Distinguishing influence from inference in quantum theory
ROBERT SPEKKENS
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (Canada)
 
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The physicist E. T. Jaynes famously described the standard formulation of quantum theory as "a peculiar mixture describing in part realities of Nature, in part incomplete human information about Nature --- all scrambled up by Heisenberg and Bohr into an omelette that nobody has seen how to unscramble. One aspect of the omelette of ontology and epistemology is a scrambling of the concepts of causation and correlation. Causal relations can support influences: by manipulating one variable, I can come to control another. Correlations, on the other hand, merely support inferences: by learning one variable I can update my knowledge of the other. In this talk, I will review recent work that seeks to disentangle causation and correlation in quantum theory, and how it suggests a route to providing a causal account of Bell-inequality violations.