Qualiaheads hosted a Q&A with Pedro Mediano, focusing on two of his recent papers: What it is like to be a bit: an integrated information decomposition account of emergent mental phenomena and The strength of weak integrated information theory. A short blog post about it can be found here.

Pedro Mediano is a lecturer in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London. His research spans information theory, neuroscience, consciousness science, complexity theory, and more. Much of his recent work has been based on Partial Information Decomposition (PID), which he has used to study information processing in the brain and develop a theory of emergence, among other work. He is also now my PhD advisor!

The papers we focused on discuss using PID and its extension to multi-variable targets, Integrated Information Decomposition (PhiID), to study consciousness. Mediano argues that Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which currently stands as a divisive theory of consciousness due to its strong assumptions and practical limitations, can be made progress on by making a distinction between strong IIT and weak IIT. Strong IIT refers to classical IIT, formulated by Giulio Tononi and others, that addresses the Hard Problem by building a mathematical theory of consciousness based on five axioms. Instead, weak IIT only assumes two of the original five axioms (integration and information) and focuses on practical measures that can be applied to empirical data, addressing the Real Problem. In Mediano’s other paper, What it is like to be a bit, he and coauthors propose a theoretical framework for studying consciousness based on PhiID.