… Sir Roger Penrose wants to figure out if we’ve been looking at consciousness the wrong way all this time. Our brains are so often compared to computers, but in his 1989 book, The Emperor’s New Mind, Sir Penrose argues that not even quantum computers – which we haven’t even built yet – could rival what’s in our heads.
A deeper understanding of the quantum weirdness of physics might be the only thing that could explain consciousness, he says, and while that’s a pretty controversial view, it’s not like we’ve got a whole lot to go on when it comes to the mysterious force that suddenly makes us self-aware. We’ve found quantum effects in photosynthesis and bird migration, Sir Penrose argues, so why not the human mind?
One way of narrowing down the variables in the search for human consciousness is to figure out what separates us from the greatest processors ever built – supercomputers.
If our minds can figure out a solution that even the most advanced problem-solving machines can’t, it could be the lead scientists need to figure out what makes us so unique. To that end, Sir Penrose has come up with this chess problem. You need to figure out how to legally get the white player to either draw with the black – or win:
As Sarah Knapton at The Telegraph explains, a computer will always assume the black player will win in this scenario, because seeing those three bishops will force it to perform a massive search of possible positions “that will rapidly expand to something that exceeds all the computational power on planet Earth”. But Sir Penrose says it should be “easy” for humans, given you know your chess rules back to front.
If you do decide to solve this riddle, and succeed, you need to email your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. In particular, the Penrose Institute researchers are interested in the thought process that led you to the solution – was it a sudden moment of genius, or the result of days of consternation? Source – ScienceAlert