2016 International Workshop on Quantum Observers

What does it feel like to be in a quantum superposition?

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    Shan Gao
    Shan Gao

    It has been realized that the measurement problem in quantum mechanics is essentially the determinate-experience problem in the final analysis. The problem is to explain how the linear dynamics can be compatible with the existence of our definite experience. This means that in order to finally solve the measurement problem it is necessary to analyze the observer who is physically in a superposition of brain states with definite conscious experiences such as definite measurement records. Indeed, such quantum observers exist in the main realistic solutions to the measurement problem, including Bohm’s theory, Everett’s theory, and even the dynamical collapse theories (Note that in the dynamical collapse theories there are also quantum observers due to the imperfectness of wavefunction collapse, which leads to the well-known tails problem.) Then, what does it feel like to be a quantum observer? In his book Quantum Mechanics and Experience, David Albert first asked this intriguing question and also suggested an interesting answer, the bare theory. (Certainly, the above realistic alternatives to quantum mechanics also give their respective answers.) In this paper, I will suggest a new answer to this question and argue that the answer may have implications for the solutions to the measurement problem.

    Note: This paper aims to be a target paper which may help kick off the stimulating discussions at the workshop.

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