Book 2 – Text Updates 031

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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Carne » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:37 am

Chit Rule Railroad wrote:Would you say that you had, until reading this post, been unable to choose to intentionally nail your foot to the floor with a slice of bologna and a cocktail umbrella underneath it just because I already had an accurate enough model of you to know, "with near certainty", that you wouldn't have thought of doing so?

Isn't there a difference between "cannot" and "will not"?


If the model says that I categorically would not have thought of doing that, then I would not have thought of doing that.

Plus I don't keep bologna in the house. Filthy stuff, bologna. Bleah. And you're assuming I have feet :D
Last edited by Carne on Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Carne » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:53 am

Chit Rule Railroad wrote:
Carne wrote:the thought experiment is that an outside observer, observing a closed system without influencing it, could determine what outcome the observation would generate.
....
But determinism says nothing about the future predictability of one's actions, only that they are unavoidable due to the inescapable mechanics of the universe.


Of course a hypothetical observer that is defined as omniscient would be omniscient. But then the latter definition seems to makes the thought experiment irrelevant to determinism, anyway.

On the other hand, couldn't an outside observer be non-omniscient and choose what branches of history to examine or ignore? If we consider the observer important, then it could reintroduce randomness or choice (even if that randomness or choice exists only subjectively for the observer within the observer's own deterministic universe). There could be an observer corresponding to each of us that chooses to limit its attention to one human's POV, imposing the arrow of time on its own observations. The observer could get so wrapped up in the drama that it forgets that it is outside of the universe.


In which case the observer would cease to be an external observer, and would become an internal part of the system it is trying to model, which influences the results and makes it unpredictable. As for the internal observed attempting to self-predict, this too shall fail, for the same reason: the model can't take into account the results from the model.

Crude example: I run a model based on my life right now to predict whether it's far too late to be up arguing with people on the Internet about quantum mechanics. It determines that I finish posting and get some sleep. But, obstinately, I choose to keep writing more and more obscure nonsense in spite of the model's results. The model wasn't wrong, but (even though it is aware than I'm obstinate) it didn't take into account the data returned from the model showing that I went to bed instead.

On the other hand, Thor, the ideal external observer, knows full well that I'm going to stay up past my bedtime to post nonsense on the Internet, clucks his tongue, and goes to smite some vikings in Valhalla instead.


In other words, just as we hypothetically could be simulations, we could hypothetically be aliens or computers immersing ourselves in the output of a simulation, and have temporarily forgotten our true nature. Such an observer could potentially shift its attention to other history branches. The hypothetical dreaming butterfly could dream lucidly and shift its dream even if it can't change the range of possible dreams.


By forgetting our true nature, we become other than that which we were. Is it ethical to forcibly reinstate that which was lost, thus restoring the original personality? Or is the new personality in possession of the right to exist? If someone woke Zhuangzi, would they be killing the butterfly?
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby zilfallon » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:35 am

It is strange that the topic changed soo much. When people were discussing about sex, there were people (for example, me) trying to keep the topic at Erfworld with a few posts. Of course, we were overwhelmed. But now, Kingdom of Topics Unrelated to Erfworld has completely conquered this thread. Not that I'm complaining about it, however enjoying the discussion doesn't change the fact that it is strange :D
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Levor » Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:10 am

Reading through the sex and procreation discussion was a bit surreal, very enjoyable, but a bit strange. The kind of view articulated by guys like OneHugeTuck:

OneHugeTuck wrote:
Lots of sex happens with anti-procreation measures, thus clearly the purpose of sex is not procreation. Procreation is just a random side effect of sex on Earthworld. Sex doesn't have anything in particular to do with procreation. It can, obviously, but doesn't have to.



I wonder if anyone would want to run it with anything other than sex? Take eating. Would we argue that eating is not necessarily for nutrition?

