On the other hand, were Zelazny's Amber works not fiction?
My views have changed again today, to a new tentative position which i find somewhat startling but hard to escape, based on the best mathematics now available:
Thank you very much, and thanks also to others who asked this pointed questions yesterday, for getting me to revisit the question:
IF the math of Einsteinian realism fully works out, and if it will eventually be logically justified as a deeper replacement in principle of MQED (the version of "quantum mechanics" I advocate)... what does it tell us about time and parallel selves?
I now think that what I wrote in a groping way yesterday was correct, but I felt some uncertainty as it emerged late in the day. Now I have had time to meditate on it.
Sometimes I wish I could afford to wait a day like that, and meditate at a higher level, before responding to ANYTHING by email. The differences in levels of intelligence are an important story in itself, and maybe I will even say just a little more about that too if there is time this morning.
ARE WE (like I as I write this) a configuration/pattern/form of the one true 3+1-D reality or not, if Einsteinian realism is the deeper reality and truer physics, and MQED just an approximation?
I remember the exact moment when I "realized that we are just shadows," IN THE MQED framework. Our mundane level of existence, the "half" of us which is body and brain but not soul, only connected to soul... is governed by MQED, almost exclusively. There are nuclear forces holding together the nuclei of the atoms of our body, but all we really see in the material properties of atoms and their interactions, and their interactions with electromagnetism, are nuclei as point ions, charges particles with mass,
connected and vibrating together quantum mechanical way -- but those quantum mechanical vibrations are all within the realm of MQED. All knowledge which actually gets imprinted in or remembered in the brain is fully within the realm of MQED, whenever it is expressed in the brain.
I remember focusing VERY hard on the issue of "what does a photon experience and do, from femtosecond to femtosecond, as it passes through a polaroid type polarizer (like simple quality sunglasses!)?" This focused thought resulted in a new continuous-time mathematical model of that phenomenon, which worked, which fit the Bell experiments, and which I posted at arxiv.org. (Actually, two such models, a traditional KQED kind of model, and an MQED kind of model.) In this model, the wave function does not collapse instantaneously, but step by step, fitting what we know about polarizers as real physical objects, not just metaphysical observers.
We too, like those polarizers, change in a relatively incremental way, but at times we (and they) change so fast it APPEARS like an instantaneous jump on a normal time scale. (Cavdat: I resist saying more about the deeper time scales of the mundane brain. Not for now. This story is complicated enough, and does not need that digression/footnote.) At one point, as I thought about that little photon passing through sunglasses, I had a very sudden change of perspective on who were are.. but it was not TOTALLY instant; it was like a fast dawning realization.
There is some VERY viscious polarization right now in the US government. I was thinking about that photon, in 2014, still working for the National Science Foundation (NSF), at a time when the viscious conflicts were especially painful for me. I was thinking: "That photon has its own orientation, an angle theta. The sunglasses want it to conform to ITS angle , theta-a. At any moment there is some probability that the photon WILL jump to that angle, conform, and then be totally absorbed, and virtually nonexistent from the viewpoint of the macroscopic experimenter. There is some probability that it will jump to the 'opposite' angle, 90 degrees away from theta-a, which will make it absolutely independent and able to pass through unchanged after that (though it still loss its original self.). That reminds me of the horrible situation I face right now! But that photon has a third possibility, crucial to the physics, without which the model cannot work in making correct predictions (within the constraints which yield MQED): it can simply object to being in that situation, and create pressure to the cosmos to rewrite the past so that it won't be in that situation in the first place." (I was reminded of an insightful wry British comedy movie, maybe something about deadly sins, where a :guy makes a deal with the devil, who says he can just stick his tongue out to remake any situation he chooses to reject -- just seven times. The photon has the power to stick out its tongue in the same way.) It took a bit of time to nail that down, and express it as a very clean differential equation, which anyone can see on the web at arxiv.org. But the fast realization began with the question: "If a little photon can do that in ITS polarizer, how is it that I, a full human being, do not have the power to do the same in the polarizing place I am in right now?" And then very quickly, after I posed that question I realized: "oops, maybe I can."
