The Physics of Information: Quantum Potentiality to Classical Actuality of Your Experiential Reality
by Alex Vikoulov
“A quantum possibility is more real than a classical possibility, but less real than a classical reality.” -Boris Tsirelson
John Archibald Wheeler was one of the first prominent physicists to propose that reality might not be wholly physical, in some sense, our cosmos must be a “participatory” phenomenon requiring the act of conscious observation — and thus consciousness itself. Wheeler also drew attention to implicit connection between physics and information theory, which was invented in 1948 by mathematician Claude Shannon. Just as physics builds on elementary particles, the quanta, defined by measurement, so does information theory. Its “quantum” is the binary unit, or bit, which is a signal represented by one of two choices: yes or no, plus or minus, zero or one. Ironically, Wheeler’s 'it from bit' implies that a “theory of everything” will always be a work in progress, and that truth is something subjectively created rather than objectively apprehended. “I do take 100 percent seriously the idea that the world is a figment of the imagination,” Wheeler used to remark.
Twisting your mind to see reality from the quantum gravity viewpoint is no easy task. It might be quite a stretch to see the physical world made up of space-time-mass-energy as a formless fog of potentiality. Physicists face the same hard problem as neuroscientists do: the problem of bridging objective description and subjective experience. Physics has encountered consciousness. Quantum theory says an object remains in a superposition of possibilities until observed. We can consider a quantum state as being about our knowledge rather than a direct description of physical reality. The physics of information just may be that bridging of quantum-to-digital reality of subjective experience. We are now at the historic juncture when quantum computing could reveal quantum information processing underpinnings of subjectivity.