synthetic zero

April 17th, 2010

Transcript of the following week’s follow-up discussion at Kira on the somewhat radical interpretation of quantum mechanics that Jonathan Tash and I came up with:

Gilles Kuhn: so welcome to this week seminar we will continue last week discussion on mitsu interpretation of qm
Gilles Kuhn: so i propose that mitsu make a quick resume of his idea so to restart our stimulating conversation
Agatha Macbeth: Hi Gilles, Mitsu :)
Gilles Kuhn: hello agatha
Betz Darwinian: hello all
Agatha Macbeth: Rezzing slooooooooooowly tonight
Theodolite Wickentower: Hi Agatha, Cosmo, Betz…
Agatha Macbeth: Hello Theo
Gilles Kuhn: mitsu do ou wish to reintroduce your idea?
Mitsu Ishii: Well, it’s hard to summarize very quickly, but in essence the idea is that we can consider a possible approach to the interpretation problem as relating to information feedback loops a la Gregory Bateson, taken in a quantum context.
Gilles Kuhn: well synthetised
Gilles Kuhn: as last time i have a concern is that not a bit let say expansive ontologically speaking like btw everett interpretation is
Gilles Kuhn: and too in the same veein as information loops are object and thus subjected to the same problem of superposition of state what have they so special a status
Gilles Kuhn: ?
Gilles Kuhn: why have they*
Agatha Macbeth: Hello Ari :)
Mitsu Ishii: Okay, so yes, as far as the ontological implication they could be said to be disturbing, if you find Everett and similar interpretations disturbing.
Arisia Vita: Hi all
Gilles Kuhn: hello ari
Theodolite Wickentower: ‘fraid ya lost me… But I wasn’t here last time. I have an inkling about quantum physics and sorta understand the Heisenburg may have slept here… but what is the difference between Q physics and Q mechanics?
Mitsu Ishii: I don’t really have much to say about that other than this is to some degree an aesthetic concern, i.e., a matter of taste. I know some people find Everett and similar interpretations distasteful, however since I’ve sort of lived with them quite a long time I don’t really :)
Gilles Kuhn: only words theo
Theodolite Wickentower: :-D Ahhhh!
Arisia Vita: only words?
Mitsu Ishii: I might note that a friend of mine, George Weissmann, a physicist at UC Berkeley, also said that he and his colleagues (Henry Stapp) have a distaste for Everett-like approaches.
Gilles Kuhn: qm and quantum physic refer to the same theories of physiic that started with planck solution of the black body radiation paradox
Mitsu Ishii: However, as they began to investigate the various implications of the measurement problem, they began to realize there were fundamental problems that require a relative solution
Mitsu Ishii: so they started to investigate what they called a relational approach to QM, which is to say observations exist in relationship rather than objectively.
Sartre Placebo: hey everyone
Arisia Vita: Hi Sartre
Agatha Macbeth: Hello
Mitsu Ishii: Then when I explained my views to George Weissmann he realized that they resolve all the issues which they were trying to resolve with the relational approach
Gilles Kuhn: hello sartere
Theodolite Wickentower: Hi Sartre
Mitsu Ishii: so he had to admit that perhaps Everett does turn out to be a more elegant and parsimonious basis from which to begin.
Mitsu Ishii: For me, the Everett style approaches seem far simpler and less fraught with mystery than the other approaches — except they do not make it clear what a mind is or how it gets correlated with an observation.
Gilles Kuhn: and if we take a less ontologicaly strong epistemology of science ? then i think the measurement problem can be considered a paradox internal of a theory that is only considered as technically or empirically efficient without having ontological implication
Mitsu Ishii: Well I completely agree with that view of any scientific theory or any theory whatsoever.
Gilles Kuhn: and i think that the “mind” or information loop special status is a big probelm
Mitsu Ishii: However, there is a caveat
Mitsu Ishii: The caveat is that “common sense” notions about the nature of reality are themselves subject to the same ontological doubt.
Gilles Kuhn: i agree and concur
Mitsu Ishii: So when thinking about the ontological implications of any theory, we can speculate (and after all my idea and all other interpretation ideas for QM are mostly speculation)
Gilles Kuhn: that was my big objection to van fraassen position in epistemology btw
Mitsu Ishii: but certain naive metaphysical ideas have great difficulty reconciling with QM in any clean or elegant manner.
Theodolite Wickentower: *Grin* suspecting there could be a good comedic line there…
Mitsu Ishii: One thing to keep in mind, Gilles, is that because we haven’t worked out the mathematics, our idea (Jonathan Tash’s and my idea) of information loops is not yet well defined. We merely suggest an avenue for investigation.
Gilles Kuhn: but if we take your hypothesis there are indeed a lot of very tempting consequences ontologicalyy and even metaphysicaly speaking
