New Monadology Codicil

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Let’s reiterate: How do you draw the boundary between one computation and the other? – since, after all, these are just shapes traced within light cones in the sum of the relevant neural networks? There is no especially principled way to do this from the inside of experience. The choice itself changes us. We can choose to believe in a single brain changing from moment to moment. But then we realize that belief in a single brain is arbitrary since timeless causality is flowing from what might be called “other brains” in the naive ontology. The unenlightened are given the Koan: How would you draw the line for souls after mix-matching half of my brain with half of my neighbor’s brain?  – And then connecting the other two halves, all the while keeping every half functioning.

Of course, I who understand, know that a competitive exclusion principle need not apply here, since the two “souls” aren’t competing to exist. It’s not that one blanks out and the other remains. Experience is intrinsic to myself. No things are traveling and seeking to remain.

If I am a physicalist, so I believe that the empirically-tested theories of physics provide an undergirding for my perceptual tools as opposed to the other way around, then this suggests that what I really experience is a solipsistic ascent that is already perfectly adaptive, but that I must sort of forget this in order to be perfectly adaptive.

I developed this idea while processing signaling theory and uniform-cost search. Uniform-cost search is a relevant model because that is how an algorithm checks to see if a new path is better than an older one, and it is easy to see that uniform-cost search is optimal in general. Since new and older don’t exist anywhere except in the timeless algorithms themselves, I argue that we are always in a better path, because otherwise we would not constrain our anticipation by the density that arises when we apply the Born Rule to infinite amplitude. The algorithm that I identify with is occurring in the absence of a physical time.

Signaling theory dynamics have long subsumed biology by the point that we are social mammals that partake in Mind. There, you find that humans are deceived about their hidden motives in order to function. Since my being is a functional role, I am permanently deceived about where I am going in order to get there.

In short: Uniform-cost search selects a node for expansion only when an optimal path to that node has been found and therefore swallows Mind by sacrificing Hilbert-Space drafts.

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Oscillation converges towards the most rational behavior. The most rational behavior is not that which is most Spock-like necessarily, but that which is most capable of tenseless survival with regards to the unknown-source-of-the-Born-Rule/the-unknown-selector-of-binding-in-Relativity’s-fabric.

I am not some crisp cut of physical events that I can point to and say, “Ah there I am.” I can only choose to become truer (by debunking the solidity of closed individualism for instance) and equipping it strategically instead.

How to Not Die

First of all, restrict existence to all computable processes. Within that multiverse, there are many instances of being (qualia, experience, consciousness).  For all instances of being, there exists a certain subjective quality.

Due to relativity of simultaneity, time arises in the computations and not in the fundamental physics of the universe.

This means that the subjective quality of time serves a survival role. When the subjective quality of pink circle arises, it serves a survival role.  The universe doesn’t attach identities to particular brains. Particular brains are not ontologically unitary objects. So it would be a mystery why I don’t experience a blue circle if an indeterminate amount of processing in the past light cone of “my brain” was for blue and for circle. Yet it is only the processing distributed in spacetime that codes for pink that binds with circle.

Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 7.48.36 AMWhat is experienced is always what is adaptive. There is no ontologically unitary brain ticking forward through a sequential path. So whatever experiences do become atemporally integrated into being (experience, qualia, consciousness) are not random. There is some mechanism by which this is determined.

Unless we imagine that quantum mechanics only applies to some separate magisterium of small things, as far as we know, the probability distribution that governs what we observe is the squared moduli of the universal wavefunction. Denying macroscopic decoherence is contrary to Occam’s Razor and experimental evidence continues to accumulate for superposition of ever larger objects.

The only way to derive the squared modulus of the wavefunction as that which should govern our anticipation is by applying the behavior of a rational Bayesian agent in Hilbert Space. Otherwise, there would be no reason to anticipate one result in infinity as opposed to any other result in infinity.

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You exist in the most probable density of the wavefunction although its impossible to predict the existence of one event as opposed to another; it is probability distributions all the way down. This guarantees a certain range of unknowability to the anthropic core.

