The Indeterminate World
This page explains the physics underlying the concept of world superposition. As cosmologist Max Tegmark (2003) describes in his article Parallel Universes, all possible worlds exist in the universe. And as he explains, this means there is a vast number of identical copies of you. This is simply because every possible variation of a world that contains you, exactly as you are here and now, must actually exist in the universe.
There is no question all these copies are the same person. As Deutsch reflects, given that there all these identical copies of oneself:
… which one am I? I am, of course, all of them. Each of them has just asked that question, ‘which one am I?’, and any true way of answering that question must give each one of them the same answer. (1997, 279)
All Here And Now
When it comes to quantum theory, there is a further startling fact to take into account. All the many worlds are here and now. (This is the nature of a ‘Level III’ multiverse in Tegmark’s Parallel Universes.) As stated by physicist Lev Vaidman:
… in addition to the world we are aware of directly, there are many other similar worlds which exist in parallel at the same space and time. (2008)
They all exist in exist in superposition. This follows automatically in the many-worlds theory. Indeed, as the famous physicist Brian Cox states, the language of many worlds is very misleading:
There is only one ‘world’, and it is a world in which everything that can happen does happen and everything is in a superposition with everything else. (2017)
The implication for the reality of the individual person is crucial.
The reality one experiences directly is the perceptual reality that the brain produces. This is described in detail in The World Hologram. As explained there, the perceptual reality is a holographic field of information, the ‘world hologram’. This is how the brain represents the world known from all the observations made over a lifetime. The first key point is that this is what you actually experience. As Deutsch (1997, 120) states, it is all you ever directly experience.
The next key point is that all the identical copies of you must have identically the same world hologram, otherwise they would not be identically the same person.
When all these identical copies are superimposed we get a remarkable result. If you superimpose identical copies of information, you get just that information. If you superimposed two identical copies of this page, you would get just this page. Therefore, when all the identical copies of the world hologram are superimposed, there is just one world hologram. In other words, in the many worlds of quantum theory, there is just one world hologram, one perceptual reality, for all these identical copies of the person.
The final key point is that the world hologram is the frame of reference of the individual in reality. This is the inside view of the world, as described in The Inside View. Therefore, there is only just one frame of reference for all these identical copies. This produces a simple but radical implication. To experience this world hologram is to experience the reality of all the worlds in which it is instantiated, all at once, superimposed. This is here called the world superposition. The explanation given so far is a slightly simplified picture, which is completed by the nature of the individual on the inside view, as described in Identity below. A full technical explanation is given in the articles at andrewsoltau.com.
The QBism World
This effective superposition of worlds gives rise to the QBism world. In the universe of all possible worlds, many of the worlds in which an identical copy of you exists will be very similar. Certainly all the things you have observed are identically the same in all of them because it is these things that have been recorded to make the world hologram. Therefore, with respect to the aspects of the world that have been observed, all these worlds are identically the same. However, with respect to the rest of the world the opposite must be true.
These worlds form the set, or class, of every possible world that contains a copy of you. Since this is every possible world, this means that every possible variation of a world that contains you is included. Therefore, in the superimposed sum of all of them, every possible variation of how the world could be, elsewhere, where you have not observed it, is included. So, with respect to what you have not observed in the world, the world superposition contains every possible variation of the way things could me. As a result, in the physical reality of the world superposition, everything that you have not observed is indeterminate. This is exactly the reality described in QBism. This is the QBism world.
Once again, this is not a new idea. This is what Vaidman defines as a ‘centred world’, one:
… centered on a perceptual state of a sentient being … In this world, all objects which the sentient being perceives have definite states, but objects that are not under her observation might be in a superposition of different (classical) states. (2008)
This does not mean it is not really there. It is a weird opposite of that. It is a superabundance of existence. In the poster for the movie The Thirteenth Floor the protagonist comes to the end of the world. It is a virtual reality, and past a certain point it is simply not rendered. The reality in front of him fades off to black, with faint skeleton forms becoming visible in the structures as all fade to nothing. This is not like that. It is all possibilities. Beyond the boundaries of one’s perception, a superposition of all possible existence is the case. Imagining it as the white of everything is a better metaphor than the black of nothing.
A superposition of physical worlds may sound nuts, but this is simply how quantum mechanics works. All things physical, including whole worlds, are defined by the ‘wave function‘. This is the basis of all physical reality, and it is one of the really weird things about quantum theory. The meaning of the wave function is described in Quantum Reality.
Since all things are defined by wave functions, all things physical can be superposed, ‘added together’. This is simply adding together two wave functions. This picture from the Wikipedia page illustrates the superposition of waves on water.
Bizarre though it undoubtedly seems, whole worlds work the same way in the quantum universe. This is the basis of quantum theory, the most successful theory humankind has ever produced. Therefore, technically, a superposition of worlds is an entirely feasible and applicable principle. Theoretically, therefore, this is all standard physics so far.
