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FQXi BLOGS
December 19, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Agency in the Physical World – FQXi’s Next Research Program [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Oct. 28, 2017 @ 13:40 GMT
During our ten year history, we have worked to grow a community of researchers with an ever-widening realm of expertise. The important word here is community — our mission is to connect researchers who might have otherwise never known about each other.

Part of our strategy has been the use of themed programs — The Nature of Time, Physics of Information, The Physics of What Happens. Our most recent program attracted neurophysicists, computer scientists, sociologists, as well as the more “usual” physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers, together under the theme of Physics of the Observer.

We are proud now to announce our next venture, Agency in the Physical World. It follows our intellectual trajectory over the past programs, drawing deep connections from the most fundamental descriptions in physics and cosmology, to description in terms of observers, agents, and conscious beings. The program is a partnership between FQXi and the Fetzer Franklin Fund, a philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting foundational questions at the frontiers of physics, biology, and consciousness research.

The program features our familiar components for building community: a conference, essay contests, Large grants, and Mini-Grant rounds. Our first essay contest has just launched, and the Large Grant round will open in the coming weeks — please stay tuned for that announcement.

The program also supports research by the two “B-Area” centers — B for Boston and (San Francisco) Bay — formed during FQXi’s Physics of the Observer program. The work of the B-Area centers will try to better understand agency in physical systems through their capabilities to learn, to predict, to process information, and to choose. The centers also will serve as hubs for visits and other interactions that connect all researchers around the world funded by the APW program.

We envision the APW program will lead researchers to question how we define, identify, and measure agency, intelligence, and consciousness, and to investigate how these concepts fit into our current physical theories. These questions are contentious and difficult, even within the context of FQXi’s usual ambit of thorny topics.

But of course, that’s why we’re asking them!

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Bashir Yusuf wrote on Oct. 29, 2017 @ 01:48 GMT
Dear Brendan.

This is a quick response of the essay.

I hope that this question can lead good understanding of nature's most important Fundamental issue.

Only questionings without open and awakened mind can't we succeed it.

I have some difficult to understand, the relations of FQXI's Foundational questions and Fundamental of the nature, but I am sure that "Most of the...

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Paolo Di Sia wrote on Nov. 1, 2017 @ 13:09 GMT
Dear all, I am interested in being involved in a project, in a group with a "critical mass", studying the fascinating issues of the FQXi community.

Thanks for your consideration.

Paolo Di Sia - http://www.paolodisia.com

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Nov. 13, 2017 @ 17:52 GMT
Hello Mr Foster,

Good vast topic in fact.For me of course the sphères are foundamentals:)

Best regards

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ella scott scott wrote on Mar. 8, 2018 @ 04:30 GMT
Things are very open and intensely clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very beneficial. gmail login

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 14, 2018 @ 22:29 GMT
This is a potentially dangerous topic. I hope the research chosen is carefully considered for potential for harm or misuse.I.e. detrimental to individuals and humanity as a whole. The ethics must be considered. An undemocratic trans-human agenda of a small minority can not be allowed to take agency away from human beings.

It may well be too late to get the genie back in the bottle. All of the ways we interact with our computers and other digital information about us can be used or misused. Not just to show us what we want to see but to manipulate thoughts feelings and actions.

Perceptions of reality are normally generated from sensorily received information and internal processing but our 'wetware' can be hacked. It was once science fiction but not anymore. People are being experimented upon without their consent. In violation of the Geneva convention and in violation of our God or universe given free will. What becomes of democracy and weapon security under such circumstances, (for example)? Control includes burning pain, involuntary muscle contraction, flashes of light, sounds, hallucinations, thought intrusion, and sexual sensations.

Unfortunately it sounds insane which only helps the perpetrators continue their development of systems that enslave humanity, ultimately. I object to be treated like a cockroach.

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Mar. 15, 2018 @ 02:21 GMT
Georgina,

Keep in mind we really have been "hacking" each other since the dawn of time. Given the advent of modern information systems, it certainly has been stepped up a notch, but that just means we have to become even more aware of the forces at work. Ultimately it is the same forces and laws of nature that have functioned from the dawn of time and they are not always pretty, but there are ways to turn the tables as well.

I think one of the largest socio-economic factors at work is our evolving understanding of economics and how money functions as an economic medium and social contract, rather than personal property. Effectively we own money like we own the section of road we are using.

The current problem being that since we do view it as personal property, this medium is being used as a feedback loop to siphon all value out of the rest of society, by those controlling this mechanism, rather than having it circulate to the benefit of the whole society, which does truly guarantee its value.

As such, we are at a bit of a Versailles moment, where hereditary political rule lost sight of the social function it served and became totally self centered and now the banking system has lost sight of its larger function.

Basically government is analogous to the central nervous system and finance to the circulation system of the body, so we are progressing along elemental evolutionary routes.

Consider how much control of power and money is what drives those social control mechanisms, so breaking down the private banking system and turning it into a public utility would be hopefully the end state. Though neoliberalism is planning on trading their piles of public debt for even more public properties and siphoning ever more value out of the environment and society, taking back control of the financial system will be the opposite goal.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 16, 2018 @ 01:19 GMT
John, I accept your point about hacking. I'm not talking about a good argument, a well timed ad. or propaganda.Rather the by-passing of the senses and directly accessing the brain and peripheral nervous system with EM signals.Allowing remote control of perceptions and sensations. As well as detection of brain activity allowing mind reading, after training of a system able to match inputs with outputs, gaining ability the more digital input is match-able to brain response. There is potential for intellectual property theft, access to uncensored thoughts and potential for control via shame, emotional and physical states being triggered affecting what a person does. Pain and pleasure can be administered with potential to train or induce learned helplessness, or as remote abuse.As severe muscle contractions can be caused I have no doubt death could be caused by inducing heart spasm. This technology is a Pandora's box, a danger to the free will and individual agency of human beings.It divides us into puppets and puppet masters, human or AI, Our bodies machines to be hacked by who ever has the means. It really isn't OK , a dangerous topic.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 17, 2018 @ 03:48 GMT
Remote Extraction of Biological Signals A link to a you tube video presenting a more optimistic view of the technology and not considering the health risks, security risks, privacy risks, risks to democracy, risks to social order and other potential for abuse.

