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Over the past couple weeks, multiple people have asked me for reading recommendations related to consciousness and more specifically, getting caught up to speed with QRI (Qualia Research Institute).

The large interest made me realize it’s worth just publishing the reading list I share.

Hopefully, there will be an Intro to QRI book that gets published in the next few months, but until then, this should be a great start 😊. Besides pieces 1, 1a, 3, and 16, all other pieces were written by Andrés Gómez Emilsson and Michael Edward Johnson.

Must Reads

  1. Consciousness Realism: The Non-Eliminativist Physicalist View of Consciousness (Magnus Vinding)
    1a (Optional). What Is It Like to Be a Bat? (Thomas Nagel)
  2. QRI Glossary
  3. Their Scientific Significance is Hard to Oversate (David Pearce)
  4. The Tyranny of the Intentional Object
  5. Wireheading Done Right: Stay Positive Without Going Insane
  6. The Universal Plot: Part I – Consciousness vs. Pure Replicators
  7. Hedonium
    7a (Optional). Utilitronium Shockwaves vs. Gradients of Bliss
  8. Principia Qualia: Part II – Valence
    8a (Optional). Symmetry Theory of Valence “Explain Like I’m 5” edition
  9. The Super-Shulgin Academy: A Singularity I Can Believe In

Extra Reading (Once You Get Through Those Above!)

10. Investing Time and Resources in Happiness

11. Against functionalism: why I think the Foundational Research Institute should rethink its approach

12. Quantifying Bliss: Talk Summary

13. Logarithmic Scales of Pleasure and Pain: Rating, Ranking, and Comparing Peak Experiences Suggest the Existence of Long Tails for Bliss and Suffering

14. The Neuroscience of Meditation: Four Models

15. Ontological Qualia: The Future of Personal Identity

15a. Open Individualism and Antinatalism: If God could be killed, it’d be dead already

16. Wada Test + Phenomenal Puzzles: Testing the Independent Consciousness of Individual Brain Hemispheres (Quintin Frerichs)

17. Principia Qualia

18. Algorithmic Reduction of Psychedelic States

19. The Hyperbolic Geometry of DMT Experiences: Symmetries, Sheets, and Saddled Scenes

20. The Pseudo-Time Arrow: Explaining Phenomenal Time With Implicit Causal Structures In Networks Of Local Binding

21. How to secretly communicate with people on LSD

22. LSD and Quantum Measurements: Can you see Schrödinger’s cat both dead and alive on acid?




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Thanks for crossposting the list on the Forum.

The 1st recommendation (Consciousness Realism: The Non-Eliminativist Physicalist View of Consciousness by Magnus Vinding) touches on the limits of physical simulations (:

More generally, there is no guarantee that a simulation of something, no matter how much information it includes of that something, will have the same properties as the thing being simulated. [...]


For those who may be interested in the topic, consider Gordon McCabe's Universe creation on a computer. The paper elaborates on the limits of (digital) simulations of physical systems, bringing, IMO, healthy skepticism about the simulation hypothesis (and thus about the possibility of "simulated" minds).

Very important topic! I touch on McCabe's work in Against Functionalism (EA forum discussion); I hope this thread gets more airtime in EA, since it seems like a crucial consideration for long-term planning.

Nice list to get up to speed with some of QRI research. For a general introduction on consciousness people would also gain from having a look at Susan Blackmore's 3rd edition on consciousness which is a pretty good and accessible overview of the science of consciousness, before diving into the specific approach that QRI is taking. Blackmore's book could probably be used as an undergrad textbook in psychology for a semester course. Anil Seth has also gathered a good amount of beginner friendly resources to learn about the science of consciousness.

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