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FQXi BLOGS
October 17, 2019

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Measuring Free Will: Ian Durham at the 6th FQXi Meeting [refresh]
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Blogger Ian Durham wrote on Aug. 14, 2019 @ 19:08 GMT
It feels a bit odd blogging about myself, but here goes...
The author at the 6th FQXi Meeting


For most of the history of modern science the debate over free will has been largely left to the realm of philosophy. Indeed, the debate is as old as philosophy itself. But, increasingly, free will has gained in importance in certain areas of science. For example in quantum mechanical tests of Bell’s inequalities, it is assumed that the “choices” made regarding the settings on the measurement devices are “freely” made by whatever is operating those devices (FQXi member Nathan Argaman argues that this is merely freedom in the variables themselves, but this is a debatable point). This led mathematicians John Conway and Simon Kochen to develop a free will theorem that posits that if we have free will, then, subject to certain assumptions, so do elementary particles. Specifically they take free will in this context to be the fact that our choices do not depend on the past. Their theorem is often interpreted as showing that science is incompatible with determinism.

Nobel laureate physicist and FQXi member Gerard ‘t Hooft disagrees with this sentiment. In his view, the “choices” in a Bell test are ultimately determined from the entire history of the universe up until the point at which the choice is ultimately made. This is sometimes referred to as superdeterminism. FQXi member Anton Zeilinger strongly opposes this view as antithetical to the entire scientific enterprise as he sees it as undermining falsifiability.

What is notable about both these views is that neither is particularly favorable toward free will as a concept. While Conway and Kochen certainly argue against determinism, by concluding that elementary particles must have free will if we do, it seems as if they are, through the apparent absurdity of that conclusion, arguing against free will.

This debate is far from purely academic. The modern legal system in many countries assumes that human beings have some level of free will while modern science seems to be pushing back on this assumption. Understanding the actions of our fellow humans entails a better understanding of consciousness and, by extension, free will. The fact is, whether or not we actually have free will, we behave as if we do. But what are the characteristics of this behavior? What does it mean to have (or behave as if we have) free will and can we quantify it?
What is free will?


This is a question that I addressed at the recent FQXi conference in Tuscany.

Free Podcast

Measuring Free Will. To what degree are our choices really free, rather than determined? And how much control do we have over them? Quantum physicist Ian Durham presents a new mathematical model for free will. From the 6th FQXi Meeting, in Tuscany.



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I began with a simple example. Suppose that I open my refrigerator in order to have a snack and am presented with the option of having either carrots or peppers. What would it mean from a behavioral standpoint for either choice to be seen as being “free”? In other words, what do we really mean when we say a choice is “free”?

For one thing, we need to have the confidence that whatever choice we make, that choice needs to have a high probability of actually occurring. That is, suppose that I choose to have a carrot. For that choice to really be free I need to have the confidence that at some point between making the choice and actually eating the carrot, it doesn’t spontaneously turn into a pepper or a potato or a chair.
What are we actually doing when we choose, say, between carrots and peppers from a refrigerator?
If the latter happened with any regularity, we would simply throw up our hands and stop making choices altogether because we could never be certain of the outcomes. Choices could just as easily be made by throwing darts at a wall. Outcomes would be completely random regardless of what we thought we chose. This is not free will. As philosopher Robert Nozik pointed out, “An action’s being non-determined is not sufficient for it to be free–it might just be a random act.”

This also suggests that we weigh our options against one another. Again, if we didn’t, we could accomplish the same thing by throwing darts at a wall. This, in turn, suggests that the options we didn’t choose generally don’t change once we’ve made our choice (and started to act on it) either. Again, if it routinely did, we would simply give up in frustration.

None of this necessarily means that our choices are about fitness. I may simply “be in the mood” for carrots rather than thinking that carrots are somehow a more optimal choice than peppers at the time. But the point is that I have the time and ability to think about them. That is, I have “read” them into my memory and then contemplated them. In order to do so, however, the number of all possible choices must be processed in a finite amount of time or we have to consciously eliminate some without really processing them.

In order to quantify all of this in some way, we nevertheless need to recognize the fact that, at the most fundamental level, the universe is random. Whether or not we actually have free will, it is clear that there is a deterministic element to our behavior concerning choices, namely that those choices have a high likelihood of occurrence once chosen. But that level of determination has to arise from something more fundamentally random. How is this possible? A simple example provides a hint.

One of the more popular games at casinos around the world—and one of the oldest games of chance known—is the game of craps. The game of craps is relatively simple. It simply involves rolling a pair of dice and betting on the outcome. But not every outcome of the roll of a pair of dice is equally probable. Anyone who has ever played a board game knows that a roll of 12 (“double boxcars”) or 2 (“snake eyes”) is much less common than other rolls. But why is that?

The roll of each individual die is assumed to be completely random. That is, each number from 1 to 6 is assumed to be equally likely to arise. In fact, to try to ensure this is the case in the long run, casinos paint the dots on their dice rather than use dice whose dots are little holes as is common in most dice. This is to ensure that the center of gravity is as close to the physical center of the die as possible which helps keep the die balanced.

So if each number on a single die is equally likely to occur over the long run, how is it that a roll of 12 or 2 is less common than, say, a roll of 7 (which happens to be the most common)? The answer is that there are more combinations that give a 7 than give a 2 or 12. In fact, there is only one way to roll a 2 or 12—both dice have to be 1 or both dice have to be 6 respectively. But there are six ways to get a 7. So the probability of getting a 7 is higher because there are more configurations that lead to a 7.

While a 7 is more likely than a 2 or a 12, it isn’t that much more likely in the grand scheme of things. Most people have rolled a 2 or a 12 while playing a board game at some point in their lives. We call the number rolled on the pair of dice (between 2 and 12) the macrostate and we call the number rolled on each die individually the microstate. But there are physical systems with macrostates that are overwhelmingly more likely than nearly every other macrostate such that the system almost always ends up in this state. Examples include two-state paramagnets and interacting Einstein solids (I discussed some of these in a recent FQXi essay). In other words, it would be like having a pair of dice that, despite the individual dice ending up on a random number each roll, the pair would always end up on the same overall roll. This isn’t a strange quantum behavior. It’s simply how combinations work when the number of combinations is very, very large.

The point of all this is to show that it is possible to get a nearly deterministic macrostate from a large collection of entirely random microstates. In fact, in statistical mechanics, this is known as the thermodynamic limit. There is nothing mysterious about it.

How does this help with modeling free will? Let’s go back to the refrigerator again. What am I actually choosing when I choose carrots over peppers? The fact is that the carrots and peppers are in different places in the refrigerator. As such, the act of getting a carrot out of the refrigerator is an entirely different process than the act of getting a pepper. So when we make a choice, we are choosing between two different processes. Each of these processes has a probability distribution such that one macrostate is overwhelmingly more likely than any other—the chance that the act of choosing a carrot leads to eating a pepper is vanishingly small. That is, the variances of the probability distribution for each process is very small. This seems in line with the what we might think of as a “free choice” since it ensures that our choice is very likely to occur.

If all of our choices have probability distributions, we can represent the ensemble of possible choices with what is called a mixed distribution. There are a number of interesting properties of such distributions including something known as the Mahalanobis distance which can be construed as measuring just how distinct a pair of choices is. The Mahalanobis distance between two different carrots is going to be smaller, for example, than the corresponding Mahalanobis distance between a carrot and a pepper since the carrots are more “alike”. One assumes that the freer the choice, the larger the Mahalanobis distances to all the other possible choices.

So one possible measure of “free choice” would be some function (which I call the zeta-function) of the minimum Mahalanobis distance between that choice and any other choice in the ensemble. Likewise it would be proportional to a time function that ensures that the full ensemble of choices can be read into our memory and processed in a finite amount of time. The zeta-function should also be inversely proportional to the variance of the choice (the smaller the variance, the greater the freedom as I just described).

The zeta-function is a measure of the freedom of an individual choice. It is safe to say that sometimes our choices are not free. Many actions in our life are instinctual. But it’s safe to say that if a certain number of our choices are free we might say we have free will. So a measure of free will itself, which I call the Z-function, would be some function of the collection of zeta-functions for all the choices we have.

There are a lot of details that can’t be captured by a blog post or a simple twenty minute talk (a paper is forthcoming). Certainly there are valid criticisms of such a model. But my aim was really to stimulate discussion and hopefully research into formal models of free will as it is becoming increasingly important in science, particularly in areas like quantum foundations and consciousness studies. So one can view this work as me throwing down the gauntlet and challenging the scientific community to start thinking about this in some depth. Hopefully I will have at least succeeded in that.

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali wrote on Aug. 14, 2019 @ 21:56 GMT
This is probably not the most important thing to have taken away from this, but I did not know that little fact about casinos painting the dots on dice.

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Joe William Fisher replied on Sep. 24, 2019 @ 18:46 GMT
Dear Dr. Merali, I do not know how important this fact might be, but no physicist has ever developed an accurate test for determining the actual amount of invisible free will that could lurk in any real person’s brain and exactly where in the real person’s brain that invisible dollop of free will occupied. Indeed, the only true fact every credentialed physicist has ever proven was that the real planet Earth had a real VISIBLE surface for MILLIONS of real years before Ian Durham ever appeared on that real VISBLE surface and began publishing his unnatural guesswork about brainless invisible free will. Obviously, NATURE could have devised only ONE form of VISIBLE reality. There has only ever been, and there will only ever be ONE unified infinite VISIBLE surface ETERNALLY occurring in ONE infinite dimension that am always mostly illuminated by ONE finite sort of non-surface light. After I had entered the term free will into the Google Search Engine, I was informed that the Google Search Engine had found “About 19,100,000,000 results (0.60 seconds)” AS you are aware: “FQXi catalyzes, supports, and disseminates research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.” Would it be asking too much of you to stay true to the FQXi.org Mission?

Joe Fisher, Natural Realist

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Saibal Mitra wrote on Aug. 14, 2019 @ 23:07 GMT
Within the MWI one can also address this issue by invoking the fact that our subjective state (everything that we're aware at some instant), doesn't fully specify the exact physical state of our brain. The number of distinct physical brain states is so astronomically large that your mindset and how you are feeling about everything isn't going to be consistent with only one physical brain state. This means that given your subjective state, the physical state of your MWI sector should be described as a very complex superposition involving a large number of brain states that are entangled with the environment.