Trying to remember the kind of arguments used about sex and putting forward analogies:

+People eat for all sorts of reasons other than to stay alive and grow.
+Eating is a complex relational and cultural activity that often has lots of symbolism and rituals attached to it.
+Eating is a very inefficient means of getting nutrition - people keep eating even when they've had enough nutrition for the day and can even get fat as a result.
+It is possible to give someone nutrition without them eating, so eating can't be about getting nutrition (picking up the idea floated in the thread that the fairly modern innovation of reasonably reliable contraception retrospectively means that sex has no intrinsic reproductive purpose and never did).
+Some foods that are eaten have no nutritional value, and yet we eat them, therefore there is no necessary link between eating and nutrition.

I think people would say to all that, 'sure, but basically if you don't eat and drink, you don't stay alive.' Eating and staying alive are necessarily related, even if human beings can do more with that biological function, and even if the connection doesn't hold in absolutely every case.

I take most of the issues that people have raised about sex, but surely the basic point is, "If one generation doesn't engage in a fair bit of heterosexual sex then there won't be much of a subsequent generation?" Contraception, pleasure, sex when infertile, all miss the basic point. Until technology advanced to the point where artificial insemination was possible, procreation is more than just 'a random side effect of sex on planet Earth'. If that was true, there'd be no humans now. The fact that humans can do more with sex than procreate is part of our nature as tool-users, we can manipulate our environment, we can do things with what the world (including our own biology) hands us. It doesn't mean that sex and procreation don't have an intrinsic natural connection, that procreation is just 'a random side effect'.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Bardlp » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:26 am

Eating and staying alive are necessarily related

Terri Schiavo. She stayed "alive" for quite some time without eating or drinking. :P
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby MarbitChow » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:43 am

Even if you believe in a completely deterministic universe (which is your choice, but is currently unprovable, so falls into the category of 'belief' rather than 'science'), a completely deterministic universe is not incompatible with Free Will.

Free Will is a meme that allows, in effect, that the human decision-making engine (or 'brain') the 'freedom' to prioritize internal stimuli over external: the brain can choose to rank ideas higher than outside forces. This allows the brain to select the ability to die for a cause (or other idea) over the hard-coded self-preservation instincts.

It isn't an 'illusion', it's a decision-making algorithm. It works, and it works exactly like you think it does: by freeing up the brain's prioritization logic to allow 'arbitrary' (i.e. self-determined) priorities to be assigned, so that the choice that is most important to the individual brain can be selected.

Chaos mathematics and finite-state algorithms show that you can use completely deterministic methods to create unpredictability.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Levor » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:53 am

Bardlp wrote:
Eating and staying alive are necessarily related

Terri Schiavo. She stayed "alive" for quite some time without eating or drinking. :P


Heh, you did get the point where I said that it doesn't hold in absolutely every case? There can be examples of eating that have nothing to do with staying alive, and we can keep people alive without them eating, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a link there in nature?

I agree we can keep people alive without them eating. I don't think that really shows that, let's see, 'nutrition is a random side-effect of eating on Planet Earth'.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby cheeseaholic » Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:17 am

Carne wrote:
To a point, yes. Humans, while incredibly complex, are not infinitely complex. At some point, there is a threshold of data one could conceivably collect about a person and their environment that, should a powerful enough model be available, that data could be used to predict the behavior of the victim with near certain results - more data (and more *accurate* data) results in better predictions.

Assume your model runs faster then the victim - this is not out of the bounds of reality. In effect, you will be able to replicate - in advance - every decision, mental state, action etc. of the victim, in advance. Where, then, is the choice of the individual, if everything about the individual is already known? If events cannot deviate from the pre-calculated path?

(No fair giving the victim the printout of his life's script, as that nullifies the experiment, and introduces data that the model had no hope of collecting. To be truly objective, the results and no effects from the result being known by others can ever impact the victim. This is, by and large, very difficult to achieve. Er, I imagine.)


My point was that even if something is 100% predictable, that doesn't mean that there isn't free choice. It seems that you're confusing randomness with choice. Choice is a decision. If anything, randomness is closer to a lack of free will than predetermination. In predetermination your choices may be known ahead of time. Randomness isn't a choice...it's random. To me it looks like you're arguing that there is no free will because there is choice. Which is why I asked in my first post if you were equating free choice with randomness.

