In Decoding Reality, Vlatko Vedral discusses how our reality is based on how we process information. He acknowledges that sociology, economics, biology, thermodynamics, Quantum Physics, computer science and philosophy all play a role. Vlatko Vedral uses the metaphor of the card game for perception—as illustrated by Italo Calvino in The Castle of Crossed Destinies. There are basic bits of information revealed to us by the universe even if we don’t understand “the rules of the game.” The so-called rules must be interpreted by each of the players. Other players may view the rules differently.
Eventually Vedral comes to the debate of Free Will versus Predestination. His take is interesting. At first he appears to side with the absence of free will. He argues that both nature and nurture are ultimately responsible for our choices. Even the decision to go against our normal thoughts, feelings and actions is not free from constraints. Just when all hope appears lost, Quantum Theory offers a third choice.
Under normal circumstance, even randomness is not random. A 50/50 game of chance like flipping a coin is ultimately determined by external influences. If one had time to calculate velocity and all the other factors, one could actually predict the outcome. When we flip a coin, we are merely lacking enough information to predict with any real certainty. True randomness, Vedral argues, only lies in Quantum Physics.
In Quantum Physics, information comes in packets of Quanta or Qubits. Qubits have no particular path and can appear in two places simultaneously. The observer can change the outcome, but beyond that, the mechanics of the process remains a mystery. Vedral believes that process is unknowable, un-nameable and unobtainable.
The idea that the understanding of our world and the universe is a paradoxical undertaking is elegantly expressed in the Tao Te Ching. Perhaps the Decoding Reality should have been called The Tao of Quantum Physics. All in all, the books says that perhaps that there is some grand design or plan at work, but we humans aren’t able to grasp that process and probably never will be able to.
The book left me pondering if it was not only possible to understand the process of Quantum Physics, but if it was also possible to understand the process of consciousness or the process of life in general. I’d like to think that individuals and society as a whole could eventually evolve enough to comprehend the incomprehensible. Is enlightenment possible by admitting that there are some things we will never know or is there nothing that we can’t understand eventually?