Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 16:35:26 -0800 (PST)
From: stapp@thsrv.lbl.gov
Reply-To: hpstapp@lbl.gov
To: sarfatti@well.com
Subject: Re: Stapp's Theory of Quantum Mind
On Sun, 20 Feb 2000, Jack Sarfatti wrote:
> A Commentary by Jack Sarfatti
>
> Henry Stapp gave me a copy of his latest paper
>
> "Decoherence and Quantum Theory of Mind: Closing the Gap between Being
> and Knowing"
>
> last Friday night February 18, 2000 at the UCSF meeting.
>
> It is Henry's answer to Tegmark. Henry claims quantum coherence is not
> important. What is important is the quantum Zeno effect. However, Henry
> never really gives an explanation of the generation of the "feel of the
> feel" at all! He simply posits it as an axiom. That is OK, but it is
> important for every one to be perfectly clear about that.
>
Dear Jack,
It was good to see you again. I think your comments on my paper were
fair. My intention in that paper was to get as quickly as possible
directly to the key mathematical equations that show that the quantum
Zeno effect is not diminished or lessened by quantum decoherence effects.
This is a key part of my theory, but I have never had occasion to present
the mathematical proof. In this paper I wanted to get quickly to this
simple mathematical point without getting entangled with other
issues, which I have gone into in depth elsewhere.
As you know, THE major hurdle that any quantum theory of mind faces
is the fact that decoherence effects would appear, on the face of it,
to obliterate any coherence effects that extend over any macroscopic
portion of a human brain. Any viable quantum theory of mind must therefore
explain in a satisfactory way how quantum theory could play a key role in
the macroscopic brain activities associated with our conscious experiences
in the face of this huge tendency for decoherence. Tegmark's paper puts
forth the orthodox decoherence arguments in a clean way, and it gave me
an excuse, and needed background, for presenting what is really a
cornerstone of my theory.
Decoherence is easily PROVED in a few lines to leave my theory intact. As
you know, the arguments based on "ordered water" are regarded with great
skepticism by most brain scientists qualified to judge them, and certainly
cannot be claimed to be proved.
> Consciousness-generation in Henry Stapp's theory of
> mind-matter-consciousness is an irreducible informal language
> interpretive postulate. Thus, note use of "assume":
>
> "I assume that each reduction event has some experiential 'feel'.
There is a solid background behind this assumption.
The radical innovation of the Copenhagen interpretation was the
construal of quantum theory as a theory about "our knowledge": as a set of
rules for making predictions about outcomes of future observations
on the basis of knowledge gleaned from prior observations. Einstein
objected to this shift from the earlier ideal of trying to construct
a conception of the objective physical world in which we and our
conscious experiences are embedded as tiny parts.
Von Neumann succeeded in constructing such a theory of reality. It gave an
objective description of a real world of physically represented
information. It reproduced all the predictions of Copenhagen quantum
theory. But in order to do this it had to postulate that the brain be
regarded as an information processor, and that the "observations" of
Copenhagen quantum theory, which in the Copenhagen version were associated
with both increments of consciously experienced human knowledge and sudden
jumps in the wave function, be associated also in the objective theory
with both increments in consciously experienced knowledge and sudden jumps
in the state of the brain of the observer. It was only by making this
postulate that von Neumann was able to link his theory to human experience
in a way that allowed his objective quantum theory to encompass subjective
Copenhagen quantum theory.
So you are completely correct to emphasize that there is an assumption
being made here. It is the key assumption of von Neumann-Wigner
quantum theory. But I am not so sure that it should be called
"an irreducible informal language interpretive postulate."
In objective von Neumann-Wigner quantum theory the sudden quantum
jumps are supposed to be objective real events that are closely
associated with real subjective experiences. So the interpretation
is built into the basic ontology, rather than being an outside rule.
Both aspects of the event are changes in the informational reality:
the change in the quantum state constitutes an addition to
a growing objective compendium of objective bits of information, and the
associated experiential event is also a complex informational structure.
