Free Will

on fundamental matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind and ethics.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

Re: Free Will

#10041  Postby John Platko » Oct 07, 2017 2:55 pm

:book:

and this is interesting.


Moreover, to reduce the odds of missing future reward, an optimal agent may trade the risk of immediate pain for information gain and thus forget faster after aversive conditioning. A simple neuronal network reproduces these features. Our theory shows that forgetting in Drosophila appears as an optimal adaptive behavior in a changing environment. This is in line with the view that forgetting is adaptive rather than a consequence of limitations of the memory system.


They seem to understand how the future can cause effects in the present. :nod:


Basic model of decision making in a changing environment

For our model we assumed a simplified scenario where the conditioning pertains directly to the appetitive reaction. In particular, depending on the state of the environment, approaching the odor can lead to reward () or punishment () but it can also result in no reinforcement () (Fig. 1). Fleeing the odor, i.e the aversive reaction, never leads to reinforcement (). An agent (fruit fly), whose goal is to maximize reinforcement, chooses between the appetitive and aversive reaction depending on past experience. To model the non-deterministic behavior observed in the experiments we assume that the two available behavioral options involve different costs of responding. These costs of responding, however, fluctuate from trial to trial causing no bias on average. For instance, a fly which happens to find itself to the right of the group initially could well have a smaller cost of responding for staying on this side of the assessment tube on this trial. More generally, the stochastic costs of responding can be seen as incorporating all other factors that also influence the behavior but do not depend on the past experiences that involve the conditioned stimulus. The total reward received by the agent is the external reinforcement () minus the cost of responding. Our agent takes this into account in decision making, and so the costs of responding result in trial to trial fluctuation in the behavior. Whether the appetitive reaction results in depends on the state of the environment. This state changes slowly over time (according to a Markov chain, see Methods and Fig. 1A). So when the appetitive reaction results in on one trial, the same outcome is likely on an immediately subsequent trial, but as time goes by the odds increase that the appetitive reaction results in or even punishment.


:coffee:

The agent maintains a belief about the environmental state

If the agent knew the environmental state, the best policy would be simple: choose the appetitive (aversive) reaction if the environmental state is rewarding (punishing). Typically however, the agent does not know the actual environmental state but, at best, maintains a belief about it (see Fig. 2A and Methods). In our model, the belief consists of the probabilities , and to receive rewarding, neutral or punishing reinforcement, respectively, after selecting the appetitive reaction. Geometrically, the belief can be represented as a position in a 2-dimensional belief space that stepwise changes after the appetitive reaction and thus gaining new information about the current environmental state and otherwise drifts towards an equilibrium (forgetting), see Fig. 2B (note that, since the three probabilities sum to one, the probability of the neutral state can be computed given the probabilities of the rewarding and punishing state, i.e. ).


Even fruit flies have beliefs ...
I like to imagine ...
User avatar
John Platko
 
Name: John Platko
Posts: 8609
Male

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Free Will

#10042  Postby romansh » Oct 07, 2017 3:42 pm

zoon wrote:
At the same time, it seems to me that trying to drop morality altogether runs into the same sort of difficulties as trying to be a total sceptic. Every time I tell myself it’s clear we can’t know anything, I’ve run into a paradox because I’m saying I know something,

I agree, sometimes I play thought games. Do I know the capital of Poland is Warsaw? Would someone travelling close to the speed of light agree? Krakow might be a more correct answer for them? What do we mean by Warsaw ... has it changed by the time I finished this post?
zoon wrote: and every time anyone says we should not use the language of morality, they are using the language of morality. Why should we cut the crap in speaking, and why should we contain behaviours? – if not because we have some shared agreement that it’s a good thing if the community is flourishing, and that it’s good if we are, most of the time at least, not talking nonsense?

When we use the word good ... it seems to have two broad meanings ... accurate and somehow beneficial (the latter seems to boil down to "I approve". ie meets my desire and will.

zoon wrote: It seems to me that these are moral predispositions, we back them up with approval or disapproval. It’s possible to argue that it all comes down to pure self-interest, but I think that argument becomes rather strained, especially as it does not in fact accord so easily with evolutionary theory as the other possibility, that we do in fact care, to some extent, about what happens to other people in the group besides ourselves, and that we have some direct interest in the group’s flourishing.