The problem with the standard physics is not the physics, but the frame of reference. This is the category error at the basis of the science. As described in The Inside View, the world on which experiments are actually done is the many-worlds reality, but this only makes sense if one has a rationale for this frame of reference. This follows automatically once the identity of the individual doing the experiment is taken to be the world hologram. This is the one thing that needs to be different to the standard view of modern physics.
It seems more than obvious what one is as an observer of reality. I am a physical entity, and I make observations of the physical entities I see around me. All perfectly true. But the observer is not the true subject of the situation. The physical observer is not the protagonist of the four-dimensional space-time, matter-and-energy movie of life. This is the world hologram, with the self concept avatar figure at the centre. This is the concept explained in Identity. The real you, the you ‘in here’, is the world hologram. As explained in Identity, in the real world in which you actually live, all else about you is indeterminate. Thus the real you is the holographic field of information. This is all very good news as described in The Higher Self because it means you are at cause and immortal, just for starters.
In this case, with respect to you on the inside view, there is only one of you in all the quantum universe. You exist in all the identical physical copies of yourself in the space of all possible worlds, and thus your world is the world superposition, the many-worlds reality. The circumstantial evidence for this is very strong. Simply this identity of the individual resolves all the massive paradoxes of quantum theory. As shown in QBism, if the world is defined solely by what this individual has experienced, and thus observed, this: “… removes the paradoxes, conundra, and pseudo-problems that have plagued quantum foundations for the past nine decades” (Fuchs et al., 2013, 1). If this is the case, then even the body-mind of individual in reality is indeterminate except where observed, just like everything else.
This explains exactly why all experiments are actually being observed in the many-worlds reality. The entity in the frame of reference where observations are experienced being made, and the results of experimetns are registered, is always the individual on the inside view, the world hologram. Effectively there is collapse of the wave function, as described in the next page Many Worlds.
It seems clear this is the correct interpretation because this precisely reproduces the apparent paradox of the measurement problem, the central issue in quantum theory. As described in Measurement Problem, the world, with the body-mind included, follows the linear dynamics, while the inside view, the world hologram, follows the collapse dynamics.
There is also supporting evidence for the singularity of the world hologram from the nature of consciousness. This is explained in detail in Universe Consciousness, and the evidence presented. The experiencing consciousness, that which experiences the perceptual reality, is not, cannot be, a property of the human brain. It is a property of the universe itself, as held by a number of great physicists and philosophers. This means it is a non-local phenomenon, or if you prefer, ubiquitous. And to this consciousness, there can be no such thing as identical copies of a structure of information. All copies are simply the same thing because all are experienced simultaneously. And this means that in experience your physical world is the superposed sum of all those versions of the world.
Both Are Correct
The world superposition behaves differently to an ordinary objective physical world. The missing piece of the puzzle is that quantum theory defines two different types of frame of reference. The outside view is the standard objective view. The inside view is world hologram. And on the inside of this view, the world is a class-of-worlds-as-a-world, a many-worlds reality. The difference is further explained and illustrated in the page on Schrödinger’s Cat. The objective-view ordinary world is of course real and valid, but this is not the reality one actually encounters. More correctly it is not solely such a thing encounters. It is the world superposition that one encounters, the simultaneous existence of a whole class of ordinary worlds; and this is determinate only where observed.
What has been missing is the fundamental nature of the superposition world. It is a different kind of frame of reference to an ordinary world. It is of different ‘logical type’. Logical type, discovered by Bertrand Russell, addresses the difference between a set and the members or elements of that set. They are utterly different kinds of things, and thus their defining properties are utterly different. The physical world of the inside view is the superposition of a set of physical worlds of the outside view, which is why it has the extraordinary properties described in QBism. So the conventional idea of the objective reality of an ordinary world is right, but it is only one half of the story. In other words, it is one of two different, fundamental frames of reference. Both are equally real and valid, and equally fundamental.
It means the ontology of physics, the definition of what actually exists, has to embrace more than one level of logical type. The truly major upheaval in physics is that objective physical reality is only one of three levels of logical type, all three of which have to be addressed in order to make sense of the new physics.
QBism solves all the problems with quantum theory. Now it also has an ontology in the well-established physics of Everett’s many-worlds theory. As described in Many Worlds, the central component of his formulation of quantum mechanics is the state of the memory defined by the record of observations, here the world hologram. The key point is that with this understanding, both the severely different views of physical reality are correct. On the inside view, as described by QBism, the world is indeterminate except where you have observed it. But the ordinary worldview is correct as well. In the ordinary world of objective physical reality, the world is a single, determinate physical domain. Both are correct; they are simply different views of the same universal system.