> This
> 'feel' represents the gross effect in the processor of the reduction
> event."
>
> I do not understand ...[this] sentence.
>
In order to explain the character of the experiential "feel" of
the physical event one must assume that the "feel" is in some sense
a direct experience of the consequences of the event in the behaviour of
the processor. This assumption is rooted in phenomenolgy, and ties
in well to the idea that the dynamical role of the experience is to quide
the actions of the processor.
> Henry assumes orthodox quantum theory with its statistical structure and
> the signal-locality of absolute local quantum randomness that cannot at
> all be influenced by remote action at a distance in a controllable way.
> This contradicts data from the Global Consciousness Project unless that
> data is not valid but some kind of spurious effect consistent with the
> absolute local quantum randomness of electron tunneling and radioactive
> decays.
>
Yes! The theory that I am pursuing does not allow faster-than-light
signalling ["signalling" is the controlled transmission of information,
where "controlled" means that the sender can CONTROL the effect at the
receiver]. Some modification of the orthodox rules would be needed
if FTL signalling were a reality.
> In my theory, the electron qubit quantum dots are protected against
> decoherence by the hydrophobic cages and the coherent near electric
> field in the brain that entrain them. I do not think Tegmark's
> computations of decoherence times of 10^-13 to 10^-20 apply to the
> particular system that I suspect is the Eccles gate transducing
> classical c-bit to qubit, thence to sentient q*-bits (AKA "occasions of
> experience" = "the feel of the feel") of lifetime t(C) = 1/HN and the
> reverse. The former reaction is consciousness-generation, the latter
> action is intention that Stapp attributes to the Quantum Zeno Effect.
>
> The Quantum Zeno Effect is in Wheeler's style
>
> "Quantum nonrandomness without quantum nonrandomness."
>
> On Tegmark's conclusion that quantum coherence is not relevant to mental
> process, Stapp writes:
>
> "He concludes ... that classical concepts should provide a completely
> adequate basis for understanding the dynamical connection between mind
> and brain. This conclusion would be valid if the interaction between
> mind and brain depended upon quantum coherence. But in my quantum theory
> of mind it does not."
>
> In my post-quantum theory of sentient mind the dynamical connection
> between mind and brain does depend on quantum coherence but at a finer
> level that Tegmark's models do not reach.
>
Tegmark's arguments were quantitative and detailed: any challenge
to them on the grounds that they leave certain macroscopic
coherence untouched should be at least as quantitative and detailed.
> Stapp then throws in a lot of obscure excess metaphysical baggage in
> setting up the informal interpretative structure of his theory with
> unfamiliar termninology that needs a great deal of explanation in less
> abstract more operational terms to be justifiable. For example
> "interpreting system".
The mathematical structure of von Neumann-Wigner quantum theory is the
mathematical structure of an information processing system: a sequence of
yes-no questions get posed and then get answered, and the answers get
stored in a "physical" structure, where "physical" means "built out of
the atomic constituents [atomic nucleii, electrons, photons and EM
fields]" as they are represented in physical theory. The behavior of
this physical structure is best understood by considering it to be just a
carrier of information: it does not behave like the matter of classical
physical theory.
I do not consider this to be `obscure' metaphysics: it is based on just
looking at the mathematical structure of the von Neumann theory. It is
true that this look produces profound metaphysical consequences: the
physicist's conception of the "stuff" that nature is made out of is
radically transformed. The materialistic conception of nature gives way
to an informational conception. The gives the more neutral (between mind
and matter) conception of nature that many thinkers [e.g. Russell and
Pauli] have been seeking.
The informational structure is linked to mind because the increments
in knowledge that Copenhagen quantum theory is based upon can be regarded
as complex informational structures.