Again I agree we have moral predispositions. But then I have a predisposition think/visualize London double decker buses as red. No matter how much I understand the science, I can't help seeing them as red and I don't have a clue about understanding them as they really might be. My point is ... having a predisposition is nice and useful, but at best only a reflection of the underlying reality.
zoon wrote:We are group-living animals, and genes code for their own interests, which are not always identical with the interests of the individual in which they happen to be (where the interests of the individual are taken to be survival and direct reproduction). (If I’m derailing this thread, and if romansch is interested in continuing this discussion, we could move it to the “justice is a universal” thread.)

I don't see the two threads as separate ... eg Scott (as many do) see morality and free will entwined. In fact some definitions of free will are defined in the terms of being able to be morally responsible.

I get why we anthropomorphize evolution and its underlying chemistry ... we seem to give them properties that are in our image. But if we are to have theories about biology, psychology free will etc, I can't help thinking they should be coherent with the underlying chemistry and physics.

ps call me rom (or drop the "c") :)
Last edited by romansh on Oct 07, 2017 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"That's right!" shouted Vroomfondel, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
User avatar
romansh
 
Posts: 2078

Country: BC Can (in the woods)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10043  Postby zoon » Oct 07, 2017 3:52 pm

John Platko wrote::book:

and this is interesting.


Moreover, to reduce the odds of missing future reward, an optimal agent may trade the risk of immediate pain for information gain and thus forget faster after aversive conditioning. A simple neuronal network reproduces these features. Our theory shows that forgetting in Drosophila appears as an optimal adaptive behavior in a changing environment. This is in line with the view that forgetting is adaptive rather than a consequence of limitations of the memory system.


They seem to understand how the future can cause effects in the present. :nod:

You are bringing up the argument from design. Yes, living things show a huge amount of design which seems to be planned ahead, acorns grow into oaks etc. All of it is explained by the theory of evolution by natural selection, which operates over populations and over many generations to produce individuals which appear to be designed for the future. This appearance of forethought design is misleading, since it only reflects differential survival in the past. Fruitflies of the past which forgot aversive experiences over time, and tried again, were more likely to survive and leave offspring which were, like their parents, capable of strategic forgetfulness. This is not an example of the future causing effects in the present.

The language researchers use often implies forethought design, although they have no intention of implying any cause of design other than natural selection, because this kind of language is very much less cumbersome.
User avatar
zoon
 
Posts: 2784

Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10044  Postby GrahamH » Oct 07, 2017 4:08 pm

John Platko wrote:
GrahamH wrote:given things got stuck on whether free will means we make our own selves move or not moving on to 'sholder angels' seems hugely ambitious right now


Perhaps you have a point.

We should probably retreat to a smaller free will problem.

:scratch:

The good folks at Harvard give us...


Now that's better. A far more modest proposal. Whether you turn left or right is either because there are compelling indicators or it's somewhat random.
Aimilar choices in similar circumstances produce different behaviours. Viability of random selections are still subject to some sort of filtering. So will isn't driving but it can do the due diligence on what comes up as a sort of predictive error correction.

I think that all fits well with my weave of strings metaphor. The filter can be seen as part of the web of stings.

It ticks many of the boxes for compatibilist free will.
Why do you think that?
GrahamH
 
Posts: 17205

Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10045  Postby romansh » Oct 07, 2017 4:13 pm

GrahamH wrote:
I think that all fits well with my weave of strings metaphor. The filter can be seen as part of the web of stings.

I like the "mesh of cause and effect" myself. :)
"That's right!" shouted Vroomfondel, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
User avatar
romansh
 
Posts: 2078

Country: BC Can (in the woods)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10046  Postby zoon » Oct 07, 2017 4:37 pm

romansh wrote:
zoon wrote:
At the same time, it seems to me that trying to drop morality altogether runs into the same sort of difficulties as trying to be a total sceptic. Every time I tell myself it’s clear we can’t know anything, I’ve run into a paradox because I’m saying I know something,

I agree sometimes I play thought games. Do I know the capital of Poland is Warsaw? Would someone travelling close to the speed of light agree? Krakow might be a more correct answer for them? What do we mean by Warsaw ... has it changed by the time I finished this post?
zoon wrote: and every time anyone says we should not use the language of morality, they are using the language of morality. Why should we cut the crap in speaking, and why should we contain behaviours? – if not because we have some shared agreement that it’s a good thing if the community is flourishing, and that it’s good if we are, most of the time at least, not talking nonsense?

When we use the word good ... it seems to have two broad meanings ... accurate and somehow beneficial (the latter seems to boil down to "I approve". ie meets my desire and will.

zoon wrote: It seems to me that these are moral predispositions, we back them up with approval or disapproval. It’s possible to argue that it all comes down to pure self-interest, but I think that argument becomes rather strained, especially as it does not in fact accord so easily with evolutionary theory as the other possibility, that we do in fact care, to some extent, about what happens to other people in the group besides ourselves, and that we have some direct interest in the group’s flourishing.

