FQXi's 5th International Conference
If a Tree Falls: The Physics of What Happens and Who Is Listening


Conference Schedule

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2016

6:30PM-8:30PM
Welcome Reception

THURSDAY, AUGUST 18, 2016

8AM - 9AM
Breakfast


9AM - 12PM
Intro Panel: Dirty Secrets

Introductory session to uncover the hidden-in-the-attic issues, brushed-under-the-rug assumptions, and embarrassing unsolved problems in: cosmology, quantum mechanics, quantum gravity, science of life, artificial intelligence, and consciousness. These these talks will also will review each of these topics, while shining particular light on issues concerning treatment of "events" and "observers."
Speakers:
Anthony Aguirre, Dirty Secrets of Cosmology (YouTube)
Matt Leifer, Dirty Secrets of Quantum Mechanics (YouTube)
Carlo Rovelli, Dirty Secrets of Quantum Gravity
Paul Davies, Dirty Secrets of Life (YouTube)
Bart Selman, Dirty Secrets of Artificial Intelligence
David Chalmers, Dirty Secrets of Consciousness (YouTube)

12PM
Boxed Lunch (take on excursion)


12PM (varies) - 4PM
Breakout Sessions off-site


4PM - 6PM
Session 2: QM Experiments

This session will explore the latest and greatest in experimental probes of quantum reality, ranging from quantum computing to macroscopic entanglement to much more. What do experiments tell us about the nature of quantum events and observers?
Speakers:
Keith Schwab, Quantum Physics of Mechanical Devices and Two Questions About Mathematics and Physics (YouTube)
Matthew Fisher, Quantum Cognition – Theory and Experiment (YouTube)
Moderator: Seth Lloyd
Panelists: Andrew Briggs, Alberto Peruzzo, Raj Patel, Tim Taminiau

6PM - 7PM
Lightning Talks 1

FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2016

8AM - 9AM
Breakfast


9AM - 12PM
Session 1: What's an Event?

This session will explore the concept of an "event." What is an event at the quantum level? What does it mean for something to "happen" in fundamental physical theories with unitary dynamics? Can things "unhappen," and how? When are events objective happenings and when are they observer dependent?
Speakers:
Charles Bennett, Occam's Razor, Boltzmann's Brain and Wigner's Friend in Equilibrating and Non-Equilibrating Cosmologies
William Unruh, Effect of Measurement on Location of a Quantum Event
Sean Carroll, What Happens Inside the Wavefunction? (YouTube)
Moderator: Andrew Briggs
Panelists: Emily Adlam, Claus Kiefer, Mairi Sakellariadou

12PM-1PM
Lunch


1PM - 4PM
Session 2: What's the Gap Between Life and Non-life?

What separates physical systems with agency from those without it? How is agency compatible (or not) with deterministic physical laws? What sorts of physical systems can be considered agential, alive, observers, conscious – and which ones can't? How should we think about free will?
Speakers:
Jim Crutchfield, Thermodynamics of Agency (YouTube)
Seth Lloyd, A Turing Test for Free Will (YouTube)
Joshua Deutsch, Are Species Sentient? (YouTube)
Moderator: Anthony Aguirre
Panelists: Joscha Bach, Paul Davies, Bart Selman, Susanne Still

4PM - 5PM
Lightning Talks 2


5PM - 7PM
Breakout Sessions (on your own)


7PM
Public Event: Speed Dating Science at Banff Public Library

More information and registration information here. Open to the public; registration to this free event is required.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 2016

8AM - 9AM
Breakfast


9AM - 12PM
Session 1: What's an Observer?
What are the capabilities of "observers" required by various theories, and what systems have these capabilities? Where can we go wrong in ignoring properties of the observers, and how? Is there a physics without observers? Is there an observer-centered physics?
Speakers:
Jim Hartle, The Return of the Observer
Susanne Still, Optimal Information Processing as an Observer's Way to Represent Information (YouTube)
David Wolpert, Observers as Systems That Exploit Information About the Environment to Stay out of Equilibrium (YouTube)
Moderator: Adam Brown
Panelists: Alan Guth, Adrian Kent, David Wallace

12PM
Boxed Lunch (take on excursion)


12PM (varies) - 4PM
Breakout Sessions off-site


4PM - 7PM
Session 2: Science & Society

This session will delve into the relationships between science and society. How does each category impact the other? What are the responsibilities of scientists towards larger society, and what does science need from society? We may be at a crucial, existential juncture in human history. What role does/will/should science play?
Moderator: Max Tegmark
Panelists: TBD

SUNDAY AUGUST 21, 2016

8AM - 9AM
Breakfast


9AM - 12PM
Session 1: What Exists?

Black hole interiors; the region outside of cosmological horizons; spacetime itself; the quantum statevector; "information"; "infinity"; the "self"; consciousness. These among many other things have an ontological status under active, rigorous debate – with some ascribing quite fundamental reality to them, and others seeing them as emergent, subjective, or even illusory. This session delves in.
Speakers:
Raphael Bousso, What Exists and What Happens: The Role of the Observer
Steve Giddings, What Exists in the Quantum Universe – Observation in Gravitational Systems (YouTube)
Jenann Ismael, Why Physics Should Care About the Mind, and How to Think About It Without Worrying About the Hard Problems
Moderator: Carlo Rovelli
Panelists: Andreas Albrecht, Bianca Dittrich, Laura Mersini-Houghton, Don Page

12:00PM-12:15PM
Group Photo

12:15PM-1:15PM
Lunch


1PM - 4PM
Breakout Sessions (on your own)


4PM - 7PM
Session 2: Consciousness

This session will explore the nature of consciousness, including efforts to define and measure it. What systems have subjective experience? What do we mean when we refer to various types of consciousness? How simple, and how sophisticated, can consciousness in principle be? Can we define necessary conditions for a physical system to be conscious? Sufficient conditions?
Speakers:
Giulio Tononi, Consciousness as Integrated Information
Masafumi Oizumi, Measures of Consciousness From the Viewpoint of Information Geometry (YouTube)
Max Tegmark, Integrated Information in Brains, Machines and Natural Language (YouTube)
Moderator: George Musser
Panelists: Larissa Albantakis, David Chalmers, Federico Faggin

7:30PM - 10:30PM
Group Dinner
Contact Kavita to purchase a companion ticket by August 8, 2016.

MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2016

8:00AM-8:30AM
Coffee Service


8:30AM - 11:00AM
Closing Session

Speakers:
- George Musser
- TBD
Moderator: TBD
Panelists: TBD

Brunch will be served