writing chapter 3.4
Kurt gestured at the nearly empty foodcourt. “We assume that the world we experience with our senses is real, and that space, and time, and matter are fundamental. We think the world is made of solid objects that exist independently of us, that everything works according to fixed laws, like a machine. Something we can master.” He took a drink and picked up his fork. “But it’s not like that at all.”
“Everyone knows this. They teach it in high school.” Josh indicated Norman, sitting nearby filling out papers. “The table is really empty space, you could put your hand thru it, we’re all vibrating frequencies, energy in flux, all that shit.”
“But that’s not where I was going,” Kurt said, twisting his fork into a pile of curried spaghetti salad. “What I was about to say was that it’s consciousness that’s fundamental, and space and time and the material world arise from that.” He ate the salad in three bites and studied the container, trying to decide which one to eat next.
Anomia got a puzzled look. “I thought they decided consciousness turned on and off like a switch at some level of brain activity. You’re not conscious when you’re sleeping, and when you wake up you suddenly are.”
“They’re still trying to treat it like an objective universe, where matter is real. That’s classical Newtonian physics – consciousness isn’t real, and it doesn’t affect reality. Who is it that said ‘objective reality is a flawed concept?’ Quantum physics is based on the observer – which is consciousness – and that makes them nervous, so they try to keep it out of the equation.” He took a long drink. “They’re wrong, of course,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and scratching his thinning hairline. “Quantum physics shows again and again that the material world is an illusion, and that the universe is a giant mind.”
Fairy, occupied somewhere else entirely, commented, That’s what my guru says. Anomia and Josh looked at each other. Who else is in here with us? they thought, and voices sounded from all over.
Kurt continued, working thru another pile of salad. “So while physicists have made an uneasy peace with quantum reality, it’s totally denied in the macro world. People continue to insist that there’s one true reality – one right way – even if nobody can agree on what that is, and if you don’t conform to that then there’s something wrong with you. Most people ignore big huge glaring anomalies in their lives to go along with it. But there’s not just one reality. It’s a subjective universe. We live in multiple dimensions, we live in many universes at once.”
“We want people to accept quantum reality on the scale where we’re sitting here eating food, and not just down at the level of our atoms?”
“Right. Then people could fly.” He shrugged and drained his drink. “All it requires is a paradigm shift. You think about the world differently, it all becomes clear, and different things become possible. Wishes come true in a quantum world.”
“Like in dreams,” Anomia said.
“Right. Where do you go when you dream, is it a real place with solid things? They feel solid. You take it for granted that they’re solid. But they’re just electrical activity in your brain’s neurons, just waves and clumps of energy.”
“When you become aware that you’re dreaming while you’re still inside a dream, you don’t have to go along with it. The dream world is nonlocal, and there you are inside it, awake. You can do whatever you want. And quantum physics says that the dream world is every bit as real as this world, right here. The possible and the actual worlds exist at the same time.”
“So, dreaming. Are we talking about trancing people out, or putting them to sleep so they can wake up in their dreams or something?”
“No, just the opposite. We want them to think quantum while they’re awake.”
“That’ll be a big change. Maybe they’d rather believe things are solid than live in dreamland, where everything is magic. Remember the constant effort? We had to make the sun come up every fucking day.”
“Don’t forget, we’re betting people will want to live in a magical universe.”
“So, a simple paradigm change. Once you get people out of their ruts of least resistance, and teach them to catch themselves when they backslide into unconscious habits, they can achieve quantum mastery.” It was that easy. Kurt got up with his empty lunch container and walked over to a trash can, leaving Josh and Anomia to think about it. It would take awhile, certainly, and then they’d talk again. He walked by Nathan’s table and stopped for a moment.
Nathan looked up and smiled. “I got a job.”
“Good for you.” Kurt thought he looked about twelve years old. “Aren’t you still in school?”
“Yeah, well, I can do work study. If I can talk my teachers into it.”
They looked at each other for a few moments and hesitated, not sure what to talk about. “Well, see you around, then,” Kurt said, starting toward the subway.
Immediately, he started thinking about the quantum computer he was building. As he walked thru hamster tubes and halls, he thought about the various substrates he could use, not sure if he wanted to use quantum dots or electron spins as his base. As he tapped his transit card and pushed his bulk thru the double doors, he thought about how to fit quantum nano-oscillators into classical computer chips. As he rode the long escalator to the subway platform, he thought about scaling everything up to room temperature, while avoiding noise and decoherence. He fantasized about conscious computers while waiting for his train, and about making a computer out of a brain. He thought about microtubules in the brain, with folded proteins that could be in two states at once. Sitting on the swaying subway train, he thought about how the brain used to be envisioned as programs and files with physical addresses, and how it was really more like a cloud network, where everything was everywhere. He thought about links between the thalamus and cerebral cortex, where consciousness might be anchored in the brain. He thought about synchronizing those neurons with his quantum computer. Plugging in memory sticks. Hooking up smartphones.