Sunday, May 30, 2010

Superdeterminism


From Wikipedia:

Gerard 't Hooft (above) has disputed the validity of Bell's theorem on the basis of the superdeterminism loophole and proposed some ideas to construct local deterministic models.

Superdeterminism is one of a few attempts to show that a local hidden variable theory can reproduce the predictions of quantum mechanics, which if proven, would create a theoretical escape route from Bell's theorem.

Bell's theorem assumes that the types of measurements performed at each detector are chosen independently of each other and of the hidden variable being measured. But in a truly deterministic theory, this would not be the case. Although the experimenters might believe they are making a free and independent choice, their choices are really predetermined by the laws of physics. Since the types of measurements at each detector can be known in advance, the results at one detector can be affected by the type of measurement done at the other without any need for information to travel faster than the speed of light.

Bell acknowledged the loophole, but argued that it was improbable. Even if the measurements performed are chosen by deterministic random number generators, the choices can be assumed to be "effectively free for the purpose at hand," because the machine's choice is altered by a large number of very small effects. It is unlikely for the hidden variable to be sensitive to all of the same small influences that the random number generator was.

Bell discussed superdeterminism in a BBC interview:

There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the "decision" by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears. There is no need for a faster than light signal to tell particle A what measurement has been carried out on particle B, because the universe, including particle A, already "knows" what that measurement, and its outcome, will be.

The only alternative to quantum probabilities, superpositions of states, collapse of the wave function, and spooky action at a distance, is that everything is superdetermined. For me it is a dilemma. I think it is a deep dilemma, and the resolution of it will not be trivial; it will require a substantial change in the way we look at things.

3 comments:

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Believe it or not there is yet a third way to interpret all this, that while wouldn’t find the world to be superdeterministic, as t’Hooft would imagine, yet being determined as in being a consequence of choice that would depend on which way you find true the de Broglie Bohm pilot wave interpretation taken. That it as being a first order theory, as de Broglie and most it’s modern proponents find it as being, or as a second order one, which is the way Bohm saw it as. With first order everything is the result of predetermined forces and outcome, while if second order there is something real to be recognized as the “quantum potential”, where consciousness can be considered as a fundamental aspect of nature, which has impact on outcome being neither inevitably all predetermined or strictly random in nature.

For instance in David Albert’s book ‘Quantum Mechanics and Experience’ he has recognized that within the Bohmian perspective the actions of the quanta realm display having a “private will” (unable to be known outside of the knower), as opposed to being resultant of “free will”, which implies a reasonless reason. This has always served for me to draw a distinction between the conscious and non conscious aspects of the universe, where having a greater amount of consciousness being directly related to the effect it can have.

So perhaps being self aware, as to be found as part of consciousness does have implications in respect to what we call reality, in terms of its action and form. This of course is mere speculation, yet founded on reason enough that it should be given increased scrutiny. Would it not be interesting to discover, that both it being said to be made in his image and Einstein’s wish in knowing his mind, may be found in the end to be more then the result of simple arrogance or wishful thinking?
Then of course with any hypothesis what’s needed is a way it can be tested, with some saying with only being able to prove consciousness as fundamental serve being sufficient. This is but just one of the many reasons I’m so anxious to find what will be discovered with the pursuit of quantum computing, as it’s demonstrated limitations or lack thereof may be just what’s required as to have us to know. That’s not just by way of what answer it’s found able to supply yet more so as to what it enables us to have asked.

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

I'm not sure it's wise to bring consciousness into any of these discussions, Phil. I do like the way you think outside the box with one foot firmly set inside said box, but ... consciousness??

The brain is the most amazing structure we know of. Galaxies are simple by comparison.

But the brain has something like 100 billion neurons and 1 trillion glia, being the neurons' support cells. We are infants in our degree of understanding how they interact, so I consider "consciousness", while a valid subject of inquiry, to be more of a 22nd century field of study more than one of our own.

IMO, as always.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Actually I’m not making any claims, rather just pointing out there are alternatives between complete uncertainty and superdeterminism. I would encourage you to read David Albert’s book so that we might have a better footing on which to base this discussion, other then what is not known or unknown. Albert does a nice job of unpacking everything as to have it made clear what be the differences between what is known and what remains as unknown and thus what stands as important to have answered or find perhaps what just can’t be. My argument against superdeterminism is that if everything is predetermined and unchangeable, then what stands as reason (role) for the existence of human inquiry and debate.

The fundamental question of course being, can our very existence be equated with the playing of a record or rather the forging of one? I would then ask if it’s a record, for whose amusement and if it is one being forged then to what benefit if any? That is I find to agree with t’Hooft would have all of reality as purposeless and meaningless as the alternative it meant to have countered, I thus invite you again to read Albert’s book to discover for yourself the important distinction between free will and a private one as to what this implies,

Best,

Phil