MarbitChow wrote:Even if you believe in a completely deterministic universe (which is your choice, but is currently unprovable, so falls into the category of 'belief' rather than 'science'), a completely deterministic universe is not incompatible with Free Will.


This.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Carne » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:51 pm

MarbitChow wrote:Even if you believe in a completely deterministic universe (which is your choice, but is currently unprovable, so falls into the category of 'belief' rather than 'science'), a completely deterministic universe is not incompatible with Free Will.


Ah, but belief that there are truly random events in the universe is also a matter of faith. The very best you can say is "This process is unpredictable in a way we cannot explain. It appears to be random." This does not constitute proof that randomness exists.


Free Will is a meme that allows, in effect, that the human decision-making engine (or 'brain') the 'freedom' to prioritize internal stimuli over external: the brain can choose to rank ideas higher than outside forces. This allows the brain to select the ability to die for a cause (or other idea) over the hard-coded self-preservation instincts.

It isn't an 'illusion', it's a decision-making algorithm. It works, and it works exactly like you think it does: by freeing up the brain's prioritization logic to allow 'arbitrary' (i.e. self-determined) priorities to be assigned, so that the choice that is most important to the individual brain can be selected.


Okay, let's look at this from a different angle. Don't apply your standards for Free Will on your own mind. Let's use Hypothetical Bob.

Hypothetical Bob is just some schmo we picked off the hypothetical street. We do not have access to his subjective experience from the inside, so he makes a good candidate for experimentation. We're currently role playing enormously powerful aliens, so we abduct poor Hypothetical Bob, pull his brain out of his head and plop it in a jar, jam a bunch of electrodes in it, and hook him up to a computer which is simulating his environment. This makes the thought experiment a little easier since we can control (and therefore have complete knowledge) of his environment.

At this point, once we're happy that the brain is integrated into the simulation correctly and Bob suspects nothing, we hit the big button on the Stasis Generator and freeze the whole contraption in time. Nothing moves, nothing changes. Hypothetical Bob's brain state (and that of the apparatus) is carefully noted, and this data is then fed into another, more powerful computer, which is set up to simulate Hypothetical Bob and his VR rig. The simulation is executed, and Simulated Hypothetical Bob experiences a personal dilemma. He's standing in line at his office cafeteria deciding what to have for lunch. He chooses the chicken, and proceeds to sit and eat it.

This is the crucial decision the aliens, for whatever reason, are interested in. To verify their results, they turn off the stasis generator and run the sim "for real" using Hypothetical Bob's actual brain. Surprise surprise, Hypothetical Bob chooses the chicken.

Did Hypothetical Bob really have a choice? Of course not. It only appeared to Hypothetical Bob that he did, but the eventual outcome was already determined, both by the secondary simulation, but also by the natural progression of the machinery of the universe. One brain state leads to the next, leads to the next in entirely predictable ways (EDIT: given that we have perfect knowledge of the situation).

But in Hypothetical Bob's subjective viewpoint, he was presented with a choice consisting of multiple options. He chose the chicken because of whatever preferences exist in his mind at that time, whatever external environmental effects were operating on him at the time, and by using logic and decision making algorithms. But at the end of the day, he will still not be able to choose anything other than the chicken. It is inescapable.


Chaos mathematics and finite-state algorithms show that you can use completely deterministic methods to create unpredictability.


Mmm. But, again, randomness is not fully synonymous with unpredictability. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randomness ... ictability
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Pointyleaf » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:22 pm

Carne wrote:
MarbitChow wrote:Even if you believe in a completely deterministic universe (which is your choice, but is currently unprovable, so falls into the category of 'belief' rather than 'science'), a completely deterministic universe is not incompatible with Free Will.


Ah, but belief that there are truly random events in the universe is also a matter of faith. The very best you can say is "This process is unpredictable in a way we cannot explain. It appears to be random." This does not constitute proof that randomness exists.


