On 8/14/2013 7:48 AM, smi...@zonnet.nl wrote:
Citeren Russell Standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au>:

On Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 05:26:41PM -0700, Pierz wrote:
I need clarification of the significance of quantum theory to determining
the *past*. I remember having read or heard that the past itself is subject
to quantum uncertainty. Something like the idea that the past is determined
only to to the extent that it is forced to be so by the state of the
present, if that makes sense. In other words, there may be more than one
history that could lead to the current state of the world. Let's say it
might have been one way or another and then we make a measurement which
resolves this question, we are 'forcing' the past to be one way or another.
In MWI, that would be saying my 'track' through the multiverse is ambiguous
in both directions, both into the future and 'behind me' so to speak. I'm
unclear on this and what it precisely means. I seem to recall that it was
critical in calculations Hawking made about the early universe - at a
certain point these uncertainties became critical and it meant that it was
no longer possible to say that the universe had definitely been one way or
another. Can someone clarify this for me?

This idea of the past not being determinate until such a time as a
measurement in the present forces the issue is fundamental to my
interpretation of QM. It is also related to the Quantum Eraser. Saibal
Mitra has written some stuff on this too - maybe he'd like to comment?

On the other hand, I don't think this view is particularly
mainstream. Even many worlds people tend to think that the multiverse
has decohered in the past, and that there is a matter of fact which
branch we are in, even if we're ignorant of that fact.

I can't comment on Hawking's work, unfortunately, as I'm not aware of that.


Yes, I would agree with the view taken by Russell here. It has interesting consequences for any future artificial intelligence who can reset its memory, as I explain here:


So, if you reset your memory at random with some probability p and you also do that in case of an impending disaster, then if you find yourself in a state where you know that your memory has been reset and you need to reload your memory, the reason why the memory has been reset (routine random memory reset or you were facing an impending disaster), is no longer determined, you are identical in the different branches until you find out the reason.

So, while you are firmly in the classical regime and therefore you won't see any changes in the probabilities of the outcomes of these sorts of experiments relative to what you would expect classically, the interpretation of how these probabilities arise is different; while it is worthwhile to do these memory resettings in a "single classical world" it wouldn't be worthwhile.

The article I wrote (it was just an essay for FQXI competition which got the attention from New Scientist), is actually rather simple, it treats the problem in a non-relativistic way, which is a bit unnatural (the times at which things happen in the different different branches seems to matter). You can easily generalize this, also you can consider thought experiments involving false memories that may be correct memories in different branches etc. etc.

Hmm. It seems that "erasing your memory" would encompass a lot more than what is commonly referred to as memory. Quantum erasure requires erasing all the information that is diffused into the environment. So erasing one's memory would imply quantum erasure of all the information about your past - not just the infinitesimal bit that you can consciously recall.


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