Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems

3 Replies, 581 Views

Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems

by Phillip Ball



Quote:The idea that the universe splits into multiple realities with every measurement has become an increasingly popular proposed solution to the mysteries of quantum mechanics. But this “many-worlds interpretation” is incoherent, Philip Ball argues in this adapted excerpt from his new book Beyond Weird.


Quote:Every scientific theory (at least, I cannot think of an exception) is a formulation for explaining why things in the world are the way we perceive them to be. This assumption that a theory must recover our perceived reality is generally so obvious that it is unspoken. The theories of evolution or plate tectonics don’t have to include some element that says “you are here, observing this stuff”; we can take that for granted.

But the MWI refuses to grant it. Sure, it claims to explain why it looks as though “you” are here observing that the electron spin is up, not down. But actually it is not returning us to this fundamental ground truth at all. Properly conceived, it is saying that there are neither facts nor a you who observes them.
Quote:What quantum theory seems to insist is that at the fundamental level the world cannot supply clear “yes/no” empirical answers to all the questions that seem at face value as though they should have one. The calm acceptance of that fact by the Copenhagen interpretation seems to some, and with good reason, to be far too unsatisfactory and complacent. The MWI is an exuberant attempt to rescue the “yes/no” by admitting both of them at once. But in the end, if you say everything is true, you have said nothing.

We needn’t fear a scientific idea that changes our view of macroscopic reality. But an idea that, when we pursue it seriously, makes that view inchoate and unspeakable doesn’t fulfill the function of science. The value of the many worlds, then, is that they close off an easy way out. It was worth admitting them in order to discover that they are a dead end. But there is no point then sitting there insisting we have found the way out. We need to go back and keep searching.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 7 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • laborde, Ninshub, Kamarling, stephenw, The King in the North, Typoz, Brian
(2018-10-19, 07:20 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems

by Phillip Ball

Excellently written article!  I may be strongly "reading into it" a point of view that is evolving toward my positions.  He doesn't seem to buy into "consciousness" theory so much - but equates it with mind.  He does point to "understanding" as important.

Quote: The MWI is qualitatively different from the other interpretations of quantum mechanics, although that’s rarely recognized or admitted. For the interpretation speaks not just to quantum mechanics itself but to what we consider knowledge and understanding to mean in science. It asks us what sort of theory, in the end, we will demand or accept as a claim to know the world.

Quote: And if consciousness — or mind, call it what you will — were somehow able to snake along just one path in the quantum multiverse, then we’d have to regard it as some nonphysical entity immune to the laws of (quantum) physics. For how can it do that when nothing else does?

I think that mind, knowledge and understanding are quantifiable in terms of information theory, much more than consciousness.  As mind can be as an heuristic informational algorithm.  He does bring up problems with how Bayesian choices are made from a "self" when all choices are real.
[-] The following 2 users Like stephenw's post:
  • Brian, Sciborg_S_Patel
(2018-10-19, 02:10 PM)stephenw Wrote: Excellently written article!  I may be strongly "reading into it" a point of view that is evolving toward my positions.  He doesn't seem to buy into "consciousness" theory so much - but equates it with mind.  He does point to "understanding" as important.


I think that mind, knowledge and understanding are quantifiable in terms of information theory, much more than consciousness.  As mind can be as an heuristic informational algorithm.  He does bring up problems with how Bayesian choices are made from a "self" when all choices are real.

Yeah I actually think consciousness snaking along one, Actual, timeline amidst the timelines [makes sense]. As Marcus Arvan says it now, and Goswami said in 1989, archetypal timelines can exist as potential realities that aren't actualized.

This makes a lot more sense than every timeline exists in Actuality.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2018-10-19, 10:55 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
[-] The following 2 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • stephenw, Brian
(2018-10-19, 05:41 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Yeah I actually think consciousness snaking along one, Actual, timeline amidst the timelines [makes sense]. As Marcus Arvan says it now, and Goswami said in 1989, archetypal timelines can exist as potential realities that aren't actualized.

This makes a lot more sense than every timeline exists in Actuality.
I am not qualified to be critical of Arvan and his well-developed positions.  He has been influential in Ethical philosophy.  I have just enough training in Ethics to know I don't have enough background to fully put his ideas in context.

That said; I do considered these 3 points to be a better version then my own simplistic concept of a quantifiable "real-world probability", being affected by agent's observations.

Quote: 
  1. Any measurement taken by any single measurement device a P2P network also thereby affects the network as a whole (since what one computer measures will affect what other computers on the network are likely to measure at any given instant), giving rise to a massive measurement problem (one can only measure an object is on the network by disturbing the entire network, thereby altering where other computers on the network will represent the particle as being).
  2. Because different machines on the network represent the same object in slightly different positions at any given instant (with some number n of machines representing a given object at position P, some other number n* of machines representing a given object at position P*, etc.) a dynamical description of where a given object/property probably is in the environment will have features of a wave (viz. an amplitude equivalent to the number of computers representing the object at a given instant, and wavelength equivalent to dynamical change of how many computers represent the object at a given point at the next instant). 
  3. By a similar token, any particular measurement on any particular computer will result in the observation of the object as located at a specific point.
  4. Any particular measurement on any particular computer will result in the appearance of a “collapse” of wave-like dynamics of the simulation into a single, determinate measurement.

As always --- thanks for the stimulating links and comments.
(This post was last modified: 2018-10-20, 06:47 PM by stephenw.)
[-] The following 1 user Likes stephenw's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel

  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)