This word is used for convenience, but no conscious observer is required. You can also say “detected”. And by detected what is meant is that information exists that is, in principal, detectable even if not yet technically feasible. Look up “The World’s Smallest Double-Slit Experiment” (2007) and you will find that a single low-energy electron can be an “observer” and collapse the quantum interference pattern of a high-energy electron exiting a single hydrogen molecule.

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