If you’ve never read Straw Dogs by John Gray, you should. It’s an arresting book centred on a critique of humanism and the concept of progress and materialism. At times it really spoke to me, and at others it induced a very furrowed brow. Either way, I’m really glad I read it.
There was one paragraph that really stood out to me in a chapter on free will. Gray discusses the ‘bandwidth of consciousness’. He cites figures from Vincent Deary who has calculated that overall we process some 14 million bits of information per second. But the bandwidth of conscious action and thought, however, is only 18 bits!
If true (unfortunately the name of the calculator is cited but not the paper), then perhaps we should be less concerned with pushing up the speed of our internet connections, and spend some more time on reducing the throttling on our minds.
Been digging around for this Vincent Deary chap. Think this is him.
I didn’t find the the paper with the cited figures in it, but I did find a paper by Keith Sutherland who thinks the ‘bandwidth of consciousness figures’ claimed by Gray are bizarre. Not what I was after exactly, but at least it’s an alternative take.
What are your thoughts?