The User Illusion

The User Illusion

Cutting Consciousness Down to Size

Written by: Tor Norretranders

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140230123
  • 480 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


As John Casti wrote, “Finally, a book that really does explain consciousness.” This groundbreaking work by Denmark’s leading science writer draws on psychology, evolutionary biology, information theory, and other disciplines to argue its revolutionary point: that consciousness represents only an infinitesimal fraction of our ability to process information. Although we are unaware of it, our brains sift through and discard billions of pieces of data in order to allow us to understand the world around us. In fact, most of what we call thought is actually the unconscious discarding of information. What our consciousness rejects constitutes the most valuable part of ourselves, the “Me” that the “I” draws on for most of our actions–fluent speech, riding a bicycle, anything involving expertise. No wonder that, in this age of information, so many of us feel empty and dissatisfied. As engaging as it is insightful, this important book encourages us to rely more on what our instincts and our senses tell us so that we can better appreciate the richness of human life.

Table of Contents

PART I: COMPUTATIONChapter 1: Maxwell’s Demon
Chapter 2: Throwing Away Information
Chapter 3: Infinite Algorithims
Chapter 4: The Depth of ComplexityPART II: COMMUNICATIONChapter 5: The Tree of Talking
Chapter 6: The Bandwidth of Consciousness
Chapter 7: The Bomb of Psychology
Chapter 8: The View from Within
PART III: CONSCIOUSNESSChapter 9: The Half-Second Delay
Chapter 10: Maxwell’s Me
Chapter 11: The User Illusion
Chapter 12: The Origin of Consciousness
PART IV: COMPOSUREChapter 13: Inside Nothing
Chapter 14: On the Edge of Chaos
Chapter 15: The Nonlinear Line
Chapter 16: The Sublime