Integrated information theory

Early in my PhD, when I was just getting interested in consciousness science, I came across Integrated Information Theory (IIT). At the time it seemed perfect: a theory combining principles of consciousness, complexity, and information. Although it has varied wildly through its development, the core tenet of IIT remains the same: that consciousness is a property of the information shared between the parts of a system; something that makes it more than the sum of its parts.

However, there can be no rose without a thorn, and with time it became clear to me that the story commonly presented by IIT is neither as simple nor as true as some of its proponents would like you to believe. I strongly believe IIT has limitations (like every theory of consciousness nowadays), and, crucially, current work on “mainstream” IIT does not meaningfully address those limitations.

To this end, I have done work on philosophical, theoretical, computational, and experimental aspects of IIT to address its current flaws – notably by merging it with the rich framework of partial information decomposition.

Suggested reading:

  • Practical measures of integrated information, by Barrett and Seth.
  • Integrated information in discrete dynamical systems, by Balduzzi and Tononi
  • Pedro Mediano
    Pedro Mediano
    Coffee-powered beast-machine

    Computational neuroscientist interested in synergy, information theory, and complexity.