This is absolute nonsense - We can't "prove" anything in science - real proofs are only found in mathematics. Science rests upon repeatability and collecting evidence, and technically we may find out some day that every experiment we did was wrong for some reason. So yes, you are indeed right that we can't prove that randomness exists, but the evidence is currently pointing toward randomness quite strongly.

And your evidence for determinism is just "we can't prove randomness"? That's quite weak. Absence of evidence (for randomness) is not evidence for determinism. To 'prove' determinism, you'll have to give some actual evidence for determinism.

Or we can just settle on "we don't know, we'll see how physics looks in another 1000 years."
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby cheeseaholic » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:56 pm

Carne wrote:Did Hypothetical Bob really have a choice? Of course not. It only appeared to Hypothetical Bob that he did, but the eventual outcome was already determined, both by the secondary simulation, but also by the natural progression of the machinery of the universe. One brain state leads to the next, leads to the next in entirely predictable ways (EDIT: given that we have perfect knowledge of the situation).


All you're proving is that his choice can be predetermined. You have yet to show that the ability to predetermine what course of action will be made means that choices aren't made. Your whole argument is that things can be predicted, therefore there is no choice. Ignoring the argument as to weather things can really be predicted like that, you give no support as to why prediction doesn't allow free will.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Ashamam » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:30 pm

Pointyleaf wrote:This is absolute nonsense - We can't "prove" anything in science - real proofs are only found in mathematics. Science rests upon repeatability and collecting evidence, and technically we may find out some day that every experiment we did was wrong for some reason. So yes, you are indeed right that we can't prove that randomness exists, but the evidence is currently pointing toward randomness quite strongly.

And your evidence for determinism is just "we can't prove randomness"? That's quite weak. Absence of evidence (for randomness) is not evidence for determinism. To 'prove' determinism, you'll have to give some actual evidence for determinism.

Or we can just settle on "we don't know, we'll see how physics looks in another 1000 years."

I don't know that I'd say evidence is "currently pointing toward randomness quite strongly" You say that evidence currently point to randomness, I see it differently. The more we learn about the universe and it's underlying physics the more we see that what we once thought were random processes actually had a reason for occuring. As such, the evidence to me points that the more we learn the less random things seem. We do use random models to explain the gaps in our understanding (or in some cases to approximate the effects of details we could include but the extra work to do so would provide no substantive benefit to the macro issue). You ask for evidence to 'prove' determinism. The difficulty with that lies in the very nature of determinism. In order to 'prove' determinism one would have to have omniscience. As such the debate of Determinism vs. Free Will is more a metaphysical (and hence philosophical) debate rather than scientific.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Ashamam » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:58 pm

cheeseaholic wrote:All you're proving is that his choice can be predetermined. You have yet to show that the ability to predetermine what course of action will be made means that choices aren't made. Your whole argument is that things can be predicted, therefore there is no choice. Ignoring the argument as to weather things can really be predicted like that, you give no support as to why prediction doesn't allow free will.


I agree with you that the concept of determinism does not necessarily negate Free Will. I think to avoid some confusion I need to define what I mean by Free Will. It is the ability to choose the most attractive of choices currently available to you. For example, If a man with a gun comes up to you and gives you the choice of "You can keep your money or your life" you most likely will choose to keep your life. (Of course other factors such as whether you think he is bluffing or whether you think you can wrestle the gun away, or whether you actually wish to die, etc. could scew this) In the end your 'will' always chooses that which is most attractive to itself at the time.

Using this definition one can also predict what one would 'freely choose' given sufficient knowledge of the environment and subject in question. One of the arguments I hear most against this is that this definition of free will isn't free to choose whatever it will and so isn't really "free will" at all. I usually reply in a way similar to a quote from Henry Ford. The will is actually free to choose whatever it wills, it just so happens to always will that which is most attractive to itself.

(The Henry Ford quote is "You can have the Model-T in any color, so long as it's black." in case you were wondering.)
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Chit Rule Railroad » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:02 pm

Carne wrote:Did Hypothetical Bob really have a choice? Of course not. It only appeared to Hypothetical Bob that he did, but the eventual outcome was already determined, both by the secondary simulation, but also by the natural progression of the machinery of the universe. One brain state leads to the next, leads to the next in entirely predictable ways (EDIT: given that we have perfect knowledge of the situation).


