The superworld is a new explanation that has not appeared before. The reason is not hard to find. The observer in physics is always a physical entity. And for a physical entity this idea is problematic. But with regard to the mind it works perfectly.
The idea that the mind is the significant entity in quantum theory has been proposed many times. These are the ‘Many-Minds’ interpretations. The concept was first introduced by the theoretical physicist Dieter Zeh in his seminal 1970 paper on observation. The Many-Worlds theory is well known. It means all possible worlds exist. The Many-Minds interpretations hold that these worlds are defined relative to the mind.
Philosopher of science Michael Lockwood presents a Many-Minds interpretation in which the mind is clearly defined. This is the ‘state of the memory of the observer’. And the state of the memory is defined as the ‘record of observations’. This is the definition of the vital entity in Everett’s theory.
But what does it mean? How can just this information command such a central role in the physics? The record of observations sounds like just an attribute of the brain. What has that got to do with what the world is actually made of? Many-Minds explanations seem to sound a bit unreal. But the record of observations is something far ‘bigger’ than just a brain. The brain gives rise to it, but it nonetheless has a significance far beyond its origins.
The Perceptual Reality
Firstly, this information forms the ‘perceptual reality’. The brain takes the information reported by the eyes and the other senses, and forms this into the picture of the world that is directly perceived. This is the perceptual reality, the reality you are actually experiencing. This is the image of the world you are aware of at this moment. As Lockwood describes, this is literally the ‘conscious point of view’.
The Record of Observations
Each representation, each experience, is recorded in memory. This process is the making of an observation. And this is the central process in Everett’s formulation. The record of observations is the record of all the experiences. This is the state of the memory.
So the record of observations is the technical definition of something of enormous significance to each person. The integrated synthesis of all the recorded experiences is what forms your knowledge and understanding of the world. This is your concept of the world, and your internal map of reality. Whenever you imagine some other place, or work out how to get there, this perceptual reality is, of course, what you are using. This is the way you understand the world and its comings and goings.
The actual form of this field of information is totally obvious when we describe it, but this is still not widely known and understood. It is a virtual reality, constructed by the brain. As the famous biologist Richard Dawkins states:
Our brain constructs a three-dimensional model. It is a virtual reality in the head. (1998, 276)
The same thing is stated by David Deutsch:
What we experience directly is a virtual-reality rendering, conveniently generated for us by our unconscious minds from sensory data (1997, 120)
The sensory data is the information from the environment. Our eyes perceive the world, and the result is formed into a three-dimensional representation of the environment.
So this is how the perceptual reality works. Each rendering of the world, each new picture of the moment, is recorded in memory and thus added to the record of observations. The integrated synthesis of all the observations forms the virtual reality as a whole, the perceptual reality.
This virtual reality is your map of the world, your concept of reality. Whenever you think about any aspect of the world, where you went yesterday, what might be happening now far away, what you are actually experiencing is in fact this virtual reality. Of course. This is the nature of the perceptual reality. This is what the conscious point of view is ‘made of’.
The World Hologram
There is one more crucial point about the perceptual reality. As you read these words, you perceive them as ‘out there’ in front of you. But the neural activity you are actually experiencing is ‘in here’. As Deutsch goes on to describe, this virtual reality representation of the world is mentally projected out onto the real world. And that of course is just how the virtual reality works. Otherwise it would not be much use.
So although the virtual reality itself is going on ‘in here’ within the brain, it is experienced as going on ‘out there’ in the world. In other words, the virtual reality being experienced takes the form of a hologram. It is a spatially-distributed, three-dimensional image that is mentally projected onto the real world, so as to match up precisely. I call it the ‘world hologram’. This is the actual form of the perceptual reality.
This is the head-up display of what the world looks like and where everything is. This is the ‘virtual screen’ of the navigation system of the human organism.
So far this is just the nature of what we see and hear, but there is still a great deal more to this world hologram. All my thoughts and feelings are also part of this field of information.
My thoughts are the experience of the things I am saying to myself. And my feelings are the experience of the state of my emotions. These experiences are observations that are recorded in memory. They are all rendered in this field of information, and it is the rendering that is recorded. All virtual reality. As Deutsch states in his explanation of how we use our virtual reality capabilities:
All reasoning, all thinking and all external experience are forms of virtual reality. (1997, 121)
The perceptual reality, the thinking, the feeling, all together this is my inner world. This is my mind. My mind is the virtual reality representation of the world, with myself in the middle. The representation of myself at the centre of my world is my ‘self-avatar’, which is described later on.
The World of the Mind
By definition, the mind is a field of information, the virtual reality of the world hologram. Obviously, this mind is present in all the identical copies of the person.
And, they are all in the same place at the same time, there is no question that there is just one mind. By definition, if you superpose identical copies of information you get just that information.
In this case, if there is only this mind, this mind is present simultaneously in all those worlds. So the experience of this mind is the experience of this mind in all those worlds. This is the superworld.
Lockwood says the same thing in different terms. One’s mind is wholly present in a great number of worlds:
One should now think of one’s mind as being wholly present at each of the points on a line laying at right angles to any given point on the time axis, where these points represent simultaneous maximal experiences. (1996, 183)
The “points on the line at right angles to the time axis” are the parallel realities of worlds in this universe. The “maximal experience” is another term he uses for the conscious point of view, the world hologram.
Ontology and Proof
So, now we have the ontology of the relative world. It is a superworld, and the reason it is determinate only where observed is plain to see. And there is evidence. Firstly, there is now experimental evidence, as described in ‘Wigner’s Friend‘. There is also very strong evidence from the way this concept resolves a longstanding paradox in modern physics. This is the ‘holographic universe’ which has been a total mystery. The superworld explains this surreal but well-known phenomenon with a logical natural cause. The full explanation is given in The Holographic Universe. You saw it here first!
There is also a further strong argument from what is missing from quantum theory, the sentient being. This is The Missing Subject.