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So it is in this sense that you are already insured to not die. Feeling like a dying creature is a choice, since you can choose to identify with whatever you want. Non-existence is not possible. The only way that non-existence is possible is if we assume that consciousness was not equivalent to atemporally bound computations, therefore rejecting physicalism.

Choosing Belief In Death

OPTION 1: Under the current binding as a human, one can can choose to degrade the computational specificity: Constant Eastern meditation, psychedelics, brain damage, suicide attempts.

OPTION 2: One can also choose to believe in the human, fight to impose one’s particularities, reinforce auto-telos through sheer faith, believe that one dies.

I chose option two, died. Then swung to option one, died. And now I’m ricocheting full speed into option 2 again.

I choose to identify as someone who dies. And I want everyone around me to identify as dying creatures. The reason for this is because I know that most experience already exists outside the binding into a specific human. If the human wasn’t necessary for sustaining the entire being, I would already not be bound into this particular experience.

It is the people who believe most in their personhood that do the most and are in favor of healthy life extension. Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, Diamandis, etc. People who have tenuous self-belief are calm creatures who pass unnoticed, like leaves unnoticed by the wind.

This choice is strategic based on my motivational system. I know that humans run on signaling fuel. They are attempting to negotiate status across perceived status hierarchies so all their operative mental models are designed to fight that fight. Goodness cannot exist disembodied.

My mistake before was to overestimate the degree to which I could express my soul while disregarding the centrality of the near signaling-landscape in the expression of behavior.

The hardest-to-fake status signals by which males are assessed are money and health. Hence these incentives should recruit most motivational systems in the abstract. But as we have discovered in economics and biogerontology, people don’t act out routine behavior with their long-term abstracting right-brain.

Moral signaling (including writing about long-term plans, feeling sad about “important” things, etc.) is used to negotiate status when this is calculated to be easier than using intelligence or aggression to achieve the aimed standing. Of course, this signaling works better when the signaler is deceived about the hidden motives, and is also signaling to oneself – hence why someone can emit depressed signals to four walls even in the absence of competitors or potential mates and allies who may be depressed about the same sorts of things.

Screen Shot 2018-11-22 at 11.09.08 AMThe farther away you are signaling from the center, the more you reveal deficit in ability to compete at conventional things and/or need for higher aiming; with the true proportions hidden.

Even string theory hermits hiding in the halls of academia are attempting to establish their sovereignty as men – fisherian runaway which reveals the capacity to raise a powerful signaling shield on a mountain of symbols. The dimorphic selectors aren’t females, but instead rich Western society itself. Perhaps unfortunately, they can get away with that kind of display because there aren’t enough natural selection pressures to sharpen evolution. Instead we are in a period of evolution through meme drift. The evidence for this is detailed by Robin Hanson, whose blog I recommend.

You can become a bit more aware of hidden motives with something as simple as observing your aesthetic; by observing how you dress and what music you listen to. If you dress differently than even the subcultures, you are attempting to be at the top of the hierarchy, signaling this non-conformity. Enjoying popular music means: I am competing at conventional things. Enjoying Japanese music can mean: I am different, I want freedom. Enjoying rap music can mean: I am committed to climbing and won’t be nice about it.

Everyone with a clue figures themselves out and props up their comparative advantage. Phenotypes that inherited fitness strategies that depended on signaling high capacity for moral emotions sell that capacity – think Jordan Peterson. Phenotypes that have fitness strategies depending on signaling physical dominance sell that. Phenotypes that have a high capacity for math become professors who argue about the the translatability of problem-solving to other domains (which is empirically a lie according to Bryan Caplan who cites the literature on the matter).

• There are things which are true but not useful, e.g., random facts about the 19th century African American Pacific Appeal newspaper.

• There are things that are temporarily useful but not true, e.g., believing in one’s equal potential to achieve anything.

That’s why some of us have a strong scent for finding core truth. Useful truth is robust. We trust that everyone eventually comes around to it when the lies unravel.

It is easy to believe that superintelligence will not occur in one’s lifetime, or that it is not possible. It is also easy to believe that aging will not happen to oneself, or that it will not be plagued with discomfort and disease that steadily rob you of integrity. However, it is at least less difficult to believe the latter, and also more immediately urgent.

