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FQXi BLOGS
November 18, 2019

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Schrödinger’s Zombie: Adam Brown at the 6th FQXi Meeting [refresh]
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Blogger George Musser wrote on Sep. 8, 2019 @ 19:30 GMT
Adam Brown
Forget the cat: what if you put a computer into the Schrödinger thought experiment? You could make the computer both run and not run, at once, and that’s just a warm-up. You could, in fact, make it not run and nonetheless extract the answer to a computation. The computer will be sitting there waiting for someone to press “Run,” yet will have produced a result. It sounds impossible by definition, but that’s quantum physics for you. This idea of counterfactual computation is not just a thought experiment; there are computers in the physics labs of the world that have done this.

At the recently concluded FQXi meeting in Tuscany, Adam Brown of Stanford University grabbed hold of counterfactual computation and ran with it. What if the computer is set up to perform a brain simulation? You could ascertain what that brain would be thinking even if it is not, in fact, thinking. Whether a simulated brain is conscious is a contentious question, but suppose it is. Then you could create a mind that acts in the world, yet lacks first-person experience—a philosophical zombie. What is more, you can decide the circumstances under which the mind will be conscious or not; it might revel in happy sensations, but have no experience of sad ones. Brown’s talk put a new spin on old problems in the philosophy of mind and personal identity.

Free Podcast

Quantum Mind Reading. Could we create a quantum experiment to predict what a person will do, without having to simulate their consciousness? Physicist Adam Brown argues a classic quantum "bomb tester" proposed in the 1990s could be modified to do just that.



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Of all the many wonderful talks I’ve heard at these meetings over the years, Brown’s stands out as one of the most quintessentially FQXi: uninhibited and unpigeonholeable, less about the conclusion than about the steps leading up to it. “I am not really a quantum information theorist, and I’m really not a philosopher,” he admitted at the outset. “But what I am is amongst friends, so I hope you will take this in that spirit.”

Speaking of being amongst friends, let me put out a general-purpose disclaimer of my own. In this post, I will streamline the experimental descriptions, departing slightly from the authors’ original presentations, while staying true to the physics. Also, I will steer clear of the interpretation of quantum mechanics and focus on what we directly observe in these experiments. We will have plenty of interpreting to do as it is.

Please Do Interfere

Counterfactual computing is nothing so straightforward as predicting what the computer’s output will be. It’s not like saying that you know the computer would beep if you pressed a key, but you don’t press that key. In fact, the machine’s output could be unpredictable and, under ordinary circumstances, the only way to know what it will do is to run it. Yet quantum physics can obtain a prediction even so. It works because, in the quantum realm, things that can happen, but don’t, can leave their mark on what does.

The principle of doing something without doing it goes back to the earliest days of quantum theory. Physicists came up with ways to measure a particle without interacting with it (the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen thought experiment), to affect a charged particle without exerting any force on it (the Aharonov-Bohm effect), and to collapse a wavefunction without measuring it (the Renninger negative-result experiment). Tellingly, these authors were critics of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. They were after features of the theory that challenged the conventional wisdom.

The specific idea of counterfactual computation grew out of a proposal in 1991 by Avshalom Elitzur and Lev Vaidman, both then at Tel Aviv University. They suggested creating a superposition of two possibilities, then un-creating it, which should restore the initial state—unless something happened in the interim to either of the superposed possibilities. Even if something could have happened, but didn’t, it will prevent you from reconstituting the original.

Their proposed experiment uses a quantum interferometer. You fire particles at a beamsplitter, which directs them randomly one way or the other. For photons, a half-silvered mirror does the trick; half reflect off and half pass through. Or you also glue two triangular prisms together to form a little cube; half the photons will leave through one face and half through another. The two paths diverge and meet again at a second beamsplitter. That beamsplitter, likewise, directs the particles one way or another, where detectors await them.

Credit: Adam Brown


Even before you introduce a counterfactual, this setup violates classical intuitions. If beamsplitters were simply gates that shunted particles either left or right, half would land in one detector, half in the other. What we observe, though, is that all land in one detector. That means the first beamsplitter must be causing each particle to go both left and right—a superposition of the two paths. When the two paths meet at the second beamsplitter, they interfere with each other, which closes off one of the directions the particle might have taken. So, the second beamsplitter reverses the operation of the first: if the first splits one particle in two, the second combines two into one.

The fun begins when you stick an obstacle into one of the two paths. Then the two paths no longer meet at the second beamsplitter. No interference occurs. Now the first beamsplitter does act like a simple gate, sending particles just one way or the other at random. Half the time, neither detector clicks—the particle must have gone down the blocked path. The other half, one of the two detectors clicks, at random—the particle has evidently reached the second beamsplitter and been steered to one of the detectors.

Credit: Adam Brown


The upshot is that, if the quiet detector starts to click, you know that someone has inserted an obstacle into the system. The converse is not true: if the normally active detector goes off, there might or might not be a blockage. This system thus acts as an obstacle-detector. What is counterfactual about it is that the particle was supposed to be blocked, but there it is, exiting the apparatus. The only effect of the obstacle has been to alter its exit point. Evidently the particle must not, in fact, have hit the obstacle, but nonetheless felt its presence.

