“We are analog beings living in a digital world,
facing a quantum future.”
Neil Turok, The Universe Within (2012)
Perhaps we are already deeply and intimately interconnected. In Brain Wars (2012) Mario Beauregard, a professor in the Neuroscience Research Centre at the University of Montreal, explores the phenomena of out of body experiences, near death experiences, psi (various psychic phenomena), telepathy, and other paranormal events.
His conclusion is that the scientific perspectives that view the mind as a product of the brain and the mind as separate and distinct from the universe are deeply flawed. His thinking on this leads us into quantum mechanics.
Perhaps most compelling or intriguing aspect of quantum mechanics, from the perspective of post-literacy, is the concept of quantum entanglement: the idea that particles are twinned and change states (spins) relative to each other regardless of their distance from each other (adjacent or light years apart). Hence they are “entangled” or responsive to each other. Einstein famously referred to this as “spooky action at a distance.”
It is important to remember that this entanglement is at the particle level, where quantum theory tell us that such elementary particles don’t actually exist but have “tendencies to exist” (Capra, The Tao of Physics, 1975). However, Beauregard makes the case that this entanglement is the basis for consciousness (or mind) as a phenomena of the universe. He sees,
“a deep interconnectedness between the mental world and the physical world, which both arise out of the same source This basic interconnectedness renders the mind capable of influencing various phenomena and events belonging to the physical world. Information may act as a bridge between these complementary aspects of reality”
Is the brain a quantum computer? Does quantum mechanics explain consciousness? Extrapolating from this, is there a quantum mind and can it be means for a profoundly new way of understanding and acting upon the universe? The ground breaking theory of Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff on the nature of microtubles (a concept known as Orchestrated Objective Reduction) is hotly contested. Some, like Victor Stenger, believe all this belongs to the fantasy realm of “unicorns and dragons.” Others, like Beauregard, are willing to venture into new terrain and suggest new possibilities, beyond scientific materialism, that would fundamentally transform our understanding of our position in the universe and the capabilities we have.
Neil Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and a colleague of Stephen Hawking, agrees with Beauregard:
“The Internet is only a harbinger. Quantum technologies may change entirely the way in which we process information. In time, they many do much more, allowing us to gain a heighted awareness of reality and of the ways the physical world works. As the depth of our knowledge grow, our representation of the universe will achieve much higher fidelity. Our new knowledge will enable technologies that will vastly supercede current limits. They may change our very nature and bring us closer to realizing the full potential of our existence.”
Using a deliberate contradiction, Turok observes that “quantum physical teaches us that, in a very real sense, we all live in an imaginary reality.” It is a “quantum future” that may offer insights into a post-literate world.