After that, I quickly inserted a new paragraph or so into www.werbos.com/Mind_in_Time.
pdf, a paper which had been accepted for publication in an obscure Russian journal, subject to some minor revisions; I just added this new insight to the revisions. (It was an invited paper, the kind of thing I can afford to publish much more than things which take more time, particularly when I get involved in many different areas.) Some key points: since we live our mundane lives AT THE LEVEL of MQED, the full mathematics of MQED DO actually describe our lives. That includes the "many worlds" KQED claim that we ourselves DO live in mixed states," ALL THE TIME. No, there are no metaphysical observers, but YES, we are "Schrodinger cats" OURSELVES. MQED is not the deepest reality, in my view, but it IS what governs our mundane experience of life directly.
This was a really huge shift in my views. It is curious that I am now started reading a new novel by Connie Willis, Crosstalk, who has also written very important novels about the nature of time, perhaps the most valuable and relevant science fiction on that topic as such ever by anyone. Before the new shift, my views about time and retrocausality were generally similar to what was expressed in her earlier novels (and in a simpler novel Chronoliths). I have never made any claims about actual TRAVEL into the past (as in these novels), but even so, I could clearly see that physics MUST allow backwards communication of information in order to explain certain paradoxes from experiment. In her novels, Willis talked about an "Oxford standard model of time" in which there is only ONE actual state of the space-time continuum, in which somehow despite the backwards time effects we cannot splinter the cosmos into different possibilities or outcomes.
Following that view, before my shift, I naturally asked: "IF we can design backwards time communication devices, HOW do we avoid the old 'grandfather paradox' of time travel stories? For example, if we use the device on the stock market (as we might well do, by the way!).. what happens to disturbance of the market in the past due to the change in trades?" Looking at the Einstein/Lagrange mathematics as best I could at that time, I concluded: "A system which threatens to change the past can not ACTUALLY
change the true past, since there is only one true past, but it can have an impact within the constraints of what we KNOW about the past, in a way which is ultimately the same as our limited impacts on the future. If people build powerful enough systems which 'threaten' to change the ;past, these systems will end up being 'weirdness generators.' Folks who try to make trades which change the past will be stopped by unexpected weird coincidences, like taxis stalling as they ride to the stock exchange, somehow screwing things up regularly and reliably in a way which SEEMS to be surprising coincidence." No folks, this didn't come form imagination, it came form understanding what Lagrange style maximization actually implies when translated to our realm. And no, it wasn't quantum mechanics, but good old fashioned Einstein/Lagrange math.
As I live in the DC area, my instant emotional response to this realization (long before the shift in 2014) was: "Hey, has someone ALREADY built one of those weirdness generators? It sure feels like it in this neighborhood." But in fact, such capabilities do exist in the noosphere,and that is part of what creates patterns in human life.
Not long before my shift , I read Connie Willis' two-volume novel, Blackout and And Clear, where she begins asking whether she really believes that old "Oxford standard theory of time travel." COULD we change the past after all, even beyond what seems hard and fast? If WE are forms of the one true reality of 3+1-D spacetime, no, we can't.
BUT in my shift in 2014, I realized: WE are not the one and only reality. For all practical purposes (the MQED level of life), we are just ONE of many copies of ourselves, like the shadows in Plato's cave (or yes, like the story in Zelazny's Amber series, roughly). That new viewpoint is also expressed in the paper I wrote last year for a NATO workshop on predetection of terrorism, published in a volume in the NATO book series, and posted at www.werbos.com/NATO_terrorism.
But, Whit and others ... just yesterday you got me to reconsider: was I right AFTER that shift?
If the true(r) reality is still Einstein underneath, and not MQED, is there or is there not just one true reality, and are we or are we not part of it?
How do I deal with the paradox of two viewpoints SEEMING to make very different predictions for this one point?
Logic immediately said to me even yesterday (when I was at a lower level of intelligence than this morning) that any weirdness contained in MQED must be present in the deeper reality, PLUS more, if MQED is ultimately just a fuzzy approximation to that reality. So all the weird new stuff about ACTUALLY changing the past still holds, somehow. (To be honest, that is also a bit more consistent with my first person experience.) But how?
