Re: Quantum Time Travel

From: Jacques M. Mallah <>
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 17:56:52 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 24 Feb 2000 wrote:
> Wonderful! Now we are getting somewhere. I agree with you almost 100% except
> for the "anti-realist" part and the fact that I consider measure relative.
> :-) Our exchange has brought to focus the really important aspects of our
> difference. Thank you!
> We are both relativist. Our difference is that you are an objectivist like
> Einstein whereas I am a subjectivist. I am not sure if Everett was an
> objectivist or a subjectivist.

        Well, I might not be a relativist, depending on what it's supposed
to mean. But it's a seperate issue.
        I wouldn't say that not priviledging one term in a superposition
is the same idea as not priviledging one coordinate system. You call both
ideas relativity, but I don't. In fact, I am not convinced there is no
absolute reference frame, just because we can't observe it. But again,
that's not relevant now.

> There is no problem with the relativist-objectivist point of view as long as
> you restrict yourself to non-self (3rd person) issues such as inertial frames
> of reference like Einstein did.

        Really? Einstein is the one who invented general relativity. I
see no basis for your statement.

> However, as soon as you start talking about
> consciousness and quantum immortality which are, as Bruno calls them first
> person issues, then you are led inexorably from the objective point of view
> to the subjective one. Pushing the concept of relativity from Einstein's
> objective frames to its final conclusion, the self, you'll discover that the
> self becomes the ultimate frame of reference. The mind then becomes a frame
> of reference and relativity is expressed at least in part by Shannon mutual
> infomation theory. I like to think of "mutual information" as "relative
> information." Other branches of mathematics that could bear on this problem
> is axiomatic theory and Goedel's work.

        It sounds to me like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. You're stretching
the analogy to Lorentz invariance into some kind of mangled metaphor. I'd
like you to drop it and present your ideas straightforwardly.

> I am not sure if Everett did envisioned Quantum immortality and if he
> actually made the transition from objectivism to subjectivism.

        I see no reason not to give Everett, a reasonably intelligent man,
the benefit of the doubt: that is, no, he would be on my side :-)

> If however, you maintain an objective point of view, you forgo any
> understanding of consciousness. Objectively speaking, you are only a mass
> comprised mostly of water, nitrogen, phosporus and trace minerals totally
> void of consciousness. As an objective relativist you would deny any
> consciousness to anyone.

        Now that is a strange statement. Sure, it's counterintuitive that
matter could be conscious. But for obvious reasons, my guess it that it
can. If that's correct, then it's an objective fact that the objects
known as human brains do have consciousness.

> Therefore, it is not surprising that you also deny
> Quantum immortality.

        No connection that I see.

> Yet you do feel conscious, don't you? How do you explain this?

        I'm a computationalist.

> In summary, you can't possibly simultaneously retain objectivity, relativity
> and consciousness. One of them has to go. My choice was to keep relativity
> and consciousness, and become a subjectivist.

        Ok, maybe you can clarify something since that doesn't make much
sense to me. Suppose one wanted to keep objectivity and consciousness.
What would such a theory be like?

> the illusion of an objective reality is helpful in providing a
> mental framework for analyzing things. The reason why we have such an
> illusion is that, most of the time, our frames of reference are extremely
> close together. Our points of view do not differ significantly and therefore
> the world appears to be the same. So it's OK to be an objectivist in most
> cases.

        If we have different viewpoints, we can convert from one to the
other, agreeing on the facts up to a convention. For example, and there's
no need to get fancy, suppose I am facing you and I think there's a door
to the right. You disagree, claiming that the door is in fact to the
left. Who's right? The question needs to be reformulated. The door is
to my right and to your left, which we can both agree on. Knowing this
objective fact I am fully competent to describe things from your point of
view, just as a third party knowing it could.

> As I mentioned above, It was acceptable for Einstein to be an
> objectivist because his frames of reference were third-person-based and did
> not involve the self and more specifically the continuing existence of the
> self.
> However, when one starts to think in terms of consciousness and Quantum
> Immortality, the objectivity paradigm doesn't cut it anymore. In those cases,
> the relevent frames of reference are consciousness-based and anthropically
> dependent. To be more specific the frames of reference are comprised of the
> information and data processing capability in the mind of the observer, plus
> all the anthropically necessary sustaining factors in the environment. An
> example of sustaining factor would be the state of the cyanide capsule in the
> Schoedinger cat experiment. The state of the cyanide capsule represents the
> difference between the frames of reference for the cat that survives and the
> cat that dies.

        Your paradigm doesn't cut it at all. I think what you are trying
to say, in your own obscure way, is that by conditioning the view on the
survival of the cat you obtain the answer that the cat survives. That
neglects that fact that the cat is more likely to exist prior to the
experiment, etc. etc. etc. all the stuff I keep saying about measure and
defining what "the cat" means.

                         - - - - - - -
               Jacques Mallah (
         Physicist / Many Worlder / Devil's Advocate
"I know what no one else knows" - 'Runaway Train', Soul Asylum
             My URL:
Received on Fri Feb 25 2000 - 15:00:25 PST

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