Quote "I am promoting research into the remote extraction of biological signals using touch-less technologies. I am against invasive technologies as they increase health risks, restrict mobility, or can be identified visually by others. I am also promoting research into whole body biological signal extraction. The body radiates measurable energy, and with our understanding how the regions of the mind operate, I believe that we could read the body's overall generated signals (perhaps diagnose illnesses?)."

Bear in mind the technology itself is probably far more advanced than declared publicly. I believe it is being illegally tested on human subjects.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 19, 2018 @ 21:31 GMT
My work has only been concerned with understanding the physics of the universe and what reality is in that context. It has not been weapons development, espionage or torture. I am not an enemy combatant, nor have I expressed radical political or religious views. I have taken care to keep my conversations about physics and related philosophy. Experimentation on humans without their knowledge and informed consent is illegal and immoral. I have tried to express my non co-operation by mentally repeating the word 'no', resulting in the sensation of having a rope pulled tight across my mouth being molested. Unspoken thought have been immediately followed by seemingly affirming strong whole body contortion. I am fearful that actual bodily harm is being caused not just sensations. Searching mainly you tube I find that I am not alone in experiencing such things. I realize speaking up is possibly foolhardy at best and deadly at worst. This is right at the heart of the question of agency, and freewill.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 20, 2018 @ 22:32 GMT
If these experiences are endogenous psychogenic phenomena without external actualized cause they can still be regarded as manifestation of deeply troubling concern about where research into experienced reality and agency ultimately leads. To technology used for the control and abuse of innocent people. The potential for misuse has to be considered along with potential benefits. The cost in terms of free will and individual agency, the experience of being an individual with a degree of self determination, is too high.Once developed how can misuse of the technology by government, by criminals, by people with dubious ideologies etc.be prevented?

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 23, 2018 @ 00:40 GMT
Mind Control & Nervous System Manipulation Patents

Link to a you tube video about patents for mind control in particular via pulsed signals from TV and computer screens. Able to manipulate sensations and emotions and transmit subliminal information. Here is the url if you would rather not use the link, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VDyO3id7_A

I have experienced the eye lid fluttering and deep purple and yellow patterns , which I have been wondering about. Thinking they were perhaps some kind of seizure aura and migraine aura respectively. Yet there are also other sensations and emotions which are strange and uncharacteristic, which, together with the previously mentioned experiences, are, it is explained in the video, also symptoms of exposure to subliminal pulsed signals.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 31, 2018 @ 00:27 GMT
The philosophy of agency includes the idea of agency being initiated by the agent and as intentional action. Agency (Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy). However the question 'who is the agent ?' deserves consideration since the behaviour of an organism can be altered, such as by infection by a parasite. The behaviour being potentially detrimental or deadly to the host but advantageous to the parasite. Here is a magazine article about the parasite Toxoplasma gondii affecting rat and human behaviour. How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy If a person's behavioural responses, stemming from internal drives can be affected by non self agents directly affecting the brain or body, or by brain washing via external inputs, the person might be caused to act contrary to prior instinct and learning. The one acting is acting on motivation that was involuntarily induced. I think this raises questions of morality, responsibility of the individual actor, and of the instigating party, as well as 'who is the agent?'

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jun. 16, 2018 @ 01:32 GMT
I've just now been listening to a radio story[1] which relates to "the problem of evil" and "Agency in the Physical World". I posted this comment to them:

There is no point discussing “the problem of evil” without asking: 1. What is evil? ; and 2. What can usefully be done about it? But, as doing something practical about evil relies on understanding what evil is, the main question becomes: what is evil?

Clearly, there can be no evil without free will, where free will is the, at least partial, ability to choose and implement personal outcomes. A car that is involved in a deliberate hit and run accident is not an entity with free will; a knife that is involved in a stabbing murder is not an entity with free will: neither the car nor the knife could be described as “evil” because they are things that are completely under the control of a human being.

But if the human being’s physical and mental outcomes have been, as many physicists assert, 100%, completely controlled by law of nature forces and external influences since the moment of conception, then can the human being’s actions be described as evil? Clearly not. Only if these physicists are mistaken, and a human being has the, at least partial, ability to choose and implement personal outcomes, can the human being’s actions be described as “evil” or “good”.

Given that living things do indeed have free will, the only variables that can influence a human being’s actions, are upbringing and education and the societal environment.

1. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/g
lyn-davis-on-the-ramsay-centre-and-hannah-arendt/9876036

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jun. 16, 2018 @ 21:13 GMT
If I understand well this new venture, it means that we intend to explore beyond the “Physics of the Observer”. In other words, this is about questioning how much the observer actually contributes to the “observation”. `

Under this chapter, we already know that the process of “observation” using instruments, does place a sort of squeeze on the fuzziness of a quantum system,...

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jun. 18, 2018 @ 02:29 GMT
Δ this variable, δ that variable: physics represents number change with the delta symbol, thereby hiding the number change problem.

Physics assumes that numbers (e.g. the numbers representing energy, momentum or relative spatial position) just somehow change. But physics can’t explain what’s driving “smooth” number change in the universe, let alone what’s causing quantum jumps in number values. Clearly, laws of nature describe the outcomes of smooth change of number, but they don’t explain why a number should ever change in the first place.

But with regard to the "Agency in the Physical World" program: what is an agent if the agent is not a cause and source of a number change outcome that is otherwise unexplainable? Because if a number change outcome is otherwise explainable, then it would be absurd to posit that any agent was involved in the situation at all.

Take a billiard ball that has been impacted by the tip of a billiard cue, and by collisions with other balls and the cushions, in a game of pool. Clearly a billiard ball is not an agent: the numeric outcomes for the billiard ball are fully explainable by the laws of nature and by the situation (the billiard cue impact, the other balls and the cushions).

But if the billiard ball were an agent, then it would have to be the cause and source of a numeric outcome that wasn’t entirely due to the billiard cue impact/ other ball/ cushion situation, and wasn’t entirely due to the laws of nature.

