|Is there "free will" in heaven? What about "free will" in life?|
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Does it even matter? If to feel that one is free is to be free, isn't that enough? That leads us down some dark paths. Brains can be manipulated, and so can perceptions. As the technologies of social control grow more effective, it's conceivable to live as a community of happy robots, each convinvced it is free, each acting according to plan.
The more we look, the more the philosophy--and the language--get in the way. For one thing, what is "free will"? Does it mean an "uncaused cause," or "a nonlocal thought," or is it simply the sense that we feel we weigh and struggle with alternatives before committing to a course of action? Perhaps the best definition I've seen comes from the comments to the aformentioned article:
A biological or AI system has free will if its future behavior cannot be predicted solely by observing its past behaviour or external communications. A stronger definition would require inability to make such prections regardless of the methods used (eg deep scans of arbitratry complexity of the brain/system). I suspect humans have free will only in the first form of this definition, though for now there probably exists no technology to refute free will of the stronger kind either. (Thomas Anantharaman).Or how about this one? Also from the same comments section:
While recognizing the logic of determinism, I choose (?) to invoke "freedom for all practical purposes," meaning behavior that cannot be predicted and anticipated by another agent is effectively free. The brain and its behavior are sufficiently complex that it takes as much or more effort to predict and thereby control it as to "live" it. And that means we are all practically free and that no one has the ability to control others without incurring a high cost. A sufficiently complex machine would become as free as we are, if it took more effort to control it than that effort was worth in economic terms. (Thomas Earle Moore)
|The no free-will bus campaign (Photo credit: morgantj)|
NEURONS V FREE WILL | More Intelligent Life