According to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, each quantum event causes the world to "branch" into a superposition of outcomes.

How come "my" consciousness only chooses one of these outcomes? How is this choice made? And for all the branches I don't experience, are those NEW consciousnesses being born, or are those consciousnesses that somehow already existed alongside mine previous to the measurement?

Also, wouldn't this mean that the conscious minds of people in our lives are constantly branching off into new, different realities? Or is any conscious mind in any branch somehow as "old" and "contiguous" as any other, rather than being "new?"


closed as primarily opinion-based by safesphere, Jon Custer, ZeroTheHero, Chair, John Rennie Nov 30 '18 at 12:02

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    $\begingroup$ You should probably provide the definitions of "consciousness" and "choice" that you're using (and presumably want us to use). $\endgroup$ – probably_someone Nov 29 '18 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ Re, "How come "my" consciousness only chooses one of these outcomes?" If many worlds was true, then your consciousness would not choose. It would fork, and go both ways. There would be an astronomical number of other yous asking variations on this question and, an astronomical number of other yous who have not thought to ask this question,... $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Nov 29 '18 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ Re, "...consciousness...old...contiguous...new..." What you're asking here is philosophical---Not something that physics can answer. $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Nov 29 '18 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ One of the big problems with not defining "consciousness" and "choice," as I suggested you do, is that it turns the rest of the discussion into complete nonsense. Why are we assuming that whatever "consciousnesses" are, are remotely related to whatever "choice" means? There are definitions of "choice" that are not even remotely related to the human brain, let alone consciousness (for example, what if "choice" is the outcome of a probabilistic interaction between an electron and a positron?). $\endgroup$ – probably_someone Nov 29 '18 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ yes, consciousness branches every time, but the evolution of the wavefunction is unitary so the universe does not really split, it is just something subjective $\endgroup$ – Wolphram jonny Nov 29 '18 at 23:50

Oh, this problem with uncertainty and duality=((... I was in you shoes for a long time until I finally read a decent modern interpretation. Something like the following: the act of measurement causes collapse (not breeding) of possibilities into one realization out of the whole pool of possible outcomes. Before the experiment all those possibilities are statistically possible.

A non-ideal analogy: imagine you study a gas of identical particles. You can measure pressure, temperature, volume... All of those are statistical parameters, not deterministic. Sure, they depend on the momenta, masses etc of each and every particle in that gas, but you, in your experiment, don't have access to that information. More than that, each independent measurement of the local velocity of some random particle is meaningless and useless. Similar thing is happening in quantum. You can only talk probabilities, the outcome of each independent event is ill-defined. In quantum statistics you can even introduce quantum ensembles, where this thermodynamic analogy becomes completely legit.

The only other thing to discuss is how Heisenberg uncertainty contributes here, but it is a separate topic. I personally prefer to blame locality...

This interpretation doesn't have the highlighted philosophical conflict with physical reality we observe. (To clarify, in this interpretation asking the question above is nonsense because many-world interpretation is not necessary.)

Copenhagen interpretation is OLD, as most of its derivatives at that time, imho. It was developed at the point when a lot of representatives of general scientific community were not comfortable with probabilistic description. General public is still cranky about this... But scientists had to somehow explain physical phenomena on publicly available level, and they did it in the best way they could at that point...

P.S.: I fully accept criticism in advance as I know that this way of thinking about that is fairly unusual.

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    $\begingroup$ -1 Your answer doesn't address the question, which is about the Many-Worlds Interpretation, not your personal interpretation. $\endgroup$ – D. Halsey Nov 30 '18 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ @D. Halsey No it does, paragraph #3 =) $\endgroup$ – MsTais Nov 30 '18 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ "The only other thing to discuss is how Heisenberg uncertainty contributes here, but it is a separate topic. I personally prefer to blame locality..." ??? $\endgroup$ – D. Halsey Nov 30 '18 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Bruce Greetham yes, indeed interesting. I guess I read the question as coming from a student, possibly, early graduate. At that level stuffing this philosophy is evil... This is for curious, not for beginners. But I get your point. $\endgroup$ – MsTais Nov 30 '18 at 19:56

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