Free Will

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Re: Free Will

Postby bluremi » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:19 pm

Jeff wrote:You can't honestly claim that the brain both symbolizes and perceives 'transparently' beyond it's own states to the world without presupposing intentional mental states,the thing materialism tries to abstract away. It's something like saying that a material object like a road sign knows what it is that it represents or refers to.Intention,a mental property,is a state that is 'about' something.For material to be 'about' something and also BE that something(claiming we are just a brain) it would have to transcends itself.......to itself.Which is nonsense.Something else (mind) is required to bridge from brain to world.


I think I understand what you're saying, but it sounds like you are just making an assertion here. I don't see where the impossibility lies. If you have mutli-level information processing you can do many things at once:

Let's say you have an artificial intelligence program running on a computer, call it Program A. It's basically a Chinese Room: input goes in, calculations occur, input comes out.

Then run another program in parallel, Program B, which has no access to the code behind the Chinese Room and merely registers the input and output and keeps track of correlations between the two. It doesn't know or care where the output comes from, it just appears in its memory. The Chinese Room in turn gets the correlation info to further refine its output. The operation of Program B is consciousness.

If you make a Program C that registers all the input and correlations that's happening NOW and synthesizes it into chunks that can be used by Program A to correlate to inputs from the past in order to predict the future, you have self-consciousness. The space in which Program C is operating is what generates the qualia of existence. Program C's processes make up the act of attention, which is that self-referential system you are talking about. The concept of existence requires a present moment within which to exist. The program doesn't actually make any choices, however, everything is still chugging along based on programming that was set in stone a long time ago.

The qualia of "pleasure" or "pain" or any other behavior-driving opposites are relative in experience, but absolute in terms of goals. Things we are programmed to seek we interpret to be pleasureful, things to avoid are painful. Some people enjoy physical pain and seek it out. That doesn't mean that their experience of pain (as "painful") is different, it just means they are driven to pursue the experience by correlations ingrained in their subconscious (Program B) in the past.

What Program C perceives as "desire" is just another input which Program A, all the way in the background, is using to make a decision. Whatever the decision happens to be, Program C only perceives the desire, the action, and subsequent inputs of the reaction. It seems like it made a choice, but really it didn't. It doesn't actually do anything except act as a source of attention. The one thing it cannot pay attention to is the code making it run. It can only perceive a synthesized abstraction of what that code might look like, generated by Program B.

If you put the hardware running those three programs into a robotic body, and set up the rules in Program A to seek the preservation of that body, you get the confused state of affairs in which many humans live.
Last edited by bluremi on Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Free Will

Postby bluremi » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:08 pm

Also, lest I seem like a zealot, I want to say thanks to Jeff for his great comments, which have made me do a lot of additional research I wouldn't have otherwise and provided many hours of enlightenment.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:20 am

Hi Bluremi,
Sorry to take so long to get back.

First let me say that I enjoy this conversation and I'm not a zealot either! This is an interesting topic and, honestly I've never deeply questioned that I have some degree of 'freewill' before now.So researching to counter the con positions here has been a learning experience for me. One great reason why everyone shouldn't agree all the time!

Ultimately we may not have enough info about reality to ever know for sure;but as I see it,I'll 'choose' freewill (as the band 'Rush' sang ). Otherwise the situation would be epistemically nihilistic.The structure of our cultures and social systems depend upon the notion of freewill.Ridding ourselves of these so called 'folk psychology' concepts and changing our legal determinations could have many horrible consequences.It's not hard to imagine fascist corporations contracted to scan our brains and throw us into for profit prisons based on 'thought crimes' as just one dystopic outcome to this trend in neuroscience. How terrible it would be ,especially,if it were to all be based upon erroneous assumptions!

Ok,so with the phenomenal aside ,I can still comment to a few things regardless:

About program A:
1.This could be the brain and what is referred to as the 'subconscious' or non conscious rather. If it is not conscious there is a 'dualism' between A and B. As I pointed out before in a different way,A. feeding into B. and B. feeding back into A. would require interaction.If B. is just an epiphenomenon then there would be no evolutionary purpose for this feedback loop and it would waste resources.Why should mindless and random evolution program A. to correlate anything to and from B. if B. has no causal purpose? It couldn't even 'know' about B! We should remember that the propositions that arise in B. and C. are open ended ones that seem to require attention.This could be why they are passed on......