As with much else in quantum physics, the core weirdness is the uneasy mix of particle and wave behavior. Without the blockage, the photon acts like a wave. It divides at the first beamsplitter and reunites at the second, like an ocean wave parting around an island. With the blockage, it’s like a particle, delivering all its energy in one lump. The counterfactual detection of the obstacle leverages this duality. Elitzur and Vaidman described this as an instance of quantum nonlocality: the presence of an obstacle affects the output not by any mechanistic process that you can trace out step by step, but by the sensitivity of the output to the system in its entirety.

Bomb Squad

Elitzur and Vaidman put the blowing into mind-blowing by imagining a hair-trigger bomb as the obstacle. If so much as a single particle falls on this bomb, it detonates. If someone opposing your tenure case plants such a bomb in your apparatus, you will hear one of two things when you perform the experiment: a loud bang, or a gentle click from the normally inactive detector. If the latter, the instrument will have detected the bomb without interacting with it—an otherwise impossible feat.

Credit: Adam Brown


Clever though this bomb-sniffer may be, please don’t trust your life with it. Because the beamsplitters divide their beams evenly, the system will set off the bomb half the time; the other half, it will reveal the bomb with only 50-percent likelihood. In all, it has only a one-in-three chance of giving you advance warning. You can do better by modifying the beamsplitters to send fewer particles down the pathway that might contain a bomb, which reduces the probability of an explosion. The tradeoff is that it also also reduces the probability of a safe detection. Favoring one path over the other weakens the interference effect at the second beamsplitter, and some particles will leak through to the normally inactive detector. You will get false positives, suggesting the presence of a bomb where there is none. Put simply, if you avoid an explosion by not bothering to look, you are none the wiser about whether a bomb is there.

But Paul Kwiat of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his colleagues came up with a way to evade this tradeoff. It makes use of the so-called quantum Zeno effect, which, in this case, simply means running the check multiple times. Each time, the system adjusts the probability of sending a particle down the potentially bomb-ridden path. On its first attempt, it tries a very low probability. If a bomb lurks in the system, it will probably not detonate, but its presence nonetheless prevents interference from occurring at the second beamsplitter. If the system is bomb-free, interference does occur, but only weakly.

To create a cleaner distinction, the particles loop back for another pass through the apparatus. Based on the results of the first round, the system adjusts the probability of sending particles down the potentially bomb-ridden path. If it sensed even the whiff of interference, suggesting the path is clear, it nudges the probability up; otherwise, it keeps the probability low. If a bomb is present, it is no likelier to detonate than before, but if it isn’t, the interference is somewhat stronger. Crucially, the system can make these adjustments using passive optical elements, without detecting the photons, which would spoil the interference rather than amplify it.

After enough rounds, the system has shifted from sending few particles down the potentially bomb-ridden path to sending all of them, having ascertained that there is no risk of explosion. At this point, the bomb and bombless states are completely distinct, avoiding false positives. Only then do you steer the particles into the detectors to see which of those states the system is in.

An entertaining noir film about the bomb tester, created by Dag Kaszlikowski of the Centre for Quantum Technologies and set on the mean streets of Singapore, won the 2014 FQXi video contest.



Kwiat and his colleagues wrote up a Scientific American article in 1996 that clarifies the procedure.

Seeing in the Dark

Once you realize that you can interact without interacting, all manners of possibilities open up. Kwiat and his colleagues used the scheme to take microscope images of hairs, wires, and fibers without shining light on them (Physical Review A 58, 605-608, arXiv:quant-ph/9803060 (1998)). Vaidman suggested that biologists could take x-ray images of cells without causing radiation damage arXiv:quant-ph/9610033 (1996). Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China and colleagues transmitted an image using hardly any photons. Roger Penrose of Oxford, in Shadows of the Mind, puckishly suggested that Orthodox Jews could use the system on the Sabbath to turn on a light without touching its switch.

In one especially interesting variant, Lucien Hardy of the Perimeter Institute showed how the bomb itself could be placed into superposition (Phys. Rev. Lett. 68, 2981 (1992)). He added a second interferometer that contained an antiparticle. It overlapped the first interferometer, so that the antiparticle could meet the particle and annihilate it in a minor explosion. Hardy originally imagined using electrons and positrons, but experimental demonstrations have used photons, which wipe each other out not by particle-antiparticle annihilation, but by mutual negation in a beamsplitter (Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 030401 (2005)) or nonlinear optical crystal (Phys.Rev.Lett.102:020404 (2009)). On occasion, the normally inactive detectors of both interferometers click, indicating that an annihilation took place—but if it did, how did particles manage to reach the detectors? The scenario came to be known as “Hardy’s paradox,” although Hardy did not use the word “paradox” himself. A paradox arises only if you suppose the particles must always have well-defined positions.

Counterfactual Computing

In the most astounding proposal of all, Richard Jozsa of Cambridge proposed in 1998 that you could swap the bomb for a computer (arXiv:quant-ph/9805086 (1998)). The particle is its on/off switch. Just as you can detect a bomb without interacting with it, you can obtain the output of the computer without running it.

Jozsa imagined a rudimentary computer that outputs a single bit. A value of 0 is like the absence of a bomb; an output of 1 is like the presence. If the normally inactive detector clicks, the output must be 1—and the computer has yielded a result even though it wasn’t run. You can confirm that by looking at the machine. It will still be in its initial state, never having performed the computation. Yet its mere presence skewed the interferometer.