It's not clear how you are defining choice. Setting aside observations about physics, I'm not sure your criteria are even logically possible.

Imagine you could change the laws of physics any way you wanted in order to make choice possible, while still satisfying the anthropic principle (the universe supports self-aware choice-makers who study themselves). What would have to change?


Regarding my "spirit world" thought experiment, I didn't describe the set-up clearly enough. Imagine a deterministic sub-multiverse and a larger super-universe that can observe the entire deterministic sub-multiverse but cannot change anything in it. The universe that scientists have been studying is a single branch of history in the deterministic sub-multiverse. Another subset of the super-universe is the "spirit world". The spirit world has a flow of time, but at any point in spiritual time, the entire tree of alternate histories of the deterministic sub-multiverse is accessible for observation.

Any connection between time in our universe and time in the spirit world is a delusion that an observer in the spirit world has imposed on itself. As Carne pointed out, that spirit observer cannot predict his own delusions and whether they will alter or dissipate.

So we have the following combination:
  • The deterministic universe scientists have been observing exists.
  • There are people (including followers of certain mainstream Eastern religious teachings, if I understand them correctly) who claim that "we" are all actually observers - or a single multi-threaded observer - in the spirit world, and that scientists have been wearing blinders. Their claim could be true.
  • We have no reliable data on the spirit world. We do not know if it has a thermodynamic time arrow, truly random events, etc.
  • Anybody who is speaking to you is not a spirit but a mechanical body and any thoughts that are being expressed are not coming from a spirit. However, the words may coincide with the thoughts of a spirit, and that coinciding may not be a coincidence. Your spiritual POV may somehow gravitate to a timeline where a body you identify with hears words that coincide with the true thoughts of a spirit - which could be another being or yourself.
  • The combination of the above could explain why we hear reports of premonitions, past-life regression, clairvoyance, channeling, etc. but such reports don't collectively fit together as well as scientific theories. Science comes from the observations of mechanical bodies, while spiritual truth can only come to us via human experiences that are mechanically illusions but happen to coincide with wisdom.

Carne wrote:By forgetting our true nature, we become other than that which we were. Is it ethical to forcibly reinstate that which was lost, thus restoring the original personality? Or is the new personality in possession of the right to exist? If someone woke Zhuangzi, would they be killing the butterfly?


If the dream world is a deterministic multiverse, then the waking of the observer does not affect the dream world itself. On the other hand, if the dreamer loses access to the dream, that could be a tragedy for the dreamer.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Lamech » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:54 pm

Carne wrote:This is the crucial decision the aliens, for whatever reason, are interested in. To verify their results, they turn off the stasis generator and run the sim "for real" using Hypothetical Bob's actual brain. Surprise surprise, Hypothetical Bob chooses the chicken.
Again all this thought experiment does is pre-suppose that what you are arguing for is right. You suppose the universe is determenistic, and then you craft a thought experiment that "shows" the universe is determenistic.

The very best you can say is "This process is unpredictable in a way we cannot explain. It appears to be random." This does not constitute proof that randomness exists.
We can say, under current scientific theory, this outcome can never be predicted. And occam's raizer would imply that they are in fact random. Which is more likely. Ebola makes people sick or hidden imps think ebola is really cool, follow it around and make people near imps get sick?

Lack of an explanation for seemingly random events does not constitute evidence for randomness. The safer assumption to make is that due to lack of evidence, random-like events occur.
How is assuming that extra hidden variables the sensable thing?

Again, these appear to be random-like events. There is no evidence that they are truly random. We just may not know the mechanism.
They appear to be impossible to predict. Ever. There may be hidden determenistic imps deciding everything, but the sensible simple solution is that its random.

So give me another example, from the "Big Bang" onwards.
Everything that ever was and ever will be not enough? The time it takes for nuclear decay to occur.

