[time 239] Re: [time 232] Re: [time 229] Direction of time or Free will

Hitoshi Kitada (hitoshi@kitada.com)
Sun, 18 Apr 1999 00:52:23 +0900

Dear Stephen,

In response to your private mail of April 17, 14:24 (JST), I try to mention my
thought on your [time 232]. I will try to respond to your mail in a separate
mail to you.

----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen P. King <stephenk1@home.com>
Cc: Time List <time@kitada.com>; Lancelot R. Fletcher
Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 1:19 AM
Subject: [time 232] Re: [time 229] Direction of time or Free will

> Dear Hitoshi and Friends,
> Thank you for possessing this problem. :) It is one that I have been
> thinking about for a long time. First I have some clarification
> questions...
> Hitoshi Kitada wrote:
> >
> > Dear Time Folks,
> >
> > Let me propose a problem about the direction of time, which, at least
> > seemingly, has a form that has not been considered before. That is partly
> > reminiscence of [time 199] and hinted by Ben's remark [time 198].
> >
> > Direction of time or Does the free will exist?
> >
> > Let us consider the following observation:
> >
> > Let an observer O observe a local system L'=(L1,L2,X) or L=(L1,L2). Here
> > and L2 is the direct objects of observation of O and X is some automatic
> > apparatus that observes the system L=(L1,L2).
> Here we have a choice of observables, L or L'; I am assuming that they
> are observationally mutually exclusive, e.g. O observers L xor L'.

I think you are right. In my thought, Wheeler's discussion of his delayed
choice experiments seems not to include all apparatuses related with the
experiments into consideration. In his experiment, he regards the second
semi-transparent mirror is inserted "after" the photon was emitted and
incident on the first semi-transparent mirror. But the system the observer
looks at should be the one that includes the first and second semi-transparent
mirrors and also the two totally reflecting mirrors on the way as well as the
photon itself. The distinction between this and another experiment with no
second semi-transparent mirror inserted can be made by the difference of the
existence/nonexistence of the second mirror. Then the systems the observer
looks at are different and hence it is natural that there is a difference in
what the observer sees in them. Also in his consideration of the example of
the light from a quasar, he seems to exclude the galaxy that affects as a
gravitational lens to the light emitted from the quasar, by the reason that
the lens worked in the far past. Here is an assumption that what are very far
from the apparatuses that the observer sees directly and now can be thought as
being outside the system the observer sees right now. Even if the light was
emitted from the quasar 10 billion years ago, the quasar and the gravitational
lens must be included in the observed, and the exclusion of these
'apparatuses' causes the misunderstanding of the situation.

I think these unnatural exclusions lead his discussions to the extreme that
the present affects the past. In other words, he introduces the distinction
between the past and the present in such a way that the present looks like
affecting the past, while the system the observer actually observes is the
system that includes the past and the present at the same time.

Here is the essence of the notion of time. The same time for one is the
simultaneity for himself. I.e. in the above experiment, the components of the
system consisting of two semi-transparent mirrors, two totally reflecting
mirrors and the photon should be considered as existing at the same time when
the observer observes the photon enters one of the detector after passing the
second semi-transparent mirror. What constitute the system is the objects that
construct the experiment including the second mirror. Even if the second
mirror is inserted afterwards, it actually participate in the process, and
must not be thought outside the apparatus. Or more exactly, what observer sees
at the final stage is the collision between the photon and the second mirror
that moves with some velocity to the delayed-choice region (DCR). Just to
think this mirror appears suddenly at the DCR makes the experiment look
magical. Here is no magic actually, if we consider the experiment at the
position of the observer.

Similar confusion or exclusion seems to be found in many problems of physics.
This may be one of the main causes of physical problems.

The contradiction resides in the notion of time itself. It distinguishes
several events by their times, and we tend to think that after a long time
passed, we can forget the events at those old times. But for one observer,
these events constitute one simultaneous system, even if some elements of the
system have already disappeared elsewhere at the time of the observation. More
exactly, these disappeared elements still are travelling some place, but just
outside the sight of the observer at the time of the observation. But to
explain the experiment, it is necessary to consider all the elements that
participate in the experiment.

Time is an apparatus of oblivion. This is also the case with the distance in
space. It is usually assumed that the particles far away from the objects one
considers right now can be neglected. This would cause the same confusion in

The notion of local system is the one that clarifies this confusion. In
Wheeler's experiment, if the observer does not insert the second
semi-transparent mirror, it simply means that the mirror does not participate
in the experiment, and thus there is difference from the case the mirror

I think it would be possible to see the future by some techniques utilizing
this illusory property of time. After all time is an artificial notion that
puts an order on the objects one sees.

> How are O and X defined in terms of local systems?

X may be definable, but I think the subjective observer O may not be
definable. Subjectivity seems to remain undefinable and/or unsolvable in any
objective way, in the sense that we cannot identify ourselves by ourselves.