Like the bomb tester, this system often produces ambiguous results. You can do a bit better by augmenting it with the Zeno procedure.You set the probability of running the computer low at first and, as long as its output remains 0, gradually ratchet up that probability. By the end, an output of 1 is unambiguously a counterfactual output. Even that isn’t perfect, though. If the result of the computation is 0, the computer will run. There’s no way to perform a computation that is counterfactual no matter what the output is. In a follow-up paper, Jozsa and Graeme Mitchison of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge showed that this tradeoff is unavoidable. A counterfactual computer can never deliver complete certainty about both output values because its very functioning depends on uncertainty: that it might or might not run.

Kwiat and his team built such a machine in 2006 (Nature 439, 949–952 (2006)). Their computer returned two bits, indicating which of a set of four items met some criterion, using a famous algorithm developed by Lov Grover. The researchers placed it into one path of an interferometer. Running this computer is like exploding the bomb: it absorbs the particle, neither detector clicks, and you have to read the output from the machine itself.

The system produced one of three outcomes. Half the time, neither of the interferometer detectors clicked, meaning the computer ran. The counterfactual aspect failed in these cases, but at least the team had a very nice implementation of Grover’s algorithm (the best to date). A quarter of the time, the normally active detector clicked, which told them nothing: the computer may or may not have run. The remaining quarter, the normally inactive detector clicked, indicating that the computer did not run, but nonetheless gave a partial output. The researchers proposed stringing together a series of such interferometers to extract the rest of the output.

So what’s it good for? Josza suggested that counterfactual computation was yet another odd effect that quantum computers might someday harness, and Kwiat and his colleagues suggested that it might be adapted to reduce the errors that quantum computers are prone to. These uses are far off, at best. Brown, in his talk at the FQXi meeting, offered a more immediate application: for philosophy.

A New Breed of Zombie

Brown connected counterfactual computation to philosophical puzzles having to do with the mind. “There is, in fact, a reason you should care about whether the computation happened or not, and that’s if what the computation is doing is simulating your thought process,” he said.

Credit: Adam Brown
Suppose you program a computer to simulate a conscious mind. By putting this computer into an interferometer, you can predict what the mind will do without running the simulation. “Using counterfactual cognition, you can simulate what somebody’s going to do—you can predict what they’re going to do—without simulating them,” Brown said.

“Predict” is perhaps too weak a word. A simulated mind is a mind in its own right. You are not just predicting what the mind will do, but letting it do it. If you ask it to add 2 and 2, it will respond as readily as the original. Many philosophers and neuroscientists think a simulated mind is as conscious as the original—that is the premise of many a Black Mirror episode.

From the outside, the counterfactual mind seems identical to the original or simulated mind. Its output is the same. From the inside, though, the difference is profound. The counterfactual mind doesn’t have an inside. It is a philosophical zombie. In the taxonomy of zombies, it is even weirder than other breeds, because not only is it not conscious, it doesn’t even exist. It remains a potentiality inside the computer, awaiting an “on” signal that never came.

I don’t think this principle is limited to computer simulations. Why not insert an actual living brain into the interferometer and use the particle to control its state of consciousness? That would bypass the controversial question of whether a simulation has the same experience as the original. If the brain’s nerve connections to the body are preserved, it might move an arm without going through conscious deliberation. The brain will sometimes be fully present and sometimes a zombie.

You do run into the tradeoff that Mitchison and Jozsa talked about: not all results can be obtained counterfactually, so the mind will sometimes run and sometimes not. But Brown—in what was the most remarkable part of an already remarkable talk—made a virtue of this defect. Suppose you are simulating a mind that is making some big life decision. Such decisions are hard; with all the variables involved, you can never be sure which choice will make you happy or sad. But you can arrange the counterfactual procedure to execute only the happy outcomes and leave the sad ones unimplemented. Thus you could guarantee that any minds you conjure up will be happy. Indeed, you could apply that insight to an entire virtual universe, so that only universes that maximize the happiness of their occupants (or some other desirable outcome) were brought into existence.

Brown speculated that such a scenario bears on the problem of evil in theology. Even an omniscient creator faces a problem of prediction. If it wants to create a universe where good outweighs evil, it must, in effect, run a simulation first. But such a simulation is a universe in its own right. It seems the creator cannot avoid creating creatures that suffer. But counterfactual creation allows God to create a universe where good is guaranteed to outweigh evil.

These teleological outcomes can occur even at a more humble level. The conditions a physicist imposes at the end of an experiment can determine what happened during the experiment or whether the experiment is even performed. You can ensure that outcomes you don’t like never came to pass. “If you weren’t going to get the answer you didn’t like, then, in a wavefunction-weighted Born sense, you never instantiated that possibility to being with,” Brown said. That might have practical significance. When evaluating the efficiency of a quantum algorithm, researchers typically count how many times the computer performs certain operations, and Brown suggested they shoudn’t count operations that never occur.

If nothing else, I think Brown’s talk proves that physicists still have much thinking to do about quantum counterfactuality. If the potential and the actual blur together, perhaps you should conclude not that you haven’t run the computer, but that, by prepping the computer, you have run it—that there is no difference between running and not running, and computation is the structure of the machine, not it its dynamics.

