Dr. Stuart R. Hameroff
Stuart R. Hameroff, M.D.
is Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, and Director of the
Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson,
Arizona. A full-time clinical anesthesiologist, he also organizes the
well-known interdisciplinary conferences
Toward a Science of
Consciousness, and serves on the Editorial Board of the
Consciousness Studies. Stuart earned his B.S. in Chemistry at
University of Pittsburgh in 1969, and his M.D. at Hahnemann Medical
College in Philadelphia in 1973.
In medical school in the early 1970s, Stuart became interested in microtubules, protein structures which organize intra-cellular activities. Struck by their lattice structure and seeming intelligence, Stuart and colleagues in the 1980s developed a theory of microtubules as information processing devices as self-organizing molecular computers inside cells, for example supporting consciousness in brain neurons. In 1987 he authored Ultimate Computing: Biomolecular Consciousness and Nanotechnology, which closed with a Singularity-like vision of large microtubule arrays into which human consciousness could be downloaded and preserved.
But while microtubule-level processing immensely increased the brain’s potential computational capacity, Stuart came to believe computation per se failed to solve the problem of conscious experience. Having also studied quantum-level mechanisms of anesthesia, he became enamored of quantum approaches to consciousness. In the early 1990s he teamed with Sir Roger Penrose to develop the controversial Penrose-Hameroff “Orch OR” model of consciousness based on quantum computation in microtubules within neurons. More recently, Stuart developed the ‘conscious pilot’, a theory supportive of Orch OR involving spatiotemporal envelopes of dendritic synchrony moving through the brain as a conscious agent, a concept similar to certain AI approaches of executive ‘bubbles of awareness’ moving through computational manifolds.
In addition to writing Ultimate Computing (Elsevier), Stuart co-edited three editions of Toward a Science of Consciousness: The Tucson Discussions and Debates (MIT Press), coauthored Fullerene C60: History, Physics, Nanobiology, Nanotechnology, and appeared in the surprise hit film What the Bleep??!!
His 140-or-so peer reviewed articles include: The brain is both neurocomputer and quantum computer, Orchestrated reduction of quantum coherence in brain microtubules (with Penrose), Conscious events as orchestrated space-time selections (with Penrose), Quantum computation in brain microtubules: Decoherence and biological feasibility (with physicists Scott Hagan and Jack Tuszynski), Did consciousness cause the Cambrian evolutionary explosion?, and The conscious pilot Dendritic synchrony moves through the brain to mediate consciousness.
Stuart’s research website is www.quantumconsciousness.org. Watch his Google TechTalk A new marriage of brain and computer, and his several interviews on YouTube.