It's then possible for you to find yourself in a physical state where you really have different choice. While one can attribute that to a lack of knowledge, the "you" as an entity that has a subjective feeling of who you are and what you are experiencing, may only exist as an entangled superposition. A problem within the computational theory of mind is the relevance of counterfactuals. Suppose that a computer running an AI program is generating consciousness. Then the fact that this AI is conscious at any given time is due to the algorithm being run.

But at some moment in time, the physical state of the computer is just transitioning from one particular state to another state. If consciousness is related to the actual physical state of the computer, then replacing the computer by a dumb device that doesn't compute anything, which simply cycles through physical states that the computer would move through given some particular set of inputs, should also be conscious.

This absurd conclusion is hard to avoid, somehow getting counterfactual actions as a response to counterfactual inputs must be relevant, but there is no room to do that within classical physics. But a realistic MWI picture as described above does get around this problem.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 15, 2019 @ 01:31 GMT
When oh when will physics stop the utter nonsense about free will: THE PHYSICISTS MODEL OF THE WORLD DOES NOT PERMIT GENUINE FREE WILL. Genuine free will is about a living thing having “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate” [1].

Apparently, physicists think it is OK to massage the true nature of their model of the world, and redefine determinism as “free will”. Now they have added the laughable concept of “probability distributions”, as if a “probability distribution” ever caused a single actual outcome.

Either the physics model of the world is correct, in which case no free will exists OR free will exists, in which case the physics model of the world is incorrect. Clearly, the physics model of the world IS incorrect: the physicists view of the world is very badly mistaken.

1. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/free_will (Oxford dictionary).

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 15, 2019 @ 17:39 GMT
I do not redefine determinism as free will. Actually, my claim is that free will (at least as we seem to experience it) lies somewhere between full determinism and full randomness. But, as I point out in my response to your second comment below, I am actually not attempting to define free will here. I am simply mathematically modeling the behavior we most commonly view as attributable to free will. I am not saying that probability distributions themselves have any causal agency. They are simply a way to model data. That's all I'm doing.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 15:08 GMT
I agree that you personally didn’t try to “redefine determinism as free will”, but a lot of physicists and philosophers do try to “redefine determinism as free will” (e.g. philosopher Daniel Dennett, who seems to be admired by a lot of physicists).

See my question below.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 17:25 GMT
Yes, many do try to do this. Many also define its exact opposite---indeterminism---as free will. I think both are misguided.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 15, 2019 @ 03:05 GMT
The world is burning; environmental catastrophe is looming. But all physics can say is that the laws of nature caused it, or “probability distributions” caused it. According to physics, matter itself (e.g. matter in the form of human beings and other living things) has no power over outcomes: only laws of nature and “probability distributions” have power over outcomes. Is it any wonder that many people have no respect for science?

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali replied on Aug. 15, 2019 @ 17:14 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I understand your frustration. Many scientists and philosophers would agree that it's tough to come up with a version of libertarian free will that fits with physics. But I think Ian would be the first to agree that environmental catastrophe is looming -- he highlighted the climate change crisis as the biggest issue of 2018 on a previous edition of the podcast.

I don't think his intention with his model is to explain away our moral responsibility for our actions, so we can all just give up and blame our powerlessness in the face of the laws of nature for climate change.

Whether we can come up with a physical account of free will that can deal with moral accountability, that I don't know. But I think it's reasonable for Ian and others to try and take steps towards framing the puzzles surrounding free will in a mathematical way.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 15, 2019 @ 17:36 GMT
Thank you for that comment Zeeya. Yes, I absolutely think the climate crisis is a looming disaster that we are entirely responsible for. In fact I do not actually attempt to explain free will with my model. I am simply mathematically modeling the behavior of free will. My model works regardless of whether or not free will actually exists (I, personally, think it does). Again, I am in no way attempting to absolve anyone of responsibility in this. We are all responsible through our actions (or lack thereof).

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 11:40 GMT
Hi dear FQXi friends,

Lorraine,what you tell is a reality. I Don't understand the high sphères of power.They must take their responsabilities because they exist these solutions.Here is a global solution in all humility. We must industrialise the solar system in liberating the funds of this world bank.That will catalyse the 197 governements and they shall be able to give water,food,energy,jobs,hopes to majority. On earth we adapt due to climate and others problems and we harmonise the ecosystems on earth on soils and océans with the vegetal multiplication and composting at big global scale.For space too we need these ecosystems.This solution is deterministic,we are obliged to adapt us.We opeouhumanity,this earth to our universe,it's a logic step of evolution,a new era.Economically speaking too it's important to tell that all wins without exception.We are obliged to change,if not we shall add chaotical exponentials.If they didn't exist these solutions,I could understand,but no they exist and are rational,we does not lack norbspace,nor Energy,nor potential.We lack of a real responsible ONU taking its responsabilities.We can do it,we must convice this ONU.Maybe FQXi can create a system,it will be the biggest revolution of all times.We can do it.The hour is serious after all,for us and the next générations.

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Eric Aspling wrote on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 00:44 GMT
Professor Durham,

Your talk and related blog were very fascinating. I enjoyed them very much. I have some "novice" cautions that I am curious to know your thoughts on:

Time certainly can't be treated like an independent variable. It's not so obvious with the carrot/pepper example (though valid). However, the decision to charge a burning car to save a life is directly tied to time as...

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 17:40 GMT
Hi Eric,

Those are some really awesome observations. You are right that the Mahalanobis distance is a temporally fixed quantity. I think I need to flesh out the locality issues in a bit more depth.

Regarding the thermodynamic limit, I think you are partly right about that. We certainly don't understand it enough. I'm not convinced it matters here, but I could be wrong.

I definitely think you have nailed some of the issues with the role that time plays in this and I have been thinking a lot about how to incorporate it into the theory. In the write-up I am working on I took out the inverse-dependence on the time function because some folks at the conference made some similar observations. I just have to figure out how to come up with a clearer model.

Speaking of which, if you have any further ideas or insights, feel free to drop me an e-mail. One of my goals in this work is the stimulate further work by people other than myself. Basically I'm trying to get the scientific community to think about free will in a different way.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 11:19 GMT
Hello Professor Durham,

Thanks for sharing,this article is a pleasure to read and your interprétations of free will too. I d like share a thought,general,here is the idea.

We have this general relativity considering this gravitation like a curvature of our spacetime due to mass.It's not really a force for this GR which has been recognised like correct.The newtonian mechanics correct...

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 17, 2019 @ 11:02 GMT
Professor Durham,

sorry ,it's not about your mathematical free will,but I d like to have your point of vue about this quantum gravitation.

Here are still reasoning correlated.

This Dark matter probably has a mechanism at quantum and cosmological scales. We have in logic annihilation of this matter giving particles and antiparticles,but how at this cosmological scale?

This implies that so they are bosons if they are encoded in nuclei,of SPIN 2 so like this quantum gravitation.

Now let's imagine that this matter is correlated with the cold and permits to balance these two scales about heat.Like if gravitation balanced electromagnetism,like the cold balances the heat.

That implies that we have a kind of standard model encircled,balanced with this entropical cold gravitation.The same for our cosmological scale.

Now we arrive at a paradox about this gravitation.This force is the weakest quantum force,but too the strongest if we insert a serie of quantum BHs farer than our nuclear forces and its quarks,gluons.

Like Simply our cosmological scale and its DM and BHs supermassive. This can explain our quantum gravitation,bosonically speaking more this serie of quantum BHs.

Regards

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 17, 2019 @ 13:48 GMT
hope my equation can be proved,experimented.It's intuitive about this dark matter encoded.So I have Simply added to E=mc².That gives E=mc²+X l² ,X is a parameter unknown that I consider correlated with the cold and l is the linear Velocity of particles of DM.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 19, 2019 @ 09:25 GMT
Lie groups, there are SU(N),SO(N),Sp(N), and the exceptional G_2, F_4, E_6, E_7, and E_8.

About Lie groups,it's Indeed a wonderful tool for the ranking and fractalisation. That said ,I have suggested to Klee Irwin to consider these finite serie of sphères with cold and heat instead of points and strings.The distribution between the zero absolute and the planck temperature due to codes Inside these finite series of this gravitational aether can give relevant resulsts it seems to me humbly.

Imagine the combinations,infinite if we insert the volumes,surfaces,densities,senses of rotations,oscillations,.....We have a concrete general road to rank and explain all our forces,mass,energy transformations,encodings…..synchroniztions,superimposings
, sortings appear with the good mathematical methods.

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Member Tim Maudlin wrote on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 16:13 GMT
Free will—as a characterization of some human actions—has indeed been discussed by philosophers for millennia. John Locke and David Hume correctly pointed out that there is no incompatibility at all between complete determinism and the existence of "acts of free will". One could have a discussion of their conceptual analysis, but that would really be counterproductive here. Because the main...

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 16, 2019 @ 17:24 GMT
Hi Tim, if you listen to the podcast you will see that my work has nothing to do with Bell's theorem. And I fully agree with you that the concept of free will has done nothing but muddy the waters with regard to Bell's theorem (I have read all of Bell's works multiple times---my copy of "Speakable and Unspeakable..." is literally falling apart). My work here is nothing more than a mathematical model of the behavior that we associate with what we colloquially refer to as free will. I take no stance on whether free will actually exists or not. Neither do I make any claims about compatibilism or incompatibilism. It's simply a mathematical model of behavior. That's it.

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Sydney Ernest Grimm replied on Sep. 8, 2019 @ 12:11 GMT
I agree with Tim Maudlin. If we want to design a mathematical methodology to “calculate” free will, we must know exactly what free will is. If our universe is “super deterministic” it has no sense to relate the proposed mathematical model to “free will” (the model will be applicable to every behavior, even pigs eating out of the manger). Moreover, it seems to me that the proposed model represents just another phenomenological point of view. Like nearly all theoretical physics is about phenomenological reality.