One thing is clear: there is nothing counterfactual about how amazing quantum physics can be.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Sep. 9, 2019 @ 02:11 GMT
Thought experiment: Apparatus 1. A water inlet joined to a water filled channel that splits into two paths which after some distance, say 1/2 meter rejoin into one channel, leading to an interference detector and beyond a sink. Introduce near the inlet a vibrating rubber duck. Expected result interference detected as the disturbance of the water passes down the channel not taken to interfere with the disturbance travelling with the duck. Apparatus 2. One of the channels is blocked after a short distance, like 15 cm. Expected result. No interference and duck if it has taken the open path or no interference and duck if trapped in blocked channel. For this to work as an analogy the paths the photon might take must not be empty of medium that surrounds and supports/embodies the photon. The disturbance of the medium associated with a photon can be divided.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 9, 2019 @ 02:21 GMT
I am not equating a photon to a vibrating rubber duck. The purpose of the duck is only to provide disturbance of the water medium. The photon is "duck-less" disturbance. An electron, having mass is likely more like the duck, I.E what can be regarded as an object (with mass) and not just a phenomenon. This type of thought experiment, water and vibrating duck, can be used for the double slit experiment too.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 9, 2019 @ 03:10 GMT
The dimensions of the apparatus, distances, width of channel, arrangement of the channels and vibration intensity and frequency may all need adjustment to get the desired demo. in real life.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 10, 2019 @ 19:57 GMT
It may be necessary to allow some water to get around the obstacle, and or through it so that the duck is drawn into and remains in the blocked channel. That is something else that can be investigated and adjusted in real life.

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Robert H McEachern wrote on Sep. 9, 2019 @ 15:18 GMT
"Physicists came up with ways to measure a particle without interacting with it"

But there is no evidence whatsoever that their measurements always yielded the correct result, or that the particles they measured were in fact "identical", in the sense required by Bell's theorem. It has been demonstrated that exploiting these rarely discussed "loopholes", enables the seemingly weird results, to be duplicated, without any of the absurdities being invoked to "explain" those results.

Rob McEachern

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 01:58 GMT
Robert, I've had a thought about the experiment where entangled photons are tested with a choice of 3 orientations of polarizing filter, by the two observers independently; vertical, 120 degrees and 240 degrees orientation. Results being 1/4 same rather than expectation of 1/3 the same. Another possibility (other than non identical particles) is the alignment of the polarizes are not absolutely identical. Passing through the polarizer or not is generally thought of in a 'black and white' way, a binary yes or no. However the 'light' reaching a singular polarizer is not polarized, it has many directions, and singular photons can be thought of as having random direction. So maybe some only just manage to get by or are only just stopped. They are 'borderline' cases. So the slightest misalignment will cause mismatch of the observer's results. Has this been considered?

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 04:11 GMT
In experiments where particles are passed through two polarizers or Stern Gerlach apparatuses and the results do not add up as expected, it must be that the measuring devices are not simply blocking one outcome and allowing the other but are changing the particles' path (unless already adjusted). If the same orientation is reused there is no change. As the orientation of those particles has already taken place at the first encounter with the apparatus. But if a different orientation of the Stern Gerlach apparatus or a different polarizer is used the particles will be affected again, responding to the new 'challenge'.The end result depends on what has been done to the particles and not just the polarizers used or Stern Geerlach apparatus orientations. Explaining why 2 polarizers at 90 degrees block all the light but 3 at 0, 45 and 90 degrees do not; etc.

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Robert H McEachern replied on Sep. 14, 2019 @ 14:49 GMT
Georgina:

You stated that "Another possibility (other than non identical particles) is the alignment of the polarizes are not absolutely identical."

In communications engineering, it has been known for decades, that in order to obtain the correct result, the polarization measuring device must be perfectly aligned with the polarized object to be measured, whenever that...

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Sep. 9, 2019 @ 21:06 GMT
Some counter factual definiteness is genuine. A single observation gives a singular fixed, limited outcome. Prior to observation there is the potential for opposite outcomes be found. The observation product formed depends on the relation of the observer (or measuring apparatus) to the object. Neither outcome product exists until formed by the observation. Examples, clockwise and anticlockwise spin of a globe, left facing and right facing of a human profile drawn on pane of glass, head and tail of a coin exposed on a glass table.In these cases it can be known that though one particular outcome was found the opposite state of the object is also true, though that singular fixed limited state was not observed. It does not follow that for all states the counterfactual is true. Many states are mutually exclusive such as alive/dead, on/off, decayed/un-decayed atom.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 10, 2019 @ 23:18 GMT
George Musser,

Isn’t it time that physics faced up to a very big, but very basic, problem? A very basic error of judgement. The problem is that symbolic representations of information are not the same as information.

You say “A simulated mind is a mind in its own right” lol

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Blogger George Musser replied on Sep. 16, 2019 @ 20:47 GMT
The article does not make a definitive statement about the nature of mind, but explores the implications of one philosophical position. As it states: "Whether a simulated brain is conscious is a contentious question, but suppose it is."

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 16, 2019 @ 23:05 GMT
A “contentious question” exists only in the minds of those who have failed to properly analyse what simulations are, and what computers/ robots/ “AIs” are.

A good start would be to get the fundamentals right: what does a string of symbols (e.g. 10011101011) mean from the point of view of an “AI”?

