Thinking like it’s true

Thinking about quantum

I was at a party a few days ago and we were pondering on my future. I spoke as I thought: “Well, some of the future me’s [*] will have to face that problem, so those future-me’s will have a solution to find….”

Before I could describe my thoughts on what those future-me’s might do about whatever the problem was we got diverted from that topic onto what it was that made me speak in that peculiar manner at all.

I speak in that peculiar manner because I think in that peculiar manner. And I think that way because of some dark stripes in a laser-light cast between a couple of slits onto a screen.

The double slit experiment shows that photons aren’t in one place, they’re in many places. Similar experiments show that things bigger than light, like atoms or molecules behave the same way. Our understanding on how microchips work, and the reason we’ve been able to make them better, depend on Quantum Theory being true. You’re likely reading these words because someone designed the chip that helps you read them by assuming those laws were true.

And they are true, I reckon.

Or at least, you know, closer than the ones we had before.

And if the equations of Quantum Physics are true then photons, atoms, molecules, rocks, biological-cells, animals and people aren’t all in one “place” either. [Though “place” here means something like “correlation in Hilbert-space”, not “London”.]

I find it hard to believe there are universe-eating-banshees deciding what gets to actually happen. There’s no term in Quantum Physics for when the universes rejoin. To believe that there’s only one universe is to complicate your understanding of the universe by adding magic ghosts that can eat whole realities and determine fate. And they do so not by caprice or spite or love but consulting a graph with the Schroedinger equation drawn on it.

People only see one world, of course. It’s easy to understand their confusion. It confuses me. Even though I strive to think like I’m a native of the quantum-universe, because I actually am.

But seeing only one world is what you would expect to see in the multiverse described by quantum theory. You’d expect a trillion-billion-brazilian of you to each be observing one world per version. A much much smaller number of you dissolving into unconsciousness as all the atoms in your body disperse across the Hilbert-space.

Only seeing one-world isn’t a disagreement with the quantum many-world’s theory, its in agreement with it. It’s a confirmation of it.

So how should you change the way you think when you realize this fact, when you realize that even if it looks unlikely then, still, *some* of the future-you’s will end up getting married. Even if it seems unlikely then, still, *some* of the future-you’s will have to fight in the revolution against the Bankers Occupational Government. Even if it looks like *most* of you will spend the rest of your life having to work a dull job until it kills you then, still, *some* of you will find a winning lottery-ticket on the floor?

Not much, really, it turns out.

If you’re used to saying things like “I WILL get this job, there is no possibility of anything else happening” or “That guy is SO not going to like me, no point in sending him a message” or “It’s impossible, this just HAS to be true” then you were already thinking wrong and should look up some probability theory.

If you are more right-minded and are used to saying things like “There is less than 1% chance of this being true” or “Yes, I agree, it’s *almost* a certainty that a coin-flip will come up heads or tails” then it’s just a change of grammar really.

“Almost certain” becomes “Hardly any of the future me’s can expect” and “Fifty/fifty odds” becomes “Half of the future me’s”. You could write a grammar-bot to fix it for you.

I think though that psychologically, it feels different to me to say “There’s only a 1% chance I’ll have to think about that” than “One percent of the future me’s will have to face that problem, so I should spend 1% of my time thinking about it”.

In the first case you feel like you can ignore that unlikely thing. In the second, one percent of you ought to care.

Which is how the maths should have made you think in the first place, of course. You *should* have been devoting 1% of your brain to that 1%-chance problem.

Whichever way you look at the problem, be it “probability-of-being-true” or “fraction-of-future-me-that-will-face-it” isn’t really important, so long as you remember to weight your thoughts according to the probability they’ll be relevent.

I still find myself more convinced that there are those other worlds we can never again interact with, which are separated by us by more Hilbert-space than can ever be traversed, than that there’s world-eating monsters out there destroying all my quantum-kin.

But there’s really nothing that can be done about it either way.

* – Writing “me’s” as “mes” would probably be more grammatically correct, but then everyone would read it as “mess” instead of “Me’s”, so fuck-you grammar police. This appears to be a case where the grocer’s apostrophe is basically required, at least until everyone thinks like Everett is true.

Since I always get it wrong, no matter how many times I think “I always get it wrong” I should also point out that the “It’s” in the title is right, by my definition, even if everyone in the whole world thinks it wrong. That’s a contraction, short for “It is” and if anyone disagrees then I find their writing confusing.

Maybe they’d agree though. I honestly dunno. I put in the apostrophe where it feels to me like it makes things clearer. I’m mostly sure anyone insisting in “mes” over “me’s” there would have been wrong in the only sense that matters, understanding.

That, and also, shut up.