We need insight in the underlying mathematical structure of the universe at the quantum level, independent from the created phenomena. It is time FQXi lives up its “foundational aim”.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 8, 2019 @ 13:04 GMT
Hello Mr Grimm,

It's very difficult in fact to compute this freewill and explain it mathematically.Like said Ian,it's a model of comportment,a sphere with inputs and outputs and different parameters. The superdeterminism and consciousness have Something to do with all this. We must maybe rank with sphères of different parameters,equations,algorythms.The densities,volumes of sphères,and oscillations can be relevant with the superimposings,sortings,synchronisations of informations. Many systems can be ranked and with different équations,algorythms.The quantum computing seems maybe too in this logic. In all case all this is very complex,the works of Max Tegmark,Ian Durham are very difficult,they try to formalise mathematically all this puzzle about consciousness,freewill,neural networks,AI.They make a good job for AI.I said me too that this intuition too could be a relevant parameter,a different sphere too where Always it's a question of determinism and randomness,in fact it's like if we had Always for each sphere a specific pourcentage about both,some sphères have more determinism,others less.That can be ranked.Like too convergences with consciousness correlated with this determinism showing the universal truths.

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Steve Agnew wrote on Aug. 17, 2019 @ 04:16 GMT
So the title is about measuring free will, which would be very interesting, and then the talk denies any way to measure free will.

Is this helpful?

We all act as if we have free will and we therefore we all do have free will. We all act as if we are conscious and so we are therefore conscious as well. This is just how the universe is.

Then people argue that free will and consciousness are illusions and not therefore "real" as if there is any difference between reality and illusions. Most of what we think we sense is actually an illusion and so what? That is just how the universe is and the whole point is survival and so if we survive, reality is what is real.

Clearly evidence shows that free will is subconscious and some therefore argue that free will is not purposeful since it is not part of conscious reasoning. However, our subconscious feeling and emotions are what make us who we are and are hardly random. Morality is not random and has taken thousands of years and morality is decidedly not random or it would have been established thousands of years ago.

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Steve Agnew replied on Aug. 17, 2019 @ 15:52 GMT
Nevertheless, I do find this discussion of free will interesting since it is very revealing of how very smart people think. In fact, people make very reasoned arguments for free will as an axiom and free will as an illusion of consciousness. Of course, since nearly everything that we think we sense we make up anyway because of the complexity of sensation, it turns out that most of consciousness is really an illusion anyway.

We are subject to our subconscious archetypes for most of reality and that includes free will. Likewise, our morality derives from our archetypes and therefore are all subject to the same free will and responsibility for all of our choices. Regardless of the circumstances of our lives, we always have a choice between carrots and peppers from the fridge. Right now, I would choose peppers but then I don't happen to have carrots right now.

Durham argues that random choices are not free choices, but we did freely decide to throw the dart and we did freely decide to roll the dice. So some choices are just 50:50 propositions, but we do make decisions even for these.

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Steve Agnew replied on Aug. 17, 2019 @ 15:57 GMT
The technical reason that we have free will is that we actually cannot always know the reasons why we make the choices that we make even though those reasons do exist in a causal universe. What we do is first make a decision based on our subconscious feeling and then we tend to rationalize that choice with conscious reasoning that may or may not have had anything to do with our choice.

In very technical terms, we each live in our own quantum universe of matter, action, and quantum phase and while matter and action are how things change, quantum phase is also an important part of how things change and we also have quantum phase. In fact, the very nature of neural action potentials has to do with quantum phase so our quantum phase affects how we see matter action and then how we perceive reality.

It is because of quantum phase that some precursors are not knowable even though they do exist as superpositions of quantum phase. We can only know the outcomes of free choice, which, as Durham states, are very certain to happen whether or not you believe in free choice.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 17, 2019 @ 17:34 GMT
I'm confused. I give a very specific measure of free will that I call the Z-function which is a concatenation of what I call the zeta-function which measures a the freedom of an individual choice. So I certainly don't deny any way to measure free will. The entire point of the talk was the exact opposite.

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Robert H McEachern wrote on Aug. 17, 2019 @ 18:29 GMT
"In other words, what do we really mean when we say a choice is “free”?"

It means that the entity that made the choice is an essential "actor" in the causal chain: In other words, no other entity, could either produce or even reliably predict, the choice the entity would make, before the entity made it.

Free will exists precisely because even the universe, in its entirety, is not vast enough to predict some things, in any other manner, than by simply enabling them to happen in real-time; in that sense, the occurrence of the event and its prediction are one-and-the-same thing. It is the vast information content of the initial conditions, not the negligible content and properties of the physical laws, that is ultimately responsible for the existence of free-will.

"we nevertheless need to recognize the fact that, at the most fundamental level, the universe is random." No it is not. At the most fundamental level, the universe consists of entities that encode exactly one bit of information, as Shannon, not physicists, define the term. A single isolated bit cannot exist without noise being present. But the fact that each such bit is a combination of both signal, and noise, and not JUST random noise, is what ultimately makes all repeatable (hence predictable) behaviors possible.

Rob McEachern

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 20, 2019 @ 03:10 GMT
Ian Durham,

Your way of measuring “free will” is based on an unconvincing model of free will.

Your model doesn’t say why you should be considered to be different to the fridge or the carrot: what, if anything, distinguishes you from the fridge or the carrot?

Your model has no way of distinguishing free will from random numeric outcomes and deterministic numeric outcomes and combinations thereof. You say: “We are all responsible through our actions (or lack thereof)”, but your model of random and deterministic numeric outcomes fails to explain how this could make a person responsible for his actions, i.e. responsible for causing the numeric outcomes.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 20, 2019 @ 19:31 GMT
You're absolutely right and that is a valid criticism. I'm working on shoring up that part of the model using downward causation (see George Ellis' talk). There are still some issues to be worked out, but all research is work in progress anyway.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 20, 2019 @ 23:37 GMT
Ian,

Living things having free will is against the religious beliefs of physicists because free will means that matter is active rather than passive.

Genuine free will means that matter itself is the cause of at least some number-jump change in the universe. This type of thing can only be modelled by algorithms. The response of living things to wider numeric situations can only be modelled by algorithms: equations can’t do it. And algorithms do not “emerge” from equations.

But physicists religiously believe that all number change in the universe just happens with no actual cause (though the numeric outcomes must conform to law of nature equations, or the numeric outcomes are random number jumps).

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 21, 2019 @ 22:00 GMT
So Ian,

The equations of physics assume a perfectly working machine of number change, where number change in one variable is “caused” by relationships between number changes in other variables. But physics says that there is no real reason for number change to ever occur; number change just happens.

On the other hand, physics denies that matter is active, i.e. that matter could cause number-jump change.

Physics is looking for free will in human beings; but shouldn’t physics be looking at free will as a necessary part of the functioning of the system?

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Aug. 21, 2019 @ 06:52 GMT
It seems there is layer upon layer of obstacles, things beyond sufficient personal control as not to affect free will and 'built in'. Environment, upbringing, circumstances, other people, other organisms, societal rules, family values,learned behaviour, habits, reflexes, personality, health/illness, mental health, disability, biochemistry,nerve function. Some overlap of items on the list and some acting together as a combined influence. I'm no longer as confident in the idea of free will as I used to be. I have developed a functional neurological balance and movement disorder. Body and mind are no longer 'on the same page', working together as one. Besides that try as I might I don't make the progress I would like and it doesn't seem to me lack of persistence or will.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 21, 2019 @ 19:56 GMT
Further obstacles to free will; climate, weather, economics, politics, war, famine, imprisonment, culture, need of social acceptance, subconscious biases, history, unknown consequences of former choices.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 22, 2019 @ 00:00 GMT
Georgina,

According to you, the world is full of special cases that have nothing in common. So, don't expect your readers to do your work; it's up to you to do the work: describe in one single sentence what you think all your special cases have in common.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 22, 2019 @ 05:36 GMT
They all have an effect on the choices I make or would if they applied to me.

Other organisms is a bit vague- How about ants in the kitchen? I don't want to have to deal with them but will or the problem gets worse. I'm not choosing freely. Their behaviour makes me choose to deal with them . I am, I think, free to choose how many dead ant bodies will make me wipe them away. 1 or 2 maybe not, 6 or more almost certainly. though it will also depend on other circumstances. Or a sizable shark swimming next to the boat I'm on as I'm contemplating a swim. I'm hot and the water looks cool and refreshing.Also vague, unknown consequences of former choices- As unknown I am likely not prepared but they will affect what i choose to do when they happen.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 22, 2019 @ 14:07 GMT
Georgina,

What you do about the ants is up to you. The issue is whether you have genuine free will or not. The options are:

1) The world is such that people make a genuine difference to the world i.e. the world is such that people genuinely played a part in causing climate change; OR

2) The world is such that people don’t make a genuine difference to the world i.e. the world is such that nothing but the laws of nature and randomness is causing everything including people’s thoughts and actions and climate change.

Despite what they might say, all the physicists at the recent FQXi conference believe in option 2: the physicists’ mathematical model of the way the world works (together with associated explanatory bits) means that people can’t possibly make a genuine difference to the world.

This is a bit embarrassing for physics. Physicists don’t want the general public to know the truth about what they think about climate change. They are trying to find some magic topology that will twist and turn their theories into something compatible with people making a genuine difference to the world, but it can’t be done, seemingly because their core beliefs are that matter is a passive puppet, not an active actor.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 22, 2019 @ 19:17 GMT
I'm going to kick myself later for asking this, but what is it that we physicists supposedly think about climate change?

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 22, 2019 @ 22:29 GMT
Lorraine, You asked me to give one sentence explaining what the "special cases" have in common. I did that. The ants were just an example of how my choices could be affected by other organisms. What I do about the ants is up to the ants, too. I'm responding to them.The human race is affecting climate, by various means, but I have no personal control over the energy policies of China and USA or Amazon deforestation, for example. My personal contribution to climate change is minuscule. Climate is a chaotic system. Small changes can have big effects. Necessary Truncation of variables makes predictions uncertain. Working with the idea of a space-time continuum, climate change outcomes are already part of it. Past, Present and Future are relative to the observer. In contrast, Uni-temporal existence has an open unwritten future.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 22, 2019 @ 23:22 GMT
Ian,

What physicists think is that:

People can’t possibly make a genuine difference to the world because (physicists think that) matter is a passive puppet, i.e. matter is 100% puppeted by laws of nature and “randomness”. It makes no difference what the law of nature equations are: matter is a passive puppet.