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 29, 2019 @ 10:13 GMT
Hi all,

Mr Musser,philosophically speaking like you said,it's complex.I beleive personally that a simulated brain cannot be conscious like a biological brain.We can even go farer in taking into account the body mind soul problem.What is a soul philosophically speaking,it's different than a mind even.And if we continue a road after death,it becomes very intriguing.Imagine that a soul can be reincarnated in a simulated brain,so can we make all what we want in considering this.Can we create a simulated brain correlated in numbers with a biological brain.Hope this soul will be good :) I am persuaded you understand what I say….Regards

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H. G. wrote on Sep. 11, 2019 @ 09:52 GMT
It is a really interesting article! Unfortunately it spans a number of subjects so it is really difficult to comment the article in a few words.

The first problem is about "spooky action at a distance": information can’t be transmitted faster than the speed of light, because this would violate causality.

The argumentation is wrong. Information can be transmitted faster than the speed of light - actually instantaneous - if the information don't transfer energy. For example, true vectors that are mediated by the flat Higgs field (vacuum space) don't transfer energy. The vectors influence the local electromagnetic field "far away" and it is the reconfiguration of this local electromagnetic field that shows "the message". This reconfiguration is done with the available energy of the local electromagnetic field.

I mention this because it is part of the described experiments.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 11, 2019 @ 11:43 GMT
Hello Mr Musser,

This article is intriguing and congrats too for the generality and informations given in this post

Brown told:

"Suppose you program a computer to simulate a conscious mind. By putting this computer into an interferometer, you can predict what the mind will do without running the simulation. “Using counterfactual cognition, you can simulate what somebody’s...

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David Vognar wrote on Sep. 12, 2019 @ 03:17 GMT
Indeterminacy and uncertainty rear their ugly heads when the quantum wave function is entangled (or interfered with, and therefore multiply entangled) but with no container to map the topologies. My quantum computer is basically a Bell test in a quantum diamond as the container that can map the topologies. I'd also say that this has to do with the fact that the multiverse can be thought of as a perpetual motion machine. Because the lowest energy quantum particle has to be in motion, we have nothing but motion. Slowing or reversing the motion through the causal diamond is the job of the quantum computer, which acts as an effective light cone.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 12, 2019 @ 23:06 GMT
(Parts of this post have been edited out by Zeeya on 16 September for rudeness towards others.)

(Sentence cut by Zeeya for rudeness.)

But sadly, FQXi physicists and bloggers actually can’t think clearly about important issues.

The root cause of the problem is FQXi physicists and bloggers absurd belief that that symbolic representations of information (e.g. 001110110101) are identical to information. This improperly thought out idea leads to further absurdities:

Take the following examples of (section cut by Zeeya for being rude towards fellow posters) inability to think clearly:

“A simulated mind is a mind in its own right.” Blogger George Musser wrote on Sep. 8, 2019 @ 19:30 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3345 .

“Free will requires the capacity to learn. If something like a computer or robot has the capacity to learn, then perhaps it could demonstrate some level of free will.” Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 15:31 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3319 .

“This is a Koan written after the publication of Cosmological Koans, addressing and concerning the hypothesis that simulations of minds have the same moral value as the original physical and biological minds.” FQXi Administrator Anthony Aguirre wrote on Sep. 7, 2019 @ 18:14 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3344 .

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali replied on Sep. 16, 2019 @ 13:33 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

This post in its original form was flagged for review because it was abusive. I have reinstated it, but I have removed the portions that had no real substance or purpose other than to insult fellow bloggers and posters. Please avoid personal attacks on fellow members of the FQXi community (or indeed anyone), on this site.

I have also deleted a repeated version of this post that appeared on this thread. My apologies to Georgina and Steve, whose responses to that post have been cut along with it.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 16, 2019 @ 13:59 GMT
Hi Zeeya,

Don't worry,I am understanding. You moderate very well and with respect and with a just comportment. Long life to Fqxi :)

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 16, 2019 @ 23:12 GMT
Thanks Zeeya, for keeping things nice.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 23:12 GMT
George Musser,

00010100011110110101010101101010000101010101111110101
110101101111100000111

010101010101011011101010101010101010110
11010100001011010111101010000101001

0100110110101101011010101
0101011101010101010101010100101001010001010101010

10101111001
010101010110111111111111000000000010101010101010101100101010
101.

(If you are not intelligent [1] enough to be able to decipher the above, then I suggest you ask your nearest AI or computer to translate it for you).

1. In his book “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”, Max Tegmark defines intelligence as the “ability to accomplish complex goals”.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 14, 2019 @ 00:30 GMT
Collins Lab: Binary & Hex on YouTube

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 15, 2019 @ 00:51 GMT
Georgina,

Can you express in words what you are trying to say? Or do you think that the above link is self-explanatory?

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 15, 2019 @ 01:15 GMT
I might add that you, in your extreme naivety, seem to think that 0000101101010 (or any representation at all) is self-explanatory.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 16, 2019 @ 22:25 GMT
Georgina,

Re 0000101101010:

As I feared, you have no idea of the fundamentals, and no idea of what I am talking about:

Our symbols, i.e. squiggly things that human beings have created, have no intrinsic meaning: any meanings they have are meanings that human beings have imposed on them. Symbols are symbolic representations of a meaning that at least some human beings know about, or knew about in the past.

