Universal cellular automata and free will

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by apendrapew, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

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    At this point in my life, I've been making effort at unlearning most of the bullshit I've learned (come to think of it, the only bullshit I really know is bullshit I picked up from others.. probably the same for them), wiping the board clean, and starting anew, hoping I will, with intelligent discipline, develop motivations/habits that are fundamentally justifiable.

    This turns out to be a very difficult, and probably impossible task. It's opened me up to an alien world of unrecognizable logic.

    The logical me is a believer of determinism. This way, we can be seen as helpless observers riding an automated tour until our vessels disintegrate and we die. We don't even have a choice about how we feel about our lives. That too, is predetermined, just like a cellular automaton.

    The me that lives every day believes in free will. How else can I justify thinking hard and making the right decisions? Do I enjoy making difficult decisions? Plus, it really feels like I make choices. This is where we live most of the time.

    The struggle between these two ways of thinking seems to have divided my world in two. Sometimes, I admit, I take advantage of it. ex. "Well.. this is the way it happened, and therefore, the only way it could have been" But it's really getting in the way of me being able to justify doing the things I do because it's such a fundamental issue. Does anyone else share this congitive dissonance?

    But the real question is, what does it mean to be living in mind of determinism? It's almost an unthinkable thought. Just when I think I have an answer for it, I realize I'm misunderstanding the question. I guess my answer is that it means you have surrendered yourself to everything. You've become transcendent or something. Maybe it explains the behavior of Bhuddist monks.

    Well, this has turned into something I didn't expect.
     
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  3. Jubatus Nought Advocate Registered Senior Member

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    I'm still half drunk and too tired to get too deep into this, but your one half is right; there is indeed no free will.

    But sleep on this: Just because there is no free will and therefor no guilt does not mean there aren't consequences, consequences void of judgement.
     
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  5. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

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    I'm aware that consequences succeed our actions, despite that "we" didn't really make them, though I somewhat disagree with "no free will and therefore no guilt". Just because there's no free will doesn't mean there's no guilt, unless you're hyper-aware of this fact.

    Most people still feel guilt and because they feel it, by definition, it's there, baby.
     
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  7. Jubatus Nought Advocate Registered Senior Member

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    It's called emotional conditioning, and I wasn't talking about emotion but responsibility.
     
  8. invisibleone2004 Registered Member

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    What it means is that basically we're enslaved to this particular reality for however long we're alive. It's rather bleak, I must confess, although the good news is that it can't stay this way forever.
    can it?
     
  9. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

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    True, but this isn't precisely what the question was asking. What you're saying applies to everyone, whether they believe in determinism or not.

    My question is talking about determinists only and what it means to be living and "making decisions" based around this postulate.
     
  10. Jubatus Nought Advocate Registered Senior Member

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    If they're truly enlightened determinists it doesn't mean a damn thing.
     
  11. Fallen Angel life in every breath Registered Senior Member

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    here's an idea that might help...

    let's assume that you are correct and everything is predetermined based on initial conditions. and therefore all the actions you make are the only ones you could possibly make because you made them, or something like that.

    i would like to argue that determinism does not necessarily prohibit free will. follow my example if you will, to understand what i am getting at. imagine an ant, brain consisting of much less than what our brain consists of. now think, can you possibly imagine being an ant. having the limited mental capacity it has? even more importantly, do you think that our type of intelect is comprehensible by an ant. if it even can comprehend anything. just like between the ant and a human there are different levels of conciousness, i would like to say that human free will and human determinism lie on separate (mutually uncomprehensible) levels of conciousness. i would argue that we feel we have a free will, and that our conciousness is not advanced enough, or shaped in a way, to realize the full determinism of the real world, and the actual determinism of our thoughts. therefore, due to our limited conciousness, we could be perceiving our actions as free will, due to our incapability of seeing our actions as determinism.

    perhaps that is why you can't find the answer to a life of determinism, it might be on different level of conciousness, and we can glimpse it, but never fully understand it?
     
  12. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

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    Thank you for your post. Very eloquently put. And I found it useful in understanding what you meant. But, and don't hate me, there is a contradiction.

    Because at the beginning you are saying you're arguing that determinism doesn't necessarily prohibit free will.

    And near the end, you say..

    Paraphrased: Because our limited awareness, it feels like we have free will even though we don't.

    Which is something I totally agree with. Unfortunately, it completely contradicts your stated argument:

    Fuzzy logic aside, determinism does indeed prohibit free will.
     
  13. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    Modern physics shows us that some things in the universe are probably truly indeterminate – even if you know ‘everything’ about your initial condition, you can’t predict perfectly what will happen.

    Of course, that sort of indeterminacy usually only manifests itself at sub-microscopic levels, so it isn’t clear if it has any relevancy toward human free will.
     
  14. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

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    Perhaps things are indeterminate, however
    doesn't make it so.