Even as I never forgot that part of the logic, I found myself wondering for a moment yesterday: IF MQED works NORMALLY, but Einstein/Lagrange wins in any direct confrontation, COULD some of the new time technologies I have in mind (for detailed discussion only AFTER key experiments are done) end up letting us build ACTUAL weirdness generators which give us the power to defeat MQED in ways which no classical or simple experiments could? Certainly I have been thinking about new computing architectures which really would test the ability of our cosmos to implement astronomical numbers of "parallel universes," and bring out any granularity or discreteness in the underlying force fields if such is there. BUT: ordinary Deutsch style quantum computing ALREADY tests that kind of thing, and no anomalies of that kind have been found. We should have our eyes open, for many reasons, but the logic does still hold.
But how COULD it still hold, if the Einstein/Lagrange view is totally correct? Where are we in the one true reality, if there is really only one at bottom?
Well.. do we even exist or not? Or are we like "the dreams of the sleeping vishnu?" Logic seems to suggest more firmly to me this morning that this is the most credible picture of who we are after all. (But still with caveats and uncertainty both.)
There is a strong analogy to another situation very familiar in science fiction. Most of you have read some story about people who create really detailed computer simulations of an imaginary world, so detailed that the characters in the simulation are just as complex as people with brains in our world. Their simulated brains have ALL the properties and dynamics of mundane brains in our world. If asked whether they are conscious, they will of course say that they are, and they will pass every version of the Turing test.
THEY have no way of knowing they are "just a computer simulation," unless we tell them. Stephen Baxter has some novels like that, asking the questions of ethics about how we deal with such creatures. Are our ethical duties towards a fully intelligent simulated humans more or less than our duties, say, to a mouse? There is also a really great collection called Far Futures, where lead science fiction authors were asked to write realistic scenarios about the human future -- the best story of which described the life of computer simulated humans on earth. I have heard that Elon Musk now believes that WE are computer simulations ourselves. By the way, in 1962 or such I wrote one of those types of stories for the school literary magazine in high school, based on stories I told myself many years before that as a child going to bed. (Still there, scanned into my files.)
And so, if the cosmos is LIKE a grand computer or mind of sorts, solving an extremely complex and tricky optimization problem, are WE basically just part of the simulations it uses in order to solve that optimization problems?
Even as I type this, a shiver runs up my back as I see/remember a connection to something I saw years ago which I could not quite make sense of.
Yes, like the MQED picture, but weirder still. Just as "Gaia" is a distorted but mostly reasonable reflection or shadow of something real, the noosphere of our solar system, it seems most logical that the dreaming Vishnu is also a kind of reflection or shadow of something real. That we are those dreams or simulations, when we get deeper than MQED down to the Einstein/Lagrange level.
Of course, I will now resolve to be even more vigilant to look for any REAL signs of a level deeper still, but I still see no real basis at all in logic for expecting it. Life really IS weird, after all, at least from a lowly human viewpoint.
And I should say a few words about Connie Willis, who in SOME ways reminds me of my wife and of levels of intelligence. In the first few pages of her new novel, Crosstalk,
I remembered what Woody Allen said in one of his movies: "I would never stoop to join a club so crude and insensitive that it would accept ME as a member." (My wife says he stole that from Groucho Marx. Well, she notices lots of stuff I don't. Like Willis.) My instant response at that time: "I really would have wanted to marry this woman, but she would not have given me a second look. But then again, Luda is just as intense, much more suitable for me because of her much deeper understanding of heavy science and such, and definitely beautiful... who knows about that other one?" But that was just the start; the book goes on to address issues of the Internet of Things, which is now remaking the entire world and which I have not at all come to full terms with yet, and seems to be located where my younger daughter is (though her employer is much stronger). At the end of the day, my wife, Willis and I are all very intensely "high bandwidth people." She clearly experiences life with more high resolution than any other science fiction writer I have ever read. And she clearly experiences the other dimensions of life which are unfamiliar to those who embrace the worst form of Cartesian dualism, where all they live is life in black and white without seeing any of the colors which come from spirit. It is intensely REAL... like my wife.. though perhaps I am a bit more astral. What other authors can I think of with such intensity and bandwidth? maybe Dickinson is closest in Science fiction? Or Dickens in the larger world?
And all three of us do ask questions intensely and always, asking what we know and what we don't... which of course always makes one aware of important things we DON;T know...
Best of luck,