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Systems 2016, 4(4), 32; doi:10.3390/systems4040032

Building the Observer into the System: Toward a Realistic Description of Human Interaction with the World

243 West Spain St., Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
Academic Editors: Gianfranco Minati, Eliano Pessa and Ignazio Licata
Received: 26 July 2016 / Revised: 14 October 2016 / Accepted: 24 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
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Abstract

Human beings do not observe the world from the outside, but rather are fully embedded in it. The sciences, however, often give the observer both a “god’s eye” perspective and substantial a priori knowledge. Motivated by W. Ross Ashby’s statement, “the theory of the Black Box is merely the theory of real objects or systems, when close attention is given to the question, relating object and observer, about what information comes from the object, and how it is obtained” (Introduction to Cybernetics, 1956, p. 110), I develop here an alternate picture of the world as a black box to which the observer is coupled. Within this framework I prove purely-classical analogs of the “no-go” theorems of quantum theory. Focussing on the question of identifying macroscopic objects, such as laboratory apparatus or even other observers, I show that the standard quantum formalism of superposition is required to adequately represent the classical information that an observer can obtain. I relate these results to supporting considerations from evolutionary biology, cognitive and developmental psychology, and artificial intelligence. View Full-Text
Keywords: black box; classicality; environment as witness; Landauer’s principle; pragmatic information; quantum Darwinism; separability; superposition; time black box; classicality; environment as witness; Landauer’s principle; pragmatic information; quantum Darwinism; separability; superposition; time
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Fields, C. Building the Observer into the System: Toward a Realistic Description of Human Interaction with the World. Systems 2016, 4, 32.

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