The informational structure it is linked to matter because the storage
of the information is in a state that is the quantum physicist's
representation of the "physical" world. This physical world is the part
of nature that built out of atomic constituents. But these atomic
constituents do not behave like tiny bits of matter: they behave like
nonlocalized aspects of an informational structure.
These considerations are indeed metaphysical. But some attention must be
given to the question of how to bring the material and experiential aspects
of nature into some unified conceptual framework.
The proper foundation for the metaphysics is a rationally coherent and
parsimonious physical theory that fits all the data, and that naturally
encompasses our experiences and knowledge within an objective theory
of an evolving universe.
> OK, he says it is "the brain and body of the
> observer". I call that the Bohm point X(t) moving on the mental
> landscape Q* in the higher dimensional configuration space of the
> relevant dynamical degrees of freedom and constraints.
>
The brain and body of the observer in my theory is not a moving
Bohm point. The idea that such points exist is completely contrary
to both Copenhagen and von Neumann quantum theory. I stay within
the orthodox mathematical framework.
> "Information processor, call it b, that converts the the bit of
> information into a characteristic physical response." Earlier Stapp
> introduces the state S(t) as an objective evolving informational
> structure. This is the same as in the Bohm ontology.
Yes. But the Bohm ontology brings in, in addition to this quantum
state of information, a classical world as a really existing
entity. Such a world may indeed exist. But there is no evidence
for it, and all the predictions of quantum theory are obtained without
considering it.
The Bohm theory was originally introduced to allow the conscious observers
to be eliminated. But to get a quantum theory of mind we need to *retain*
the conscious observers that quantum physicists had already found to be a
natural part of quantum theory. Von Neumann and Wigner showed how this
could be done without giving up the idea that the aim of physics is to
provide an objective description of all of nature, not just our human
experiences.
> Stapp on Friday at
> UCSF agreed I think to a "dualism". Dan Smith's allegation that Stapp is
> a monist immaterialist does not appear to be true.
I believe that von Neuman-Wigner quantum theory provides a single
unified informational conception of nature that encompasses
the physical and experiential elements of nature as distinguishable
features of the one unified informational structure.
>
> "If b is a subsystem of the universe then the state of b is defined to
> be
>
> Sb = Trace (-b) S (2.1)"
>
> where Tr (-b) is the trace over all degrees of freedom that are not "the
> Self" of b. S is actually its projection operator outer product ket-bra
> with itself. Stapp's use of "b" is like my use of the Bohm point X(t).
> The formal operation of "Trace" need not be statistically based for
> complex individuals like the living brain of Shakespeare for example.
> However Stapp does appear to think in terms of "ensembles" in an
> absolute way suggesting a "multiverse" without "collapse".
Classical ensembles do not enter. The state of the body-brain may evolve
rapidly to a state that is "like" a classical ensemble in certain
practical ways. But the strict quantum description is retained throughout.
> However Stapp
> believes in an objective collapse of some kind. In contrast I do only in
> a relative way as a useful limiting case for low-complexity inanimate
> systems or pieces of a complex animate system that is probed as in MRI,
> CAT, PET, X-RAY, magneto-encelography (squids) etc.
>
> "The ... reduction (2.3) specifies one bit of information, and implants
> that information into the physical universe, which can be regarded as
> just an evolving carrier of bits of information generated by these
> reduction events."
>
> This begs the question of who or what puts the question to Nature to set
> up the structure of the question represented by the projection operator
> P with eigenvalues 1 and 0. For example, let P be
>
> P = Did Ira Einhorn kill Holly Maddux in 1977?
>
> Clearly a conscious intelligence formulates the question. Since Henry is
> making a quantum theory of matter, mind and consciousness, he must
> explain how such a "P" can emerge.
>
Yes indeed. I give the basic ideas for how this is done in the paper in
question.
[http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/stappfiles.html]
> "Information is normally conceived to be associated with an interpreting
> system."
