Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics – Is it too early to rule out the Copenhagen classic interpretation?

Dr Sean Carroll in his ‘Many-World’ theory interpretation dismissed the supremacy of the ‘Conscious’ observer argument related to the the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. In this video, he didn’t explain his objections exactly, but it is probably derived from something like, ‘Another atom, rock, camera or any other inanimate object could cause wave function collapse – so the assumption of the supremacy of consciousness is invalid’. Sean Carroll has a huge social-media ‘science’ presence and is a well-respected theoretical physicist in the real world so I wouldn’t entertain the presumption he is necessarily incorrect. Having said that, isn’t it even remotely possible that Everett’s Many-Worlds interpretation and also Carroll’s may have been too presumptuous in ruling out the Copenhagen classic interpretation of Quantum Mechanics?

So that an inanimate object can cause a wave function collapse seems to be the principle argument against the supremacy of ‘consciousness interaction’ in quantum mechanics. However, the moment ‘conscious’ observation is realised we don’t know where the particle is, except that it is acts as a wave function. There is only probability and vibration in the quantum field. But what is observing the wave function collapse by an atom, a rock or inanimate object? We know as ‘conscious observers’ that the wave function collapsed and ‘we’ are able to locate the position of the particle at that instant.
Moreover aren’t we as humans seeing and interpreting from our delayed conscious reaction the wave function collapse in whatever we do, see and experience? Our consciousness based on ‘probability-awareness’ extrapolates sense of the wave function for ‘Darwinian fitness‘ purposes. I will expand on this Darwinian feature below and its relation to this subject matter.

At the microscopic level we as conscious beings can only identify the position of a particle the moment it is consciously observed by ‘us’.  So that which is observed; the location and extrapolated ‘sense’ about the state of matter at the macroscopic and indeed the microscopic level can only be done by the ‘conscious’ observer – ‘Us’. We can make better predictions, but no better than 50% at the microscopic level of the path an electron; whether it is moving clockwise or counter clockwise. At the macroscopic level in this actual world and despite the self locating uncertainty of the branching of the wave function we interpret what we need to know for ‘Darwinian fitness’. Probability to us is everything!

Regarding the Schrödinger’s Cat Thought Experiment we can know if the cat will most probably be alive or dead, based on nuclear decay and the wave function squared. We as humans through scientific endeavor try and take the probability out of a deterministic theory such as ‘Many-worlds’. The paradox is, as humans ‘probability’ for purposes of the survival of the species is our ‘bread and butter’. Probability is what helps us predict the future since the future is non-deterministic. Our brains, our consciousness if you like (unlike the study of quantum mechanics) acts as if it is a time machine. See my previous post on ‘Be prepared to lose all your concept of time‘ by Carlo Rovelli about this phenomenon.

As Rovelli states or words to the effect: ‘The Universe and Newton’s empty space and quantum mechanics dismisses pieces of time as we get down to the microscopic level and also as we venture far beyond the shallow curve bubble of our earthly state (where light seems nearly infinitely fast to us)’.

Only consciousness can find traces in time and anticipate the future. That’s what makes us a biological marvel (see Darwinian fitness).  The fact our consciousness can make much better predictions of the state of matter at the macroscopic level isn’t as mysterious as it may seem because our brains act as time machines (as aforementioned). Probability is our game! Consciousness is everything because unless the state of matter is observed (entanglement) from the cat at the macroscopic level and the particle at the microscopic level, the matter just is. Without consciousness the cat is alive or dead or the particle is here or there. Position-less is what we don’t see, but we know it is there in all of its probability of being here or there – but that doesn’t serve our purpose for longevity of the species, at least for now. High entropy is not deterministic, whichever way you look at it or try to want to make it so.

Related Articles:
1. Reflections on ‘The Many-Worlds’ Theory by Sean Carroll
2. Be prepared to lose all your concept of time.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Matthew Kick

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