Again I agree we have moral predispositions. But then I have a predisposition think/visualize London double decker buses as red. No matter how much I understand the science, I can't help seeing them as red and I don't have a clue about understanding them as they really might be. My point is ... having a predisposition is nice and useful, but at best only a reflection of the underlying reality.
zoon wrote:We are group-living animals, and genes code for their own interests, which are not always identical with the interests of the individual in which they happen to be (where the interests of the individual are taken to be survival and direct reproduction). (If I’m derailing this thread, and if romansh is interested in continuing this discussion, we could move it to the “justice is a universal” thread.)

I don't see the two threads as separate ... eg Scott (as many do) see morality and free will entwined. In fact some definitions of free will are defined in the terms of being able to be morally responsible.

I get why we anthropomorphize evolution and its underlying chemistry ... we seem to give them properties that are in our image. But if we are to have theories about biology, psychology free will etc, I can't help thinking they should be coherent with the underlying chemistry and physics.

ps call me rom (or drop the "c") :)

My apologies about the “c”, I’ve edited it out of post #10040, please keep me in line if it resurfaces.

Yes, I would agree that having a moral predisposition is like seeing a London bus as red, in that it’s a complex evolved affair which will at best only reflect some underlying reality. But I don’t therefore refuse to talk about London buses as red? If saying a bus is red reflects reality well enough to help me get to Piccadilly, why would I want to talk about the wavelength of light instead? Especially as the wave (or the quantum) model of light is itself only a human model, we have no guarantee that it’s ultimate.

Similarly, I think our evolved moral predispositions, or at least some of them, are very helpful in the way we actually run our lives, so why would I want to go to a lot of trouble to rename them or to think of them in very different terms for practical purposes? It’s fair to say that moral terms are considered by many people to be referring to some non-physical realm, and there’s a danger of getting sucked back into that way of thinking, or failing to clarify that I don’t share it. But in most ordinary conversations it doesn’t matter whether the underlying moral assumption (e.g. that it’s good, beneficial, to have a functioning society) evolved or came down from on high, so long as the participants share it? Perhaps I would need to be somewhat on my guard; for example, if someone implies that my accepting moral assumptions means I don’t accept evolution then I might need to correct them, and perhaps throw in the phrase “evolved assumption” as needed to make my stance clear, but most often the question would not arise?
User avatar
zoon
 
Posts: 2784

Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10047  Postby romansh » Oct 07, 2017 5:24 pm

zoon wrote: But I don’t therefore refuse to talk about London buses as red?

I don't refuse too. I have no problem calling the bus red. It is one of those useful predispositions you talk of below.
But is useful to remember it is an illusion. And some times it is useful to remember that a colour is not what it appears to be.

zoon wrote:Similarly, I think our evolved moral predispositions, or at least some of them, are very helpful in the way we actually run our lives ...

This is fine ... this is where cause and effect has caused your thoughts to be.

Is it useful? Well in that most people think in terms good and bad, and morality in general, yes; it is a useful concept to be familiar with. Is there an arrangement of atoms etc that we perceive as fundamentally good or bad or perhaps moral? This sounds strange to me. Whereas arrangement of atoms etc that we perceive as red seems reasonable.

Again is it useful? Quick easy decisions? What are the downsides? I suppose retribution is the big one?
I don't think the torch bearing mob cogitates and deliberates for any length of time. So by some definitions the concept of morality might itself result in a lack of free will.

But if Cito were here, he would gladly point out arrangements of atoms etc being retributive, glad, logical, semantic, etc does not make too much sense either.

But in what sense are any of these atoms etc free?
"That's right!" shouted Vroomfondel, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
User avatar
romansh
 
Posts: 2078

Country: BC Can (in the woods)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Free Will

#10048  Postby John Platko » Oct 07, 2017 6:20 pm

zoon wrote:
John Platko wrote::book:

and this is interesting.


Moreover, to reduce the odds of missing future reward, an optimal agent may trade the risk of immediate pain for information gain and thus forget faster after aversive conditioning. A simple neuronal network reproduces these features. Our theory shows that forgetting in Drosophila appears as an optimal adaptive behavior in a changing environment. This is in line with the view that forgetting is adaptive rather than a consequence of limitations of the memory system.


