far, no, never been falsified.
Dr. Z: Yeah.
Federico: But most experiments, when you have a probability, that doesn’t prove or disprove anything because you can say, well.
Dr. Z: It’s a probability, right?
Federico: It’s a probability, it could have happened the other way.
Dr. Z: Right, right, oh man. Well, so this has been really a fantastic conversation. I could talk to you for four hours, and in fact, would you be willing to come back? And because look, we only touched on the surface.
Federico: Yeah, it’s a new Weltanschauung.
Dr. Z: A what?
Federico: A new Weltanschauung.
Dr. Z: What is that?
Federico: A new way of looking at reality, if you.
Dr. Z: How do you spell that?
Federico: It’s a German word.
Dr. Z: Oh, okay, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. It is, and the thing is, so what’s interesting is, and the audience didn’t see this, but when we started having our conversation, I hit record and we just started talking, and we went deep down the rabbit hole of quantum mechanics, and details of freewill probabilities, and things like that. It was so deep that we stopped and said, okay, now let’s have a normal conversation. And this is what happened . And so, what I wanna do at some point is I’ll take some aspects of that earlier conversation and release them as clips, because I think if people wanna go deeper on this stuff, and then let’s have you come back, especially when that second book happens.
Dr. Z: And talk about it more, because I think a lot of people in the comments will have questions.
Dr. Z: Because this is not intuitive.
Dr. Z: That’s the problem.
Federico: No, it’s not intuitive. It’s much more intuitive that we are a machine, right?
Dr. Z: Easily, yeah.
Federico: In some ways because, but then if we accept that on, first of all, many scientists thought you’d never believe your intuition.
Dr. Z: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. ‘Cause it fails us at very small and very large.
Federico: So, being non-intuitive sometimes may be better.
Dr. Z: May be a plus, may be a plus, exactly. Oh, Federico Faggin, it is such a pleasure. You’re a living legend. It’s an honor, I feel so grateful to have you here in my little humble place. It reminds me that I made the right decision ultimately coming back to the Bay area and the Silicon Valley to be closer to people like you that are thinking differently, and have had such an impact on humans, and being vulnerable enough to share your own story, and saying, hey, I had everything and it didn’t feel right. And this is what I have to offer now is, it’s beautiful. Thank you, and ZPac, I don’t even know how to end that. I’m just gonna say, share it, hit your questions in the comments, check out the book “Silicon”, it’s available on Amazon and everywhere now?
Federico: Yes, mm-hmm.
Dr. Z: And I’ll put a link in, and gosh, think about this stuff because I think the paradigm that we are machines has run its course.
Dr. Z: And it’s time we transcended it to the next thing ’cause that’s the future of our species. All right, guys, nothing less important than that. We are out, peace. Thank you, Federico.