Naturally, we can expect that the physicists involved in the APW program will try to bowdlerise the meaning of the word “agent” and try to transform it into something entirely anodyne, or absurd.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jun. 23, 2018 @ 23:56 GMT
How not wonderful, how evil and oppressive, is a universe where your fate is sealed: no matter that you think you have agency to act and choose, it was ordained by the laws of nature that you were going to act and think this way since the beginning of the universe.

This is physics’ dystopian vision of reality, where “agency” is just a fancy label for events that are in no way logically different to non-agency events, and where an “agent” is just a fancy label for physical matter that is in no way logically different to a non-agent.

Physics’ dystopian vision of reality which, due to education, now inhabits the back of the minds of young and old educated people the world over, has set the scene for apathy and hopelessness.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jun. 24, 2018 @ 00:54 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I agree with your first sentence.

An agent is enabled or constrained by it's environment. A lion on a chain may choose to sit paws crossed or legs out straight ahead. It can not take itself to the opposite side of the room beyond the reach of it's chain. So what agents do is not just up to them but the context.

As for 'number change' I think it is more helpful to think of existence and change as essential aspects of the material universe. Which might be said as the universe consist of matter and energy, and conservation of energy means change never runs out but just takes different 'forms'.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jun. 24, 2018 @ 22:23 GMT
Georgina,

The word “agent” comes from the “Late Middle English (in the sense ‘someone or something that produces an effect’)” [1].

While you seemingly believe yourself to be logically equivalent to a billiard ball, or to a dry leaf blown around by the wind, I am an agent that “produces an effect”.

While the billiard ball and the dry leaf are 100% the victims of events beyond their control, the agent is a genuine partial cause of its own events and outcomes. I’m saying that this is the nature of reality: when traced back, the agency aspect of reality is the ultimate cause of all change in the universe. So, I’m saying: local, mindful [2] partial knowledge, and partial agency; but you seem to be saying: global mindless inevitable “change”.

Are you one of the masses of educated people that have uncritically accepted physics’ dystopian vision of the nature of reality, so that they believe themselves to be nothing but intricately configured billiard balls: 100% the victim of events and forces beyond their control?

1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/agent

2. Mindful: “Conscious or aware of something”, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mindful

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jun. 25, 2018 @ 06:20 GMT
Lorraine, I didn't say the lion was incapable of any self directed agency but was saying what it could do was constrained by the context. It can try to move to the other side of the room but can't because of its chain. I don't see how you get from that that I think of myself as a helpless billiard ball or dry leaf.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jun. 25, 2018 @ 01:55 GMT
Lorraine,

I agree with you. On the one hand, the universe has its own built-in logical causality i.e. the universe evolves by itself. This unique and logical causality is demonstrated by the effectiveness of maths driven physics giving us a working picture of the universe.

On the other hand, as biological entities, we carry along preset behaviors inherited from being the vehicles of replicator DNA. But beyond that, it is free will. This free will is not directed by any specific logic. In a sense, we are this special unit of the universe exploring and effecting (agent) illogical solutions, stuff that could never happen from the logic of the universe alone, like the great pyramids or the Eiffel tower. We are like expending energy and dispersing matter in ways no other natural system can. We can choose our actions to be entropic or negentropic, i.e. going against the grain of time and logic of the universe.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jun. 25, 2018 @ 21:18 GMT
Marcel,

Re “going against the grain of time and logic of the universe”:

I agree [1]. I would say that agency (free will/creativity) is movement or reconfiguration of oneself relative to the grain of, or the logic of, the rest of reality. As such, agency is a power at least equal to the laws of nature.

So, agency is necessarily a fundamental aspect of reality, and not an ability or capacity that can arise just because an entity is an advanced-level living thing. What living things do have because of their complexity, is a much greater ability to algorithmically/logically analyse information about oneself and one’s situation in the universe.

Because agency is a fundamental aspect of reality, physical agents are necessarily particles, atoms, molecules including DNA, and living things (but chairs, billiard balls, computers, and robots are not agents - they are merely aggregates). Naturally, there is only limited scope for agency (free will/creativity) in particles, atoms and molecules.

Re “This free will is not directed by any specific logic”:

I would agree. Being the power to move oneself relative to the grain of the rest of reality, another way to envision agency (free will/creativity) is: the power to create new information relationships. I would go further than that and say that all information relationships (i.e. law of nature relationships) have somehow been created by this agency, and that agency precedes logic.

1. I agree, though I think that “time” is merely logically derived information, not a fundamental aspect of the universe.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jun. 26, 2018 @ 03:24 GMT
Lorraine,

" I agree, though I think that “time” is merely logically derived information, not a fundamental aspect of the universe. "

On this last assertion, I beg to differ. Read my essay in this year's contest. There is a dynamic process that makes everything, the canvas of it all. We call it Time, but it is THE substance with THE built-in cause. Logic requires it.

Bests,

Marcel,

(I'll be gone for a week - Scout summer camp...)

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jun. 28, 2018 @ 00:17 GMT
Marcel,

Some might conclude that Matter is Mind [1,2], but I’m asserting that Matter is Mind is Cause.

Like you, physicist Lee Smolin asserts that Time is Cause [3,4].

But I think it is very clear from physics’ mathematical representations of law of nature relationships that time is just another variable or a category of information, in the same sense that energy, momentum and relative spatial position are variables or categories of information. All these variables only exist in relationship to other variables, they are not independent entities with the power to cause events.

----

1. a) “If your theory of being-a-subject (i.e. consciousness) relies solely on matter, but your theory of matter can't get rid of the subject's being, then you're walking on swampy ground.” Mind, Matter and Materialism by Adam Frank, professor of astronomy at the University of Rochester, New York, 26 March 2017, https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2017/03/26/521478684/mind-
matter-and-materialism , b) Minding matter by Adam Frank, 13 March 2017, https://aeon.co/essays/materialism-alone-cannot-explain-the-
riddle-of-consciousness .

2. I mean information-integrated matter (particles, atoms, molecules and living things), not aggregates of matter (piles of sand, chairs, computers and robots).