They seem to understand how the future can cause effects in the present. :nod:

You are bringing up the argument from design. Yes, living things show a huge amount of design which seems to be planned ahead, acorns grow into oaks etc. All of it is explained by the theory of evolution by natural selection, which operates over populations and over many generations to produce individuals which appear to be designed for the future.


:nono: Are you saying that my bringing an umbrella on my walk out of anticipation of future rain as predicted by my phone does not make the future rain the primary cause of my action but rather it is long term evolutionary forces that are responsible?


This appearance of forethought design is misleading, since it only reflects differential survival in the past.


I feel certain that it's just my desire not to get wet that is the first order driving function of my accessorizing with an umbrella.



Fruitflies of the past which forgot aversive experiences over time, and tried again, were more likely to survive and leave offspring which were, like their parents, capable of strategic forgetfulness. This is not an example of the future causing effects in the present.


I certainly think that we can credit evolutionary forces for the basic mechanism which allows forgetfulness. But how that mechanism is adapting to the environment in individual fruit flies in their lifetime is a different matter. But what I'm suggesting is that there is something fundamentally different from a cue ball haplessly bounding into the rack when struck without regard to the upcoming future event and a fruit fly which weighs it beliefs about a possible future and chooses a course of action based on that belief. (ummm I feel I should mention, I am engaging in a bit of thinking out loud in this conversation - I'm not saying this is gospel, however, the more I read about fruit flies the more obvious it becomes that they too have free will, I will shortly post what seems to be the definitive paper on the matter.)


The language researchers use often implies forethought design, although they have no intention of implying any cause of design other than natural selection, because this kind of language is very much less cumbersome.


The aspect of the behavior on focusing on is not genetically passed on down the line. It pertains to the unique personality of individual fruit flies.
I like to imagine ...
User avatar
John Platko
 
Name: John Platko
Posts: 8609
Male

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10049  Postby John Platko » Oct 07, 2017 6:52 pm

GrahamH wrote:
John Platko wrote:
GrahamH wrote:given things got stuck on whether free will means we make our own selves move or not moving on to 'sholder angels' seems hugely ambitious right now


Perhaps you have a point.

We should probably retreat to a smaller free will problem.

:scratch:

The good folks at Harvard give us...


Now that's better. A far more modest proposal. Whether you turn left or right is either because there are compelling indicators or it's somewhat random.
Aimilar choices in similar circumstances produce different behaviours. Viability of random selections are still subject to some sort of filtering. So will isn't driving but it can do the due diligence on what comes up as a sort of predictive error correction.

I think that all fits well with my weave of strings metaphor. The filter can be seen as part of the web of stings.

It ticks many of the boxes for compatibilist free will.


No, I'm going for real no hedging free will these days. And this

Towards a scientific concept of free will as a biological trait: spontaneous actions and decision-making in invertebrates


goes a long way of establishing it. :nod:

I think this paper is so important that I'll take it slow, one section (more or less) at a time.


Abstract

Until the advent of modern neuroscience, free will used to be a theological and a metaphysical concept, debated with little reference to brain function. Today, with ever increasing understanding of neurons, circuits and cognition, this concept has become outdated and any metaphysical account of free will is rightfully rejected. The consequence is not, however, that we become mindless automata responding predictably to external stimuli. On the contrary, accumulating evidence also from brains much smaller than ours points towards a general organization of brain function that incorporates flexible decision-making on the basis of complex computations negotiating internal and external processing. The adaptive value of such an organization consists of being unpredictable for competitors, prey or predators, as well as being able to explore the hidden resource deterministic automats would never find. At the same time, this organization allows all animals to respond efficiently with tried-and-tested behaviours to predictable and reliable stimuli. As has been the case so many times in the history of neuroscience, invertebrate model systems are spearheading these research efforts. This comparatively recent evidence indicates that one common ability of most if not all brains is to choose among different behavioural options even in the absence of differences in the environment and perform genuinely novel acts. Therefore, it seems a reasonable effort for any neurobiologist to join and support a rather illustrious list of scholars who are trying to wrestle the term ‘free will’ from its metaphysical ancestry. The goal is to arrive at a scientific concept of free will, starting from these recently discovered processes with a strong emphasis on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying them.


I'll give all some time to digest this important paper.
I like to imagine ...
User avatar
John Platko
 
Name: John Platko
Posts: 8609
Male

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10050  Postby zoon » Oct 07, 2017 8:10 pm

romansh wrote:
zoon wrote: But I don’t therefore refuse to talk about London buses as red?

I don't refuse too. I have no problem calling the bus red. It is one of those useful predispositions you talk of below.
But is useful to remember it is an illusion. And some times it is useful to remember that a colour is not what it appears to be.

