Technology as Foundation, from the Quantum Informational Viewpoint: The Future (and some Past) of Quantum Theory after the Higgs Boson

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The talk first offers a brief assessment of the realist and nonrealist understanding of quantum theory, in relation to the role of probability and statistics there from the perspective of quantum information theory, in part in view of several recent developments in quantum information theory in the work of M. G. D’Ariano and L. Hardy, among others. It then argues that what defines quantum theory, both quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, most essentially, including as concerns realism or the lack thereof and the probability and statistics, is a new (vs. classical physics or relativity) role of technology in quantum physics. This role was first considered by Bohr in his analysis of the fundamental role of measuring instruments in the constitution of quantum phenomena, which, he argued, is responsible for the difficulties of providing a realist description of quantum objects and their behavior, and, correlatively, for the irreducibly probabilistic or statistical nature of all quantum predictions. In this paper, I mean “technology” in a broader sense, akin to what the ancient Greeks called “tekhne” (“technique”). It refers the means by which we create new mental and material constructions, such as mathematical, scientific, or philosophical theories or works of art and architecture, or machines, and through which we interact with the world. I shall consider three forms of technology—mathematical, experimental, and digital. The relationships among them were crucial to the discovery of the Higgs boson, and, I argue, are likely to remain equally crucial, indeed unavoidable, in the future of physics, especially quantum physics.