Your Brain Is Not A Computer, And Other Radical Ideas : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture What lies between the classical and quantum worlds? Is the human brain merely a computer, or is it something more? These are the types of questions that we need to address to advance our understanding of the world.
NPR logo Beyond Einstein and Schrodinger? Part I

Beyond Einstein and Schrodinger? Part I

With the brave title above, I wish to begin a substantial series of posts that may go beyond Einstein and Schrodinger to a new world view. Part of the issues are scientific, part philosophy, part intuition.  The results tie together in surprising ways intellectually.  If right, we do escape the bounds of Newton, even Schrodinger and familiar quantum mechanics, into a realm that is new.

In these posts I will lead us, I hope sensibly, to two new visions. First, for open quantum systems that can lose “phase information” to their environments and “decohere” from quantum behavior to classical behavior (for all practical purposes, FAPP), a new, virtually un-noted, Poised Realm almost surely exists with some known and new physics, chemistry and biology and mediates between the quantum and classical worlds.

There is new evidence that in the Poised Realm, the classical FAPP world can return to the open system quantum world. The Poised Realm is home to reversible transitions from quantum to classical FAPP back to quantum, able to cycle over and over. Here I will propose what my colleagues, Samuli Niiranen, Gabor Vattay and I call “Trans-Turing Systems," able to behave non-algorithmically. I will explain “algorithmically” in the next post. The short image is that algorithmic systems are absolutely DEFINITE in their behaviors. Quantum mechanics famously is NOT definite. The Poised Realm inherits this non-definite behavior, hence cannot be algorithmic.

The overwhelming view of neuroscientists and workers in Artificial Intelligence, is that the human mind MUST BE an algorithmic Turing computing machine which becomes conscious if complex enough.

I think this view is entirely wrong.

Trans-Turing Systems provide a first example of systems that can process information and are definitely NOT algorithmic. Mind does NOT have to be a Turing Machine. Indeed, we are not, I will suggest, machines.

The second new view, and the most radical claim I will make, concerns what is “waving” in the famous Schrodinger time-dependent, linear-wave equation that is the foundation of quantum mechanics.

Seventy years after its formulation, no one has any idea at all about what is “waving”. In later posts I hope to lead us gently to the idea that what is waving are ontologically real Possibilities.  I will propose, following Aristotle and Alfred North Whitehead, that reality consists in ontologically real Actuals, the classical world of Res Extensa and of an ontologically real world of Possibles, Res Potentia.

I do not know that this proposal is true. However, as we will see, it seems to provide a consistent interpretation of quantum mechanics, and seems to allow us to answer fundamental questions since Descartes and more: How does mind act on matter?  How can we have a responsible free will? What IS consciousness? Why did “qualia”, i.e. the exprience of “blue”, evolve? What ARE qualia? What is Agency?

If right, this unites Descartes’ Res Extensa and Res Cogitans and frees us from a world view that dominates Western society since Descartes and Newton. It is the proposal of Res Potentia that, if true, goes beyond Einstein and Schrodinger.

Am I right about what I will say? About some of it, I think so. About all of it, I do not know. However, I am persuaded that investigating these ideas, many born in the past year’s blog posts, is worthwhile.