3. “Time, in the sense of causation is fundamental, by which is meant that it is irreducible. The activity of time is the unceasing and irreversible generation of novel events from present events; this generates a continually growing network of causal relations.”, Temporal Relationalism, theoretical physicist Lee Smolin, 1 June 2018, https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.12468v1

4. “There is a dynamic process that makes everything, the canvas of it all. We call it Time, but it is THE substance with THE built-in cause”, Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jun. 26, 2018 @ 03:24 GMT

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jul. 1, 2018 @ 16:42 GMT
Lorraine,

The word “time” has a host of meanings, and if not specified which one we mean, it has none. This is the source of the confusion.

As a measure, time is a relative variable. But time runs whether we measure it or not. The basic spontaneous process that makes everything got its name (time) only when we showed up with our conscious minds.

I say time is the...

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 3, 2018 @ 01:19 GMT
Marcel,

Re “time runs whether we measure it or not”:

Time is not an entity that flows and changes the universe.

Time is not fundamental in the universe: time is merely derived information. The only way to derive time information from change of number information [1] is via an algorithmic step: the universe was doing this primitive algorithmic analysis long before molecules or living things came on the scene.

The universe runs on information it has about itself, including the above time information. More specifically, the universe is not an entity/agent: the only entities/agents are particles, atoms, molecules, and living things. These entities experience information about themselves and their surroundings, including time information, where time information is acquired when these entities perform an algorithmic/logical analysis of number change.

But what is “change”? You seem to assume that “change” requires no explanation; that change is a self-sufficient entity, a primitive of the universe system. But actually, change never just happens; when traced back to its source, change is caused, caused by entities: this is agency.

1. I mean: change of what we human beings would represent as a number. Numbers are not a human conceit; numbers represent an underlying reality: the “quantity” of a variable (category of information); where a category of information might be e.g. energy, momentum, or relative spatial position.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 3, 2018 @ 02:48 GMT
P.S.

Re “time is the measure of the local rate of evolution of spontaneous events”; “the rate of evolution of this time process is the only ontological real independent variable”:

There are no free-of-cause “spontaneous events” in the universe: quantum jumps (in what we human beings might symbolically represent as the numeric value of a variable) are caused by agents.

Any “rate of evolution” seems to require a pre-existing information delimiter. Quantum jumps are the only information delimiters in the entire universe: there are no other possible delimiters of unit. When traced back, there is only one cause of change of number, and that is quantum jumps (and an edifice of information relationships that are impacted by the addition of a new number relationship being added to the edifice). These quantum jumps are the only moving parts in the entire universe.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jul. 3, 2018 @ 02:48 GMT
Lorraine,

Life is information. Life is a retroactively transmitted recipe for spending energy more efficiently than the black body. But before life, there is no information transmitted. It is only the logic of existence, where and how, according to the rate of the time process, the cause.

Every bit of this universe is alone and only feels what is close by. It doesn’t know anything else. It is only ONE; no number greater than one. Any number greater than one is the making of a third party watching and counting; us.

Space, for example, is just considering at the same time points that are not at the same time; they are always away in time from each other. So, forget about space. There is only the time process out there, and it makes everything.

Adam was interested in my poster presentation for the following. All waves we know are travelling variations of the variable of the medium. I presented that EM waves are travelling variations in the rate of the time process, the medium. It contains the cause for motion, which is the same for all types of waves to move; a time rate differential.

Electricity and magnetism are intertwined with time. But they are too many entities for a logical system to work. From a substantial based model, we find that an electric line is the rate of the time process changing direction, from increasing to decreasing or vice versa. The magnetic field is the rate of the time process changing, increasing or decreasing. All of it fits neatly with the laws of induction. The old EM models were banking on an empty vacuum. We now know the vacuum is anything but empty ....

Only one cause in the universe. The magnets sticking to your fridge? Just a time rate differential causing a higher probability of existence between the fridge and magnet. The force is equal, but the magnet is smaller so it is the one that gets to move.



Marcel,

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 3, 2018 @ 08:07 GMT
Marcel,

Both those with a victim mentality, and perpetrators of criminal acts, will find comfort in the FQXi website, because it consists almost entirely of contributions from people who believe that they have 0% agency.

“It was 100% the laws of nature (or 100% the action of time) wot done it, your honour, I have 0% agency to resist committing these acts” says the perpetrator of criminal acts; “It was the 100% the laws of nature (or 100% the action of time) wot done it, your honour, I have 0% agency to resist being a victim of these acts” says the victim.

The point is that agency necessarily exists at the same level as laws of nature, otherwise it has no power at all to genuinely change physical outcomes.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jul. 3, 2018 @ 14:43 GMT
Lorraine,

I agree with agency in people. You are talking free will. Yes, we have it, to a certain extent. But we have influences acting on us; other humans. Its a big soup...

Marcel,

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 3, 2018 @ 21:53 GMT
Marcel,

As I said, "The point is that agency necessarily exists at the same level as laws of nature, otherwise it has no power at all to genuinely change physical outcomes". "Free will" that does not genuinely create new physical outcomes is nothing but a billiard ball with lipstick on, wearing a suit: such so-called "free will" is nothing but a fancy rebranding of the deterministic outcomes that would be expected from deterministic laws of nature.

But a power that "exists at the same level as laws of nature" to "to genuinely change physical outcomes" is not something that can evolve: this agency is a fundamental aspect of reality.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jul. 4, 2018 @ 00:54 GMT
Lorraine,

This is starting to sound like a mantra, and it is not coming across.

1- Rephrase and give examples.

I say: The universe can`t produce Pyramids or jumbo jets. Our agency has changed/reconfigured matter and energy in ways the universe can’t i.e. NEW physical outcome; contra thermodynamics, contra probabilities, contra....

2- What do you mean by “power”?

3- What do you mean by “this agency is a fundamental aspect of reality.” This universe is colorless, dark, tasteless, without space etc. WE make it all up, our reality. Is that what you mean? Are you in any way heading for a GOD discussion? Because if you are, you sure are dragging your feet on this one...

Marcel,

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 4, 2018 @ 13:12 GMT
Marcel,

Free will: “The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate” [1].

Human beings and living things (and indeed, fundamental particles) are mostly constrained by necessity and fate. Their physical outcomes (e.g. for their vocal chords, their hands and limbs) are constrained by deterministic laws of nature (necessity) interacting with information from their internal and external environment (fate).

