Friday, March 24, 2017

Does QM imply that reality is a simulation?

From a response to someone who asked me whether QM proves that we're in a simulation:

It's logically impossible to prove that you're not living in a simulation (since the evidence against it could all be fabricated), but that's not exactly what QM is showing. Instead, it is starting to show is that there is may be no way things "actually are." For example, a particle may not even have a well-defined spin before being measured. Not only that, but other features of what we normally call "reality" are getting harder and harder to support with each successively more clever experiment. In other words, it's getting harder to support the idea of objective reality.

But even if objective qualities do not really exist, it does not necessarily mean that they are simulated, either. It might mean, for example, that they're not objective at all. Perhaps they are entirely subjective. This would fit nicely with the von Neumann - Wigner interpretation, which roughly says that "consciousness causes collapse" (i.e., that it causes one of many possible realities to become real reality). There are many reasons physicists don't like that interpretation, but even your average Joe might not like it, because it seems to indicate that you are creating reality. That would be ludicrous (and scary).

But there's a neat way out of this. Experientially speaking, what is this consciousness? It's the thing that's aware of the world, as opposed to being a part of the world. But similarly, it is aware of your body, and so cannot be your body. It is not your thoughts, memory, or personality. In brief, it cannot be "you" in the normal sense. And yet, it is "what is looking." Which takes us into the mystical traditions, which are more or less saying that you are, indeed that which creates.

Of course, they also say that the safest and best way to discover this is by practicing meditation (and related things) with discipline. That way, instead of merely believing any of those stories, your mind settles to the point where you can investigate them for yourself. What is this thing that wants to know whether this is a simulation? Find the answer to that question, and don't do it by filling your mind with more thoughts.....

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