The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

 Beyond Locality

Einstein's objection did not die there and is still very much alive, if nothing else because, ultimately, it can be read as an objection to the role that the observer plays in Quantum Theory.

There were believers in hidden variables even during his lifetime: Louis de Broglie proposed a way to "complete" quantum mechanics in 1927 and David Bohm extended it in 1952.

The US physicist Alwyn Scott resuscitated Einstein's hypothesis. Scott argued in favor of an interpretation of Quantum Theory as an approximation to a not yet discovered non-linear theory. The new theory must be non-linear because it is the only way to remove Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which descends from the linearity of Schroedinger's equation.

Again inspired by Einstein, the Australian philosopher Huw Price thinks that backward causation (that future can influence the past), or advanced action, is a legitimate option. Price believes that our theories are time-asymmetric because we are conditioned by folk concepts of causality. Physical theories are built starting with the assumption that the future cannot influence the past, and therefore it is no surprise that they prescribe that the future cannot influence the past. If we remove our preconceptions about causality, then we can redraw Quantum Physics. Then it turns out that Einstein was right with his hypothesis of hidden variables, and that Quantum Physics provides an incomplete description of the universe. A complete Quantum Physics will not assign any critical role to the observer.

John Bell's theorem of 1964 proved that hidden variables are impossible, and several experiments have confirmed the principles underlying Bell's theorem, culminating in 2015 with an experiment by by Ronald Hanson's team in the Netherlands ("Experimental loophole-free violation of a Bell inequality", 2015). But Bell's theorem assumes that hidden variables are independent of the measurement apparatus. The German physicist Sabine Hossenfelder believes that this is not the case and argues in favor of "superdeterminism", the idea that everything is correlated with everything else (It was Bell himself who coined the term "superdeterminism" during a 1985 radio interview). Everything is correlated, and these correlations ultimately come from the initial state of the universe. Everything, including our behavior, has always been, is and will be predetermined. This different assumption could potentially remove randomness and make quantum mechanics deterministic. The opponents of superdeterminism claim that it means the end of science, a point originally made by John Clauser, Michael Horne and Abner Shimony ("Proposed experiment to test local hidden-variable theories", 1969). Similarly, the Belgian philosopher Louis Vervoort pointed out that Bell's theorem admits two more solutions: superdeterminism and supercorrelation ("Bell's Theorem - Two Neglected Solutions", 2013).

 


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