They seem to be
> classical and, upon thinking further, X looks to be another observer
> itself. Perhaps we can think of it as one of Peter's "secondary
> observers"... ( cf. [time 191])

Yes, X would behave as a macroscopic apparatus, and has to be treated as a
classical system. Nevertheless, the part of X which interacts with the objects
L1 and L2 when X observes L1 and L2 would have to be treated as quantum
mechanical objects if we try to explain the mechanism of observation of L1 and
L2 by X.

In a larger context, X would be the same as Peter's secondary observer. But I
am not sure how Peter would utilize his notion of secondary observer.

> > In this situation, Wheeler's quantum eraser illustrated in Ben Goertzel's
> > GOERTZEL.html (http://goertzel.org/dynapsyc/1995/GOERTZEL.html):
> >
> > > In fact, according to (Wheeler, 1980), this even works
> > > if the choice is <b>delayed</b> -- then one has the phenomenon
> > > of the "quantum eraser." In other words, suppose one has a
> > > <b>machine</b> record which slit each particle passed through.
> > > If after a few hours one destroys the machine's records
> > > without having looked at them, and only <b>afterwards</b>
> > > looks at the plate, then result is the same as if the
> > > information had never existed; the plate shows that the
> > > particles behaved like waves. But in the same scenario, if
> > > one looks at the machine's information before one erases it,
> > > the picture on the plate is quite different: it is consistent
> > > with whatever the machine said.
> >
> > may be restated as follows:
> >
> > If O looks at L', then what O sees in the future about L
> > is different from what O sees when O looks only at L. (1)
> Here it seems that the meaning of "past" and "future" needs to be
> carefully examined.

I agree. The notion "past, present, future" is some subtle trick which is very
convenient to explain the outside of us. What you write in your home page:
"Time exists because everything can not happen at once" is another expression
of this convenient aspect of the notion of time, but is not a definition of
time. This sentence is as well an expression of the western wisdom that uses
the tense as the crucial structure of their language. However, I think that
everything exists at one instant. No future nor past would exist. For we
cannot grasp the past and future by our hands. They are just imaginary
existence that is convenient. The nonlocality could be the proof of the
non-existence of the past and the future.

  Can we understand this terms "sees" as meaning
> logically inference?

I mean by this "sees" a future tense that certainly happens in the future. I
wanted to express like the following: If one looks at L', then the part of his
results about L of his observation of L' in his future is different from what
one looks just at L always.

I am trying to think of this in terms of Peter's
> Interactive Machine paradigm. If we could show that a LS is equivalent
> to a finite IM, we could easily bring in the power of Peter's analysis
> in to play. :) http://www.cs.brown.edu/~pw/papers/bcj1.pdf

I downloaded the paper, but I could not find time to see it.

> > We may regard this as an experimental fact (provided that the situation
> > describes exactly Wheeler's quantum eraser).
> >
> > Wheeler's case may be rephrased:
> >
> > The present affects the future. (1')
> Is this meaning strict material causation, in the sense that a
> primitive lightcone structure could be constructed using an array of
> Observers O_i exchanging signals.

In (1') I think within the subjective time of the observer. For him, the
outside would look like Minkowskian. I did not consider the communications
among many observers.

It is the "thermodynamic arrow" that,
> I believe, holds the key to thinking of an asymmetry between evolutions
> toward the past or future.

I think thermodynamical arrow of time is a physical word that assumes the
consensus among many observers. However, I am skeptical about this kind of
consensus: such a consensus seems to be just a dream of mere physicists.
Stating the problem on the more fundamental level, I suspect that such
objective arrow of time might be impossible to be defined. If it could be
defined, it would belong to a part of common sense, not the subject of

I feel that the present science seems to be trying to be out of its limit. The
objective description seems to be meeting the boundary of its area where it
works. My substitute for the objective arrow of time is the subjective arrow
of time.

But on a side note, independent of any
> observation, an LS's time arrow can only be considered as having a
> superposition of directions. This relates to my earlier questions about
> time vectors. :)

I do not have clear image yet about your "time vectors." If I would use that
phrase, I would use it as meaning some average of the directions of time among
many people on the level of common sense.

> > Let us consider the observation with time order reversed. The question in
> > case is if the following is correct or not:
> >
> > If O looks at L', then what O sees in the past about L
> > is different from what O sees when O looks only at L. (2)
> >
> > This would be paraphrased:
> >
> > The future affects the present. (2')
> We are starting to think seriously about the ontological question of
> causation and temporal transitivity! :) It is well known, that systems
> described by invertible dynamics do not have an "arrow of time" (cf. M.
> C. Mackey "Time's Arrow: The Origins of Thermodynamic Behavior".
> Springer-Verlag, 1992 http://www.cnd.mcgill.ca/bios/mackey/mackey.html);
> we need to look at the scattering state dynamics of LSs to see if they
> satisfy "f* exactness" or some equivalent.

Would you explain "f* exactness"?