The alternative is that matter is not a passive puppet: matter has a genuine role in the system.

So, what is the nature of the world?

1) Do law of nature equations represent a perfect engine that single-handedly drives the world, or does new number change fuel have to be continually/ intermittently input to make the system work? and

2) If new numbers are in fact continually being input to the system, then is “randomness” the cause or is matter the cause?

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Blogger Ian Durham wrote on Aug. 23, 2019 @ 15:01 GMT
Well, Lorraine, if you insist on seeing it that way, I doubt anything I say will change your mind. I wonder, however, given your intense criticism of the way you seem to think physicists think, why you spend so much time hanging out on a site ostensibly dedicated to physics.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 23, 2019 @ 22:49 GMT
Ian,

I’m sorry for going overboard on the “physicists think that” bit, but you’ve got to admit that there’s something in what I’m saying.

Physics wants us to believe that miracles happen: life, agency, consciousness and charitable works logically “emerge” out of deterministic/random processes; then there’s loony Max Tegmark (and loony philosopher Susan Schneider) telling us that consciousness and intelligence “emerge” out of bits of circuit board; and even George Ellis agrees with Tegmark i.e. he equates living things to computers (“muscles move according to an abstract plan”, “computer algorithms [are abstract entities that] are a definitive example again of the causal power of abstract entities”).

Of course, there are lots of very gullible people around who will unthinkingly believe anything physics tells them.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 24, 2019 @ 18:29 GMT
"Loony" Max Tegmark is the director of the organization that runs this site. I don't agree with him on a lot of things, but his hard work is directly responsible for the fact that you have a forum on which to criticize him. You might consider toning it down a bit.

As for physics, I think you fundamentally misunderstand both physics and physicists. But, as I said, nothing I say will change your mind. You just might want to reconsider your approach, however.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 16:30 GMT
Hello,

I must agree with you Ian. Fqxi has Always been transparent in accepting all persons. It's a little bit strong there Lorraine about him.He is relevant and has permitted with Aguirre to create this platform.He does not merit this critic.

Regards

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 01:58 GMT
Free will means that living things/ matter has “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate” [1].

To model free will (using a set of variables and associated numbers to represent outcomes) requires that:

1) At least one number will look random (from the point of view of an observer) in the sense that the number was not determined by the laws of nature (represented by the equations of physics); and 2) Matter itself caused the number assignment to the variable.

In essence, Ian Durham’s analysis [2] does not disagree with the above. But he then goes on to model a “free will” which he admits is indistinguishable from non-free will [3].

Free will is a revolutionary idea for physics. The idea is that matter itself causes the assignment of numbers to variables, in addition to law of nature relationships determining the numbers. I.e.: 1) Matter is a separate thing to (what is represented by) equations and numbers; and 2) Matter causes outcomes, but cause itself is not representable as equations and numbers.

But Ian Durham seemingly does not separate matter from fields i.e. platonically existing sets of numbers, equations, statistics, probabilities and random fluctuations. So his analysis of the nature of the world doesn’t have the necessary requirements to make free will possible.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 01:59 GMT
(continued)

Notes:

1. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/free_will (Oxford dictionary).

2. “…A completely random outcome is where you can have multiple outcomes and they are all equally likely… now all realistic processes that we encounter in real life are somewhere between the two… we rarely encounter fully random processes… and we rarely deal with fully deterministic processes either. Going back to essence of free will, there are some things we can say about free will: first of all… choices have to be free, and free will is going to be some sort of amalgam towards this… a choice can only be said to be free if an agent can make some sort of judgement about all the possible choices… in order to weight them against one another...it’s got to have some meaning to us otherwise the choice is just random…”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/fqxi-podcast/id5237873
76

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 02:02 GMT
(continued)

3. “…so this is what defines a free choice : the Zeta function, and that’s for a single free choice , so there are lots of choices that could be free , and they could be made by systems that don’t have free will , but the point is: what is free will then, so a measure of free will would be …some partition function that is function of all the Zetas for different choices meaning the level of free will depends in some way on the freedom of the choices under consideration and the expectation of this is that there are going to be different levels of free will for different systems …I would expect that an increasing level of complexity is going to lead to an increasing level of free will ..from a bumble bee to a computer to my wife …I assume that the level of free will goes up that way…This leaves a bunch of questions, and the first is can this model produce real measurable results ; does it necessarily presuppose a dualist view of consciousness - it certainly is panpsychist , but whether it is dualist or not, I haven’t decided , it certainly seems like it ought to be…”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/fqxi-podcast/i
d523787376

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 15:33 GMT
I do not define free will in the same way it is defined in [1].

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 02:14 GMT
Hi Ian, I've been thinking about choice of carrot or pepper. Behaving in a habitual way takes less mental effort than trying something new and the outcome of the habitual choice is more certain. Done it before, turned out well, likely to do it again. I'm thinking of a person who only uses carrots for cooking and only uses peppers for scooping cold savory dip. This person's habit and intention when going to the fridge decide what is chosen. Free will would be in the very slim chance of doing something completely different-the opposite choice for the intended purpose. The probability distribution for different choices seems a tricky thing, with so many influences. E.g. food price, culture, appetite. My own choice of pepper or carrot for scooping dip depends on the colour of the pepper. Yellow or red trumps carrot. Carrot trumps green pepper.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 07:45 GMT
I see you are suggesting modeling each process of choosing. Such as reaching for foods in different places. Do you think enacting the choice (or what appears to be a choice) is sufficient to demonstrate or model free will? Or is the ability to make a choice part of it too? A robot picking items for dispatch in a warehouse isn't really demonstrating free will. What it will do is predetermined by its programming and abilities. Although it appears to choose and enact the choice. For a creature of habit there might not be choosing at all, just doing. The same action strengthened by multiple repetitions.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 15:31 GMT
Hi Georgina, that first point you make is a good one. At what point does something simply become habitual and how can that be modeled? I'm not sure about either of those. My thought is that the time we take to ponder our choices matters. It seems like a habitual choice, on average, is made more quickly than a non-habitual choice.

I don't think that enacting a *single* choice is sufficient to demonstrate free will. I think free will is a statistical phenomenon. I think it is possible for a computer or a robot to make a singular free choice from time to time, but I don't know if it has free will. My guess is not precisely because so many of their choices are essentially determined by programming or habitual choices.

This brings up an important point that my wife made at one point (she's a political scientist). Free will requires the capacity to learn. If something like a computer or robot has the capacity to learn, then perhaps it could demonstrate some level of free will.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 20:59 GMT
Ian,

I'm not sure about this "The zeta-function should also be inversely proportional to the variance of the choice (the smaller the variance, the greater the freedom as I just described)."Ian Durham. It seems counter intuitive, in that the less different, most restrictive circumstance, is giving more freedom. The choice between two carrots might seem easier than carrot or pepper. However if asked to choose the very best carrot it becomes harder because all of the attributes of the carrots need considering. The individual carrots are no longer just generic vegetables but unique in their own way. I think like market research, what you get will depend very much on the question asked.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 23:12 GMT
Censorship warning: if you say something she doesn't like, Georgina will censor you, by deleting your post.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 03:55 GMT
Lorraine, I do not censor other people's posts but I do sometimes report them for moderation. Usually advertisements. I did so for your repeat postings of a post already sent for moderation or deleted by FQXi

Look at terms of use, left hand side panel.

"Per the scientific and educational purposes of the forums, users should adhere to a code of conduct where they discuss in a civil, helpful, and constructive way. Users should only post comments or questions that they would also make in person, in a professional public setting, such as a classroom or seminar hall." FQXi.org

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 04:25 GMT
Georgina,

Max Tegmark is (deleted*) misleading gullible people by suggesting that intelligence and consciousness "emerges" from circuit boards. I would say that in any public forum, because this is an extremely serious issue.

(*Post edited by Zeeya on August 26 to remove ambiguous wording that could be interpreted as libellous.)

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 11:05 GMT
(Content of post deleted for repetition, by Zeeya, 26 August 2019.)

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali wrote on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 11:29 GMT
Hi all,

I've had complaints about the posts on this thread both for their content and also for being censored. Lorraine, your post from August 25th has now been reinstated, so please stop reposting it. Just to clarify, other posters can't delete your posts, but they can flag them for review -- at which point they will temporarily disappear. In this case, I can understand why whoever flagged the post was concerned.

Could everyone please be respectful of other posters' views and also (especially) of people who are not taking part in this discussion?

I will delete/edit posts if they are rude to other people or potentially libellous. I would suggest, for instance, re-thinking whether people want to claim in a public forum that anyone's actions are "criminal". I would suggest re-thinking the wording in that case, and retracting any potentially libellous wording before I have to come in and remove that wording. I would prefer not to have to come in an censor portions of posts, so please edit these yourselves.

It's absolutely fine to strongly criticise people's work (even if they are one of FQXi's scientific directors), if it is relevant to the topic of the thread. But please steer clear of language that may cause legal issues.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 11:55 GMT
Hi Zeeya,it's important Indeed to moderate correctly and universally this wonderful platform. I beleive strongly that FQXi and its team has the potential to convice this UN with concrete global solutions.We are obliged to do it.A time for all ,we must act and forget sometimes our lifes for this universalism. We are of course all focus on our own works,like me too with my theory of spherisation,but I beleive that we must act and I am repeating a time for all.We have a global system which is not able to reach the points of equilibrium.Can we accept this when we can predict the future with our actual parameters? no we cannot.It's a responsability for all real universlists,altruists.A time for all after all.Please Zeeya ,convice your team that we must act.The MIT is the best,so we can do it.The UN will understand.Friendly

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 12:04 GMT
We can save this planet Zeeya,it's important and it will be the most important revolution of all times. Imagine the potential that we have. FQXi,MIT can do it with rationalism,determinism,universalism,logic,objectivity.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 14:26 GMT
Thanks Zeeya.