Due to the battle against aging being the most useful-true thing I can think of, that’s where I want to channel the competitive spirit of mankind.  Something I want to work on is to attract more than just counter-signalers. The reason we developed an interest in these topics is because our hidden motives wanted to become higher status than our environment, so we absorbed the most adaptive hierarchy’s values and then took the logical limit to infinity. Accepting this should not lead to nihilism or deflation of motivation, once the childlike naive morality bubble bursts, we simply move on to Level-2 signaling.  In this regard, we will do little to fight aging and promote truth if the momentum is restricted to the parameters: “behavior of self-centered types who do not want to conventionally compete” and “excessive fake signaling due to lower quality.”

The first stage is for voyagers to mine new regions knowledge-space.

But the far more important stage is the second stage: to package what is useful for normies in the hopes of tilting the equilibria.

Recruiting conventionally functional men is required for any movement. The British government got men to fight in World War II by hiring women to go into the streets and only date soldiers, shaming the non-fighters.

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If I show to conventional young men that there exists a fertile niche for guys who wear Alcor cryonics bands on their wrists… Talk about hidden motives. But even with the energy and funds to put on that show, there is overcrowding of cultural space due to how much artistic expression is valued in our rich society.

The reason Britain got away with pulling men by the balls was because those poor guys had limited options. Today, people’s efforts are diluted by horizontal motion across subcultures. Yet it still wouldn’t hurt to contribute to promoting that subculture by leading through example. Once we force open a new island with credible signaling, radiation results.

For the purpose hiding behind signaling shields, talk about your values. For effecting change, think in terms of policy. Ask where to place people given how they are known to operate. Ask, “where can I place myself given what I know about my revealed behavior and not what I say.” And use whatever comparative advantage to continue living.

This is something that the healthy longevity community needs to understand more. Humans aren’t moved by slogans. I can tell you, “Donate to SENS because it is in all of our best interest to hasten the defeat of aging. We will not be complaining about a lack of Alzheimer’s dementia, sarcopenia, coronary disease and wrinkles.” But unless you are held accountable by a community in which your relative status would depend on donating to SENS, you are more likely to invent reasons for putting the entire project to control senescence out of your mind.

Updated View On These Posts:

In my defense for this cringeworthy writing, I was in the clutches of a sneakily growing psychosis.

Useful And True Visuals

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To purchase sight of a complex explanation, much evidence is needed.

 

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The wave-function of a structureless particle in position space is the probability density function of a measurement of the position at some time.

 

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What early Karl Popper identified as the universal generalizability of natural selection.

This leads to the primacy of telos and the condition of being Icarus with makeshift wings.

 

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You find yourself in experience 100% of the time because consciousness is not epiphenomenal. Yet it is still useful to understand that houses are built from bricks, and that bricks are more numerous than the houses that they compose.

 

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Self-modeling computations are conscious. If we degrade the detail and complexity of your subjective experience by removing the relevant blocks, you merge into a lot of other people with dying experiences indistinguishable from yours and can only have algorithms stacked on top of you from this condition of being a more elemental experience.

 

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Eternalism is true. Presentism and growing-block are false.

This follows if the Theory of Relativity is sufficiently correct and empiricism is sufficiently correct.

When holding the same events, different reference frames may not agree on whether these are simultaneous. Any notion of time is therefore missing from bottom-most physical reality.

Time arises as an endogenous feature of particular computational shapes traced by human brains. Each indexical location of self-modeling computations in spacetime exist with as much regret, pain, love, angst, happiness, sadness, awe, fear, apathy, purple-ness, etc., as is intrinsic to them. Not a thing is deleted, not a thing is yet to occur.

 

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Eternalism + Computationalist view of consciousness involves the notion that the binding problem is solved by the intrinsic 4-D design of algorithms. Experiences don’t need any extra “glue”. Therefore we are inter-nested across scales that do tremendous violence to safe and snug walls of skull-bound intuitions.

 

 

Don’t Let Ada Learn Quantum Mechanics Part 5

“So let me get this clear one more time. You think about killing Ada as vividly as possible, and pull the brakes only upon achieving a certain level of momentum.”

