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Many Worlds + Anthropic Principle

  1. Oct 11, 2012 #1
    This might be interpreted by some to border on the fringes on pseudo-science, but I feel logic dictates that conclusion must be one of many possibilities according to the theories.

    Has anyone ever considered that the many worlds interpretation combined with the anthropic principle has some interesting ramifications?

    It would stand to reason, by many worlds and the anthropic principle, that Schrödinger's cat would exist only in a universe which it can. The cat's conscious experience would likely never be aware of its own death, even though its double is dead in the box.

    So if our universe is constantly forming new branches, it would stand to reason that a person may have died many times already, but to his own conscious experience, he will continue on in the universe or universes in which he is alive. Once one man of many of his copies is the "last man standing" by consequence of being old to the point of death with no other possibility for an accident; or at a point which all possibilities will lead to death--the man will have traversed as much time in a conscious state as possible.

    One could also consider quantum eraser experiments and its variations. Particle/waves do not take dead end paths. Quanta exist only where they can and also on paths in which they can continue. It would thus stand to reason that a strong anthropic principle exists by way of quantum behavior--that the anthropic principle is it not merely an illusion, but a natural manifestation of quantum behavior.

    The natural conclusion could be that if you are reading this and are not a philosophical zombie, that you will never experience an accident unless it is the only possible outcome from this point in time. I may die to you, but it is more likely that I am still alive to me, and vice versa. Conscious experiences may be intersecting with varying wave probabilities or even forming "alive-probable" relationships due to quantum behavior, acting to preserve the probability that you will continue on with the people you know until probability leaves no outcome except separation by death, probably beginning with the person most likely to die to you.

    If many worlds holds, we will all live for a very long time and the concept of death is misunderstood. We may become separated, but you yourself will live as long as you possibly can, or at the very least, if you are the last man standing, you will perceive nothing other than a very long life. Of course then the question would focus on what differentiates your consciousness from your dead copies.

    It may not be definite but it is possible by all this that the universe/multiverse preserves conscious observers with more efficacy than we realize.

    Have you ever fallen from a tree at 20 feet, only to be completely unhurt? Ever skid your way through oncoming traffic to avoid a rear-end collision? Have you ever experienced a seemingly impossible outcome which saved your life? I have.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
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  3. Oct 11, 2012 #2

    Drakkith

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    I see no reason to believe that IF the many worlds interpretation is correct, each person has only a single consciousness that extends throughout these different worlds. Unless you invoke religious/spiritual means, then by definition each world of universe would be separate, along with everything inside it, including people and their consciousness's.
     
  4. Oct 11, 2012 #3
    hmmm....
    anyway a lot of branching, an exponentiation or a tetration, pentation, hexation, icotion, myriadtion, googletion, googolplextion, grahamtion, in any case a very big hyperoperation....
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  5. Oct 11, 2012 #4
  6. Oct 12, 2012 #5
    Yes. Google for quantum immortality or quantum suicide.

    Since I'm an observationalist, I don't think too much about this because it's easier for me to wait and see. I have decided that I will celebrate my 150th birthday, by spending my day trying to come up ways of killing myself.
     
  7. Oct 12, 2012 #6
    Wow... thanks to all, but mostly twofish-quant and JonDE for pointing that out. I had no idea this actually had a name. I had half a notion that someone must have thought of this before, but I was mostly afraid of venturing into the depths of crackpottery... which I still very well might be.

    I must admit that quantum immortality does have a certain appeal to it, but I fail to see how one could actually live forever even if these consequences were real. Surely there would eventually be no more room for possibilities with the passage of time.

    I have thought of this, and I know there is no way to verify or disprove the nature of consciousness. I think we will eventually have to battle the question, especially since all exploration is hell-bent on ultimately finding out our place in the universe.

    I think there is no need to invoke religious means if I propose that consciousness is no different than quanta. One would actually NEED a physical theory of mind to assert claims that consciousness can span probabilities. If quanta make up the mind, then it follows that the same quanta must follow observable laws. One could possibly further assert that a physical mind would possess wave/particle duality on some level--existing in the now, but also as a field of probabilities. If so, it could conceivably provide the means to "shift" into the best outcome.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  8. Oct 12, 2012 #7

    Drakkith

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    What are you talking about? The mind does have a wave/particle duality in the fact that it is made up of fundamental particles like everything else.
     
  9. Oct 12, 2012 #8
    From the wiki article:

    I'm not sure I understand Everett's reasoning, but he seemed to believe that death was a null state which could not exist. The general idea is one of transfer of consciousness to a viable world. I think it may hinge upon the idea that consciousness, being made of elementary particles, may exhibit the same behavior as seen in quantum eraser experiments--in which quanta are somehow "aware" of the outcome and act accordingly. The separation of worlds is a tricky business, though; especially considering consciousness as an element.

    I think Tegmark could have found a better argument since it is conceivable that new worlds could spawn at each Planck time (or whatever the smallest quantum of time really is). The effect of a binary event may occur many thousands, millions or more worlds after the event, so it would stand to reason that if some kind of cause (i.e. quantum suicide's spin measure) occurs, the effect could occur any time later and probably with any degree of complexity. Sequences of quantum events make up everything, so I tend to disagree with the notion that life and death does not depend on these. Despite the existence of a binary event, there will certainly be a binary outcome, which essentially entails a net effect... true or false... dead or alive... It has to branch somewhere in the past to select one of two inevitabilities. Thus, the defining event described in quantum suicide always exists somewhere.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  10. Oct 12, 2012 #9

    kith

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    That's not what quantum immortality implies. The idea is the following.