Quantum events are the only occasions in which aspects of physical outcomes, in living things and fundamental particles, are unpredictable from the point of view of an observer. Quantum events are the only occasions in which living things and fundamental particles might have the opportunity of “acting without the constraint of necessity or fate”, i.e. of being free agents. Agency would, of course, also depend on the nature of living things and fundamental particles: they would have to have the inherent power to produce these “non-lawful” physical outcomes, that are unpredictable from the point of view of an observer.

If you assert that agency/free will exists, you’ve got 2 equally powerful ways of producing physical outcomes (given an external environment): 1) laws of nature ; 2) agency/free will. The power of agency is necessarily a power equal in strength to the laws of nature, because they both produce physical outcomes. The power to produce physical outcomes is not something that can evolve: both laws of nature and agency are fundamental aspects of reality.

1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/free_will ; Power: “The ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way” https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/power .

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jul. 4, 2018 @ 21:27 GMT
Lorraine,

I got two points from you;

Point 1)

The randomness of quantum mechanics is where free will may be applied/ expressed. This means

a) We may express our freedom by manipulating quantum phenomena?

b) the seat of free will in our brains is based on a quantum mechanical principle?

Point 2

“The power to produce physical outcomes is not something that can evolve”

What do you mean by that? Elaborate on some proof, demonstration or at least a line of thinking leading to this conclusion.

( If you make choices during this line of thinking ... the result is an opinion, because I could make different choices and come up with a different conclusion i.e. my own opinion. On the other hand, if you show that I don’t have a choice, no one has any other choice (choiceless) then, it is a truth. A truth is an absence of choice for everyone)

Marcel,

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 4, 2018 @ 22:20 GMT
Marcel,

You can't deny physics body of work, unless you are a "flat earther".

You say: "I agree with agency in people. You are talking free will. Yes, we have it, to a certain extent. But we have influences acting on us." [1]

I’ve given you my explanations. So perhaps you can explain what you think "free will" and "agency" are, and how they work, given the physics of the universe?

1. Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jul. 3, 2018 @ 14:43 GMT

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Anonymous wrote on Jul. 5, 2018 @ 12:58 GMT
Lorraine,

This thread is based on two things. 1) you making original statements at the beginning and 2) me trying to get explanations about how you got to these statements so that I could understand by myself.

Every time I explain my own ideas, I understand them a bit better myself and I learn to formulate them in a more accessible way. I was hoping you would take this opportunity to do just that for yourself. The process obviously failed and I do accept some responsibility in this.

Thanks, Bye,

Marcel,

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 5, 2018 @ 14:09 GMT
Marcel,

This is not the first time, and not even the second time, that you have made arrogant and presumptuous remarks: "I was hoping you would take this opportunity to do just that for yourself. The process obviously failed and I do accept some responsibility in this."

As I suspected, you unthinkingly say you believe in "free will", but you seem to have no idea what you actually mean by "free will", especially a "free will"/"agency" that might be compatible with the physics of the universe.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 6, 2018 @ 01:46 GMT
What philosopher Daniel Dennett calls “free will” is an extremely feeble thing. His so called “free will” is a mere rebranding of the deterministic outcomes that would be expected from deterministic laws of nature. A person possessing his version of “free will” is logically equivalent to a billiard ball or a dry leaf blowing in the wind. This person is not an agent, any more than a...

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jul. 6, 2018 @ 02:23 GMT
Here's an idea Lorraine. Considering a coin toss: It might be argued that the singular fixed outcome is decided by the deterministic physics of the universe as the coin moves prior to being caught. There can be only one outcome heads or tails. Yet, a counter argument is that the observer has a choice of method used for ascertaining the outcome. Coin as caught in palm, revealed by opening the fingers or coin as seen on back of opposite hand when the hand that placed it there is removed. The two outcomes are opposites. So is it just a determined process, up until reveal, that is determining the limited fixed state or is it the observer by choosing how the reveal is performed? Perhaps the coin toss outcome is deciding some very different courses of action of the observer. The change that happens when a different way of looking at the coin is chosen is not altering the evolution of the state of the coin that has 'evolved' prior to looking but forming a different relation with the coin.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 6, 2018 @ 15:14 GMT
Georgina,

I would say that almost every movement of a living thing is due to agency. But the form of a living thing is pretty much fixed e.g. a human being is not free to rearrange all his atoms, and transform into a big bird and fly away. But we never seem to notice the multitudinous ways in which we are not free, compared to the few ways in which we are free.

You describe an interaction between a free agent and a non-free coin. The agent will be informed by high-level summary information about her environment (derived from analysis of masses of lower-level information coming from her particles, atoms, molecules, cells and organs); the coin won’t have any information at all; but the atoms/molecules in the coin will have low-level information about their environment. I would say that agents experience information relationships.

The physical outcomes of the coin will be fully determined by the situation (including interaction with the agent) and by laws of nature. But the physical outcomes of the agent will be partly determined by the agent herself: this is creativity/free will/agency. I would say that agents partly determine their own physical outcomes by creating new information relationships.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jul. 11, 2018 @ 01:09 GMT
Even after the coin is caught the singular outcome that will be observed is undetermined, until the choice of how to observe the outcome is decided and actualized. (If the observer has free will to decide). The observer then sees the singular outcome resulting from the choice that was made and carried out. EM radiation is reflected only from the exposed coin surface, so the manifestation generated by the observer only depicts that singular surface, No information is obtainable from the concealed side. Consideration has gone from the two sided, two possibility object to the singular sided manifestation generated by the observer,

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Louis Brassard Brassard wrote on Jul. 7, 2018 @ 14:15 GMT
Erwin Schrodinger ¨ in his popular book “Mind and matter” (1958), wrote:

''The material world has only been constructed at the price of taking the

self, that is, mind, out of it, removing it; mind is not part of it. . .''