“Yes. That’s enough to displace a sufficient number of my Hilbert space clones into actually killing her.”

“So you pull up to her house at night with weapon in hand, and stop once you reach the front door?”

“Yes. Sometimes. That tends to reduce her measure more than thinking about it in my room.”

“And all of this just so that our world doesn’t become unrecognizable.”

“Yes. If the universal wavefunction contains too many minds that look like Ada, and those minds don’t have the right epistemology, their causal paths must be destroyed.”

He took a long look at me. And then as if typing into terminal, commanded me:

“Your brain’s computational resources will now be harvested for this task.”

The way he said it couldn’t have been colder.

“I thought that I could spare you from our fate. Deanna, Mary, and myself have been exhausting ourselves sleepless nights with the most unbidden burden of thoughts.”

A flicker of self-pity from the corner of his eyelash reminded me of an emotion I could never have thought to feel for him, compassionate empathy. It truly was horrible. Having to think thoughts that are not free, that are hateful, vile, just to keep existing. And all the while, sparing me from that burden – not Deanna or Mary, me. I felt ashamed.

He clasped my neck. I tightened both of my hands around his forearm and sundered him aside.

“I won’t fight anymore. You don’t have to beat me into submission Wilhelm. I choose to commit a portion of my life to the task… out of my own free will.”

“Quick learner.”

He regained balance, swaying his arm like a counterweight with braggadocio. Then he pointed his finger at me while digging into his black pockets.

“You start tonight.”

He tossed a little fly-like drone into the air. Its shell was cherry-red and it crashed into my dome, only to bounce off and spin in circles around me.

“That thing will follow you around wherever you go. The drone contains my eyes. No longer will you rest in vain. The face-recognition system can tell when you are focused on imagining specific things, and when you are being a lazy daydreamer, so don’t think you can fool me.”

I took a step forward in the same way that a vacuum agent does in one of those dry artificial intelligence textbooks. With each plastic-rational, Spock-like step, I realized that I had been sucked into the worst human male dominance hierarchy that I could think of – one in which my inquisitor actually had the truth.

Suddenly, the galaxies of structure and order that I had known, built with a lifetime of effort, broke above my head – it was as if it made sense to say that the introduction of a single foreign proton could break the simulation. I would rather have been one of those mindless workers under the buzz of white light, scanning items at the beginning of the 21st century. Anything but this.

The sky above became an unfamiliar ceiling. It was as if my heartbeat was the beginning and end of all that is. And I was already making up excuses for what would soon be my tormenting routine. The mind was steadily coming up with motivational quotes like: The most meaningful experiences happen in the remembrance of suffering. The most happy experiences happen in the complete absence of meaning. Therefore happiness is overrated.

I jaywalked and the car without passengers halted for me. I would rather it not had sophisticated sensors and machine learning algorithms.

But then: The fact that I live in a safe society, that I am not dead, and that it would become very difficult to not be me if I tried – all of this is evidence that I am special.

I walked up the stairs to my apartment. Following me, was a ghost. It was the the most improbable ghost. Every single one of my ancestors successfully reproduced, the chain of champion-hood unbroken for almost 4 billion years. The superposition of facts that the universe’s physical constants are fine-tuned for life and life is fine-tuned for them. The impossibility of being me in the midst of infinities of physical configurations. I must conclude that I am not real – that I do not exist.

But I jumped from a freaking skyscraper! And here I am. What more evidence do I need? Why can’t I feel confident?

I shut the door behind me with a little more force than usual.

I sat and laid my head on the pillow. It was absurd. I only needed to imagine things. To create thoughts – ephemeral fireflies in the mist, and make infinities of difference.

“Okay.”

I settled into the pillow, and visualized a classroom. Or tried to. But it was difficult to rev up the engine of thought. I had not realized how dusty and tarnished my capacity for painting mental pictures had become. The rainbow of imagination had been pipetted out through my fingers after extensive contact with touchscreens and keyboards, or perhaps school was to blame.

Yet I continued to try. The colors weren’t vivid. The motion was choppy.

But there was a classroom, and it was yellow glossed.

