↑ comment by Viliam_Bur ·
2014-07-02T09:46:33.296Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
This one seems interesting:
You could say, “The formalism of QR says that macroscopic systems behave as if there were many worlds.” Or you could say, “The formalism of QR says that macroscopic systems behave as if there were many worlds — and there really are” How is the second an improvement over the first? What does the claim that a hypothesis is “true” add to the claim that it is predictively successful, aesthetically satisfying and productive of new insights?
Seems smart. But then again, why not apply it to all our knowledge? For example, you should say "2 + 2 behaves as if it were 4", because saying that "2 + 2 is 4" does not bring any new insights.
In some technical sense of word, it's true. You could probably build an AI that processes "2 + 2 behaves as if it were 4" in the same way and with the same speed as "2 + 2 is 4".
I think the difference is mostly psychological, for humans. If you would teach people "2 + 2 behaves as if it were 4 (but don't ever say that it is 4, because that's just wrong)", those people could do the simple math, but they would be probably much slower, because of all the time they would have to remind themselves that 2 + 2 behaves as 4, but isn't really 4. They would pay a cognitive tax, which could impact their ability to solve more complex problems.
Or they would gradually develop a belief in belief. They would believe and correctly profess that the dragon, ahem, the collapse is in the garage, but it is invisible, inaudible, and cannot be detected experimentally. -- This is actually kinda scary, if I am correct, because it would mean that people more resistant to forming a belief in belief would have more difficulty in doing quantum physics. Unless they accept the many worlds.
Originally I thought that accepting the many worlds could have the advantage of people being able to think faster and more simply about quantum problems. Not paying the cognitive tax of the dragon in the garage. But that probably is overestimating of how much energy other people really invest in reminding themselves about the collapse.
So the question is: those successful quantum scientists who believe in collapse... how often do they really think about the collaps while doing physics? How high is the real cost of having this belief that doesn' pay any rent. Maybe it's trivial. Maybe even smaller than the emotional tax of the frustration of those who believe in many worlds. (Metaphorically said, you could have a tenant who lives in such ridiculously cheap place that evicting them would actually be more costly than just letting them be.) This is not a Dark Arts argument for believing in collapse, just a question about how much does believing in collapse really influence a quantum scientist's everyday work.
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