Mitsu Ishii: However, what I have in mind is not privileging information loops per se
Mitsu Ishii: To say there is an information loop may itself be simply an approximation
Mitsu Ishii: A kind of approximate way of talking about relations.
Mitsu Ishii: What I might say instead is that our hypothesis is that there is something that could be approximately described as an “information loop” or more complex relations which form the basis of what it means to perceive or observe something.
Gilles Kuhn: but this thing would be subjected to the same physical rule so to the superposition of state too?
Mitsu Ishii: Well, to answer that question clearly would require a clear mathematical description of how the loop would actually function. However, the point is not that the loop is itself in a particular state, but that somehow the substrate of the universe (if one can refer to that) in some sense
Mitsu Ishii: allows there to be information transmission of some kind. This information transmission may simply be in the form of superposed correlations.
Gilles Kuhn: doesnt that imply a kind of substance dualsim?
Gilles Kuhn: dualism*
Mitsu Ishii: I don’t see how there needs to be any dualism in this picture
Mitsu Ishii: but perhaps you can elaborate
Mitsu Ishii: I am very much opposed to any sort of substance dualism, fwiw :)
Gilles Kuhn: yes i am puzzled of the let say special status of the loops
Mitsu Ishii: the whole point of our idea is to find a way to eliminate the need for any sort of substance dualism to understand phenomena of mind
Gilles Kuhn: but the problem is not unique to your interpretation of qm nor in fact of any theory of physic
Mitsu Ishii: instead one can speak of complementary views of a single monist picture
Gilles Kuhn: but then only information loop are ontologicaly independent ?
Mitsu Ishii: our hypothesis is not that the loops have any sort of special status
Mitsu Ishii: no, the loops are not ontologically independent
Mitsu Ishii: for example, suppose one were to imagine a universe which was a lattice of nodes, and all the nodes were connected to each other in some way.
Mitsu Ishii: now imagine the set of all possible loops within that universe of nodes
Mitsu Ishii: the only thing that distinguishes the loops from any other path between the nodes is that the loops close
Mitsu Ishii: Our hypothesis is that for computation to occur, you have to have some way of comparing “prior” and “later” states
Mitsu Ishii: and that requires some kind of information loops that also can refer to state.
Mitsu Ishii: other paths are also possible, but paths that never close cannot do any computation.
sandhya2 Patel: why?
Mitsu Ishii: so really there’s no a priori ontological difference between closed paths and non-closed paths, except that non-closed paths do not do computation.
Theodolite Wickentower: Like an electrical circuit?
Mitsu Ishii: well, again, I don’t have a proof for this, but merely would refer to Gregory Bateson’s book _Mind and Nature_ in which he makes a convincing argument that every phenomenon we talk of as having mental properties involves causal information loops of some kind.
Mitsu Ishii: yes, an electrical circuit could qualift.
Mitsu Ishii: qualify
Mitsu Ishii: for example, consider the definition of a Turing machine
Mitsu Ishii: there is a read/write head which operates on a single spot on the tape at a time
Gilles Kuhn: ok but then why computation is a thing that do collapse a wave function? i knowyour hypothesis say that the collapse is due to the decomposition of inromation temporally speaking but it is still not totally clear to me how this property “emerge ”
Gilles Kuhn: information*
Mitsu Ishii: well again, I apologize for the vagueness of the hypothesis because as I noted we haven’t worked out the details. but I can explain how we imagine this works.
Mitsu Ishii: basically it is not that the wave function “collapses” objectively. it is simply that a certain topological arrangement of relations forms something that looks like computation.
Mitsu Ishii: in the universal wavefunction so to speak there’s no actual collapse and no events and no observations objectively.
Gilles Kuhn: dont apologise i think it is a very very clever and interesting idea and possibly one that can paradigmatically change the vision of physic and moind theory
Mitsu Ishii: however, one can speak in this picture of a relation between an observation and how it would be seen to be related to a computation of some sort, when you look at just that slice of possible relations that look like computations.
Gilles Kuhn: mind*
Mitsu Ishii: so in essence this is compatible with the Everett view that minds correlate with observations, and wave function collapse does not occur objectively.
Mitsu Ishii: However, it makes it a bit more clear what a “mind” is and what the correlation is (while remaining frustratingly vague :)
Mitsu Ishii: it also suggests an answer to the preferred basis problem
Gilles Kuhn: so the information loop “imagine ” a collapse in order to be hable to process a computation in some way?
