Sunday, July 11, 2021

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On Free Will as an Ill-Posed Problem | Improperly-posed problem

Comment of mine on a post in Real AGI group.
referring to an article "The clockwork universe: is free will an illusion?"

Todor: Whether or not somebody or something has a "free will" depends on how exactly "free will" is defined, both "free" and "will", also "you". I think all that discussion and the "catastrophic" consequences are largely anglosaxon-centered views or ones belonging to "control freaks" and sound like sophisms. Of course one can never be of full control of "his" choices, you are formed by an endless amount of "external" forces, there are large portions of life where "you" is unconscious, the processes of your orgranism in complete detail depend on everything, it's of your "full" control only if you are God. It's hard to define what "you" is, where exactly the boundary lays, and obviously what "you" can realize and enumerate or deliberately control is almost nothing of the bitrate that describes your body and all processes in maximum resolution. The intentionally muscle-controllable trajectories are of mere bits, while a zillion bits describe just one CELL of the body in any encoding. The body is also a tiny bit of the whole Universe, where a principle of superposition is in effect etc., everything is computed by interacting with everything else.

IMO that is not supposed to cause existential catastrophe unless one is prone for that due to "control-freak-ism" or something - nothing follows from the lack of the "complete control", it's not the end of the world, unless one believes he was god and now he finds that he wasn't.

"They argue that our choices are determined by forces beyond our ultimate control – perhaps even predetermined all the way back to the big bang – and that therefore nobody is ever wholly responsible for their actions."

This is not a new argument.

Ultimate control - the mania of some cultures and tyrants.

However responsibility as localisation of causal forces, given a resolution and method of factorisation, is another question.

An answer from the poster of the link:
A.T.: I don't want to get into the discussion of free will. If you don't think humans have free will, then you won't care that robots with AGI almost certainly don't have free will. Humans may or may not have free will, but robots cannot, as we know the "clockwork" of their operation. Even using a rand() function that uses pseudo-random numbers won't change that fact, even if the seed is altered. That can always be determined so that the deterministic outcome is theoretically known. As I said, I thought it might be a post to pose a question that I have not seen posed this way before.Even using a rand() function that uses pseudo-random numbers won't change that fact, even if the seed is altered. (...)

(The following is posted only here)

Todor: You only believe that you know the "clockwork" of their operation (of a machine, AI etc.). In fact you may say the same for anything with a certain resolution. If randomness is the "free will" freature or component then electrons and all physical particles in the quantum model have "free will", which is fine, however therefore everything has that "free will" and defined like that this concept is meaningless, because it applies for everything and clarifies nothing.

The "theoretically known" part is true for everything as well: if you were God, if you could read the content of everything fast enough without changing it etc., then you would know the "clockwork" for everything. "In theory" you could be, and as of computers and robots: they are part of the whole Universe and in interaction with them, if they interact and their behavior, operation, knowledge etc. are impacted by entities or parts with "free will" within Universe, then they also would have that property and their actual "body" extends to everything that impacts them.

Therefore one must first define exactly what "free will" is and what it is not. Whether or not anything has or doesn't have anything depends on the exact definition. Also humans or whatever can have "free will" even if it's considered "deterministic" or predictible, will and free will as I see it is not about being not deterministic, "free" is not about being random (except in these confused believes).

For example see the definition of Hegel, Engels/Marx, thus Dialectical Materialists: they are deterministic, their definition of free will is to act in accordance with the necessity, i.e. to understand what to do, to be conscious of the possibilities and the desired outcome and "the best" way to achieve it etc. and a lack of free will is if the agent "doesn't understand" (but yet that must be precisely defined, otherwise it's generalities and sophisms), thus if your choice is random and you can't explain it you are also not free, but dependent on the "will" of the randomness or "the Fortune" (instead of "your own" also).

Having or not having anything, doesn't imply anything on its own and has no intrinsic ethical consequences by itself; the ethical consequences are of political and ideological origin. "Lack of God" doesn't mean that "everything is permitted" (Dostoyevski sophism), neither if you consider that an ant or a PC or a tree "does not have free will", that consideration on its own does not impliy (or it does not follow from it) that you have or don't have to do anything with it.

Similarly the fact that other humans are supposed to have "a soul" or "free will" and if the agent "believes that" couldn't stop a murderer, a psychopath or a criminal, a warrior/general or a plain soldier, or any "evil one" etc. Respectively, if you like/love animals or even "inanimate objects" - plants; weapons, cars, computers, toys, books, precious memories - you may handle them with care and love, because that's what *you* feel, it's subjective.

The randomness (disconnected from everything, supposedly) for "free will" is actually dependent on the Universe as a whole which only "predicts" the exact values - so that "freedom" is most dependent (of the whole).

"Freedom" in general as some kind of "independence" (or dependence) is within the decided/given framework and resolution.

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