Yes, it’s useful to have the scientific model available, and to be able to switch to it on the occasions when the common sense one fails.

romansh wrote:
zoon wrote:Similarly, I think our evolved moral predispositions, or at least some of them, are very helpful in the way we actually run our lives ...

This is fine ... this is where cause and effect has caused your thoughts to be.

Is it useful? Well in that most people think in terms good and bad, and morality in general, yes; it is a useful concept to be familiar with. Is there an arrangement of atoms etc that we perceive as fundamentally good or bad or perhaps moral? This sounds strange to me. Whereas arrangement of atoms etc that we perceive as red seems reasonable.

Again is it useful? Quick easy decisions? What are the downsides? I suppose retribution is the big one?
I don't think the torch bearing mob cogitates and deliberates for any length of time. So by some definitions the concept of morality might itself result in a lack of free will.

You say above that retribution is the big downside of evolved moral predispositions, but I gather from your earlier posts that you are not opposed to legal, thought-through retribution as a way of controlling people’s behaviour? You appear to be equating evolved predispositions, to some extent, with animal-like, subhuman behaviour, as if they all led to knee-jerk instinctive responses or the actions of a baying crowd? I start rather with the assumption that all our behaviour evolved, both the predispositions and the general-purpose problem-solving which is a noticeable characteristic of our large evolved brains. The “rational” problem-solving enables us to choose between predispositions, but if we threw out all evolved predispositions on the grounds that they evolved, we would be left with no reason to do anything. Wanting to survive, to be happy, or to be part of a flourishing society, are all evolved desires. It’s possible that, all things considered, it would be a good idea to throw out all the specifically moral evolved desires, but to throw them out simply because they evolved would not be a good enough reason?

I do think that some evolved predispositions which might be called moral are distinctly dangerous in the modern world. In particular, the tendency to consider one’s own group as automatically superior to, or essentially different from, the others, becomes unsafe in a global society equipped with nuclear weapons. Like the evolved predisposition to eat sugar and fat when they are available, it was useful in the environment in which we evolved, but now needs to be kept fairly strictly in check if we are to achieve the goals which most of us consider more important: maintaining health (in the case of eating sugar and fat), or not starting race riots or World War 3 (in the case of ethnic prejudice).

At the same time, I think that other moral predispositions, such as the impulse to share the rewards of shared work equally, or to object if someone is being physically assaulted without reason, are very useful and, again within reason, to be encouraged. I also think that the central aspect of what we categorise as morality, the shared code of behaviour with measured, thought-through retribution for offenders, is itself an evolved social predisposition which human societies could hardly function without.

There’s a 2017/2018 book chapter here (I can't seem to link to the actual chapter, it's the link "Empathy is a moral force" on the page I've linked to), discussing this issue with regard to the human predisposition to empathise, to take another person’s view, to feel for them. Sometimes, this is regarded as a foundation for morality. Sometimes, it’s regarded as a noisy and disorganised evolved predisposition which leads us to forget about, or to be especially aggressive to, people with whom we do not empathise. The author of the paper, Jamil Zaki, suggests that empathy is useful for moral behaviour (perhaps even the essential baby not to be thrown out with the bathwater), and that it can be controlled to some extent (e.g. we can choose to empathise more widely), but that it is to be treated with some caution:
Jamil Zaki wrote:How could an emotional state that produces such misguided moral behavior ever be trusted? Critics of empathy suggest that morality can better serve the greater good if it is guided by utilitarian principles (i.e., doing the most good for the most people), as opposed to emotion. This viewpoint is important and clearly right in many cases. It is also incomplete, and risks discarding the baby with the proverbial well water.

Here I offer a counterpoint to recent criticisms of empathy, in two parts. First, I suggest that the limits of empathy are not stable, and instead reflect individuals’ motivation to connect with or avoid others’ experiences. These motives shift dynamically across situations, and strategies that increase empathic motivation can also reduce biases associated with empathy. Second, although utilitarian principles best guide the behavior of large groups, individuals who act morally “with feeling” are likely to be more committed to and fulfilled by their behaviors. Thus, to the extent that people can align their principles and affect, empathy can lend emotional meaning to moral actions.

Rather than either dismissing all evolved predispositions, or accepting them uncritically, I think this sort of detailed discussion and evaluation is the better approach?

romansh wrote:But if Cito were here, he would gladly point out arrangements of atoms etc being retributive, glad, logical, semantic, etc does not make too much sense either.