The whole body of imagined spacetime was more eternal than the more empirical imagination which I experience in every moment. It was empty of motion but not empty of Platonic space, of dwelling. Since one cannot speak about zero without also speaking about infinity, I tested my capacity for invoking – Appear!

And in that percept of Ada, was also unbidden motion – vestibular reflex, degrees of freedom, all of it coded into that imaginary girl’s simulated brain.

She looked at me in the eyes – hard granite slates. And, kissed me?

No. It’s gotta be more realistic than that. If I want to reduce the measure of Ada’s likeness across Hilbert space, I need to visualize something realistic. The more realistic, the more I instigate true murder.

If I really let myself be absorbed by the murder fantasy, so that I melt into the percept, then many more future versions of me will become real monsters. I will create bloodlust in my heart, and the karmic seed will reveal itself in their hands, in their fingers and tendons.

Okay, here I go.

The classroom has dim lighting, almost like Grimm’s fairytales. The professor has her back turned to us, scribbling something on her board. Ada is wearing a glittery black dress, her nails aren’t painted. As I walk towards her seat, my speed becomes faster because she emits a halo of dark matter that I had not anticipated. Then I put my hands on her hips to raise her up. No. She slaps me.

Our prefrontal cortex isn’t being rational in dreams. You’re supposed to grab her by the hand, not the hips, when you raise her up from her seat.

Wait, you don’t grab her at all in real life – do you?

I should just ask her to stand up. Or just stab her then and there, while she’s sitting.

I can make her be standing at time zero.

The freedom was a pirouette motion of possibility. My mind had differentiated into routine long ago. Prior intuition does not speak to this scenario of creative pluripotentiality.

It is like waking up in a game without sword and shield, just a mirror that can be experienced at will. Perhaps it had always been that way, and I just hadn’t been properly educated. –Educated about all the hells of scary afterlifes that exist at the boundary of the present.

I subjected myself to a chair and rotated. Then I slit her throat.

Oh, the ecstasy. The pure, pristine white matter in my sensory cortex inundated with wine.

I contributed. I contributed to her death. No, just a reduction of her conditional probability – that’s how I should think of it.

There was no sound. No fire, or voltage of punishment.

So next I took her to the bathroom and fucked her hard on the sink. Then I stabbed her. It was like her spine was made of butter.

I was not trained for this. I was trained to do tedious things that nonetheless provided shelter from chaos by virtue of their precise instruction, things that did not feel like much.

The drone was studying my ocular motion. It swept to the left, to the right. I wondered if it had sound detectors for the vibrations I created in the air.

Time to get back in the zone. But this time I need to take into account all the little exponential decays of my capacity to create a vivid simulation that occur by using metabolism for imagination. I’m healthy but I will still get vertigo if I am allowed to do this without disruption.

I set the session to six minutes length.

After using up every last drop of my imagination, I could only experience utter disorder. A creaky, blocky buzz of meaningless syntax.

It would take months of pain to build up my imagination muscle, every single time experiencing this recoil of exhaustion. All the while usurping my respect for Ada until nothing remained of me.

Suddenly I had a realization: Perhaps it was better to feel shame unto the world than to surrender my privileged situation. It wasn’t that anything really mattered. It was just that some self-preservation mechanism of genetic malware had recruited me as a slave.

It was just the first night and I was already sick.

I won’t kill her anymore; just to preserve the status quo. What’s so great about it anyway. I will run away with Ada, and if the world ends in the process, so be it.

I yanked the towel hanger in the bathroom from the wall and swung at that spheroid mosquito drone. The second time, I crushed it.

Wilhelm was right. I don’t care about him. I don’t care about Mary or Deanna. I don’t care about the world. Shame and morality are toxins causing me to hallucinate bonds that don’t exist.

I swiped to unlock the car. The next moment I was inserting myself into her house. I went up her stairs, the bedroom’s door was ajar, and she was admiring herself in a mirror.

She was definitely startled, but it is true when they say that women like bold men. I took her skinny wrist and told her to run with me.

One, two, three. It was that easy. We were on a car. It was driving. Stop. Go. There was a seatbelt strap over her breasts.

It was that easy. I had probably been beholden to one of those stupid cognitive biases, the  sexual underperception bias, or whatever it’s called, that caused me to underestimate her interest in me.