We could replace the word ''mind'' by consciousness, agency and the quote still works. Science is limited by its methodology and language and although scientific theories are about describing invariant aspects of the world, they do not described the world as it is . The material world is a scientific conception. It is not simply ''reality'' or ''the world''. It is a scientific narrative. In it, there is no such things as ''mind'', ''consciousness'' , ''agency'', ''experience'' that are central to all our life. The lack of it, the non appearance of these reality is a methodical requirement of the scientific approach itself. We knows that these are the most central realities for living being like us and sometime wonder what they are in terms of our scientific conceptions of the world we have already established. We forget that this scientific conceptual world is contrainted by the scientific method and its own mode of conceptualisation that has to be objective. The observer can't be in it. It is a impersonal narrative mode. TRying to re-introduce what is a priori banished in this conceptual narrative mode is not going to work. These central realities allows us to create these scientific narratives but we can't find them. The first scientific materialistic cosmologies have been done in the Ionian Enlightenmen by removing the carriers of agency, the gods from the old cosmogonies. We won't create gods from the stuff of the cosmologies.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 7, 2018 @ 23:31 GMT
I agree. Well said.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 7, 2018 @ 23:28 GMT
No one in their right mind would say that a universe, where all outcomes are 100% determined by laws of nature, could support free will/agency.

And no one in their right mind would say that a universe, where a portion of these outcomes are caused by “Atoms randomly decay[ing]”, could support free will/agency [1].

The only type of universe which can support free will/agency is a universe in which the abovementioned atoms cause the outcomes, outcomes which appear random from the point of view of an observer.

Re measuring agency [2]: Laws of nature are a genuine cause of outcomes, but laws of nature can’t be measured – they can only be inferred from measurements. Similarly, an agency that is a genuine cause of outcomes can’t be measured – it can only be inferred from measurements.

1. “Atoms randomly decay and no one would call that free will. (Well, no one in their right mind anyway, but I’ll postpone my rant about panpsychic pseudoscience to some other time.)”, physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2018/07/limits-of-reduction
ism.html

2. “We envision the APW program will lead researchers to question how we define, identify, and measure agency, intelligence, and consciousness, and to investigate how these concepts fit into our current physical theories”, FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Oct. 28, 2017 @ 13:40 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2941

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 9, 2018 @ 02:44 GMT
I think we can assume that the laws of nature, that physicists have come up with, represents something true about the nature of reality.

Physicists have ascertained that most laws of nature should not be represented as simple mathematical relationships, e.g. E2 = (pc)2 + (mc2)2, or E = mc2 would be examples of simple mathematical relationships. Instead, laws of nature might be represented as (what I would call) semi-algorithmic relationships: semi-algorithmic because the delta symbol represents an algorithmic step. I take this to be a somewhat accurate representation of what is actually going on at a fundamental level. I mean that semi-algorithmic relationships seem to indicate that somehow, more sophisticated information processing than you might expect, is going on at a fundamental level in the universe.

This leads to the question of the difference between particles, atoms and molecules on the one hand, and living things on the other hand. I would say that the main difference is in the complexity of the algorithmic relationships that analyse fundamental categories of information, and also, the ability to analyse quantities of information. Seemingly these new, more complex algorithmic information relationships define, or even create, living things.

This in turn leads to the question of where these algorithmic relationships came from: algorithmic relationships cannot emerge from deterministic processes. Algorithmic relationships are new relationships, necessarily created by matter i.e. by agents.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 9, 2018 @ 22:39 GMT
Why the delta symbol represents an algorithmic step:

A “law of nature” relationship like E = mc2 represents a relationship between categories of information.

But a representation of a “law of nature” relationship which contains the delta symbol represents not only a relationship between categories of information, but an extra level of information: number change.

This is what algorithms do: they extract extra levels of information out of existing “lower level” information. And necessarily, this is how we must represent what living things do: they extract extra levels of information by algorithmically analysing and collating masses of existing “lower level” information. And number change is a very fundamental type of “higher level” information.

Algorithmic relationships cannot emerge from deterministic processes, or from deterministic plus random processes. Algorithmic relationships are an extra level of information added to a system, because algorithmic relationships produce an extra level of information in a system.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 10, 2018 @ 04:04 GMT
Re Algorithms, and Why living things are not like computers:

Living things “process” information; they extract “higher-level” information via (what we might represent as) algorithmic analysis; they experience this information.

But computers process symbolic representations of information: neither the computer, nor any part of a computer, ever has any idea what any of the symbols represent. When oh when is it going to get through the thick heads of people, like Nick Bostrom and his idiot followers, that computers/robots are as clueless as billiard balls.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 11, 2018 @ 23:02 GMT
Physicist and astronomer Adam Frank notes that: “our best theory for how matter behaves still tells us very little about what matter is” [1].

But the implication of free will [2] is that matter’s parameters [3] are not only determined by laws of nature, but that matter itself has the power to determine its own parameter numbers. Presumably, this power only applies to certain configurations of matter: agents, but not piles of sand, chairs or billiard balls.

I would say that the free will/agency debate is about the inherent nature of matter.

1. “There is, however, a significant weakness hiding in the imposing-looking materialist redoubt. . . after more than a century of profound explorations into the subatomic world, our best theory for how matter behaves still tells us very little about what matter is. Materialists appeal to physics to explain the mind, but in modern physics the particles that make up a brain remain, in many ways, as mysterious as consciousness itself.”, Adam Frank, professor of astronomy at the University of Rochester in New York, 13 March 2017, https://aeon.co/essays/materialism-alone-cannot-explain-the-
riddle-of-consciousness

2. Free will: "The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate", https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/free_will

3. Parameter: “(technical) A numerical or other measurable factor forming one of a set that defines a system or sets the conditions of its operation”, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/parameter

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 16, 2018 @ 02:34 GMT
No Georgina.

You’ve got “How it is observed” in one sentence, and “The behaviour that leads to . . . outcomes” in the next sentence. From sentence to sentence, you jump all over the place, mixing up the situations, behaviours and timelines of observers with the situations, behaviours and timelines of particles, lumping them all together in the one discussion, making a total mess of it. You need to completely separate out the individual timelines, behaviours and situations of all the different entities that are part of the situation being examined.

And remember, this page is about “Agency in the Physical World”: you are in effect trying to imply that different outcome numbers are merely due to different points of view, or randomness (“less fixed”). You are in effect trying to imply that different outcome numbers due to agency/free will don’t exist, i.e. you are trying to imply that genuine agency/free will doesn’t exist.