So 0000101101010 might mean something to some human beings, but it means nothing from the point of view of a computer/ “AI”.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Sep. 17, 2019 @ 21:36 GMT
Hi Robert,

Non identical particles and one bit results can not explain the 3 polarizer problem. Two polarizers at 90 degrees block all light. With one at 45 degrees in between, some light comes through the last polarizer. so the population characteristics meeting the last polarizer are different depending on whether they have gone through the 45 degrees polarizer or not. We know from that the polarizers are not just blocking the passage of some of the photons. Something I haven't seen mentioned is refraction. Could refraction of the light as it passes from air to plastic back to air again be responsible? That refraction is happening isn't in doubt.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 17, 2019 @ 21:44 GMT
My other guess at what is happening is reflection at the boundaries of clear and opaque parts of the polarizer changing the path of the photons coming through in that way. That might be happening as well as refraction. Since such alterations of the path of the light is a characteristic of polarizers in general, it will affect all experiments where polarizers are used, including Bell tests.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 17, 2019 @ 22:19 GMT
The refractive index of all polarizers is different to that of air. So it follows that refraction is happening.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 18, 2019 @ 05:23 GMT
Bell's inequalities apply to preexisting characteristics, Such as, people who are wearing a hat, people who are wearing a scarf and people who are wearing gloves. They don't apply to scenarios where the measurement is altering the characteristic. Modelling the polarisers as if they are only gates allowing some 'light' through but not other 'light', but otherwise having no effect is making it seem as if the results belong to the hat, scarf, gloves kind of scenario (predetermined by hidden variables of the light); which is not so. That is why it seems strange that Bell's inequalities is violated, when it isn't strange at all. The light is not in a superposition of the different outcomes-the outcomes only coming to be as they are generated within the experiment. This is not a hidden variables solution but one requiring a different kind of Realism.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 17, 2019 @ 23:19 GMT
A computer is a special setup that processes symbols, including symbolised algorithmic procedures, where every symbol is a string of 0s and 1s.

The 0s and 1s are physically represented (i.e. re-symbolised) by an electrical voltage: i.e. there are multiple levels of symbolisation going on.

But there is nothing spooky or higher-level going on inside a computer: there is nothing but the operation of the laws of nature going on inside a computer/ robot/ “AI”.

The following people, who don’t understand computers/ robots/ “AIs”, and who mislead the general public about the nature of computers/ robots/ “AIs”, should be censured and condemned in the strongest terms:

“A simulated mind is a mind in its own right.” Blogger George Musser wrote on Sep. 8, 2019 @ 19:30 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3345 .

“Free will requires the capacity to learn. If something like a computer or robot has the capacity to learn, then perhaps it could demonstrate some level of free will.” Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 15:31 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3319 .

“This is a Koan written after the publication of Cosmological Koans, addressing and concerning the hypothesis that simulations of minds have the same moral value as the original physical and biological minds.” FQXi Administrator Anthony Aguirre wrote on Sep. 7, 2019 @ 18:14 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3344 .

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 18, 2019 @ 21:13 GMT
Superficially, the earth looks flat; superficially the moon looks pockmarked like Swiss cheese; and superficially a robot/ AI might look intelligent and/or conscious. But it doesn’t take much investigation to show that the earth is not flat; the moon is not made of Swiss cheese; and a robot/ AI can never be intelligent or conscious.

Physicists and others have not performed due diligence on this issue. As a result, physicists and others are giving credence to fake views about the nature of computers/ robots/ “AIs”. This is a problem because, right now, the world does not need more fake views.

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Steve Agnew wrote on Oct. 2, 2019 @ 04:36 GMT
It continues to amaze me that very smart and highly trained people still ask questions and give absurd answers to those questions. Where is the photon located in a beamsplitter device? Well...where is an electron located in a hydrogen atom? These two questions both lead to absurd answers given the semiclassical approximations that Brown uses here.

Just like the electron in hydrogen, it makes no sense to ask about the exact position of an photon in a beamsplitter or even a double slit resonator. Even the diagram is misleading since it shows the photon location but not the photon spectrum. In fact, these kind of devices make no classical sense at all since they all involve quantum phase correlation, entanglement, and decay. Quantum phase is not even mentioned as being important.

Thus, it is very hard to take these kind of talks very seriously since they are all very deeply flawed...

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Steve Dufourny replied on Oct. 2, 2019 @ 16:46 GMT
Hi Steve,

I agree a little bit with you,we cannot see this.But all we try to find answers,and the assumptions are essential,it's like this that we evolve,proof,make experiments.But of course we must respect this determinism.

Regards

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Steve Agnew replied on Oct. 4, 2019 @ 15:40 GMT
This talk is layer upon layer of complexification centered on this nice word counterfactual and of course, never even mentioning interaction-free measurement, which is the basic underlying semi-classical interpretation of this single photon resonator.

Since the device measures the presence of an object in the cavity by changing the photon spectrum but not energy, there is an interaction. However, the interaction is what is called pure phase and is a common measurement called 2-D photon spectroscopy.

The only thing counterfactual in this experiment is in the semiclassical approximation that a single photon only carries information with its energy and not also with its phase or spin. By ignoring quantum phase, once again, even very smart people come to absurd determinate solutions...

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Steve Dufourny replied on Oct. 5, 2019 @ 16:06 GMT
Steve,

I insist about the limited freewill.Let's imagine this,imagine that you want to change G c or h,or that you want change the position of galaxies,or change the codes of our atoms of this mendeleev table? can you?

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Steve Agnew wrote on Oct. 3, 2019 @ 03:10 GMT
Here we are once again...arguing the absurdity of determinism and yet these narratives always leave some doubt...

