A few facts and an idea.
First, the most sophisticated theories of consciousness backed by experimental data are that the chemical and electrical interactions are only part of the story. Consciousness seems to relate to the non-local wave domain of the EM spectrum within the cranium. The sophisticated stuff correlates to secondary waveforms that are the interaction of two waveforms of frequency X. Then those secondary ones form tertiary waveforms and so on in long cascade. Consciousness is not something that just pops out of a computational system.
Second, there is a notion called “non-computability” and “virtual non-computability”. These are weird things because they are physically what most of reality is made of and yet they cannot be computed. I’ll explain. Think of a system of atomic oscillators in your brain/body system as having complex co-creative interactions via (1) electric forces, (2) magnetic forces, (3) gravitational forces and (4) quantum wave function connections. The later connections are non-local. Now, let’s just take the brain even though it is true that it interacts with the rest of your body to form the emergent stuff of consciousness. So you have 100 billion neurons. Each neuron has 100 trillion atoms. Each is oscillating in a complex manner as connected to each of the other 100B x 100 trillion atoms via the four above classes of connection. It’s a big co-creative bowl of interactive Jell-O.
Now, let’s understand this via the notion of computation. It is difficult but possible to compute the interactions of two oscillators. It’s called a quantum mechanical two body problem and can be done for two electrons. That’s it. Beyond that, it’s too complicated. To understand why, this example is more than just an analogy:
How many ways can you order A and B? Two, right? AB and BA.
How many ways can you order A to M? Over 6.3 billion ways.
How many ways can you order 60 things? A number greater than every atom in every solar system and dust cloud in and between every galaxy in the universe.
How many ways can you order 100 things? Don’t even ask. It gets to levels of virtual non-computability.
For example, let us say that a computer could be built from all the energy and mass in the universe and be given a hundred trillion times longer than the age of the universe to compute the interaction of some number of atomic oscillators in your brain? Could it simulate the full physical behavior of one of your 100 billion neurons? Of course not. How about a billionth of a neuron, just 100,000 atoms? Not even remotely close.
Every single cell in nature is completely non-computable and yet ontologically real. And Its behavior is fully interactive with EVERY oscillator in the universe. The behavior of any system is not at all the sum of its quantum mechanical or most foundational actions and parts. It’s an exponential supernova of unfathomable non-computability. And yet it is the foundational “stuff” of reality – this non-computable emergent stuff. There’s a sacred sort of word for this type of notion – ineffable.
We believe the universe operates according to language – a sacred geometric type code. It’s musical in the technical sense of the term. And it’s visual or geometric. It’s non arbitrary and exists via first principles. So we think the universe is “code-theoretic”, where it is concerned with maximal expression of meaning for minimal actions of collective consciousness (simple choices in the geometric code syntactical freedom). We call this the principle of efficient language, and it subsumes the principle of least action as a special case.