“I combine science and spirituality to give meaning to the universe”

After inventing the first microprocessor in the world (the Intel 4004) and laying the foundations for the extraordinary success of Silicon Valley, thanks to silicon and its applications, and after also having developed …

"I combine science and spirituality to give meaning to the universe"

After inventing the first microprocessor in the world (the Intel 4004) and laying the foundations for the extraordinary success of Silicon Valley, thanks to silicon and its applications, and after also having developed the first touchscreens, the physicist and inventor from Vicenza Federico Faggin, at the height of an exceptional career, he abandoned the path of an entrepreneur to deal with his conscience. He has been studying it for thirty-five years now. He tells what he discovered in Oltre l’invisibile (Mondadori, 306 pages, €22).

Federico Faggin, what is “beyond the invisible”?

«It is that which is knowable only through consciousness. Our interiority is already private: what I feel I cannot transfer to others, just as I feel it. This aspect of interiority is common to quantum physics, because even quantum information cannot be reproduced: it remains private, knowable only by the system that is in that state.”

But we have experience of interiority.

“What we feel inside us is visible, but only from within; whereas the meaning we derive from our experience is beyond the invisible.”

So there are three levels?

“The visible is classical, shareable information. The invisible is what only we can feel. Beyond the invisible is what we ourselves cannot know, except when it manifests spontaneously in us: for example, a new understanding.”

How do they bond?

«This is a book about the union between science and spirituality. Between physics, which studies visible reality, and spirituality, which deals with the inner world, which is what gives meaning to life.”

What does he mean?

«If we were machines without consciousness, then there would be no sentient experience. From the perspective of scientism, where only that which is measurable exists, reality is devoid of purpose and meaning. This is the dystopian conclusion of those who do not attribute reality to the invisible.”

How did you start studying consciousness?

«At a certain point in my life I had achieved everything a person should be happy about, but I wasn’t. Somehow I had been deceived, and I wanted to understand why. At the time I was studying neural networks and machine learning. And I decided that I wanted to understand consciousness, something that was rarely talked about 40 years ago: at most a few neuroscientists started to deal with it…”

What were they saying?

“They were talking about electrical signals and biochemistry in the brain, as if this were the equivalent of our conscious experience. But it’s not: there is this consciousness, which science doesn’t describe at all. I also had a great experience of consciousness.”

His “awakening”?

“I realized that consciousness is something that goes far beyond what I thought: I saw myself both as the observer and as the observed. And this experience pushed me to understand more: it was a process, lasting twenty years, of knowledge of consciousness and free will, which are fundamental properties of Nature and that have existed since the beginning of the universe; but this conception, already present in ancient philosophical and spiritual texts, in my work is connected both to the internal experience and to what I know about quantum physics.”


«A theory that combines science and spirituality. To obtain it, I concentrated only on research, in collaboration with Giacomo Mauro D’Ariano, a physicist at the University of Pavia, one of the most important in the world in the field of quantum information.”

What does the theory say?

“Consciousness and free will are quantum phenomena. And, on this basis, I wrote Irriducibile, in 2022. In this new book, however, I make a reversal.”

What is it about?

«Like all physicists, I tried to understand reality starting from a mathematical model: we showed how quantum information has properties similar to the experience of consciousness and how the collapse of the wave function, which is a random, unpredictable and non-algorithmic, has the characteristics of free will.”

What connection is there between the two?

«Free will only exists if consciousness exists because, to have it, I have to know what I want. And the final theory starts with the postulate – which I call the postulate of being – that consciousness and free will are properties of quantum fields, properties that have existed since the beginning of the universe. This allows us to explain why quantum physics has those extraordinary properties that no one had ever managed to explain before.”

How does the postulate state it?

«As a postulate it is self-evident, and we experience this self-evidence in ourselves, because we have interiority: no one can explain it, it is simply ignored… Therefore, starting from the existence of conscience and free will, we arrive at a reality that has these quantum properties, which have existed since the beginning.”

What can physics achieve?

“It can only calculate probabilities. In this theory, what will happen is determined by the free will of conscious fields, which manifests itself in space-time in symbols and actions, which is what can be measured. Symbols are fundamental to sharing and communicating the meanings we have or feel inside. Better yet, we can communicate only a part of these meanings, namely the bits, the shareable information, obtained from quantum bits, which represent the state of the conscious field.”

What are “qualia”?

“The sensations and feelings we experience. Which allow us to understand the meaning of what is around us and who we are. Quantum information theory describes the interiority of the universe: qualia. And this gives purpose and meaning back to the universe.”


«Otherwise, if we stop at information without meaning, as it is in physics, the world and our life have neither meaning nor purpose: well, if we want this universe, we will have artificial intelligence that will command us. It is essential to change our idea of ​​who we are and not erase our interiority as an epiphenomenon: a crucial step to connect with our deepest nature, with the invisible, which is not where there is nothing but where there are the things that count the most, that is, self-knowledge.”

How is it accomplished?

«The power of consciousness is what allows us to know who we are directly and not through mathematics: it is consciousness that creates mathematics, to explain who we are».

Is it the «new Renaissance»?


Without this connection, science and spirituality remain two silos, two irreconcilable systems. This way of thinking brings spirituality into science and science into spirituality: it fertilizes both, in what is a new path of knowledge».