Mitsu Ishii: i.e., why we see objects in one place rather than superpositions of objects in multiple places, or multiple states.
Theodolite Wickentower: At least not without some servere biological implications on the brain itself…
Mitsu Ishii: it’s not so much that information loops imagine something. It’s more that you have a superposition of possible relations; one set of relations is “mind observes spin up” including the whole mind, it’s causal connections to the particle and instrument, and so on.
Mitsu Ishii: there is another set of superposed relations which correlate spin down with an analogous loop.
Mitsu Ishii: Both loops “exist” in parallel so to speak, thus the Everett paralle universes.
Mitsu Ishii: parallel
Gilles Kuhn: which i like weismann has difficulty to digest
Mitsu Ishii: if we are correct, then the reason we don’t observe objects in superposition is simply that computations involving objects in superposition generally speaking do not close, they cannot complete in finite time.
Gilles Kuhn: i have too much read willaim of ockam probably ;-)
Mitsu Ishii: well, the thing is, it depends on how you want to apply parsimony.
Mitsu Ishii: The beauty of Everett-style approaches is that it involves a very simple way of thinking about the universe, in some sense.
Gilles Kuhn: indeed and i agree your ideas could be a solution to the very difficult problem of the collapse and the special observers status
Mitsu Ishii: if you attempt to think of wave function collapse as objective, then you get into all sorts of complicated problems, and you have to invent very bizarre things such as Bohm’s universal potential which is unobservable but which controls everything.
Mitsu Ishii: to me, Bohm’s idea is brilliant but it doesn’t feel elegant and simple to me.
Gilles Kuhn: i am not familiar with bohm universal potential idea could you elaborate a bit?
Wester Kiranov: but does the usefulness of your idea depend on the Everett interpretation? All QM interpretations have observation problem, don’t they?
Mitsu Ishii: Bohm’s idea is that everything we observe is objective. Particles have objective positions and velocities at all times.
Gilles Kuhn: or perhaps propose a text of him that we could study in another seminar?
Gilles Kuhn: ah yes and so why the schostatic apparent properties of qm?
Gilles Kuhn: schotastic*
Gilles Kuhn: (in bohm i mean)
Mitsu Ishii: However, in order to reproduce the predictions of QM, he has to introduce this totally non-local potential which causes everything to behave in the strange way that QM predicts.
Mitsu Ishii: so you get weird non-local correlations from this universal non-local potential, and so on.
Gilles Kuhn: ah so he assume non locality in order to conserve “intuitive” way of defining object particle trajectories etc
Mitsu Ishii: it’s a very interesting idea and it restores the notion of a single “reality” but it does so by introducing an unobservable universal potential which is set up just so it can reproduce the quantum predictions.
Mitsu Ishii: to my mind, this idea is a fascinating exercise but it is not parsimonious.
Gilles Kuhn: the universal potential is that that introduce non locality ?
Wester Kiranov: it’s a beautiful monster
Mitsu Ishii: it is worth reading about if you guys haven’t read him in the past.
sandhya2 Patel: can you explain the time factor?
Mitsu Ishii: it’s certainly one of the important attempts at interpreting QM.
Gilles Kuhn: i confess i havent
Mitsu Ishii: Sandhya, can you elaborate?
sandhya2 Patel: that bohm refers to
sandhya2 Patel: ?
Gilles Kuhn: could you recommend some article or books of him?
Mitsu Ishii: I’m not quite sure what your question is, but for Bohm, every point in spacetime has enfolded within it the entire universe
sandhya2 Patel: the position of a particle
Mitsu Ishii: that is to say, the universe is interconnected with each moment in spacetime via the Bohm potential
sandhya2 Patel: the time factor as to how to predict it’s placement
sandhya2 Patel: i hope i can be clear
Gilles Kuhn: indeed it is as ontologically non parsimonious as the everett interpretation…..
Wester Kiranov: much more nonparsimonious
Wester Kiranov: qualitatively
Mitsu Ishii: I’m sorry I don’t totally understand your question sandhya.
Mitsu Ishii: The Everett interpretation appears to multiply entities but in fact in many ways it reduces them.
Gilles Kuhn: the big problem to me is that these interpretations are empirically equivalent
Wester Kiranov: they were designed to be
Mitsu Ishii: If you take Everett seriously then you could view the entire universe in some sense as devoid of entities
Sartre Placebo: good night everyone
Mitsu Ishii: good night Sartre
Gilles Kuhn: bye jean paul
Mitsu Ishii: well they aren’t precisely equivalent. they were designed to interpret standard QM
Mitsu Ishii: however, they all suggest different potential variations of QM, and they suggest different approaches to unification with gravity.
Mitsu Ishii: for example, I tend to feel there is some chance that gravity is not a force in the ordinary sense of the word