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Steve Dufourny replied on Oct. 3, 2019 @ 07:42 GMT
Hi Steve,

You cannot tell us this about this deperminism.This determinism is essential and important.We know all that our sciences are mainly deterministic.Of course we have the freewill and others ,but we must accept that this superdeterminism is a reality.Prove us what you tell with maths ,regards

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Steve Agnew replied on Oct. 4, 2019 @ 15:49 GMT
It is interesting to me that you believe in determinism, which means that there is no free will and all outcomes have knowable precursors, and then also believe that there is free will, which of course means that not all outcomes have knowable precursors.

Note that the universe is a causal set of precursors and outcomes, but our knowledge of precursors is limited by quantum superposition to a probability by the uncertainty principle. Quantum phase is what gives us free will and that is just the way the universe is.

The determinism of gravity relativity is just a really good approximation for the underlying quantum biphoton reality of gravity force. Space, time, and black holes all emerge from the quantum matter action as things that happen as the quantum causal set of precursors and outcomes that we call the universe. Although everything does happen for a reason, there is still mystery since we cannot ever know the reasons why things do happen...

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Steve Dufourny replied on Oct. 5, 2019 @ 09:51 GMT
Hello Steve,

I don't tell that freewill does not exist,I just tell that this determinism is foundamental at all scales and is the main piece generally speaking.The freewill is limited considering the encodings.Do you thik that a water drop has a freewill like the atoms? This freewill of course has something to do with the informations,the codes,the encodings,but this determinism is the main chief orchestra Simply.You cannot change all what we want simply.Regards

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Oct. 19, 2019 @ 22:47 GMT
I've just realized the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment contains a pun. The radioactive material has a half life and so the cat has a corresponding half life.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 20, 2019 @ 03:25 GMT
Well not exactly, but it amused me to think that the radioactive material has a half life to which its decay is associated. Until the first decay the cat's life is also associated with that half life. So the cat has a half life (associated with it.) Radioactive decay half life not zombie cat superposition'half life'.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 20, 2019 @ 23:56 GMT
Rather than one boxed cat there could be as many as there are particles of radioactive material. On decay of a particle (assuming all are detected, which may not be so in practice) the poison is released into a cat box that has not previously received poison. Now the cat population has a half life matching that of the radioactive material. As time passes, when a box is opened the probability of finding a dead cat increases and of finding a live cat decreases. With time the dead cat number increases but the size of the increase gets smaller with time. 1/2 die in first half life, another 1/4 in the second half life, making 3/4 total; Then another 1/8th, making 7/8 total, etc. The point is, what applies to the population must also apply to the single cat experiment. There is a time dependent aspect to the live or dead state of the cat not shown in timeless superposition.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 21, 2019 @ 01:15 GMT
In the many cat version as time progresses there are less and less cats left that can switch their state of live to dead. With one cat the longer the time the more likely its unknown state is dead and unable to change state (as death is irreversible). The switch potential deceases with time. The pattern of that decrease is the same as the pattern of half life decay. A system that had even lethal emission such has a clock timer releasing poison at regular intervals, the decrease in switch potential would be regular, the same over time. A continuous live /dead state suspended until observed shows a timelessness of the abstract mathematical representation.

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Steve Agnew wrote on Oct. 20, 2019 @ 00:08 GMT
There are some questions that do not seem to have answers in the classical narrative. You chose instead to make some statements about the discrete nature of physical reality.

1) Does matter oscillate? It appears that you believe that matter does not oscillate.

2) If matter oscillates classically, does relative phase result in classical bonds? There does not seem to be a classical bond.

3) What is a classical hydrogen atom? There does not seem to be a classical hydrogen atom.

As long as you do not have to explain the quantum science of atoms and bonding, you can believe in just about anything.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 20, 2019 @ 01:03 GMT
Steve, I don't know if you are addressing me. I haven't been talking about matter oscillating, so I don't know where your " It appears that you believe that matter does not oscillate." comes from. I'd say there is ubiquitous thermal vibration except at absolute zero or there about.

I think the different descriptions of different kinds of system prior to measurement are potential useful, instead of regarding them all as the same. Where there is temporal or material separation or a state latency a continuous description may not be best. (If the material reality is being modeled.) Alternatively it can be admitted that the continuous description is not of what exists but only the mental condition of not knowing.The physics is then about states of mind, not states of matter.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Nov. 7, 2019 @ 01:47 GMT
"The physics is then about states of mind, not states of matter." G. W. That sounds nice but is perhaps unclear. By states of mind I'm not talking about psychological states but states of the measurable under consideration imagined in the mind of the will be observer. By states of matter I don't mean solid, liquid, gas or plasma but the condition or behaviour of a material beable thing undergoing measurement."Quantum mechanics forbids statements about the object. It deals only with the object-subject relation. Schroedinger to Sommerfeld, 1931." N.David Mermin. http://www.lassp.cornell.edu/mermin/ 'States of knowledge would be better than 'states of mind' Prior to obtaining the result there is a condition of lack of knowledge permitting all possibilities. There is a switch to a condition of knowing upon obtaining a result.

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Steve Agnew replied on Nov. 9, 2019 @ 20:03 GMT
Once you accept that matter oscillates and that the relative phase of two particles oscillation makes a bond, then you are in the quantum world whether you like it or not. In other words, you accept some quantum notions and then reject others even though that is self contradictory.

You mention thermal oscillation, which of course is just a form of quantum oscillation and exists even at absolute zero. There is no non-oscillating quantum matter.