> I believe that there is there is an analogy between the difference
> between "bound and scattering states" and Mackey's "dynamical systems
> and traces" (pg. 111 ibid.) and thus there is a way of defining LSs as
> having a define time arrow.
> > Turning to the direction of time, I think it may be understood as the
> > direction of one's own time when he sees the outside. If we understand the
> > direction of time in this way, we have two alternatives with (2):
> >
> > If (2) is true, then the observer's time is reversible,
> >
> > while
> >
> > if (2) is false, then the observer's time is irreversible.
> >
> > (2) may be tested by experiments, similarly to Wheeler's.
> >
> > If the direction of time is that of the observer's subjective time as I
> > proposed, my claim is thus that we can find by experiments if time has the
> > direction or not.
> Of course, it is the act of observation that implies that a fixing of
> frame has occurred and that such fixes a chronological ordering. But, we
> can *not* assume such distributive orderings exist *ab initio*, since
> the computation of such

What problem does "such" designate? I.e what kind of computation do you think
necessary for one to fix his frame?

 is an NP-Complete problem and thus is
> irreducible to mere postulations of "microcausality".
> http://www.uncg.edu/mat/avg/avgnp/node9.html
> > This might sound a silly assertion, as we feel we experience the direction
> > time in daily life. But the statement (2) could be a direct test of
> > of subjective time, and I think the direction of time has not been
examined in
> > this way.
> >
> > Another point about (2) is that, if (2) is true, we have to think it
> > that all is inevitable fate, or all is determined but we cannot know which
> > result actually occurs. This point would be illustrated by the following
> > passage adapted from [time 199]:
> >
> > We assume (2) is true.
> >
> > An observer O is informed that an apparatus X records some data about his
> > objects L1 and L2, but does not see the data on X. He makes observation
> > of L=(L1,L2). Then he is planned to walk a corridor to the point where the
> > corridor forks into two directions. Beforehand another person brought the
> > apparatus X at the end of one of the two corridors. Whether or not
> > he (observer O) sees X at the end of the corridor depends on his
> > choice which corridor he takes. If he knows that his observation of L is
> > the same as the data that he will see the apparatus X, then he knows
> > that he will choose the correct corridor where the apparatus X is at
> > the end, whichever way he takes. Or if he knows his observation does
> > not match those data, he knows in advance he will choose the wrong way.
> >
> > In short, _if (2) is true_, O must choose one right way always, whichever
> > direction he takes at the branch, if the data coincide with those that he
> > see the apparatus X. He _can_ choose one of the two at his will, but his
> > choice has been determined in the sense that he has _no ability_ to change
> > fate to see the apparatus X.
> >
> > So if (2) is true, no free will exists,
> >
> > or
> >
> > if (2) is false, the free will may exist.
> Are we defining free will as strictly contradicting determinism at all
> levels, could we have free choise externally and determinism interiorly
> to LSs?

I intended to discuss the external free will, i.e. the problem if we can get
ourselves out of the bondage of the fate when we meet the outside. My guess
would be that this is impossible.

> In Computer science we distinguish between "linear time" and "branching
> time" computations. The former assume complete initiality ab initio
> ("all choices made at the outset") and the latter eliminates initiality
> requirements ("choices made on-the fly to take into account the latest
> information")
> http://boole.stanford.edu/chuguide.html#P3
> http://boole.stanford.edu/chuguide.html#gupthes
> It seems that if we consider that LSs "evolve", then it is not trivial
> to consider that we could think of them as "adaptive" systems, and such
> adaptations can well represent branching time types of computations.

I feel you are considering here the process of our decision making. Namely you
seem to want to solve the machinery of how we think.

> > I.e.
> >
> > if the direction of time does not exist, the free will does not exist,
> >
> > or
> >
> > if the direction of time exists, the free will may exist.
> >
> > This problem may relate with the Classical/QM features of our world: Even
> > (2) is true, we have our free will at each stage (QM aspect), but the fate
> > a whole is determined (Classical aspect). If (2) is not true, then such
> > restrictions do not exist and we might have true free will.
> We are faced here with the ontological question of the "reality" of an
> it-itself unknowable quantum mechanical Universe and whether its finite
> subsets can be known.

Yes, the Universe might be the fate, and its finite part may be reachable for
our hands.

 The method of how knowledge evolves is itself
> exposed to analysis.

Your problem seems to be to understand the mechanism of humans' recognition or
machinery of consciousness. My position is that such knowledge could be useful
e.g., in constructing AI, and may be gotten in some future to the extent that
the knowledge would suffice to make AI, but I think the same problem cannot be
a subject of science if we go down to the essential level of the problem, i.e.
to the level of the recognition that one cannot know oneself. I.e. even if
human could create AI creatures by their understanding of the _machinery_ of
recognition and/or consciousness, that understanding of the machinery could
not help us to understand ourselves more than the understanding of the

> > Hitoshi
> Onward to the Unknown,
> Stephen

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