X-Message-Number: 8281
Date:  Wed, 04 Jun 97 09:59:18 
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Quantum Determinacy & Cryonics

The issue has been raised, in the debates between Perry Metzger and 
Robert Ettinger (which have unfortunately gotten out of hand, but 
I'll ignore that issue), as to whether quantum mechanics permits 
determinsm. The answer: depends on which interpretation you subscribe 

With many-worlds, you have determinism, though in a strange way, 
certainly not Newtonian. That is, your reality splits into alternate 
versions, equally real. This splitting is deterministic: you know in 
advance what is going to happen, in particular, that *you* yourself 
will split into near-copies. But to each of those copies, what 
happens next will seem like a random event. From the viewpoint of a 
participating observer, then, you can't tell what's going to happen 
next, though in an overall sense, it's predetermined.

Of course, this is just with the many-worlds version. Some other
versions of QM really do have "chance"--absolutely unpre-
determined events. Then there are other ("hidden-variable") theories, that
attempt to rescue determinism in another way, making events depend
on conditions in your own reality that cannot be observed directly.
Once again, their determinism is at a level you can't observe--it too 
is "inaccessible determinism." This sort of determinism cannot be used
to make predictions (or retrodictions) but at least it accounts for events
without having to assume effects without causes, as with pure chance.

Personally, I like many-worlds, though the case for it isn't ironclad 
and I'm well aware that not everybody accepts it. But I should also 
mention that some hold out hope for accessible determinism in QM, 
though it's optimism I don't share. Frank Tipler, in particular, with 
his gravitational collapse of the universe to the Omega Point, argues
that, by detecting the in-streaming photons you should be able to
retrodict distant historical events through a property known as phase 
conservation. In that way we could supposedly reconstruct minute 
details even of our prehistoric past, including how to resurrect 
everybody who has died, in the form of exact replicas. We would 
*know* that these people were part of our unique past reality. But 
that depends on a lot of things we really don't know about, and on 
the face of it, I don't have confidence we can ever recapture the 
photons as we'd have to. (Chasing down a photon isn't feasible in
today's world, and whether the universe seems headed for a
Tiplerian Omega Point that will do all it's supposed to, seems dubious.)
I think we will have to accept the past as ambiguous, except insofar as
our records and artifacts tell us otherwise. 

One consequence, in particular, is that one should not be too eager 
to trust the Omega Point (though this might follow even if the Omega 
Point *will* resurrect you, but only 10^19 years from now!). Instead,
of course, be a cryonicst! That conclusion (or arranging for some
means of high-quality physical preservation in event of death) seems
obvious enough, but it sure is hard to get across to many people, even
those that claim interest in "immortality, scientifically."
Mike Perry

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