Spontaneous collapse theories

The most referenced of which being The Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber theory, or GRW.

Such theories have 4 main problems:

Problem with relativistic invariance

According to Precedence and freedom in quantum physics (Lee Smolin, May 2012), spontaneous collapse theories would have troubles to be defined in a relativistic invariant manner. However Giancarlo Ghirardi's article seems to be replying to this point. I still have to figure it out...

Problem with conspiracy

Quoted from there:
"That said, we presently have no theoretically good reason why the parameter [exact rate of collapses per particle] should be in the range that allows this explanation to work. It might seem a little conspiratorial of nature to give us the impression that quantum theory is correct, while tuning the equations so that the crucial features that give rise to a definite physical reality are – with present technology – essentially undetectable."

Problem with conservation laws

General Relativity proves that the laws of conservation of mechanics are absolute logical necessities.

Quantum mechanics has is strange, twisted but coherent way to satisfy these conservation laws.
But with physical mechanisms of spontaneous collapse, these logical necessities may be broken. As this article reports "Another interesting characteristic of all the collapse models is that a narrowed wave function increases its energy because of uncertainty principle: this leads to a violation of energy conservation". But this problem may have been solved as presented by another article.

Since the core of the mathematical contradiction in the idea of a violation of conservation laws is a matter of how it relates with gravity, this would suggest a link between spontaneous collapse and quantum gravity. Penrose had that kind of suggestion. But the nature of such a link and how it can resolve the above problem, is far from clear. In particular, physical quantities would suggest that quantum random outcomes can be consciously observed by humans (imagine, just a pack of photons coming on a retina and then just a nerve impulse reaching the brain ! and a nerve impulse is a very microscopic move, much lighter than a Planck mass) before they make the first graviton of difference.

This leads us to the philosophical problem:

Problem with too slow collapse

In his article The Quantum Measurement Problem: State of Play (p.39), David Wallace wrote the following remark on expected requirements for a spontaneous collapse theory :
The other constraint — that macroscopic superpositions should collapse quickly — is harder to quantify.
How quickly should they collapse? Proponents of dynamical-collapse theories (...) generally require that the speed of collapse should be chosen so as to prevent “the embarrassing occurrence of linear superpositions of appreciably different locations of a macroscopic object”. But it is unclear exactly when a given superposition counts as “embarrassing”. One natural criterion is that the superpositions should collapse before humans have a chance to observe them. But the motivation for this is open to question.
Now suppose that the collapse is much slower, taking several seconds to occur. Then the cat-observer system enters the superposition

α |dead cat> ⊗|observer sees dead cat> + β |live cat> ⊗|observer sees live cat>.
Who knows what it is like to be in such a state? But no matter: in a few seconds the state collapses to
|dead cat> ⊗| observer sees dead cat> or | live cat>⊗|observer sees live cat>.
Once again, the agent is in a state where he remembers seeing either a live or dead cat, and the probability is |α|2 that he remembers seeing a dead cat — since his memories are encoded in his physical state, he will have no memory of the superposition. So the fast and slow collapses appear indistinguishable empirically.
Maybe, would the motivation to see the idea of a slow collapse “embarrassing”, come from an implicit feeling that the collapse must have something to do with consciousness ?
But we can go further : since the condition of decoherence is emergent and cannot be explicitly written in the fundamental equations of laws, and the collapse needs to be slow to not be measurable, the collapse "mechanisms" that were proposed are not 100% effective : alternative possibilities, not "chosen" by the collapse, only see their "probability" (or "amount of reality", as with the many-worlds) fall to a value that is close to zero but not exactly zero. Now, here is a thought experiment I propose to analyze : do you think that the following proposition can make any sense, and why:
The next experiment has 99% chances to give "yes" and 1% to give "no"... Now done, let us look at the result. We get... "No". Hum, but the collapse of the wave function is slow and not complete yet, so we are now in a branch of the multiverse that has 1% chance of staying real and 99% chance of being annihilated in the next minute. So, just wait a minute and the branch of reality we are now in, is most probably going to be annihilated... One minute later... Uh what, we still exist, what happens ? Ah of course, it is because the collapse is not totally complete, the amplitude of our branch of reality most probably fell but not exactly to zero, only to 10-100, but so our annihilation is probably almost done, and thus most likely to become... even more close to completeness, still one minute later.
An ontology in fact very close to that of the many-worlds, to be compared to what we can tell there about "shrinking the size of neurons".

One reference I found: Killer Collapse: Empirically Probing the Philosophically Unsatisfactory Region of GRW by Charles Sebens

Challenge to all supporters of the plausibility of a form of spontaneous collapse

Provide a clearly expressed and philosophically justified statement on the question whether or not the hypothesis of a slow collapse, as described above (taking seconds, minutes or hours after conscious perception), is a reasonable possibility or not: Some deeper, more precise questions: Admitting it was, for some yet undetermined reason, "metaphysically natural" to have a universe as described by the spontaneous collapse interpretation of quantum physics, that is, with wavefunction collapse slow enough to have been still undetected in our experiments, then, woudn't it be equally "metaphysically natural" to have a similar universe with an even smaller value of the collapse rate, so that it would take a while after conscious perception to occur ?

In such a universe, would it be expectable that the perception of "likeliness of existence" of each possibility, was naturally the same or different from before to after the collapse ? In other words, do you expect the shares of "amount of existence" between "branches" of a non-collapsed wave-function, as I described about the the many-worlds interpretation to conform to the probability distribution defined by the Born's rule ? Finally, does the spontaneous collapse have to break relativistic invariance, and therefore, isn't the many-worlds interpretation much more elegant than spontaneous collapse, by its respect of relativistic invariance, and how it gets rid of some of the difficult questions of making up arbitrary limits and processes for a reality that is anyway unobservable how to make reality fit with subjective perception as if it ever mattered ?
Please answer this question in Quora

About an answer I find unsatisfactory

The answer that the spontaneous collapse would be explained as a necessary consequence of quantum gravity, leading to specific values of collapse rates which do not let superpositions persists at the scale of a working brain.
I cannot find this answer satisfactory because of the gross contingencies it is based on, unworth of the much more fundamental nature of the question. Namely, what if by some super new nanotechnologies we could engineer a system working like a brain but much smaller and faster ? Is there any fundamental impossibility for another universe to exist with different laws of physics, or different values of physical constants, working much the same as our universe except that it would lead to slow collapse ?

Other Quora questions

When is a quantum superposition state broken?
Does the wavefunction in Quantum Mechanics collapse instantaneously when we measure an observable or is there a transition time between states?
How do measurements collapse quantum wave functions?
What exactly does it take to collapse a wave function?
Why does observation of a quantum wave function cause it to collapse into a discrete quantum state? QBist answers there
Can you uncollapse the wave function by killing an observer who did the measurement?

What is currently the best explanation for how and why the quantum wave function collapses?

In the double slit experiment what constitutes as "measurement" causing the wave function to collapse?

What is the difference between quantum decoherence and wave function collapse?

To what extent is there still disagreement today among physicists regarding how to explain the collapse of the wave function in quantum physics?

What hypothesis explain the collapse of a wave function?

If an observer is required to collapse a wave function, how does the observer exist?

How can 'measurement' or 'observe' in relation to collapsing the wave function in quantum mechanics be defined?

Back : Interpretations of quantum physics ; foundations of physics