But in what sense are any of these atoms etc free?

This is where I start talking about Theory of Mind, the collection of evolved processes which our brains use to guess what is going on in another person’s brain. When we see other people, we don’t automatically see them as the complex mechanisms they are, but rather in terms of their goals, their feelings, their view of the world. At a basic level, these processes are wired in, and some are shared by non-human animals. For example, monkeys and many other animals have mirror neurones, which fire both when the animal has a goal such as to pick up a cup, but also fire when the animal sees someone else about to pick up a cup. Other people are indeed arrangements of atoms, but we’ve evolved to see them as “retributive, glad, logical, semantic, etc”. This way of seeing people may eventually be taken over by science, but so far we are very much better at predicting another person by the evolved processes of Theory of Mind than by using brain scans, so in many ways we still interact socially much as we did in the Stone Age. Free will, as I see it (in the useful, non-ultimate sense), is when we act without coercion or mental illness, and so can reasonably be held responsible for our actions; it's not freedom from causality, though it may cease to be useful if we ever understand ourselves better through science than through Theory of Mind.
Last edited by zoon on Oct 07, 2017 8:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
zoon
 
Posts: 2784

Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10051  Postby Cito di Pense » Oct 07, 2017 8:15 pm

romansh wrote:
But if Cito were here, he would gladly point out arrangements of atoms etc being retributive, glad, logical, semantic, etc does not make too much sense either.


The collection of words "arrangements of atoms etc being retributive ... " doesn't necessarily denote anything. Saying that a collection of words "makes no sense" is relative to you. Even if somebody else agrees with you, so what?

These endless rounds of "this makes no (or little) sense" or "this is important" are implicitly followed by "to me".

Retributive, glad, logical, semantic -- all of them just words. They may denote something to you, but they're not precise enough to talk about denoting in general. You can appeal to the dictionary, but you really need to take a poll. Then you have some survey research, and your poll is going to face inspection when you publish it and your methodology. You dream of doing so.

romansh wrote:But is useful to remember it is an illusion.


What's this argument aimed at? Nothing, as usual? Is it aimed at diminishing the significance of the questions you can't stay away from?
Last edited by Cito di Pense on Oct 07, 2017 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 24309
Age: 6
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10052  Postby John Platko » Oct 07, 2017 8:16 pm

For those less interested in fruit flies and more interested in retro causality this is interesting.


The appeal of retrocausality

First, to clarify what retrocausality is and isn't: It does not mean that signals can be communicated from the future to the past—such signaling would be forbidden even in a retrocausal theory due to thermodynamic reasons. Instead, retrocausality means that, when an experimenter chooses the measurement setting with which to measure a particle, that decision can influence the properties of that particle (or another particle) in the past, even before the experimenter made their choice. In other words, a decision made in the present can influence something in the past.
In the original Bell tests, physicists assumed that retrocausal influences could not happen. Consequently, in order to explain their observations that distant particles seem to immediately know what measurement is being made on the other, the only viable explanation was action-at-a-distance. That is, the particles are somehow influencing each other even when separated by large distances, in ways that cannot be explained by any known mechanism. But by allowing for the possibility that the measurement setting for one particle can retrocausally influence the behavior of the other particle, there is no need for action-at-a-distance—only retrocausal influence.



Generalizing retrocausality: with or without a real quantum state

One of the main proponents of retrocausality in quantum theory is Huw Price, a philosophy professor at the University of Cambridge. In 2012, Price laid out an argument suggesting that any quantum theory that assumes that 1) the quantum state is real, and 2) the quantum world is time-symmetric (that physical processes can run forwards and backwards while being described by the same physical laws) must allow for retrocausal influences. Understandably, however, the idea of retrocausality has not caught on with physicists in general.



And for those seriously interested in the subject there is this.


We conclude that the most plausible response to our result, other than giving up Realism, is to posit that there might be retrocausality in nature. At the very least, this is a concrete and little explored possibility that holds the promise of evading almost all no-go theorems in the foundations of quantum theory, so it should be investigated further.
I like to imagine ...
User avatar
John Platko
 
Name: John Platko
Posts: 8609
Male

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10053  Postby Cito di Pense » Oct 07, 2017 8:22 pm

romansh wrote:But in what sense are any of these atoms etc free?


Or ... not free. You're saying "what a stupid question this is", but why don't you just come the fuck out and say it?

Describing everything as "collections of atoms" just means you decided to stop thinking about it, and well done for stopping, unless you think you have (or had) a point to make.