In fact, one you accept light as quantum photons instead of as continuous waves, you have accepted the uncertainty principle along with the notions of superposition of paths, frequencies, and polarizations. So you are both accepting the basic quantum notions as well as accepting the basic classical notions of determinism, infinite divisibility, and unlimited measurement resolution.

Brown's basic beamsplitter thought experiment for single photons is an excellent illustration of the continuing confusions of quantum superposition and classical determinism even for very smart and well educated people. While a single quantum photon is always on a superposition of paths, there is no such thing as a single classical photon. However, it is possible to ignore the quantum property of polarization superposition and pretend like a photon has a single polarization. It only makes a difference if you really care about the nature of physical reality.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Oct. 21, 2019 @ 22:33 GMT
Coin toss co-state potentials: With the measurement protocol decided, in this first case coin will be caught in palm and revealed where it lies by opening hand. The two possible outcome states, heads or tails, are materially separate and opposite, back to back. The coin may spin as it falls making the likelihood of each state, if caught now, vary in probability. heads up has high probability of being measured as heads up if caught, heads down low probability. Both states vary but are out of phase. If heads is likely tails is not and vice versa. The two different probabilities could be drawn as waves but though 'connected' by their opposite probabilities those waves do not interact. If the measurement protocol is changed and coins are caught and then flipped onto the back of opposite hand, the probabilities of each outcome is reversed.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 23, 2019 @ 02:45 GMT
The kind of time required, over which the material change is happening, (to which the probabilities are correlated) is sequential uni-temporal time, as it is the orientation of the material, beable coin faces that are changing; no signal transmission is required in that happening. (Although the coin toss can be watched and seen as seemingly seamless space time observation products.)

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 24, 2019 @ 01:50 GMT
State latency is an explanation for the results of Stern Gerlach experiment results. The possible outcome states are not intrinsic to the electrons but formed by nurture, exposure to a particular environment. Once produced by nurture the state for that orientation of apparatus is retained, until there is exposure to a different orientation of apparatus. This makes the results not so strange as they would be if the states were an intrinsic characteristic. For a population not previously tested with the particular orientation of apparatus the outcome probability for each state is equal. For a repeat of the same test on a population of a certain state the outcome will be the same again for all. The beable electrons are not in a superposition of both outcomes while travelling through the apparatus and there is not interference of the different possible outcomes.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 25, 2019 @ 00:23 GMT
The kind of time required, over which the outcome state is developed is sequential uni-temporal time; as the change is happening to the electron beable, without signal transmission from which observation of the happening could be processed into observation.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Oct. 27, 2019 @ 23:31 GMT
I wanted terms that would distinguish the being of states prior to measurement. State switching for temporal separation, and co state for material not temporal separation work well. State merger was intended to indicate something about the state of wave phenomena, that can be though of as made up of constituent states. But I don't think it is that helpful s what seems more important is that , like for the Stern Gerlach electrons, there is state latency involved. I mean by that the outcome state is not just separated out but is formed by exposure to the environment of the test. That being so it is indicating the nurture of the beable and not something about its intrinsic nature. Unpolarized 'light' encountering a Polaroid polarizer: One half is absorbed and the rest is plane polarized output, not one half unpolarized 'light'. (For ideal polarizer).

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 27, 2019 @ 23:52 GMT
Instead of a Polaroid polarizer a beam splitting polarizer can be used. The apparatus then functions a bit like the Stern Gerlacch apparatus used for electrons, in that it produces two different populations. Which do not represent the make up of the input. In both the polarizer experiments and Stern Gerlaach experiments the input 'spin' or polarization characteristics are not of the hat, gloves, scarves kind. They are not identifying characteristics that are always retained throughout the experiment. Same orientation of Stern Gerlach apparatus again will produce the same spin again but a different orientation the spin '(pseudo"-identity') is lost. The same polarizer again gives same output, but with a different orientation the polarization of the output is altered. This matters because Bell's inequalities pertain to fixed characteristics.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 28, 2019 @ 03:07 GMT
By hats, gloves and scarves I'm referring to an analogy for measurable characteristics that differ between individuals and do not change; a part of the individual's identity. An analogy for state latency is changes of party clothes according to invitation. Each party type being a different orientation of measurement. Invitations: pool party, wear board shorts or swimming trunks. Formal dinner: wear dinner jacket and bow tie or smoking jacket and 'office' tie. Causal party (outdoors), wear jumper or hoodie. Each time there is a different invitation the clothing must be changed. There is no correlation between clothing of different party types.The attire is not a permanent identity but temporary 'pseudo identity'. Another invitation to the same type of party, the clothing stays the same.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Oct. 30, 2019 @ 00:42 GMT
Bell's inequalities pertain to fixed measurable characteristics. They do not pertain to measurables that are produced by exposure to a particular environment. ERP paradox: How does the second particle known to have a definite outcome for the same test as the distant first particle but an indefinite outcome for a different test? No communication needed nor fixed outcome states for all tests prior to measurement. What is required: 1. Particles are generated or nurtured by interaction of them to be a (usually) anti-correlated pair. 2. The individual particles respond to the experiment's conditions they individually encounter. Giving anti-correlated outcomes whatever same first test is conducted on them. 3.There is no correlation between outcomes of different tests, so what the outcome will be is indefinite. 4. After different measurement entanglement ceases.

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