Emergent objective reality: from observers to physics via Solomonoff induction 2017-09-12T10:10:15+00:00

Project Description

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Emergent objective reality: from observers to physics via Solomonoff induction

Several important conceptual problems in quantum mechanics, cosmology, and artificial intelligence / philosophy of mind arguably are related to our conceptual understanding of probability. This project aims to address these problems in a unified way by taking a radically unconventional perspective and asking: What if the probabilities are actually fundamental, and physics as we know it is an emergent phenomenon?

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR:

  • Markus P. Müller
    Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Vienna
    Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
    Rotman Institute of Philosophy

PROJECT DATES:

2016 – present

PROJECT FUNDING:

Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi)

Rotman Institute Catalyst Grant

Western University

PROJECT SUMMARY:

Theoretical Physics is more than just a collection of methods for predicting measurable quantities. In fact, the history of physics has given us many examples in which novel questions have led to new theories which have fundamentally changed our picture of the world, often in surprising ways. The starting point of this proposal is the hypothesis that motivated by certain conceptual problems in physics and its immediate vicinity, we are at a point where a comparably dramatic revision of some traditional aspects of our physical worldview is required.

This project combines insights from theoretical physics and from philosophy with the goal to “cause some good-natured trouble” (citing Chris Fuchs). More specifically, we aim to demonstrate rigorously with the tools of theoretical physics and philosophical argumentation the extent to which a picture of the world in which the first-person perspective of observers is fundamental and objective physical reality is emergent is consistent, fruitful and plausible. We will also study the practical and philosophical consequences of this for the areas of quantum mechanics, cosmology, and artificial intelligence / philosophy of mind.