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Millennium Conjecture #3: The Future (Part Two)

I Conjecture:  Every Possible Future Exists

Part Two: Quantum Mechanics and The Future

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”–Alan Kay

Note: In case you had not surmised it, the most literal title for this conjecture would be “Every Physically Possible Future of Our Universe Exists.”   There is probably not a future in our universe where the laws of physics will change to allow Harry Potter to cast a patronus spell on demontors.

Inventing the quantum future at NASA

Alan Kay’s proposition suggests a philosophical viewpoint that emerges from this conjecture.  But for a better quote to describing its why and wherefore, I harken back to the E.B. White words from Conjecture #2Everything that is not forbidden is mandatory.  It all boils down to Quantum Mechanics.   Many physicists have latched on to this notion;  given enough time, every physically possible combination of matter and energy is bound to occur.  It’s all just a matter of probability.  That said, there are clearly at least two distinct ways of looking at it, depending on which interpretation of quantum mechanics you ascribe to:  Copenhagen or Many Worlds.  Although there are other interpretations, these two have garnered the lions share of advocates in the scientific community, and the notion that every possible future exists can emerge from either one of them.  (See Quantum Weirdness 102 and 103 in this blog for an explanation of both ideas.)

The difference between the two as pertains to the future can easily be stated as virtual vs. actual.  The Many Worlds interpretation asserts that every physical possibility will become an actual reality in an infinitely expanding sea of parallel universes.  Every possible future is, or at least becomes, physically real.  On the other hand, Copenhagen implies that there is no absolute physical reality until the quantum wave function breaks down, that there is only probability on the sub-atomic level until we observe it. From this we can infer that every possible future exists only as a statistical  probability, and only the one we ultimately experience will actually exist.

So what’s the difference?  There isn’t any.  It makes no difference, from the practical experience of entities conscious in a single one of them, whether the futures are real or virtual; we can’t tell the difference.  Every one of those physical realities is still a real possibility.  The good news?   There most certainly is a future out there where you win the lottery!  The bad news?  The only sure way to “invent” that future is to buy every possible number combination.  I don’t recommend quitting your day job.  😦

Up next: The Conjecture of Composite Consciousness.  (Warning: the next couple of conjectures will be quite a bit more radical and original than the those already stated herein.  Actually, I’m warning myself.  Anybody know where I can get some flame retardant garb?)

Comments

  1. If the future only exists after observation, does it change if the observer changes? Could that even be measured?

    • Good question. To some extent I will address that in future conjectures, but remember these are just conjectures.

      • I’m trying to come up with a way that two people could view the same action and not interact – but it stalls with the idea that the viewing changes the outcome! Perhaps every time it is observed reality splits and every observer increases the split? I think I may have just combined the two theories. Or I just need to go to bed.

      • Yes. A good nights rest helps. Then you will be even more confused in the morning.

  2. It might at least be comforting to know that Another You is winning the Lottery. But Another Other You is a Republican, so it’s swings and roundabouts.

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