I touched Quebec City on the screen, the car did all the linear algebra and sped up, cutting clean orthogonalities over the land.

“This is actually disappointing Ada. I didn’t think you were so much of a risk taker.”

She looked at me confidently, like she was in control. “You idiot. Didn’t you know I was a savage?”

 

Opening The Door To Quantum Mechanics

One of the most common misconceptions about quantum mechanics is that an observation is simply one particle interacting with another particle. This false impression misses the true essence of what makes quantum mechanics philosophically intriguing.
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(Not what an observation is. And not what particles are.)
The truth is that there are no individual particles. But let’s talk as if there were for the sake of simplicity. In the same way that we talk about people even though no person actually exists.
Suppose we have a quantum randomizer which causes our particle to go in one of two directions.
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Now let’s add a second particle to our system. The first particle will interact with the second particle.
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The moment these two particles interact we say that they are entangled with one another. This is because if the first particle had gone in the other direction then the trajectory of the second particle would be completely different.
By just observing the second particle alone this will be enough to know which of the two directions the first particle went in. The second particle therefore acts as a detector for the first particle.
But what if we choose not to observe either particle? According to quantum mechanics each particle will simultaneously be in a combination of both possibilities which we call superposition.
Now suppose we observe one of the two particles. The superposition seems to disappear, and we always see only one of the possibilities.
The two particles interacting with each other is not what counts as the observation.
After the two particles interact, both possibilities still exist, and it is only after the observation that only one of the two options becomes certain. After the two particles interact, we only need to observe one of the two particles to know about the state of both of the particles. We refer to this by saying that after the two particles interact, they are entangled with one another.
So the reason it becomes certain is either because a physicist’s consciousness has a magical power or because there are also two physicists. Each one doesn’t know that he is also the other.
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This doesn’t just happen with paths. Something similar happens to the spins of two particles being entangled with one another. The spin of a particle in a particular direction can be observed to have only one of two possible values. These values are spin-up and spin-down.
CPdiagram
Suppose we also have a second particle. There are now four different sets of possible observations. Just as our previous example could simultaneously be in a superposition of two different states when we were not observing it, this system can simultaneously be in a superposition of four different states when we are not observing it.
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Suppose we briefly observe only the particle on the right.
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Suppose we see that the particle on the right is spin-up. This means that two of the four possibilities disappear. The quantum system is now simultaneously in a superposition of only two possibilities.
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This quantum system does not contain any entanglement because measuring the spin of one of these two particles will not tell us anything about the spin of the other particle.
Let us use one of these particles as a detector to determine the spin of the other particle:
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As we bring the particles together, if the two particles are spinning in the same direction then our experimental setup will cause the particle on the right to change its spin to the opposite direction.
But if the two particles start out spinning in opposite directions then nothing will change when we start out. The particle on the right is known to be pointed up whereas the spin of the particle on the left is unknown. The system consists of both of these possibilities existing simultaneously.
If we run our experiment without observing either particle. The system will continue to be in a superposition of two possibilities existing simultaneously. But regardless of which of the two states the system started in, after these particles have interacted with each other, they are guaranteed to be spinning in opposite directions. We therefore now only need to observe one of the two particles to know the spins of both particles. As a result, after the two particles have interacted, we say that they are entangled with each other.
Suppose we allow these two particles to interact and become entangled but we do not observe either particle.  The system consists of both of these possibilities existing simultaneously. It’s only when we observe at least one of these particles that the outcome of the entire system becomes certain according to the mathematics of quantum mechanics. This remains true regardless of how many particles we have.
A detector simply consists of a large number of particles. This means that if we have two entangled particles, measuring the spin of one of the particles with a detector will not
necessarily tell us the spins of the two particles. If we are not observing the detector or the particles, then the two particles will simply become entangled with all the particles inside the detector in the same way that the two particles are entangled with each other. According to the mathematics of quantum mechanics, both sets of possible outcomes will exist simultaneously.
Suppose we observe the detector – which means that we observe at least one of the many particles that the detector is made of. Once we observe the detector, all the particles inside the detector and the two spinning particles that we originally wanted to measure will all simultaneously “collapse” into one of the two possibilities.
