Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FQXi Question: Is Reality Digital or Analog?

The latest FQXi Essay Contest – “Is Reality Digital or Analog” attracted a large number of submissions. As in past contests, there will likely be some insightful “diamonds in the rough”. I’ll be looking for these.

My own view is that the right answer is ‘both’, and that the two processes of quantum mechanics give us a clue to this. I would say that concrete reality is discrete (so “digital”), since it consists of a network of distinct measurement events (I think space-time is not fundamental, but emerges from the distribution of events). But events are actualized possibilities. So, reality also includes possibilities or propensities (like quantum systems between measurements), and it appears that these have a continuous (or analog) nature.

In addition to being inspired by an interpretation of QM (such as I’ve discussed many times before), this sort of view comports with a Whitehead-style metaphysics. I’ll mention again here a recent blog post by Stuart Kauffman which covered some of this ground in a nice way.

2 comments:

integralscience said...

Here are a few of my favorites:

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/889
http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/921
http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/811
http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/911

and I'll shamelessly mention my own

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/864

Tom

Steve said...

Thanks Tom.