Mitsu Ishii: i.e., it may not be something that can be fit into the Standard Model
Gilles Kuhn: i mean empirically they have the same prediction ;;;; ah and so we can hope to have some differential empirical testing of them pending a integrated qm/gravitiation theory?
Mitsu Ishii: if I am correct, then they will never detect the Higgs boson and unification of QM and gravity may be due to something more like entropic gravity.
Mitsu Ishii: Yes, I believe that is true, Gilles
Gilles Kuhn: very interesting
Mitsu Ishii: these interpretations are only equivalent over standard QM.
Mitsu Ishii: but standard QM is not the final theory
Gilles Kuhn: lol we know who sabotaged cern now ;-))))))
Mitsu Ishii: it can’t be, as it is inconsistent with general relativity…
Agatha Macbeth grins
Mitsu Ishii: if they detect Higgs I will be surprised! But that’s a different intuition separate from my current ideas on interpretation.
Gilles Kuhn: yes due to the epr paradox and non locality
Gilles Kuhn: what do you mean btw by entropic gravity?
Mitsu Ishii: my current VERY vague notion is that gravity is related to localization, which is related to these loops.
Mitsu Ishii: Erik Verlinde: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_as_an_entropic_force
Gilles Kuhn: ? wow do you imply that gravity is related to information/computation then?
Agatha Macbeth smiles
Mitsu Ishii: yes, I believe it is, and it is related to information localization
Mitsu Ishii: for that reason, I was quite happy to hear about Verlinde’s theory
Mitsu Ishii: which also relates gravity to information
Mitsu Ishii: I wish I had more time to work on these problems!
Agatha Macbeth: Don’t we all?
Gilles Kuhn: your work is not as researcher in physics?
Mitsu Ishii: if Verlinde is right, then it would fit naturally with my interpretation idea and would relate computation to gravity in a natural way.
Theodolite Wickentower: Hmmm… I tend to think of information as being some what limitted by the species percieving it, and would have a different result according to the sensing capabilities of the observer.
Agatha Macbeth nods
Mitsu Ishii: Yes, Theodolite, that is right,
Mitsu Ishii: I agree with that.
Gilles Kuhn: well the problem of sensation is a big problem very related to information too but lot of people things that there is something more to it
Theodolite Wickentower: Of course there is! Blind men and the elephant thing…
Gilles Kuhn: and if you are right mitsu sensation is then related to the most basic ontology of the world
Mitsu Ishii: Yes, I wish I had time to work on this — the reason I didn’t go into the field (physics) as a professional was that at the time I felt that the current approaches didn’t “feel” right to me. I also considered entering philosophy but I was also dissastified with the philosophy departments in the US at the time. So instead I just pursued my own private ideas with friends. At the time, I decided initially to focus on Eastern philosophy, but later have come back to study Western philosophy again.
Arisia Vita: trust your feelings Mitsu, as the great one said…
Arisia Vita: “The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary
laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no
logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding
of experience, can reach them.” Albert Einstein
Mitsu Ishii: The idea I am speaking of I developed in concert with Jonathan Tash as I mentioned, who has a PhD in logic and decision theory and a background in physics as an undergrad as I do. I’ve talked about it with a number of physicists as well.
Mitsu Ishii: Jonathan Tash is one of those brilliant fellows who finished Caltech undergrad in 3 years taking 5-6 classes at once while apparently making no effort at all.
Agatha Macbeth: :)
Mitsu Ishii: He was famous for doing all the work for the most difficult physics class at Caltech in one week.
Mitsu Ishii: He and I are close friends and collaborators on this idea. but we haven’t worked on it in a while, though I’m glad to have had the chance to discuss it again here.
Gilles Kuhn: and i am glad that you have done so !
Agatha Macbeth: Well thank you for doing so :)
Arisia Vita: second that
Mitsu Ishii: thanks for giving me the chance to speak. :)
Gilles Kuhn: thanks to you to have introduced us to your ideas
Mitsu Ishii: I’ll come back next week and we can chat about other things :)
Gilles Kuhn: your friend jonhatan would he be interested to speak in the same vein here too
Arisia Vita: pls do
Agatha Macbeth: Yay!
Mitsu Ishii: yes, I’ll email him
Theodolite Wickentower: If I may pick on Gilles a bit here… supposing the differences of his werewolf avatar there… he would percieve the locations of each of the participants in space as much by scent (with that olfactory cavity) as a human would (normally) sense by sight. If following the theories of canine perception, he would also be able to detect our health not only by scent but hearing as well… Thankyou Mitsu :)
Gilles Kuhn: would be nice

permalink |

comment trackback

leave comment


synthetic zero is powered by WordPress

posts(rss) . comments(rss)