I would have hoped that it was obvious from the context of my sentence that I meant:

“Criminally”, adverb, 2. informal [as submodifier] “To a shocking degree”, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/criminally (Oxford dictionary)

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 26, 2019 @ 22:39 GMT
Physics says that climate change was not caused by people. I say it again: The world is burning, environmental catastrophe is looming, but physics says that people could not have contributed to climate change. Because:

1. Physicists have absolutely no conception of a valid model of free will, and physicists have no model of a world in which free will could exist.

2. All physics’ models can say is that deterministic laws of nature or “probability distributions” or randomness is the sole cause of human behaviours. I.e. physics’ models say that people themselves are not responsible for their behaviours. Some physics models say that people ARE the embodiment of deterministic and random forces, for which they bear no responsibility.

3. Therefore, physicists and their models of the world clearly say that people could not have contributed to climate change.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 27, 2019 @ 23:51 GMT
This is a patently false claim. Physics DOES NOT SAY THIS AT ALL. Repeating a false claim over and over does not make it true.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 00:38 GMT
Yes Ian,

Your claim is a patently false claim. Physics DOES SAY THIS. Your repeating a false claim over and over does not make it true.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 29, 2019 @ 17:15 GMT
Lorraine,

Please give me a citation then to a source where I can see for myself that physics says this.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Aug. 27, 2019 @ 06:15 GMT
Hi Ian, I'm re-posting these thoughts as they have got buried where I wrote them.

Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 25, 2019 @ 20:59 GMT

Ian, I'm not sure about this "The zeta-function should also be inversely proportional to the variance of the choice (the smaller the variance, the greater the freedom as I just described)."Ian Durham. It seems counter intuitive, in that the less...

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 27, 2019 @ 23:49 GMT
Hi Georgina,

I agree with your point about the carrots. My theory is that the Mahalanobis distance between two carrots is smaller than, say, the Mahalanobis distance between a carrot and a pepper. But as long as there is some difference between the two carrots, they will still be distinguishable in some way. But you are right that it may also depend on the question asked. This is a definite problem in some of these issues, i.e. how to capture certain qualia in a formal theory.

One thing I did notably not include was the consequences. At least not directly. I assume that consequences are accounted for in the weights assigned to the various choices. But this is why I ask if my approach is necessarily dualist or pan-psychist because it seems to suggest an external agent with the capability of deciding on weights.

Regarding learning, it very likely is a specific kind of learning. It's an area that I need to purse in more depth.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 02:18 GMT
Hi Ian, thanks for your reply. Peppers don't turn into carrots and vice versa. However, there will be some ending with wrong vegetable, if enough trials are conducted or fatigue or distraction, or high consequence with very short time limit (stressors), are also at play. I know I have on occasion taken the wrong thing out of the fridge. I don't know if there is as name for that free will gone awry. Insufficient conscious supervision of the motor functions/ mind 'elsewhere' or inhibited. I understand that it is more likely to end with the consciously chosen vegetable when the choice is two carrots rather than carrot or pepper. Because you can only have a carrot with no other choice available, and if it doesn't matter which one. I don't understand why there is greater'freedom' with less choice. I'm guessing it is a mathematical meaning of freedom.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 02:54 GMT
Hi Ian, I don't think panpsychism is necessary. Physics compatible with itself and without paradox needs there to be 'reality' generated by brains (and some kinds of input processing devices), and 'outside' of those generated realities the external material reality.

Dollars on the table are part of the external reality. The perception of the reward is part of the generated 'reality' that will have an effect on things like motivation, anxiety, via dopamine and cortisol release. The mind affecting the body (via the endocrine system) though the body is also part of the material reality. I expect the effect of the potential reward will effect individual participants by different amounts, and maybe in different ways, according to their individual psychology.E.g. Maybe seasoned gamblers will respond differently to non gamblers.

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Anonymous wrote on Aug. 27, 2019 @ 18:56 GMT
Ian,

I think its clear enough that you are tackling an operational rather than foundational question. And I have long appreciated your observance of proper scientific method.

Just a quick thought. Whether at the foundational, or fundamental application level, there always seems to be an expectation of underlying perfection in all theorizing. Yet daily in the mundane macroworld there exists a practical limit on information transfer and/or loss which is peculiarly arbitrary by locale. Despite the advertised expectation of great savings by going digital, the cost of transcription from hardcopy to digital archive of records (like building permit applications, etc.) has resulted in an immeasurable loss of historical data.

Which beggs the question; does the universe actually have an arbitrary, operational practical limit on information transfer? And how could that be quantified? best jrc

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Aug. 27, 2019 @ 23:43 GMT
Thanks, and great question! This is something I have thought about but I don't think I'm any closer to an answer than I was several years ago. It seems that if the universe is finite then it would stand to reason the answer is 'yes'. But then maybe not?

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 15:24 GMT
Hello to both of you,

We Don't know about this finite universe.In my small theory,yes I consider a finite universal sphere in optimisation evolution.Beyond this physicality I consider an infinite eneternal consciousness.That is why I consider a central cosmological sphere where this entity,pure Energy,infinite sends informations implying our geometries,topologies,matters.I beleive that aether is so gravitational.The big philosophical difference with strings and this 1D main field is that this aether is coded and imply particles giving waves.I beleive that particles and aether give these waves,not the opposite. Now how to consider this infinity? Inside this physicality appearing with our constants,numbers,others and about too this link with this infinity,this pure Energy,conscious without spacetime,matters,geometries,shapes.We can just have intuitive assumptions,it's so above our understanding.

Regards

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Robert H McEachern replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 17:42 GMT
JRC:

"there always seems to be an expectation of underlying perfection in all theorizing"

"does the universe actually have an arbitrary, operational practical limit on information transfer?"

Those two issues are directly related via the Shannon Capacity theorem, but there is nothing arbitrary about it.

Consider the issue of "perfection" in Bell's theorem: if the particles being measured in the experiments are not perfectly identical, as required by the fundamental premise of the theorem, then the theorem does not apply, to reality. In "reduction to an absurdity", one demonstrates the falsity of a premise, by deriving an absurd conclusion from it. That is exactly what Bell's theorem accomplishes; it concludes that reality is absurd, based upon a dubious, idealistic premise, of infinite mathematical-perfection in the "identical" nature of the particles that must be measured, in order for the conclusion to be valid. However, it has been demonstrated, that if one merely measures particle-pairs that are only "fraternal twins", rather than Bell's assumed "identical twins", the same weird, experimental correlations will be reproduced, without any of the absurdities. This happens, precisely because the "information transfer" is restricted to a single-bit. See my Dialog with Tim Maudlin for some further insights.

Rob McEachern

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 00:29 GMT
How long will physicists continue to waste their time, and other people’s money, by looking for an equations-and-numbers solution to the problem issues of life, consciousness and free will? They’ve ended up believing in magic and miracles e.g. consciousness and free will is believed to have miraculously “emerged” from something that is representable by equations and numbers.

This magical thinking has reached a low point with physicists suggesting that consciousness, intelligence and even free will can miraculously “emerge” from circuit boards.

You need IF/THEN algorithms to represent the consciousness, intelligence and free will of living things, and even some of the quantum behaviours of particles. You need algorithms to represent the behaviour of physicists and mathematicians when they perform their mathematical calculations: mathematics is not a Platonic entity: mathematics relies on the performance of algorithmic steps.

There exists a natural and necessary algorithmic aspect to the world.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 09:25 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I can understand your reasoning. That said can we affirm that algorythms are the solution to all explainations. We have codes Inside our particles and these codes topological,geometrical,of matters are not really algorythms but codes beyond our understanding. Of course we have these informations permitting the sortings,superimposings,synchronizations of evolution but what is really this puzzle,we Don't know well.We are limited Simply even if we evolve and think that we are Evolved,no we aren't,we are still youngs at this universal scale.For these informations and codes permitting our emergent properties,probably,maybe,we can play still with these spherical volumes,spheres and the pixels in the surfaces.Probably it's like that too that we can understand the quantum computing with spherical knots.Algorythms are a human invention and permit this computing of course,we enter algorythms and the computer acts Simply.Universe is more complicated than this.Regards

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 14:35 GMT
Steve,

Algorithms, equations and numbers are merely symbolic representations of something about the way the natural world was already working long before human beings came on the scene. We did not cause the natural world to work that way.

We did not so much invent mathematics and algorithms: we have merely used symbols to represent the type of world that we have found: equations and numbers represent information relationships; algorithms represent how information situations are handled.

Equations symbolically represent numeric outcomes that are decided by relationships between variables. But equations can’t handle situations like a tiger approaching. Algorithms are a symbolic representation of the way situations are handled i.e. by analysing the numeric values of multiple variables to arrive at numeric outcomes.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 29, 2019 @ 20:05 GMT
Lorraine,

Thanks for explaining your point of vue, I see better how you see generally.I understand your symbols , I agree that we utilise these laws,axioms,equations,....due to fact that it exists a more foundmental universal axiom philosophically speaking, I am curious,do you beleive in a kind of God,an infinite Eternal consciousness utilising informations coded to create our reality? if yes,so can you explain me what is this mechanic above our understanding,what is its essence? what are its laws,what are the foundamental mathematical and physical objects? if I ask this,it's just because your analyses about symbols need a deeper analyse arriving at origin of things implying this reality and its determinism.

Regards

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John R. Cox wrote on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 19:57 GMT
Hello Rob,

You make a good argument at the foundational level, apart from the (let me call it) interface with 'free will' in the context of Ian's exercise. But here I have to side with Ian on the matter of a presumed perfect universe because in a perfect universe your argument would hold, but we can only approach the foundational level from the less than perfect macro experimental level in which the human propensity to dismiss what we deem as non-essential in setting parameters is what operationally passes as free will. I quite agree with the premise that information is limited to one bit, and experimentally we might set a parameter that the subject 'bit' is an experimentally refined threshold limit quantity of energy (within strict qualification of experiment protocols). So that is where our own personal peculiarities freely exercised, is the arbiter. And we still can only choose one paradigm over the other as to whether the universe always operates infallibly in all ways.