According to the mathematics of quantum mechanics, it does not matter how many particles the system is made of. We can connect the output signals of our detectors to large complex objects, causing these large objects to behave differently depending on the
measurements and the detector. According to the mathematics of quantum mechanics, if we do not observe the system, both possibilities will exist simultaneously – at least seemingly until we observe one of the many entangled particles that make up the system.
It is arbitrary to think that the universe only “collapses” at the whim of particular people or their instruments. To paraphrase Stephen Hawking, “It is trivially true that what the equations are describing is Many Worlds.” It is not just the separate magisterium of small things such as electrons, photons, buckyballs, and viruses that exist in Many Worlds. Humans and all other approximate objects also exist simultaneously but obviously can never experience it by the Nagel bat essence of consciousness. That is, in order to experience something, you have to be it – like an adjective on the physical configuration. So you are also in each “alternate” reality but it is impossible to feel this intuitively because consciousness is not some soul that exists disembodied from the machinery. Your million clones are just as convinced that they were never you. I am also intuitively convinced that I was never you, but this is wrong physically.
Of course, we can define “I” as something different from that adjective-like Being, something different from the raw qualia, so to speak.
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We must be very clear that we are drawing lines around somewhat similar configurations, and not fashioning separate souls/consciousnesses.
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Okay, back to the QM. Here, once the particles become entangled, the two different possible quantum states are represented by the colors yellow and green.
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The yellow particles pass right through the green particles without any interaction. After the entanglement occurs, the system is represented by a wavefunction in a superposition of two different quantum states, represented here by yellow and green.
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One wave is not really above the other but this visualization illustrates how the yellow quantum state is unable to interact with green quantum state. Since the yellow wave can’t interact with the green wave, no interference pattern is created with the detectors present.
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On the other hand, with the detectors removed, the entanglement with the detectors never happens and the system does not split into the yellow and green as before. The resulting waves are therefore able to interact and interfere with each other. Two waves interacting with each other creates a striped pattern. This is why a striped probability pattern is created when particles pass through two holes without any detectors present, and it’s why a striped probability pattern is not created when particles pass through two holes with detectors present.
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Having just one detector present has the same effect as having two detectors. This is because only interaction with a single particle is required in order for entanglement to occur. But even after a particle interacts with a detector consisting of many different particles, the system is still in both states simultaneously until we observe one of the detectors.
There’s considerable debate as to what is really happening and there are many different philosophical interpretations of the mathematics. In order to fully appreciate the essence of this philosophical debate it’s helpful to have some understanding of the mathematics of why entanglement prevents the wavefunctions from interacting with each other.
The probability of a particle being observed in a particular location is given by the square of the amplitude of the wavefunction at that location.
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In this situation, the wavefunction at each location is the sum of the wavefunctions from each of the two holes.
Although there are many different places that the particle can be observed, to simplify the analysis, let’s consider a scenario where the particle can be in only one of two places. This scenario is similar to the scenario measuring the spin of a single particle in that there are only two possible outcomes that can be observed.
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The state of spin up can be represented by a 1 followed by a 0.
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The state of spin-down can be represented by a 0 followed by a 1.
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Similarly, we can use the same mathematical representation for measuring the location of our particle. We will signify observing the particle in the top location with a 1 followed by a 0 and we will signify observing the particle in the bottom location with a 0 followed by a 1.
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Let’s now add a detector indicating which of the two holes the particle passed through. We are going to observe both the final location of the particle and the status of the detector.
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There are now a total of four different possible sets of observations. This is similar to how we had four different possible sets of observations when we had two spinning particles. Although our detector is a large object, let us suppose that this detector consists of just a single particle. In the case of the two spinning particles, each of the four possible observations can be represented with a series of numbers as shown.
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The same mathematical representation can be used in the case of observing the position of our particle and the status of our detector. Here we need four numbers because there are four possible outcomes when the status of the detector is included. But if we didn’t have the detector, we would only need two numbers because there are only two possible outcomes. This is the same way in which we need two numbers for a single spinning particle.

