Free Will – Synopsis

The physicist Freeman Dyson once said: “…mind is already inherent in every electron, and the processes of human consciousness differ only in degree but not in kind from the processes of choice between quantum states which we call ‘chance’ when they are made by electrons.” In this essay, we assume Dyson was correct in his conjecture and explore the consequences. We start by supposing that a 1st person perspective exists in fundamental particles, like the electron, and that a duality exists between this and the 3rd person quantum mechanical description – two equivalent but different perspectives. For example, when electrons are fired through a Stern-Gerlach apparatus quantum mechanics says we will find the electron spin “up” a certain percentage of the time, and spin “down” the rest with nothing in between possible. From the electron’s perspective, it is forced to make a choice, with quantum probabilities manifesting as preferences for “up” vs “down”. In this way, the laws of quantum mechanics are followed precisely, the electron freely makes a choice in accordance with its preferences and the dual views agree. However, much is missing from the electron’s experience when contrasted with human consciousness: the electron has choice forced upon it – we fired it through the Stern-Gerlach apparatus – it cannot choose to not make a choice, it has no means to retain memories, no self-awareness, no mind’s eye, etc. Furthermore, electrons are interacting with the environment and being forced to make choices at a maddening rate of billions of times per second. With quantum entanglement things begin to change, however. Quantum entanglement is the only process within physics by which two or more fundamental particles can become “One system” of particles in a meaningful way. And, in practice, billions of particles have been entangled with no theoretical upper bound. We use recent theorems of quantum mechanics that show how sustained quantum entanglement in biological systems is possible despite fast decoherence rates. As entanglement grows more extensive we show how memory emerges in the entangled system, and how choices become possible without collapsing the system, while adding the vast computational power of a quantum system. At a certain point entanglement becomes so extensive that the system’s wave function interacts with itself forming a crisscross topology. This self-interaction gives rise to a nonlinear Schrödinger equation, which has known solutions, e.g. Davydov solitons and Fröhlich condensates. Such a nonlinearity may allow NP-complete problems to be solved in polynomial time. The crisscross entanglement topology is conceptually like the system regulating its’ own magnetic field ala’ the Stern-Gerlach apparatus. From the 1st person perspective this feels like the “mind’s eye” and allows the system to choose what choices to make – and whether to make a choice or not. This gives rise to free will. We show that all of this is consistent with the latest experimental results from Biology and Neuroscience. Our results paint a compelling picture of the evolution of life as a phenomenon of growing quantum entanglement in which more advanced conscious phenomena, like memory, self-awareness, a mind’s eye, and free will emerge with, and dual to, growing quantum entanglement. We further consider recent theories showing how quantum entanglement among the electron clouds in DNA stabilizes the molecule. We explore the consequences if such stabilizing effects can be extended to entanglement throughout organisms. If true, we can offer a natural, compelling explanation, in quantum mechanical terms, of a great number of subjective phenomena – the feeling of Oneness of the organism, stress, meditation, sex, understanding, self-awareness, empathy, moral responsibility, qualia of the senses, vice, love and consciousness. Furthermore, this would be a potential solution to the so-called combination problem of panpsychism, a variant form of the hard problem of consciousness.



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