Sorry to not log in, pardon this extraneous thread. And Hello, Steve, I just don't go into that realm, I get confused easily enough where I'm at! goodwill to all, jrc

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Robert H McEachern replied on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 21:20 GMT
You neglect the fact that in Shannon's conception, unlike in physics, a bit of information, must be perfect by definition: it is only that fraction of data, that is a priori known, how to be perfectly reproduced/measured (with no errors), that ever counts as information, in the first place. Thus, "information" is not concerned at all, with the number of physical states existing within some entity, but only with the number that can actually be perfectly detected, under the given circumstances; and thereby cause perfectly reproducible behaviors to occur. Hence, freewill exists, precisely in those circumstances, in which there is insufficient information available (due to unknowable initial conditions), to ever result in perfectly reproducible (fully deterministic) behaviors. That is the "loophole" in determinism, that freewill slips through.

In other words, "information" is entirely concerned with that tiny subset of "reality", that actually is, in a very specific sense, perfect. The fact that most of the cosmos is not perfect in that sense, is irrelevant to the fact that some of it really is - or can be made to be. This (the ability of information to enable reproducible behaviors [AKA cause and effect]) is what "emergence" emerges from - starting with just a single bit - the quantum.

Rob McEachern

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John R. Cox wrote on Aug. 28, 2019 @ 23:33 GMT
Thanks Robert,

Those are excellent points, and I can agree with both your posts. I don't want to go too far afield of Ian's general theme but think that it is appropriate to point out the absurdity of Bell's assumption of identical particle pairs. Its one thing to propose that all particles of any distinct specie at inception, have a common mathematical identity. But that doesn't mean that they are either perfectly stable or that the identity isn't itself a physical condition of compromise between rest energy and space. Part of that identity might be a priori known and be unerringly (perfectly) reproducible, and that's what counts a la Shannon and experiment both. And experiment is measurement. jrc

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Aug. 29, 2019 @ 01:36 GMT
Clearly, one of the basic problems for physics is that equations and numbers can’t handle situations: you need algorithms to handle situations.

I.e. the idea that any set of equations and numbers is complete and sufficient to represent and explain the world is basically flawed.

Physics needs to explain where (what we represent as) algorithms came from: clearly (what we represent as) algorithms is fundamental to the world.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 29, 2019 @ 20:32 GMT
Lorraine,

It's logic ,we know so few still,we have so many secrets to discover at all scales,we are in fact Simply youngs considering the evolution,we know a so small part of general puzzle. It's not possible to know several things,we can just know the effects,and surfaces of foundamentals.Even if we think that we know a lot,it's not true,we have just invented ,proved some maths,physics and sciences.You say that algorythms are foundamentals ,but how can you be sure and what is the proof that this is the only Truth?

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 29, 2019 @ 20:44 GMT
Because the algorythms are just a set of instructions creating results. You cannot just consider these algorythms, it lacks Something of physics. Do you consider codes,instructions in strings or spacetime ? what are the physicality of foundamental objects? Do you consider points and fields, or a main field implying our reality and its properties creating these algorythms and so implying the matters,geometries,topologies?

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Lorraine Ford replied on Aug. 29, 2019 @ 23:25 GMT
Steve,

Re "what are the physicality of foundamental objects?":

When you look at the world as a system, the world is a system representable by algorithms, equations and numbers. Equations and numbers alone don't constitute a system: any system requires algorithms to drive it. Physics makes the mistake of thinking that equations and numbers constitutes a viable system, but equations and numbers don’t constitute a viable system.

I would think that matter are the drivers of the system, where the behaviour of matter is representable as the algorithms that drive the system.

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Anonymous wrote on Aug. 30, 2019 @ 01:05 GMT
And algorithms were embedded in mathematics before they were known as algorithms. The algebraic result is the generalization that obtains from analysis of variations of algorithmic application to a variety of similar observations and experiments. Just as Newton compiled volumes of differential equations on a catalogue of different values of parameters to arrive at an algebraic result that can be applied as a "physical law", so did Maxwell, and his results were further condensed with topology to produce the set of equations in current use. Those algebraic results which look like "numbers and equations" are considered physical laws because they can be applied to all cases of that type of phenomenon and the algorithms will permutate from the extrapolation of values of the variables. The Algebraic equations (or inequalities) embody not just the algorithms you do know, but all those you have not yet identified. That is not generally emphasized in baccalaureate studies and is conspicuously absent in most popular accounts of recent scientific discovery , but should become readily apparent to any serious effort to learn conventions, and understand what scientific method involves and how the bewildering cornucopia of today's modern physics could possible have come about. The only 'driver' missing in an algebraic expression of physical law, is the specified values of parametric variables which you must obtain from measurement to apply in calculation. F = ma, is not the same thing as A = bc, just the same operational form. F = ma is dynamic.

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John R. Cox wrote on Aug. 30, 2019 @ 15:10 GMT
Lorraine,

It is your own conclusion that the logical implication of all physics is that the physics view is that there is an underlying universal randomness to nature. Some would agree and run with it. But at present, the best analysis at Cern says that we still can't say one way or another. And most physicists accept that conclusion. The game goes on.

So the only argument for how you propose things be done, is for you to produce algorithms of your own and explain how they work. For anyone else to do the math to prove your contention would require they stop doing what they are doing and focus their attention on you to try to figure out what you are talking about, and then do the math for you. What do you think the probability is of that happening? :-) jrc

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John R. Cox wrote on Aug. 30, 2019 @ 18:51 GMT
Ian,

Not too surprisingly on this forum, people will drag you into the weeds of their own pet paradigm and away from your behavioral approach to exercise of free will, and the qualifications thereof.

I've encountered Robert McEachern on a number of topics, and have gradually gained some appreciation for his championing Shannon, though I haven't yet made a reading of Shannon. I do however see how there would be a good fit with your self appointed task of filtering the muddy waters of nth order behavior in the macro-realm of 'free will'. Because Shannon's definition of information being only that which can be made unerringly reproducible, is essentially what we base observation on even within quantum uncertainty constraints. And It at least would provide a benchmark to survey the uncertain field of human behavior to protract measures.

All this is a bit off my beaten track. I grew up with free will being an self-evident inalienable right that my parents' generation fought a world-wide war to preserve, and imbued with the sense of dual responsibility freedom put on me and how my behavior could impact its preservation. So that's how I personally measure it. best wishes jrc

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Aug. 31, 2019 @ 11:09 GMT
Hi Ian,

I read well several works about this freewill and the Random. I Don't agree personally about the fact that freewill,random are the essence at this foundamental universal level. In fact we must rank all this,the free will ,random and the superdeterminism.The different steps,levels where appear the determinism or random must be ranked but not generalised . Like I see it like the consciousness ,the free will is an emergent property due to evolution and brains and in function of environments and so interactions like locomotion,nutrition,reproduction,....The choice is function of so many parameters that it becomes relevant to rank it too. The superdeterminism for me is the main chief orchestra,random is just a sphere of comportments.I liked in this sphere of freewill and random your analyse with the zeta function,could you explain me why this function of Riemann with primes,the zéros ,is it to rank the free will? because the distribution of primes is harmonical and dterministic. Have you inserted in these maths,functions of random and free will ? but how do you consider genetic,evolution,education,psychology,environments,interact
ions,...to explain this freewill like foundamental?

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 1, 2019 @ 08:15 GMT
Hi all,Ian how must I ask my question? in french? Can I have details about your zeta function being important? Have you some maths or a paper ? that needs details and explainations,mathematical.If you Don't want to answer,just post a link.Thanks

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 1, 2019 @ 01:43 GMT
The physics’ view, as espoused by Ian Durham and the other physicists at the recent FQXi conference, is that the world is a closed system in which “free will”/ “agency” is a system-generated pseudo-input to the system. In this view of the world, absolutely everything is system generated, including people, pseudo-free will and climate change.

But genuine free will is where people make a genuine, i.e. non-system-generated, input to the world.

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Blogger Ian Durham replied on Sep. 1, 2019 @ 02:09 GMT
Please see my comments above on the thread where you ask me to define free will.

What I object to the most about your posts is that you are assigning beliefs to me and others (notably George Ellis) that we do not have.

You can object to our findings (provided you do not misrepresent them). You can object to our methods (again, provided you do not misrepresent them). You can even object to the culture surrounding physics as a field. But please do not falsely represent my beliefs.

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John R. Cox wrote on Sep. 1, 2019 @ 13:14 GMT
OOPS, I posted a comment to Georgina about memory but somehow put it on the Downward Causation page. And darned if I can remember what I was doing. An odd thing, it is a real time example on topic. How often does that sort of thing happen? averaging over averages. jrc

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 1, 2019 @ 21:46 GMT
Yes John, a very timely example of absentmindedness affecting the outcome of a decision. I think you will agree that functional forgetting of information that is no longer relevant or important is different from dysfunctional forgetting because the brain is not able to function as a healthy brain does. Of course the dysfunctional forgetting of someone with Alzheimer's disease is far more disabling than the occasional absentmindedness of a healthy brain, distracted by internal or external factors.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 2, 2019 @ 01:12 GMT
Meaning factors of internal or external origin. Internal origin could, for example, be recall of a memory.External origin, for example, could be a loud startling noise.

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John R. Cox wrote on Sep. 1, 2019 @ 17:52 GMT
Ian and Lorraine,

if I may plaicate things a bit...

I don't think many would argue that physics today doesn't carry the legacy of of its evolutionary progress. Absolute determinism was the paradigm of the Newtonian age, and dynamics were observed as a 'time added' measurement. All measurement was treated on an arbitrary background of instantaneous observation. And its undoubtedly true that we continue to operate with a residual of that sense of observation both in formal physics but also in our daily lives. We reduce the complexity to the moment.

But the revolution a century ago both with Relativity and Quantum Mechanics discarded that static view of predetermined absolutism. In quantum mechanics we only observe the result of something happening (however arbitrary the measurement scheme), we wouldn't observe anything if something weren't happening. In Relativity no measurement can be made instantaneously.

