[extropy-chat] Best To Regard Free Will as Existing

scerir scerir at libero.it
Sun Apr 15 17:19:24 UTC 2007

> I believe that the brain follows classical
> laws, but even if quantum indeterminacy had
> a role to play, it wouldn't add anything that
> we don't already have with the pseudorandomness
> provided by classical chaos.

[Sorry for the late response].

By chance I've found an interesting quote (of David McAllester,
an AI professor) about free will, determinism, and 'compatibilism'
(I think Lee already discussed this point, more or less).

"The idea that I could be simulated on a computer seems at odds with my
subjective experience of free will and my intuition that my future actions
are not yet determined - I am free to choose them. But consider a computer
program that plays chess. In actual chess playing programs the program
"considers" individual moves and "works out" the consequences of each move.
This is a rather high level description of the calculation that is done, but
it is fair to say that the program "considers options" and "evaluates
consequences". When I say, as a human being, that I have to choose between
two options, and that I have not decided yet, this seems no different to me
from the situation of a chess playing computer before it has finished its
calculation. The computer's move is determined - it is a deterministic
process - and yet it still has "options". To say "the computer could move
pawn to king four" is true provided that we interpret "could do x" as "it is
a legal option for the computer to do x". To say that I am free is simply so
say that I have options (and I should consider them and look before I leap).
But having options, in the sense of the legal moves of chess, is compatible
with selecting an option using a deterministic computation. A chess playing
program shows that a determined system can have free will, i.e., can have
options. So free will (having options) is compatible with determinism and
there is no conflict."

So I think it is a bit early to say that quantum randomness,
or quantum contextuality, or (?) non-commutative probabilities,
or classical randomness (note that the algorithmic information
content of classical randomness lies almost entirely
in the description of initial conditions) play an essential
role, regarding free will.

[It is possible that this one is among those ... 'recurring
threads'. So I'll stop it here, since I cannot say something
new or interesting or even reasonable :-)]


"I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will.
Jews believe in free will. They believe that man
shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In
that respect I am not a Jew."

Who said that?

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