    In this cellular automaton, the initital condition is the same every time you build it. You even know the rules. Yet you will never ever be able to predict what it will look like on its 5,000th step based on what you know about the rules and initial conditions. But it will do the same thing everytime. It is determinate and absolute, like our universe.

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  15. kula (Memes enclosed) within Registered Senior Member

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    Maybe if the cellular automaton were conscious, they could change the rules just enough to get another outcome, but they might still not know that they had changed them !
     
  16. Fallen Angel life in every breath Registered Senior Member

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    apendrapew...

    yeah you're right, there is a contradiction. the first statement should have said that i argue that determinism does not prohibit a FEELING/PERCEPTION of free will.
     
  17. Fallen Angel life in every breath Registered Senior Member

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    a question for you apendrapew, how far are you going to argue determinism against free will? i can surely put forth an argument that due to neurons using chemicals and electricity to fire and thus give birth to our conciousness through their interactions with the body and other neurons, since chemical reactions are involved as well as electricity, i would say that quantum mechanical effects must surely factor into the creation of our conciousness. here quantum mechanical effects actually providing the probability solutions, the undeterministic results that can be interpreted as free will.

    however, if you argue that determinism includes some probability wave that may be the result of all the quantum stuff going on in our brain, then i would have to question what you mean by determinism. from my limited experience, a probability wave is anything but deterministic. think of tunneling, some crazy "impossible" things can happen. i would argue that could be a case for a free will.

    here's an interesting article that will show how quantum effects or some crazy physics, are taking place in an evolution of a computer chip. i think this supports an idea of free will in our brain.

    http://www.lib.calpoly.edu/infocomp/modules/05_evaluate/WIC2a.html
     
  18. Fallen Angel life in every breath Registered Senior Member

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    kula

    at first i was going to say that we cannot change the rules because we are the victims of physical laws. however, when i thought about it further, i realized that since neural activity of neurons is also regulated by the chemical environment in which they are in, and that is in part regulated by the neural activity, you actually might have a case for self adjusting system. nature is pretty amazing come to think of it...
     
  19. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    With cellular automata you can predict the ‘future’ based on initial conditions; it’s just a matter of running the calculations out to whatever layer you want to know about. Also, like you said, the same initial conditions will always produce the same result. That isn’t true of quantum indeterminacy; unlike with cellular automata the same initial conditions can produce different results, and there’s no way to calculate (or otherwise deduce) exactly what will happen, even if you have all of the information.

    The universe, it would seem, is not entirely deterministic. In fact, since cellular automata are deterministic, that would seem to be a strike against the idea that they govern the universe.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2004
  20. John Connellan Valued Senior Member

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    MOdern physics also tells us that we CANNOT know the initial condition!
     
  21. Jubatus Nought Advocate Registered Senior Member

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    Yet if the indeterminability of quantum physics is real, and not just our current inability to look deeper at some universal mechanisms, then you won't have free will but absolute uncontrollability, i.e. chaos.

    What we should look at is the essence of the term "free will" - free from what exactly? I am convinced against free will, but should I argue why people dogmatically believe in it I'd point at unpredictability as the cause. With age and experience we get better at predicting the most likely outcome of a recognizable chain of events, because we incorporate more and more of the subtler factors that influence this chain, but we will never be 100% correct every time, because the sheer amount of factors that influence events are legion and the further we travel the uncountable lines of causality away from an event the more obscure they become and the more they branch and intertwine, yet the lines remain intact, e.g. the butterfly effect.

    Free will is nothing more than the inability to comprehend the entire vastly complex system of causality, even though it as a concept is so very simple.
     
  22. kula (Memes enclosed) within Registered Senior Member

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    But we do not observe chaos, only patterns. The universe is very un-chaotic (as far as our measurements go) everything references to something else. Free will would suggest that we are able to change the universal balance and actually introduce chaos and go against the cause/effect rules. The only free will i can envisage would be comparable to us playing a computer game, that we can only choose within certain pre-programmed parameteres. So it's not really free will.

    If there were an infinite number of options, free will could be the ability to choose any one of them, without being effected by the past (experiences) which would then be a random choice !

    In my mind, free will is an intergral part of being self aware and the concept of free will is the thing we would be trying to pass onto celluar automata. If we have built a driving game, even utilising free will to play it, we would not expect to see players flying.(unless we could construct a system that would 'allow' free choice. Quantum systems seem to allow for free will choice, but again the choice could be shaped by past experience, and choices not based on past experience would be random.).

    How could we measure a program to see if it had free will or not ?
     
  23. apendrapew Oral defecator Registered Senior Member

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    Nasor:

    You can't know this if John Connellan is right about the impossibility of knowing the initial conditions. That's assuming he's right though.

    However, if you're right and there is a genuine quantum weirdness, it seems to be a very important find which would force me to revise my ideas a bit. Do you have a link of anything that demonstrates this indeterminacy?
     

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