>
>
> I do agree with Stapp that the emergence of consciousness in the mind
> field is not a classical process. I also agree with Stapp's sentence
> fragment:
>
> "quantum theory can be construed to be our theoretical representation of
> an objectively existing and evolving informational structure that can
> properly be called 'physical reality'".
>
> This is congenial to the Bohm ontology and to my extension to the
> post-quantum paradigm.
>
> One can think of the explicate order as Shannon's c-bits, the implicate
> order as qubits and the super-implicate order as q*-bits.
>
> So the bottom line is how can one test Stapp's theory?
Besides tests one must consider explanatory power. Explanatory power
requires getting out more than was put in. The input to my theory is
von Neumann quantum theory. This is an exceedingly elegant and
parsimonious theory that is able to explain all the predictions of
classical and quantum physics. It does so within an objective
framework without any of the renunciations of explanations or evasions
that characterize the Copenhagen version: it is a basically
straightforward objective description in terms of carefully formulated
mathematics, linked to conscious experiences at certain key points, in
order to encompass the predictions of Copenhagen quantum theory. The basic
equations were given by von Neumann already in 1932. I add the
theoretically well understood, and experimentally demonstrated, quantum
Zeno effect, and automatically obtain just the restricted sort of
influence of mind on matter that Wm. James described at the turn of the
century [from 19th to 20th]. [See the paper.] Thus the predicted effect of
mind on brain is a direct consequence of basic precepts of quantum theory
laid down long ago.
> Both Penrose's
> theory and my theory are able to compute t(C) the lifetime of a
> conscious moment within the theory based on objective parameters.
Numerology is a shaky ground upon which to build a theory: a single known
number can generally be computed in many ways. "137" has been deduced
in a huge number of ways, ad hoc.
The sterner test, it seems to me, is to explain the power of our thoughts
to influence our brains starting from the established basic principles of
physics.
> The
> details of the contrasting models are very different. I make a
> connection to the large scale structure of the universe i.e. the cosmic
> consciousness connection C^3. Penrose does not have C^3. I say the
> entire brain is needed to generate each occasion of experience lasting
> time t(C), Penrose says only a tiny portion of the brain is needed. What
> does Henry Stapp's theory say?
In my theory the rate of occurrence of occasions of experience is
determined in part by particular dynamical physical features
of the brain, and in part by the intensity of mental effort. I would not
expect it to by tied in any simple way to cosmic parameters.
Best regards,
Henry
P.S. I try to avoid getting involved in email discussions: they can eat
up all available time. I did make an exception here, because it fits
my purpose of filling in details about my very brief new paper. But I
intend to return now to my usual hermit state.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
From stapp@thsrv.lbl.gov Wed Feb 23 10:21:28 2000
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 09:04:28 -0800 (PST)
From: stapp@thsrv.lbl.gov
Reply-To: hpstapp@lbl.gov
To: augustyn@erim-int.com
Cc
Subject: Re: Stapp's Theory of Quantum Mind (fwd)
On Wed, 23 Feb 2000 augustyn@erim-int.com wrote:
> Dear Henry,
>
> Your response to Sarfatti was enlightening. I particularly like the
> statement
> that your theory "...gives the more neutral (between mind and matter)
> conception
> of nature..."
>
> I realize that I am probably becoming something of a nuisance on this, but
> your
> theory would be so much more comprehensible and easier to develop if it
> utilized
> the language if interaction. I realize you have much to do, but perhaps you
> could find some spare time to read Popper's section of "The Self and
> Its Brain",
> where such language is introduced and advocated against a very comprehensive
> background history of mind-brain philosophies.
>
> Ken
>
>
Thanks for the feed back. I'll try to look again at Popper.
I have often used the language of "interaction", but have drifted away
lately because, it raises the question of how two totally different kinds
of things can interact. Lately I have been stressing the fact that mind
and matter are not totally different: they are two kinds of information.
Knowledge is information, and the mathematical structure of von Neumann
quantum theory shows that it is about information. Von Neumann's theory
specifies how these two kinds of information interact.
Henry