We should also remember that A,B and C are one synergistic system,why isolate B and C as illusory  if their natures are different?I mean, in physics no one claims that a 'non contact force' is an 'illusion' because one field never touches or directly interacts with another....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-contact_force

2.This is a new point I want to make. If A. generates B. then A. must contain information that describes-defines B. Why then would B. have consciousness but not A. if consciousness is an algorithmic information construct ? "The operation of program B is consciousness" is a big leap.This goes back to emergence and functionalism again. Why start the clock at B. so to speak when encoded information is shifted back and forth? A,B and C could be partitioned but have mutual information no? Personally,if I were a scientist I'd look for mutual information/ shannon entropy for clues about consciousness.(There is actually a concept of "information causality" in quantum information theory too but I don't understand it.)

I think if consciousness is in fact non algorithmic A. could still have consciousness.I think there can be a distinction between the content of consciousness -quantifiable information about physical things- vs. consciousness itself  -aware,knowing,subjective,meaning,etc- which is structureless and beyond just following instructions.There are good arguments that consciousness is 'non algorithmic'.

Either way B. and C. would supervene upon A. in the model. But,according to my prior links, there could be degrees of freedom in all of them that have propagated from the initial conditions of the known universe (computational irreducibility) up to the moments of choice for each level,each becoming more constrained as they progress. Each choice-event would resolve some indeterminacy of the initial conditions.Remember,Nicolas Gisen has proven that our conscious decisions (B and C) would have to be predetermined before the initial conditions of the known universe (perceived space-time) in order to correlate with EPR results. Before A. ever moves data.

I don't believe this is just an assertion.Here's some evidence of apparent freedom and intelligence at lower biological levels:

http://www.informationphilosopher.com/s ... isenbergm/

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 071806.htm

^so even if there is a 'freewill circuit' found to correlate with the sense of freewill this would not prove that we are just robots having an 'illusion'. With that said I like what you wrote about the model.I could go with it if consciousness or potential consciousness and levels of indeterminacy are part of it throughout  8)


And here are single neurons that display intelligent behavior,do they have protoconsciousness with relative and limited degrees of freedom? Checkout the language they use,it pretty much presupposes consciousness IMO:

"predictions"  "perceive"  "context sensitive" "best guess"

http://today.duke.edu/2010/12/egner_vision.html

^remember here is a 'top down' process.From what reference point would they make their predictions from if information is all flowing upwards ?




"This new understanding of individual neurons as 'thinking cells' is an important step toward cracking the brain's cognition code,"

Read more at: http://phys.org/news4703.html#jCp
Last edited by Jeff on Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The closer you get to the meaning;the sooner you'll know that you're dreaming" -Dio
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Re: Free Will

Postby breadbassed » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:24 am

This thread has been great so far. I was thinking perhaps we could bring it into the realm of the phase and experiment with the idea, just to see what happens. Im sure we are all aware that sometimes the phase throws unexpected things at us, perhaps we should go into the phase and ask people we find there if they consider themselves to have free will and see what answers we get?

Im sure there would be some interesting results, obviously we wouldn't take them as 'gospel' but it may create some thoughtful results.  I'm sure there's a myriad of ways we could do it, or people we could ask.

What do you guys think? 

I haven't been having many entries recently, manly through laziness and the fact i've been very busy. I hope to get back on it soon and i'll try it myself.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:58 pm

I think it is a good idea.  A good experiment is required.  Bearing in mind that free will is less apparent in dreams.  I still think that free will is an illusion caused by the brain allowing the organism to alter its behaviour according to environmental changes.

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Last edited by Summerlander on Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Jeff » Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:07 am

Here it is,read it and weep.....oh and christof Koch endorses his work...lol and even better, my earlier arguments were on track.
http://now.dartmouth.edu/2013/03/neuros ... free-will/
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:49 am

Erm, Jeff... ;D

The rapid synaptic reweighting is still influenced by how the organism is made to feel according to what it was exposed to. I don't think you have really grasped Harris' hard deterministic argument, neither has professor Peter Ulric or even the reporter for that matter! All decision-making is sourced by directed will, not free will.

Your prof (and you) are the ones who need to read Sam Harris' essay on "Free Will" and weep, because, as Harry states, even if it were the case that correspondent brain phenomena arose simultaneously, it still does not favour a concept like free will. As Christopher Hitchens once quipped: "I think we have free will because we have no choice but to have it."