Come on Georgina, out with it, be honest. Your faux “free will” means that human beings have the same “free will” as billiard balls or spinning globes of the world.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jul. 16, 2018 @ 04:07 GMT
Lorraine, to get an outcome from the Stern Gerlach apparatus the particle has to be exposed to the environment within the apparatus, which is a magnetic field with a particular orientation. The way that the particle responds to the field is important. It either already has a suitable orientation of behaviour or it doesn't. Can stay with its orientation of behaviour to the field, to give up or down spin result or it must change so that it is aligned with the field and can give up or down spin result. Both the experiment's environment and the behaviour of the particle are needed to get the result. I'm sorry you think that my discussion has lacked the clarity needed. Re.your "you are in effect trying to imply that different outcome numbers are merely due to different points of view, or randomness (“less fixed”). I don't think the outcomes of the Stern Gerlach apparatus are entirely random but as I described. The particle responds to the field but the human being chooses the field orientation. The numerical value attributed to a variable or the state of a variable does depend on how the 'measurement' is made; the relation established with the object under consideration or relation with it that is being considered.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 16, 2018 @ 07:25 GMT
Georgina,

For the purposes of this discussion, we can discount laws of nature and the environment as causative factors, because these factors are common to every outcome that has ever occurred: most (but maybe not all) of the outcome numbers have been mandated by laws of nature and the environment encountered. I want to focus on the outcome numbers that are not mandated by laws of nature and the environment (if any).

Re “the particle . . .Can stay with its orientation of behaviour to the field . . . or it must change”; “Both the experiment's environment and the behaviour of the particle are needed to get the result”:

So how can the particle be said to “change”/ “behave”, if we discount outcome numbers that are mandated by laws of nature and the environment?

In your previous reply you gave your answer: “The behaviour that leads to quantum spin outcomes when measured is less fixed”, and you now say that “The particle responds to the field but the human being chooses the field orientation”. So, we can discount the particle’s behaviour/response because you seem to be saying that the particle’s outcome numbers are 100% ruled by laws of nature and the environment (“The particle responds to the field”). What is left is your claim that it is the human being’s choice that mandates any other outcome numbers.

This leads to the question of whether your human being really does have a choice/agency over outcome numbers, or whether your human being’s choice/agency is itself just an outcome that is fully mandated by laws of nature and the environment. Without a “mechanism” that allows choice/agency to determine the fundamental numbers, just like laws of nature determine the fundamental numbers, there is merely a surface appearance of choice/agency in your human being.

With your view of the cosmos, genuine choice/“free will”/agency over the numbers can’t exist because you have no “mechanism” whereby it could occur.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jul. 16, 2018 @ 22:27 GMT
Lorraine,

You ask "So how can the particle be said to “change”/ “behave”, if we discount outcome numbers that are mandated by laws of nature and the environment?" The particle isn't carrying all of the responses it must make for the different challenges it might face but responds, as it is to what it encounters. The only necessity is that from its starting condition it behaves according to its nature as a negatively charged particle in a magnetic field. The 'outcome numbers', in the example I am using resultant spin states, are not already in existence prior to the particles experiencing the field. For there to be agency of any kind the material future can not already exist. For free will there also has to be the possibility of real choice affecting what happens, rather than just the appearance of choice. Evidence in favour of there being real choice is the evolution of brains able to problem solve and decide; providing a survival advantage.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 16, 2018 @ 23:40 GMT
No Georgina,

As I said, discounting laws of nature and the environment as causative factors, you are left with nothing. You have no “mechanism” for choice that is any different to laws of nature and the environment as causative factors: your “choice” is nothing but the appearance of choice. You are left hoping that choice (i.e. agency over the numbers) can emerge out of complexity.

Re “Evidence in favour of there being real choice is the evolution of brains able to problem solve and decide; providing a survival advantage”:

Georgina, you may as well believe in fairy tales. Vague, abstract concepts like “survival advantage” have no power over the numbers, you have to get down to tin tacks. And the “science” of chaos/complexity/emergence has zero, 0, no, nothing, zilch results: nothing emerges out of deterministic systems. If you can add algorithms to organise information in the system, then you might get something emerging, but then you have to ask where the algorithms came from, because they certainly didn’t emerge from a deterministic system. Where are the equivalent of algorithms (i.e. things that organise and make high-level conclusions about information, i.e. create new higher-level information) coming from Georgina?

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 17, 2018 @ 22:27 GMT
If you believe yourself, i.e. if you “believe in” free will/ agency/ choice/ creativity, and I do believe myself, then you believe that physics is in some way wrong. But obviously, the equations of physics’ laws of nature are not wrong. So, I’m saying that the following is where physics has got it wrong:

1. Matter is not the numb, dumb, almost superfluous in the scheme of things (merely a blank carrier of information), substance we have assumed it to be; and

2. Matter creates and knows relationships, i.e. law of nature relationships, algorithmic/logical relationships, and initial-value number assignment relationships.

This is what free will/ agency/ choice/ creativity is:

1. In quantum events, number assignment relationships; and

2. In quantum events, algorithmic/logical relationships (that organise information and create higher-level information).

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 17, 2018 @ 23:34 GMT
Re “Matter is not the numb, dumb, almost superfluous in the scheme of things (merely a blank carrier of information), substance we have assumed it to be” (see above post):

Here’s an example of a typical childish physicist suggesting that matter might be numb, dumb, and superfluous in the scheme of things:

“A common misunderstanding: In quantum teleportation, matter is NOT teleported. Instead, quantum information describing matter is teleported. Which raises the question: Are you the sum of your information?”, Brian Greene Twitter, 17th / 18th July 2018.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 18, 2018 @ 01:10 GMT
P.S. I didn't mean to suggest that all physicists are "childish": far from it!

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 20, 2018 @ 23:03 GMT
When will people [1] grow up and get over their absurd ideas about computers and robots?

True information exists in an unbroken chain of relationship right down to fundamental-level information like energy and momentum. All atomic and molecular interactions, including DNA interactions, are true information interactions.

On the other hand, the symbolic representation of information, found in books and computers/robots, breaks the chain of information relationship.

Computers/robots only process symbolic representations of information i.e. they don’t know what the symbols mean i.e. they don’t know what information is represented i.e. they are 100% numb and dumb.