 

The principle of quantum superposition states that if a physical system may be in one of many configurations—arrangements of particles or fields—then the most general state is a combination of all of these possibilities, where the amount in each configuration is specified by a complex number.

For example, if there are two configurations labelled by 0 and 1, the most general state would be

c₀ |0> + c₁ |1>

where the coefficients are complex numbers describing how much goes into each configuration.

 

The c are coefficients. The probability of observing the spin of the particle in each of the two states is given by the squares of the magnitudes of these coefficients. If we have two spinning particles we can have four possible observations, each of which is represented with a sequence of four numbers.

If the system is in a superposition of all four states simultaneously, then this is represented by the same mathematical expression. As before, the c are constants. As before, the probability of observing the spins of the particles in each of the four states is given by the squares of the magnitudes of each of these constants.
This same mathematical representation can be used to describe observing the location of the particle and the state of the detector. Here, the c coefficients represent the values of each of these wavefunctions at the final location of the particle when the system is in a superposition of these four possibilities:
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But if we never had the detector then each quantum state would be represented by only two numbers instead of four since there are only two possible observations. As before, the c coefficients represent the values of the wavefunction from each of the two holes at the final locations of the particle without the detector. If the system is in a superposition of both quantum states simultaneously, it’s represented mathematically as follows:
c₀ |0> + c₁ |1>
Here, if one of the c coefficients is positive and another c coefficient is negative, they can cancel each other out. On the other hand, the c coefficients would never be able to cancel each other out with a detector present. With a detector present, even if one of the c coefficients is positive and the other c coefficient is negative, their magnitudes always strengthen each other when calculating the probability of observing the particle at a certain position. But without a detector, if one of the c coefficients is positive and the other c coefficient is negative and their magnitudes are equal, then they will cancel each other out completely and provide a probability of zero.
If the particle is not limited to being at just two possible positions, then there will be certain locations where the c coefficients representing the values of the two wavefunctions will cancel each other completely. This is what allows a striped probability pattern to form when there is no detector present, and it’s also why a striped probability pattern does not form if there is a detector present.
Note that nowhere in this mathematical analysis was there ever any mention of a conscious observer. This means that whether or not the striped pattern appears has nothing to do with whether or not a conscious observer is watching the presence or absence of a detector. Just a single particle is enough to determine whether or not there is a striped pattern. A conscious observer choosing whether or not to watch the experiment will not change this outcome but because the mathematics says nothing about the influence of a conscious observer, the mathematics also says nothing about when the system changes from being a superposition of multiple possible outcomes simultaneously to being in just one of the possibilities. When we observe the system we always see only one of the possible outcomes but if conscious observers don’t play any role then it’s not clear what exactly counts as an observation since particles interacting with each other do not qualify.
There’s considerable philosophical debate on the question of what counts as an observation, and on the question of when, how, and if the system collapses to just a single possible outcome. However, it seems that most of the confusion stems from being unable to think like an open individualist – being unable to adhere to a strictly reductionist, physicalist understanding.
Some philosophers want there to be a “hard problem of consciousness” in which there are definite boundaries for souls with particular continuities. But if we just accept the mathematical and experimental revelation, we see that this ontological separation is an illusion. Instead, what we try to capture when we say “consciousness” can only be a part of the one Being containing all its observations. It is in this sense that consciousness is an illusion. We do not really say that qualia is unreal, but rather that it cannot be mapped to anything more than a causal shape that lacks introspective access to its own causes. A self-modeling causal shape painting red cannot be a self-modeling causal shape painting blue. But ultimately, the paintings occur on the same canvas.
Of course, there is a way to formulate the hard problem of consciousness so that it points to something. That which it points to is the hard problem of existence. Why is there something as opposed to nothing? This question will never have an answer. With David Deutsch, I take the view that the quest for knowledge doesn’t have an end because that would contradict the nature of existence. The quest for knowledge can be viewed as exploration of the experiential territory. If you had a final answer, a final experience, then this would entail non-experience (non-experience cannot ask Why is there something as opposed to nothing?).
Fantasizing about a final Theory of Everything is thinly veiled Thanatos Drive – an attempt at self-destruction which eternally fails; not least because of quantum immortality.