Me and blueremi have already eloquently explained to you why the concept is flawed but I guess you need more so here goes...

The possible future of mental events are still determined by causation beyond our control - we are still directed by instinctual urges - the primordial quicksands beneath the unsuspecting waking ego that gets dragged by the currents of determinism. Here's a simple example and very fitting to this board: when you run away from a pursuer in a dream, and you become lucid at that moment, you often feel compelled to run for your safety despite knowing the truth of your circumstances. You are not always presented with the chance to reflect upon the advice previously given to you by, say, your lucid dreaming mentor, whereby you had been made aware of other possibilities to deal with the situation if it presents itself: face your pursuer. You cannot possibly make a particular choice if you don't feel like it. You might not even remember the advice, or it might not even occur to you to make the ideal move.

You know what this is, don't you? Lack of control (the illusion of control). Diminished responsibility. The sway of chemicals obeying the natural laws of physics which was kickstarted shortly after the conception of our universe.

Read and revise Sam Harris regarding neuroscience. You will also find in his essay something pertinent to why free will is still not backed up by the probabilistic nature of the quantum realm. The resetting of "train tracks" in the brain occurs, not by an alleged force of free will, but by a simple law of taking the fastest route from A to B - and what's more, you are not even conscious of this process. Likewise, the fastest route approach prevails, by natural default, in the quantum probabilistic framework.

When the brain sets criteria for future mental activity, it has already been previously effected by something - hell, even our DNA sequencing, something we do not pick for ourselves, can determine our proneness to certain behaviours when presented with certain life events (which we also don't pick, by the way). So you tell me, Einstein, where the hell is free will because I still don't see it.

All I see is a prof that hasn't thought it through either. A prof trying to make a name for himself, misguiding the laymen and possibly a team hungry for a scoop (very bad reportage, by the way). Your link has not addressed all the good and irrefutable, as I see it, points made by Harris. I'm sorry, but, if you are not conscious of starting decisions when they truly and cerebrally arise in the depths of your cranium, you do NOT have free will. Ulric is entertaining the idea of William James, a philosopher of Christmas past, by attempting to redefine free will with drastic and embarassing consequences - this he should not get away with. Moreover, a false redefinition that he then tries to use in order to interpret that which he does not fully understand. ::)

Finally, to illustrate how absurd the concept of free will is, just look at Dilbert's take on free will - even a cartoonist can make more sense than a so-called neuroscientist. :D
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Re: Free Will

Postby dened » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:08 pm

Free will, if I understand well, - is choice you make accordingly with your moral trigers. Moral trigers are your relation to some things or events in life: this (1) - not this (2), relation is not determined (3). Every human has a lot of these trigers inside his, her mind. It is like a net or tree. Somebody doesn't have this trigers determined will be tollerant one, and in this case he or she will be immoral and on output will be easily controllable by people which have strong moral tree and can give the reason about their activity.
Example:
Apple Co. logo is symbol of biblic culture. Christ adepts will say - I like it, Pagans will say - don't like, hate it. There is two moral reactions. Chist adepts will buy Iphone, pagans will not.
It is very primitive example and I don't describe the full scale tree of mind for pagans and Christs which is constructed by culture of different group of people on our Earth. Culture here is like press-form (mound) - forms people like machine. I think you heard about consumerate creation, that is it.
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Re: Free Will

Postby Summerlander » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:35 pm

Hi, Dened!

The first sentence in your post is self-defeating and does not represent nor back up the concept of free will. If you are making decisions based on triggers then you are not freely making a choice. You've just illustrated directed will in the opening of your comment. Not free will.

Not even the 5th dimensional being from Men in Black 3, assuming such being is possible, had free will despite being clairvoyantly able to perceive probable futures. He still had to make choices based on likelihoods, based on extra-sensory perception, third dimensional perception and based on what he felt were the right choices to make - we all crave the best and most favourable outcomes - and let's not forget the powerful and instinctual tendency in nature for self-preservation.

I also wanted to add that Jeff was not fully honest about Christof Koch either. He seems to very much agree, scientifically, that free will is an illusion and despite the fuzzy quantum mechanical framework, the universe is still deterministic: ;D

http://www.closertotruth.com/video-prof ... -Koch-/746
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