1. Including physicists who should know better.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 21, 2018 @ 23:08 GMT
Many people seem to assume that deterministic processes are the only possible solution to the riddle of the emergence of life. These people might look at a graphical representation of a deterministic cellular automata algorithm and say that something resembling life emerges. But this “miraculous emergence” is logically equivalent to the “miraculous emergence” of a straight line when the equation y=2x is plotted on the graph.

In fact, when it comes to atoms and molecules, their 1) creation, 2) continued existence, and 3) interactions are all quantum processes: they cannot be understood as deterministic processes. So it might reasonably be expected that, when it comes to cells, organs and living things, their 1) creation, 2) continued existence, and 3) interactions are also quantum processes, not deterministic processes.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Jul. 21, 2018 @ 23:12 GMT
A characteristic of quantum events is that new information, e.g. new numbers for one or more of the variables representing the outcome, has been added (by whom?) to the system. New information because this outcome number has not been arrived at by deterministic processes. But added by whom?: the creation of new information, e.g. the quantum assignment of new numbers to existing variables, is exactly the sort of outcome that might be expected if genuine agency existed.

In fact, the evidence seems to indicate that it is the continual creation and possession of new information (representable as new mathematical relationships, new algorithmic relationships, the assignment of new numbers to variables) that is the characteristic of atoms, molecules, and living things. The characteristic of new information is that it has not been deterministically caused by existing laws of nature and existing circumstances.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 26, 2018 @ 08:24 GMT
Marcel, Georgina and I all agree that free will/agency exists.

If agency does exist, then it is a natural thing. But there are only 3 possible contexts in which something called “agency” might exist:

1. A universe where 100% of all outcome variable numbers are determined by laws of nature interacting with the environment gives agency no role in producing outcomes. In this situation, “agency” can never be more than a label, or an illusion.

2. A universe where most outcome variable numbers are determined by laws of nature interacting with the environment, and the rest of the numbers are “random”, also gives agency no role in producing outcomes. In this situation too, “agency” can never be more than a label, or an illusion.

3. A universe where most outcome variable numbers are determined by laws of nature interacting with the environment, and the rest of the numbers are determined by agents. This is the only situation in which genuine “agency” can exist.

Genuine agency is analogous to laws of nature in its ability to determine outcome numbers. Therefore agency, if it exists, is a fundamental aspect of reality.

Marcel and Georgina, and a lot of other people too, have difficulty with the idea that agency could be a fundamental aspect of reality. As human beings we like to think that we are very special: the centre of the universe, the pinnacle of evolution.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 28, 2018 @ 21:35 GMT
Free will/agency is not lawful. If free will were lawful, then it wouldn’t be free will, it would be a sham [1].

Free will/agency is necessarily the ability to determine outcome numbers, just like law of nature relationships determine outcome numbers.

Law of nature outcomes (represented by numbers and variables) can be seen as being due to law of nature relationships (represented by equations).

Free will/agency outcomes can be seen as being due to (what we would represent as) the creation of a new number assignment relationship for a variable.

Therefore free will/agency is more fundamental than law of nature relationships because free will/agency actually creates new relationship. A free will event is a quantum event, because quantum events are the only events where new relationships “emerge”/are created.

Free will indicates that reality is very different to the crude vision of the nature of reality peddled by many physicists and philosophers.

1. Free will: "The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate", https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/free_will

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 31, 2018 @ 06:30 GMT
You know how some people can seem to be smart, when what they say is, in fact, truly ludicrous? A good example of senseless nonsense is the following from Brian Greene:

“I suspect our cyborg descendants will look back on us with wonder at how consciousness survived a phase with such delicate housing.” Brian Greene, 28 July 2018, https://twitter.com/bgreene

Our only descendants will be human descendants, and I “suspect that our” “descendants will look back on” Brian Greene and laugh at his complacent assumptions about the nature of reality.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jul. 31, 2018 @ 22:23 GMT
Observers are particles, atoms, molecules and living things; but not billiard balls, dry leaves blowing in the wind, clocks or inanimate recording devices. Only the particles, atoms and molecules that make up the billiard balls, dry leaves, clocks and inanimate recording devices are observers.

Observers in effect “look”, they have knowledge of a situation: this knowledge exists as point-of-view subjective experience. Observers have knowledge of the rest of reality via subjective experience of information relationships (we represent these information relationships as equations, algorithms and numbers). Naturally enough, particles, atoms and molecules do not have the structure to extract the high-level algorithmic/ logical knowledge, of their situation in the universe, that living things manage to extract.

John Archibald Wheeler was right: this is a universe of observer- participants. Billiard balls and clocks are neither observers nor participants/agents. But particles, atoms, molecules and living things are observer-agents

Even the Advaita Vedanta was right: there is a “oneness between the self and the Universe” [1].

1. In How cosmic is the cosmos?, Zeeya Merali, 31 July 2018, https://aeon.co/essays/can-buddhist-philosophy-explain-what-
came-before-the-big-bang .

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 4, 2018 @ 22:19 GMT
What is information:

Information = knowledge = subjective experience of one or more relationships between categories, whereby every “higher” category is ultimately related to the most fundamental-level categories like energy and momentum. Every information category, even the most fundamental ones, can be defined as a relationship between other categories. So that information/knowledge is always contextual (i.e. related and categorised): information does not objectively exist without context (i.e. without relationship and categorisation), as if it were a binary digit in a vacuum.

How do we represent information:

The physical universe exists because of information relationships. But the relationships are not to be equated to the mathematical symbols we human beings use to represent them. We represent relationships symbolically as: (law of nature) equations, algorithms (these mainly exist in living things), and initial-value number assignments (where every measured number can ultimately be traced to simpler relationships between categories in which the “numerator” and “denominator” categories cancel out, leaving a number, which is a thing without a category).

What knows information and what creates information:

The universe itself creates and knows all the types of relationships (represented by human beings as equations, algorithms, numbers). More precisely, parts of the universe create and know relationships: i.e. agent-observers create and know relationships, where agent-observers are “information-integrated”: particles, atoms, molecules, and living things. This “creation” and “knowledge” are otherwise known as “free will” and “consciousness”.

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