For and Against the Multiverse

This article gives an argument against the multiverse and then gives a strong rebuttal to the argument.

The argument against the multiverse is from the single experience of consciousness. I think I’ve made it before but I can’t find the article. Let’s call it Argument A. Anyway it goes like this:

  1. Suppose a natural of consciousness which is purely explained by physical brain states. A particular atomic brain structure explains a particular conscious experience.
  2. Suppose an infinite number of physical multiverses.
  3. Suppose there is a non-zero probability that an identical copy of an individual’s atomic brain structure could arise in another universe.
  4. From 2 and 3, an identical copy of my physical brain structure exists in another universe.
  5. If 1 and 4 are true, I have an experience of multiple consciousness.
  6. I don’t have an experience of multiple consciousness. I have a single experience of consciousness.
  7. From 5 and 6, some combination of 1, 2, and 3 are disproven.

The above rough argument contains interesting and powerful logic, but it still has a bunch of problems. Below are a few interesting objections. Disclaimer: I’m no biologist.

  1. Objection from Identical Twins
    1. Identical twins have the same genome because they result from the same embryo. Copy variation results in non-identical DNA, but the genome is identical.
    2. Identical twins do not have identical conscious experience.
    3. From 1 and 2, the genome does not explain conscious experience.
  2. Objection from own variation over time
    1. An individual’s own genome and epigenome change over time.
    2. An individual does share their own mental experience, cognition, or memories over time.
    3. From 1 and 2, an individual’s own genome and epigenome do not determine their mental experience, cognition, and memories.

The casts doubt on proposition 1 from Argument A because it removes a plausible mechanism for brain-mind linking. Here are two plausible responses:

  1. Space-time effects are co-relevant to epigenetic effects in determining consciousness. Identical twins, for example, do not undergo the same space-time locations. If they did, they would plausibly have at least much more similar experiences, though perhaps still not identical ones.
  2. Information as a mechanism, and information stored in electric field neural states in contrast to physical-atomic brain states.

The first retort, if true, basically defeats Argument A. Supposing location within one or another universe counts as a space-time state, which it almost certainly would, then an individual would need to be within a particular universe, at a particular space-time within that universe, and that universe would need to be configured identically to their own universe. It seems inconceivable to identify that reference as anything other than the individual’s actual own universe, so there would be no expectation of multiple consciousness.

The second response seems to help Argument A. It provides a mechanism which would allow for multiple consciousness which is plausibly decoupled from the genome. One might argue that reading and storing information in a particular brain is regulated by that person’s genetics, but this doesn’t seem to be the case given recent technical progress on machine brain wave reading. For example, here’s an article about AI turning brain waves into audible speech.

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