Consciousness and the Collapse of the Wave Function

In Shan Gao (ed.), Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics. Oxford University Press (2022)
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Abstract

Does consciousness collapse the quantum wave function? This idea was taken seriously by John von Neumann and Eugene Wigner but is now widely dismissed. We develop the idea by combining a mathematical theory of consciousness (integrated information theory) with an account of quantum collapse dynamics (continuous spontaneous localization). Simple versions of the theory are falsified by the quantum Zeno effect, but more complex versions remain compatible with empirical evidence. In principle, versions of the theory can be tested by experiments with quantum computers. The upshot is not that consciousness-collapse interpretations are clearly correct, but that there is a research program here worth exploring.

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Author Profiles

David Chalmers
New York University
Kelvin J. McQueen
Chapman University