    Under the assumptions (1) that decoherence leads to a splitting of worlds and (2) consciousness emerges from fundamental objects which follow the rules of QM, your current consciousness is determined by the state of the fundamental objects in one specific branch. At every splitting point, your consciousness -the "current you"- gets copied and each copy from now on evolves independently in its own branch, forming one of the "future yous". Since the current you will only perceive a single future you branch, the question is, which future you you will become. As long as there is no hidden deterministic process, the probabilities of QM determine this.

    For simplicity, let's consider a splitting point with only two future you branches. Often, one of these is much more likely than the other. So although rare events occur, you most likely will not perceive the corresponding future you branch. But what if there is no future you in the likely branch, because the splitting corresponds to the question will the current you live or die? Quantum immortality now is the assertion, that the current you has to turn into the future you of the unlikely branch in this case, because you can't perceive the other branch. Essentially, this is the anthropic principle applied to the individual consciousness. Since whenever death can occur to the current you, there will probably be a small chance to survive, this leads to immortality.

    Practically, I guess it is much more likely to live a live in bad heath than in good one if you have exceeded a certain biological age. So this is more of a dystopical scenario.
     
  11. Oct 12, 2012 #10

    kith

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    I don't think this has to do with the topic at hand.
     
  12. Oct 12, 2012 #11

    Drakkith

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    Irrelevant, we were not talking about Quantum Immortality at the time.

    Prove that being alive is a binary state, and not a gradual process. If I cut out half of your brain are you still alive? How about all of it while your body is on life support? At what point are you considered to be dead? If 99% of your brain is dead, yet 1% of the neurons are still functioning, are you alive? How about a tissue sample that is still alive long after the rest of you is gone. I see no single point where you could claim that someone is dead or alive that isn't an arbitrary selection.
     
  13. Oct 12, 2012 #12

    mfb

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    You will become both. This directly follows from the assumption that consciousness emerges from the brain. Both "you" perceive themself as continued existence of the "you" before the experiment.
    And you kill one of "you", which looks like a bad idea (one "you" will die).

    MWI is deterministic. There are no probabilities.
     
  14. Oct 12, 2012 #13

    Chronos

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    MWI strikes me as highly contrived. When you assume that every possible outcome of every interaction must exist in some 'parallel' universe, you have forsaken causality in favor of an endless ensemble of alternate realities. It is, however, exciting to ponder having won a nobel prize for the twentieth consecutive year in an undending number of alternative universes. Mom would be immensely proud, at least in the ones where she didn't strangle herself with my umbilical cord.
     
  15. Oct 12, 2012 #14
    A Lot, a lot, of realities how many in your branch ? plus john, peter, the dog, the birds...
    i may walk 1 deegre to the north or 2 degrees to the north... or jump 2 cm from the floor while peter can jump backward or walk 5 degrees to the north while john just run forward at 10 meters per second or 15 meters per second while alice......
     
  16. Oct 12, 2012 #15

    Hurkyl

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    That's because you have MWI wrong. "Parallel universes" is not the starting point of MWI. The starting point of MWI is "states evolve via unitary evolution" (e.g. via the Schrödinger equation), and the observation that relative states reconcile unitary evolution with the appearance of collapse. 'Parallel universes' are a consequence of that hypothesis.
     
  17. Oct 12, 2012 #16
    You definitely have a point there, though I am unsure as to whether or not Tegmark was referring to this kind of ambiguity. I thought he was considering causal events. This could bring questions concerning what kind of outcome a continued existence would favor even if we could isolate life and death as binary states. Being quantumly immortal in some hellish nightmare would indeed be worse than death.

    I suppose there is no reason to suggest that quantum states would favor a positive outcome in this case unless we defer to the point at which you decided to approach me with a scalpel. Even then, I suppose we would have to consider all quanta to be affected.

    Hmm... this gets even deeper if we consider that each elementary particle making up the mind are also branching into their own different states. Without favoring some sort of continuity, I fail to see what holds us together at all. Any number of fatal events could happen at any given time. The odds might even be favorable for our minds drifting into unworkable and irrecoverable states at each interval. We could be dying countless times due to any number of quantum events, but being snapped back by this strange concept of transference in quantum immortality.

    I guess it does once again fall back to the mind-body problem, which I will certainly concede as unanswerable.
     
  18. Oct 12, 2012 #17

    Drakkith

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    What fatal events could happen? What do you mean when you say that you fail to see what holds us together? What could possible cause us to come apart or stop working? Remember that the physical aspects of our bodies work in accordance with known laws of nature. We aren't any more likely to drop dead because every brain cell stopped working than a lump of uranium's atoms are to completely decay all at once.
     
  19. Oct 13, 2012 #18

    mfb

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    Things close to the classical motion [are the most probable] / [have the largest measure] (choose your favorite interpretation).
    The brain can transform to a big collection of water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and some other components via massive quantum tunneling, but this has an extremely small probability/measure.
     
  20. Oct 13, 2012 #19

    kith

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    "I" won't become both, because "I" will perceive only one of the future branches. What's true is that there are now two of me, maybe labelled "I" and "I'"

    Well that's the point with the anthropic principle: what can't be perceived can't happen to me. One can critisize this of course. I just outlined the argument of quantum immortality.

    I didn't say otherwise.
     
  21. Oct 13, 2012 #20

    mfb

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    I think it is better to call them I' and I'' to avoid confusion. They share the same history I. This I is neither I' nor I''. It is pointless to talk about "the (single) result I will see" - there is one future of I which sees one result (I') and one which sees the other (I''). The future of I perceives both results - but in different branches.

    The process of dying can be perceived, I think. And of course others (in some branches) will see how you die.

    What did you mean with "the probabilities of QM" then? What is a probability in a non-probabilistic interpretation?
     
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