If you're actually Joshua Greene, or some schmuck like that, you can't afford to say "what a stupid question this is", but then you're not somebody like Joshua Greene, are you? Maybe zoon is, but in that case, she can't afford to say what a stupid question it is. On the other hand, maybe zoon is just a hobbyist who likes to read the literature of neuroscience and evolutionary psych.

If you read enough of that shit, the drum-beat of vague generalizations you forgot (or declined) to check is going to make you think that it's all starting to jell.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 24309
Age: 6
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10054  Postby John Platko » Oct 07, 2017 9:04 pm

And speaking of jelling. This is a rather interesting way to think of retrocausality.

I like to imagine ...
User avatar
John Platko
 
Name: John Platko
Posts: 8609
Male

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10055  Postby zoon » Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm

John Platko wrote:
zoon wrote:
John Platko wrote::book:

and this is interesting.


Moreover, to reduce the odds of missing future reward, an optimal agent may trade the risk of immediate pain for information gain and thus forget faster after aversive conditioning. A simple neuronal network reproduces these features. Our theory shows that forgetting in Drosophila appears as an optimal adaptive behavior in a changing environment. This is in line with the view that forgetting is adaptive rather than a consequence of limitations of the memory system.


They seem to understand how the future can cause effects in the present. :nod:

You are bringing up the argument from design. Yes, living things show a huge amount of design which seems to be planned ahead, acorns grow into oaks etc. All of it is explained by the theory of evolution by natural selection, which operates over populations and over many generations to produce individuals which appear to be designed for the future.


:nono: Are you saying that my bringing an umbrella on my walk out of anticipation of future rain as predicted by my phone does not make the future rain the primary cause of my action but rather it is long term evolutionary forces that are responsible?


This appearance of forethought design is misleading, since it only reflects differential survival in the past.


I feel certain that it's just my desire not to get wet that is the first order driving function of my accessorizing with an umbrella.

Yes, and your desire is an aspect of your brain molecules’ responding causally to events which are similar to events that predicted rain in the past. This is not the same as responding causally to future rain. For example, if you take an umbrella because your phone says it will rain, but it doesn’t rain, how could it have been the future rain (which never happened) which caused you to pick up your umbrella?

Seeing ourselves and other people in terms of goals, which involve future events, is a feature of Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is an evolved and very powerful, and in many ways very useful, illusion, it’s easy to feel as certain about it as that the earth beneath our feet is stationary.
User avatar
zoon
 
Posts: 2784

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Free Will

#10056  Postby Cito di Pense » Oct 07, 2017 10:51 pm

John Platko wrote:
I feel certain that it's just my desire not to get wet that is the first order driving function of my accessorizing with an umbrella.


You may be onto something, here. How hard does it have to be raining before that desire kicks in? This is quantifiable, if you don't just want to open the umbrella at an arbitrary moment. When the rain diminishes, you have to do all the dirty work of figuring out when to close the umbrella, so you don't look like some putz who hasn't realized it's not raining any more. This is a parable of sorts, while an umbrella is just a parapluie.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 24309
Age: 6
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10057  Postby Cito di Pense » Oct 08, 2017 8:34 am

zoon wrote:Theory of Mind is an evolved and very powerful, and in many ways very useful, illusion, it’s easy to feel as certain about it as that the earth beneath our feet is stationary.


A model, not an illusion. Just because a model does not exactly replicate reality does not mean you should refer to it as an illusion. Of course, "theory of mind" is not really a model, which is probably why you choose to refer to it as an 'illusion'. That's what comes from treating bullshit ("theory of mind") as a useful "concept". It's a concept, but not generally useful, so stop making bullshit hedges like "in many ways very useful". Let me count the ways.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Ivar Poäng
Posts: 24309
Age: 6
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10058  Postby GrahamH » Oct 08, 2017 9:45 am

John Platko wrote:For those less interested in fruit flies and more interested in retro causality this is interesting.


The appeal of retrocausality

First, to clarify what retrocausality is and isn't: It does not mean that signals can be communicated from the future to the past—such signaling would be forbidden even in a retrocausal theory due to thermodynamic reasons. Instead, retrocausality means that, when an experimenter chooses the measurement setting with which to measure a particle, that decision can influence the properties of that particle (or another particle) in the past, even before the experimenter made their choice. In other words, a decision made in the present can influence something in the past.


That is contradictory. I a decision can"influence something in the past" that is communicating to the past. From the perspective of the something it is influenced buy something in its future.
Why do you think that?
GrahamH
 
Posts: 17205

Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10059  Postby John Platko » Oct 08, 2017 1:37 pm

zoon wrote:
John Platko wrote:
zoon wrote:
John Platko wrote::book:

and this is interesting.