That has fundamentally changed the physics landscape. And it goes without much elaboration that in the process of learning we have to start somewhere and that entails beginning with a truncated concept. So we invariably evolve some misconceptions as we progress and must continually revisit our beginnings and reassess our prejudices. Its more a learning tree than simple curve. I can't count the foolish things I've said or thought. Life goes on. OObla-di OObla-da, and I do seriously think we can only begin to understand what is in another's mind. good-day, I should mow the lawn. :-) jrc

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John R. Cox wrote on Sep. 2, 2019 @ 04:07 GMT
Georgi,

I got the correct topic this time, its late but I thought it proper to acknowledge your post(s). We're on the same page there. I had thought about that 7 limit when reading your dialogue with Ian (and then the Downward Causation topic was an Ian Blog too, so you can see the sequence where I dropped the element of returning to this page). To address the idea of Free Will from a scientific rather than philosophical perspective must rely heavily on Clinical Psychology. And even then there is a lot of hair-splitting. Personally, and as a matter of scientific method appropriate to the parameters Ian lays out as the limits of his exercise (theory is too soon a word), I see no point in carrying conjecture beyond psychological bounds. When it comes to splitting hairs, Occam's Razor works best. Free Will is a concept of sentient consciousness, not one of simple self awareness. If we didn't have the capacity to think about what we are thinking about... we wouldn't conceive of such a thing as free will. Its a matter of volition, Proactive intent with an expectation of result. And if it were something that evolves from The Pesky Particle recurring since the early days of science fiction then its not Free Will but determinism to a practical absolute extent. How could it be Both?

'course, I'm an old dog. And its late. jrc

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Sep. 2, 2019 @ 22:17 GMT
"Personally, and as a matter of scientific method appropriate to the parameters Ian lays out as the limits of his exercise (theory is too soon a word), I see no point in carrying conjecture beyond psychological bounds."J.R.Cox. I understand that there have to be limits to what will be done. There is a question though outside of psychology. Is action that is the result of human error, leading to the opposite outcome from the choice or desired outcome, as much free will as a the correct action to actualize the choice or desire? If just considering behaviour, then they are not differentiated. Yet human error that causes a plane to crash accidentally would not be generally considered an expression of free will. (Human error e.g. due to: fatigue, drug use, absentmindedness by internal or external sources of distraction, or ill health.)

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John R. Cox wrote on Sep. 2, 2019 @ 23:53 GMT
Georgi,

I get your point, I'll just quote my Intro Psych prof introducing himself to the class (beaucoup moon ago) he said, "I know you all have interesting stories that you can relate in emotional terms, but that is not what psychology is about. Psychology is the study of mental processes and how those processes give rise to behavior. And how by observing those behaviors systematically we can identify each process apart from others."

All those items you suggested are subject to studies in various branches of psychology and are brought together in Clinical Psychology; observation, experiment, testing and correlation of data. That's why its called 'clinical'.

For example when it comes to signal processing and output in tandem with observing systems, did you know that the common poop problem pigeon has monochromatic vision with the exception that it can also detect orange separately? Caged birds often are taken on search and rescue flights because their attention towards a tiny spot of orange life jacket will direct the observation of human observers with binoculars whom would have missed it. Non-invasive tests constructed to simply identify responses to stimuli discovered the orange anomaly of pigeon vision.

Much of psychology has to do with clarifying and qualifying what can be used as information. Much in Behavior Science and Psychiatry has to do with recognition and choice. Its a vast cross disciplinary field. Mass marketers exploit it to the exclusion of principle and sanity, in a very real sense, they already not only measure free will, they subvert it. :-) jrc

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 3, 2019 @ 02:25 GMT
Domesticated or Feral: rock dove/ rock pigeon/ common pigeon. I did not know about their eyesight in regard to orange. I do know their fine attention to detail has been used to spot cancer in prepared tissue samples. " Once trained, the pigeons’ average diagnostic accuracy reached an impressive 85 percent. But when a “flock sourcing” approach was taken, in which the most common answer among all subjects was used, group accuracy climbed to a staggering 99 percent, or what would be expected from a pathologist. "Using pigeons to diagnose cancer, Scientific American, Bret Stetka Dec. 1, 2015

I agree the different kinds of human error fall into subjects studied by psychology. However re.human error and free will, is free will just about behavior or is intention important? Law says yes, does/should science?

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 3, 2019 @ 05:48 GMT
When I said should science? I was thinking about how freewill is to be represented, and is behaviour adequate.

Furthermore, the law discriminates between acts that are careless/ negligent, acts that are reckless/ done despite 'foreseeable'/not unlikely negative consequences and willful acts/full intention to cause the outcome. The 3 categories pertain to different states of mind, inattention, disregard of risk and full intention. I expect the brain activity (. spanning initiation to completion of the act) could be distinguished, and possibly also neurotransmitter levels, ( but I don't know that as a fact.)

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Sep. 2, 2019 @ 23:56 GMT
Ian,

One way to consider the problem is to review our perception of time.

As mobile organisms, necessitating a sequential process of perception and having built cultures and civilizations out of the collected narratives, we are naturally schooled to the notion of time as the point of the present moving past to future. Physics effectively codifies this as measures of duration, even...

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John R. Cox wrote on Sep. 3, 2019 @ 13:59 GMT
Georgi,

Very good points, I emphatically associate free will with intent. And of course there are valid arguments in math and numerous other fields which are pertinent to measurement and qualification, which Ian himself has explored. To clarify, when I stated that we needn't carry conjecture beyond psychological bounds I meant in terms of Ian's stated focus of measurement in terms of behavior.

Yeah, he is a Quant (among other things) and this is a physics forum, but I don't think it would be reasonable to incorporate a conjecture of something like... free will being a leakage from a parallel universe because a multiverse might be somebody's favorite speculation. That sort of thing.

As a personal matter of free will, I've got some serious rust remediation to finish up on my li'l ol' truck and I've been taking a break for the last couple weeks. I'll be kicking myself if I don't crawl back under it before the weather changes, and around here that will be soon. Can't afford to loose it, its a '91 but I've got it doing 26mpg. I typically use less than 10 gallons of gas per month. Where I live I've watched environmental impacts accelerate for half a century. People are hooked on consumerism. Its scary. best jrc

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 3, 2019 @ 22:23 GMT
According to physics, the only causal factors in the world are laws of nature and randomness. According to physics, dogs, birds, trees and people do not make their own laws: i.e. according to physics, dogs, birds, trees and people do not have free will to cause their own outcomes.

According to physics, every outcome for every particle, atom and molecule is caused by nothing but laws of nature and randomness:

Every particle, atom and molecule outcome in people is caused by nothing but laws of nature and randomness, and every particle, atom and molecule outcome in the weather is caused by nothing but laws of nature and randomness.

According to physics, dogs barking, birds singing, trees flowering, people’s actions, and the weather are all caused by nothing but laws of nature and randomness.

According to physics, people’s actions can have no more effect on the weather than dogs barking, birds singing, or trees flowering.

According to physics, people’s actions can have no more effect on climate change than dogs barking, birds singing, or trees flowering.

According to physics, climate change cannot be caused by dogs barking, birds singing, trees flowering, or people’s actions: according to physics, climate change can only be caused by nothing but laws of nature and randomness.

Isn’t it time that physics fessed up?

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 4, 2019 @ 15:34 GMT
Lol Lorraine, in fact you are a phenomen, I laugh alone due to your post. About your words, the laws of nature in totality after all are above our understanding,we just know a small part of universal puzzle and its correlated mathematical,physical,sciences Laws. Randomness is just a function not really universal,I d say local and rare.Freewill dépends of many parameters when we consider biology,physics,maths,chemistry in brains. There is not randomness considering these particles implying mass,fields,waves,properties encoded due to evolution and complexification of consciousness,mass too generally speaking. Codes encode informations,codes each instant in logic on the Arrow of time and its evolution. It implies naturally that of course the main biological codes and the superdeterminism of our physics and its laws is more important and foundmental than this randomness. We encode even more easily this determinism than the freewill,because even this free will can be deterministic.Regards

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 4, 2019 @ 21:21 GMT
lol Steve,

You always seem to say the same thing about every issue, including the free will issue: it’s unsolvable, “above our understanding,we just know a small part of universal puzzle”.

A good start would be to define free will, model free will and work from there, and that is what I have continually done. I notice that most people, including you, Ian Durham, Georgina, and others that have commented on this blog page, talk about “free will”, but don’t seem to have a clear idea of what they are talking about. Your mixed-up and confused claim about “free” will is that “free will can be deterministic”. lol

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 5, 2019 @ 07:34 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

Well, we have all our personality and all we observe differently,and so all we have different ideas. I repeat sometimes Indeed because I beleive that it's important,I am persuaded about the spherical volumes,spheres and their motions,rotations,oscillations giving our properties.Nobody can formalise the free will,we cannot really because the complexity is too much important,but we can find several mathemtical roads to insert it with determinism in the équations like Ian ,Tegmark ,they try to create this AI and try with algorythms to explain it,it's not easy and their works are respectable.Nobody can generalise this determinism and freewill considering the main codes.But we can with many parameters ,genetic,mass,properties,fields,waves,education,psychology,e
nvironments,...create a road of understanding and logic. Ian works about freewill and randomness,even if I see differently generally and philosophically about main causes,I can recognise his skillings in the generality of his-ideas.Don't repeat the same critics but try to converge and critic with others ideas superimposed for example. Spherically yours Jedi of the Sphere :)

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John R. Cox wrote on Sep. 4, 2019 @ 15:10 GMT
Ian,

Thanks for a thought provoking 'cross-over' exercise. The contrast of what we commonly take for granted as Free Will in a democratic society, and the expectation from generations of evolving democratic tradition, come face to face with with the outstanding abstract questions in math and science. Some of the dialogue, here, has recalled ideas from past rumination and offered new (to me)...

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 4, 2019 @ 22:46 GMT
I notice that Steve, Ian, Georgina and others talk about “free will”, but don’t seem to have a clear idea of what they are talking about.

