Quantum realism is the theory that the ghostly quantum world is real on its own terms. It isn’t The Matrix movie idea that another physical world is creating ours because even computing one electron wave function that can spread over a galaxy then collapse to any point in it is beyond any physical computer. Only quantum processing has the power to output the physical reality we see. Nor is it that we are dreaming because if I am dreaming you then you don’t exist, leading to the solipsist view that only I exist.
In quantum realism, you and I are real and the physical world is the interface between us. So there is a real world out there but it isn’t the physical one you see. The physical world mediates quantum reality as email mediates people. An email represents a person but isn’t a person in itself and likewise the physical world represents reality but it is not in itself real.
Quantum realism is a monism just as physical realism is, except that for it the only reality is quantum. In this view, physical reality only arises when quantum reality interacts with itself to give an observer and an observed. Since the interaction is mutual, it follows that when we observe a photon, it is also “observing” us, as evidenced by the observer effect in physics. Later chapters address how a quantum reality could provide the ability to observe, but for now note that a tree can’t fall in a forest unseen because the ground it hits “sees” it.
The reality options in computer game terms are:
- Physical realism. A game running itself with no-one in charge.
- Dualism. A game running itself with the programmer vainly trying to regain control.
- Solipsism. A single player game that exists only for one person.
- Quantum realism. A massively multi-player game with every photon a “player”.
Figure 1.2 compares the reality candidates based on Wheeler’s universal observing eye. In physical realism, a physical reality somehow observes itself, although matter offers no basis at all for observation. In dualism, a higher reality observes the physical, although no basis has ever been proposed for how two different realities can co-exist. In quantum realism, a quantum reality observes itself via a physical world interface, so there is only one reality and it can inherently observe
In sum, physical realism denies any reality that isn’t physical, dualism lets us have physical and non-physical realities at the same time, and quantum realism regards the physical world as a generated interface that is not in itself real. Let us now choose between these options based on science not bias.