They seem to understand how the future can cause effects in the present. :nod:

You are bringing up the argument from design. Yes, living things show a huge amount of design which seems to be planned ahead, acorns grow into oaks etc. All of it is explained by the theory of evolution by natural selection, which operates over populations and over many generations to produce individuals which appear to be designed for the future.


:nono: Are you saying that my bringing an umbrella on my walk out of anticipation of future rain as predicted by my phone does not make the future rain the primary cause of my action but rather it is long term evolutionary forces that are responsible?


This appearance of forethought design is misleading, since it only reflects differential survival in the past.


I feel certain that it's just my desire not to get wet that is the first order driving function of my accessorizing with an umbrella.

Yes, and your desire is an aspect of your brain molecules’ responding causally to events which are similar to events that predicted rain in the past. This is not the same as responding causally to future rain. For example, if you take an umbrella because your phone says it will rain, but it doesn’t rain, how could it have been the future rain (which never happened) which caused you to pick up your umbrella?


The Copenhagenesques interpretation would be something like:

The future possibility of rain was in superposition with the possibility of no rain and it was the probability amplitude of this superposition that was the retro causality of my bringing an umbrella.

The Everettesque interpretation would be something like:

My likely rainy future was the dominant cause for my brining an umbrella but a less probable branch to a different future history left my umbrella high and dry.


Seeing ourselves and other people in terms of goals, which involve future events, is a feature of Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is an evolved and very powerful, and in many ways very useful, illusion, it’s easy to feel as certain about it as that the earth beneath our feet is stationary.


I feel the same way about physics and the deeper I dig into it the more I come to see that QM and our deep understanding of reality is about as good as the alchemist understanding of chemistry. I would say at this point it's a very useful illusion.

Since we don't interact much I feel compelled to say there is a bit of free thinking in my response to you - I'm saying, I haven't really thought this future causes the past completely through. :no:

But, this is the philosophy section of the forum, not the physics section, and causality has been viewed by philosophers in many different ways, for example:

from

Aristotle held that there were four kinds of answers to "why" questions (in Physics II, 3, and Metaphysics V, 2):[2][5][4]

Matter:
a change or movement's material "cause", is the aspect of the change or movement which is determined by the material that composes the moving or changing things. For a table, that might be wood; for a statue, that might be bronze or marble.

Form:
a change or movement's formal "cause", is a change or movement caused by the arrangement, shape or appearance of the thing changing or moving. Aristotle says for example that the ratio 2:1, and number in general, is the cause of the octave.

Agent:
a change or movement's efficient or moving "cause", consists of things apart from the thing being changed or moved, which interact so as to be an agency of the change or movement. For example, the efficient cause of a table is a carpenter, or a person working as one, and according to Aristotle the efficient cause of a boy is a father.

End or purpose:
a change or movement's final "cause", is that for the sake of which a thing is what it is. For a seed, it might be an adult plant. For a sailboat, it might be sailing. For a ball at the top of a ramp, it might be coming to rest at the bottom.


In Aristotle's mode of explanation of "why" the final cause is intrinsic to the mode of explanation. And in some situations this sort of view of cause can have more explanatory value for the situation at hand than physics can.
I like to imagine ...
User avatar
John Platko
 
Name: John Platko
Posts: 8609
Male

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Free Will

#10060  Postby John Platko » Oct 08, 2017 1:46 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
John Platko wrote:
I feel certain that it's just my desire not to get wet that is the first order driving function of my accessorizing with an umbrella.


You may be onto something, here. How hard does it have to be raining before that desire kicks in?


It doesn't have to be raining at all, I often bring the umbrella based on an estimitated probability amplitude not on actual rain - at least much of the time.


This is quantifiable, if you don't just want to open the umbrella at an arbitrary moment. When the rain diminishes, you have to do all the dirty work of figuring out when to close the umbrella, so you don't look like some putz who hasn't realized it's not raining any more. This is a parable of sorts, while an umbrella is just a parapluie.


:scratch: Well, in practice it usually works like this: It stops raining, I keep on keeping on (I guess you would call that "putz mode"), my wife looks at me and says, it's stopped raining - you don't need the umbrella anymore - and then I evaluate the probability amplitude of her being right or not and act accordingly.
I like to imagine ...
User avatar
John Platko
 
Name: John Platko
Posts: 8609
Male

Country: US
United States (us)
Print view this post

PreviousNext

Return to Philosophy

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 10 guests