Without daring to make at least an initial verbal definition of what you are talking about, a type of model of free will to work from, you can’t begin to analyse whether it is a valid model or not. And then you go endlessly round and round in circles like Georgina talking about carrots and peppers etc. You need to work from a definition of free will and see where that leads you: the words “free will” are not enough if nobody is even capable of concisely defining in words what they personally mean by the words “free will”.

I’m saying that a living thing has free will if it has: “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate”[1]. I’m saying that “necessity” is the deterministic laws of nature. So if outcomes are thought of as being representable by a set of variables and associated numbers, a free will outcome will: 1) have at least one number that was not determined by the deterministic laws of nature; and 2) the living thing caused that “anomalous” number outcome.

1. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/free_will (Oxford dictionary).

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Sep. 4, 2019 @ 23:01 GMT
Lorraine,

Yet if will were actually free of such causes, wouldn't it be equally free of effects? Which would seem to go against the very notion of will, to affect.

The problem seems to be that we project onto the future deterministic principles, which do not take into account that the total input, including the judgements of people, cannot be known before an event has occurred. If the input cannot be known, neither can the output. We assume an objectivity that is theological and monotheological at that.

The problem is working from faulty assumptions, such as that time is a dimension along which events exist.

The past doesn't even exist, as it is necessarily consumed by the present, in order to inform it, aka, causality.

The fact is that every moment is a configuration of the energy of the universe and as it changes, enormous amounts of information are constantly being erased/written over. So the only determinant of whether an event will occur, is if it does occur, even though we can never even have that clear, reductionist, objective vision of it, as it is occurring. We are part of nature's selection process.

Is it any wonder the discussion goes in endless circles?

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 4, 2019 @ 23:54 GMT
John,

Put up or shut up. Define what you mean by "free will".

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Sep. 5, 2019 @ 00:16 GMT
To further that thought;

What is the basis of determinism? Causality. Yet causality only occurs as the present.

The argument is that if we could know the position and momentum of everything, we could predict the behavior of the system forever. Yet what if "everything" is infinite? We have a cosmology which presumes the entire universe is a singular node, but like any node, it...

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Steve Agnew wrote on Sep. 5, 2019 @ 02:43 GMT
This has been a very stimulating discussion of free will and so I will use some of my free will to engage...

Ian Durham proposed a measure of free will as the distance, zeta, in a Mahalanobis phase space of possible outcomes from a precursor to the outcome of a free choice. His argument was then that a free choice is somehow inevitable and therefore would be a shortest zeta path in the...

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Steve Agnew replied on Sep. 5, 2019 @ 02:48 GMT
...In other words, while we might believe that we are free and socially responsible, we cannot ever be completely certain about our individual freedom or about our social responsibility. This means that there is a discrete quantum limit to the knowledge that we may have about our individual freedom and so there are fundamental mysteries about the universe that we must simply accept as the way that...

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Steve Agnew replied on Sep. 5, 2019 @ 02:55 GMT
The details of this neural model are here. This is more of what I expected from Durham's paper and maybe he will indeed be more forthcoming. Durham should really use a morality choice instead of carrots and peppers since moral choices are strongly associated with free will.

A classical determinate argument supposes that a precursor EEG spectrum completely determines an outcome spectrum or choice, but that is clearly not the case. Rather, there are a large but finite number of possible outcome spectra that exist in superposition with any precursor spectrum as a moment of thought. Therefore free choice is not a Durham’s determinate scalar zeta but rather free choice is a complex zeta that includes phase and a phase decay along with uncertainty for our quantum choices. Since it is not possible to know our own quantum phase, it is also not possible to precisely know the precursors for our choices even though some precursors are more likely than others.

Our morality then arises from the decay of a superposition of the spectra of choice between the many but finite possible spectra of individual freedom and social responsibility. These spectra are all Jungian archetypes, some intrinsic and some that we learn from persuasion and imitation of others as we grow up and mature. While we can change how we feel about a choice by learning new archetypes, it is simply not possible to always know precisely why we feel the way that we do feel and that is the uncertain nature of free choice.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 5, 2019 @ 15:51 GMT
Steve,

We are free to be "bad" as well as to be "good". Free will has absolutely nothing to do with morality: free will requires the ability to implement outcomes.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 6, 2019 @ 23:06 GMT
Oh great!

According to Steve Dufourny and Steve Agnew, evil dictators don't have free will: only finer and more upright types of people can have free will.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Sep. 7, 2019 @ 01:44 GMT


Psychopaths' Brains Show Differences in Structure and Function
The link is to https://www.med.wisc.edu/news-and-events/2011/november/psych
opaths-brains-differences-structure-function/

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 7, 2019 @ 07:57 GMT
Hi,

Lorraine,there too you generalise a thing which cannot be generalised. If psychopaths exist,it's due to education,psychology,environments.Let's take this crazzy dictator of North Korea,he is Simply crazzy and it's due probably to his education. The freewill in the instant has Nothing to do with his choices so.The Vanity,the lack of universal knowledges,the education,the psychology….are parameters essential to encircle these sad comportments. If he had a second identical brother this psychopath from North Korea,and if this person had Evolved in an other country with others parameters he d be different Simply.The free will has Nothing to do with that.You cannot consider the bad,evil like the good equally.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 7, 2019 @ 12:54 GMT
Georgina, Steve,

Neither of you can even begin to define what you mean by "free will".

Neither of you can communicate to another person what you mean by "free will".

And yet you have an awful lot to say about "Brains Show Differences in Structure and Function", "education,psychology,environments". "The freewill in the instant has Nothing to do with his choices so".

Why don't you just stop for a minute and try to think what you mean by "free will"?

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Cy Bernetti wrote on Sep. 9, 2019 @ 14:37 GMT
One of these things is not like the others. That's all.

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 14:58 GMT
how Grimm,

(if c and h are constants, then time is constant too) is a false equivalence. An arbitrary mathematic artifact.

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Sydney Ernest Grimm replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 15:43 GMT
Anonymous,

Sorry, c is a change in one direction (say from P1 tot P2). The amount of change is identical (h) and the velocity too (c). That means that the duration of the transfer from P1 to P2 is identical for every h. Every change is one or a multiple of h thus quantum time is a constant.

Try to figure out what it means if the units of a structure tessellate space. It means 100% synchronization of change. Aristotle (2500 years ago) understood the mathematical consequences of an underlying structure of units that cannot be divided any more (the unmoved mover).

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Steve Dufourny replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 16:00 GMT
in speaking of c and h,the real interest is to unify G,c and h in fact considering even this quantum gravitation,have you ideas about this quantum weakest force?

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Sydney Ernest Grimm replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 19:20 GMT
Steve Defourny,

Try to imagine a flat Higgs field everywhere in the universe (every scalar has the same magnitude). The electric field is a topological field and it changes constantly in a synchronous way. The only way the structure of the electric field can change is transferring topological deformation to one or more adjacent units of the structure. The result is a mathematical mechanism...

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 22:47 GMT
Sydney,

You say:

“reality is really strange to imagine. But I suppose that you can imagine that a field structure that can be described with the help of mathematics, can create “feelings and thoughts and knowledge” too. Some comments before I hinted that consciousness is related to the vectorized flat Higgs field (scalar field) and feelings to the electric field (topological field) ...” [1]

So can you try to clarify this? Are you claiming:

1) Emergence: feelings and thoughts and knowledge somehow emerge from the field (or the mathematics of the field); or

2) Creativity: the field (or the mathematics of the field) is an entity that “can create “feelings and thoughts and knowledge” too”; or

3) Steady State: feelings and thoughts and knowledge always existed in a proto form as part of the field (or the mathematics of the field); or

4) something else?

……

1. Sydney Ernest Grimm replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 03:10 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3319

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 22:49 GMT
(continued)

You say:

“Your conclusion that the climate change issue is created by the underlying field structure is 100% correct. However, if the underlying field structure will change in a way that the issue is no longer a problem for us, it will happen “in the future”. And we will be the “actors” that change our behavior. That’s determinism.” [1]

But when you describe human beings as “ “actors” ” , you seem to be saying that human beings are actors only in the ironic sense: what you really mean is the exact opposite, you are actually saying that human beings are the puppets of the field. Is this a correct interpretation of what you are saying?

You seem to be one of the few people brave enough and honest enough to admit that physics’ models of the world [2] say that climate change was not caused/contributed to by human beings.

1. Sydney Ernest Grimm replied on Sep. 13, 2019 @ 03:10 GMT, https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3319

2. With the exception of the QBist model.

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Sydney Ernest Grimm replied on Sep. 14, 2019 @ 16:10 GMT
Lorraine,

Here is a link to an image of a structure where every unit has an identical magnitude of a property: black color (6%). Link = phia.home.xs4all.nl/G04.png.

If every unit can change its magnitude synchronized with all the other units around, it is possible to transfer some of the property of every element – black color – to the center. Result =...

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Lorraine Ford replied on Sep. 15, 2019 @ 00:33 GMT
Sydney,

Re climate change:

I’m more on the side of the QBism model, but I entirely agree with you that the implications of all other physics’ models are exactly what you have said about climate change, murderers and the Nobel Prize. Many physicists and others try to deny this, but this is because they are incapable of facing the logical implications of their physics’ models: they are incapable of facing the harsh reality of what the models say. Their attempts to twist and turn and sugar-coat this harsh reality are completely laughable.

Re the “structure where every unit has an identical magnitude” etc:

What I would question is “the mechanism that transforms the first image into the second image”. I would say that this mechanism (seemingly representable as equations and/or algorithms) is a source of change in the system. And every change (representable as equations, algorithms and/or numbers) needs to be accounted for, and theoretically explained, as part of the system.

I don’t think that change can be assumed to be a property of the system: I think that all change has to be explained. If new equations, algorithms and/or numbers appear, then you have to say why they appeared: you can’t say that these things just happen.

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Jason Mark Wolfe wrote on Sep. 20, 2019 @ 12:12 GMT
You would think that quantum mechanics would be proof of free will.

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Jason Mark Wolfe replied on Sep. 21, 2019 @ 00:30 GMT
After all, states of a quantum system are calculated as probabilities. If a particle can only be predicted to be in a state, as a probability, doesn't that imply that the particle could have free will in determining what state it will be measured in, based on a probability?

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