Determinism says that this is still only the appearance of true randomness, since the observer becomes part of the observed system, and therefore taints the results. It does generate what looks like, from inside the system, a random number, but an ideal external observer with, as you say, perfect knowledge and computation would likely find the result all too predictable. Yes, I'm aware that the practicality of finding the ideal external observer might be a tad difficult, but we're not talking about what is practical, we're arguing on the Internet! And doing thought experiments, I guess that's important to add.
Determenism can say whatever it wants (can philosophical positions have wants?). But that doesn't make it true.

However, if the behavior of tryptamine on a macroscopic level is fairly standard in its reactions to other chemicals or the environment it finds itself in, and can be modeled without "randomness" making any impact, then quantum effects are observed within the enzyme but do not govern its function, yes? In other words, if it can be modeled with non-QM classical physics successfully enough to be used in a macroscopic simulation of an electrochemical system (say, the brain) with no observable differences, then quantum effects are not necessary for brain operation at large.

That's not to say quantum events do not occur in everyday chemical reactions, but that the operation of the brain does not rely on it, especially if it's something that may or may not occur during any given reaction. Determinists also say that quantum effects aren't random to begin with, so even then, it's not exactly defining that brain function is unknowable due to randomness.
Classical physics for chemical reactions or nuclear decay heavily depends on extremely large numbers to obliterate any effect randomness would have on the result. If a protien did its job randomly we wouldn't be able to detect any difference from a standard model because the large numbers we would use would obliterate any detectable randomness. More importantly if their are random events in a system, and that system is unpredictable and that system is not well understood or modeled, one obviously can't say if the unpredictability is due to complexity or randomness.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Carne » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:55 pm

Pointyleaf wrote:
Carne wrote:
MarbitChow wrote:Even if you believe in a completely deterministic universe (which is your choice, but is currently unprovable, so falls into the category of 'belief' rather than 'science'), a completely deterministic universe is not incompatible with Free Will.


Ah, but belief that there are truly random events in the universe is also a matter of faith. The very best you can say is "This process is unpredictable in a way we cannot explain. It appears to be random." This does not constitute proof that randomness exists.


This is absolute nonsense - We can't "prove" anything in science - real proofs are only found in mathematics. Science rests upon repeatability and collecting evidence, and technically we may find out some day that every experiment we did was wrong for some reason. So yes, you are indeed right that we can't prove that randomness exists, but the evidence is currently pointing toward randomness quite strongly.


So what you're saying is that scientific experimentation, unable to find a causal explanation for apparent randomness, accepts randomness as a given, despite the fact that absence of evidence is completely unverifiable, and thus not reproducible? That is the complete antithesis of the scientific method.

You're also saying, then, that the de Broglie-Bohm interpretation of QM is complete fiction, since it advances the notion that the universe is fully deterministic based on non-local "hidden variables". This would come as a surprise to those who consider it to be one of the mainstream interpretations. Same with Everett's MWI, which also strives to explain the multiverse as deterministic, even though universe branches cannot interact.


And your evidence for determinism is just "we can't prove randomness"? That's quite weak. Absence of evidence (for randomness) is not evidence for determinism. To 'prove' determinism, you'll have to give some actual evidence for determinism.


Quite right. But the reverse holds for indeterminism too. See above.


Or we can just settle on "we don't know, we'll see how physics looks in another 1000 years."


This may be necessary. Just recently, there were startling results when scientists attempted to determine the fine-structure constant across the observable universe. The constant was calculated to have been larger than we had previously thought in one direction of observation 10 billion years ago, and at the same time smaller than we had thought in the opposite direction during the same period.

The moral of this story is that even though we think we know a great deal about the universe, it's all still (as you say above) non-provable. We're always refining our understanding, and occasionally have paradigm shifts that upend previously "sacred" beliefs.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Carne » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:12 pm

Lamech wrote:
Carne wrote:This is the crucial decision the aliens, for whatever reason, are interested in. To verify their results, they turn off the stasis generator and run the sim "for real" using Hypothetical Bob's actual brain. Surprise surprise, Hypothetical Bob chooses the chicken.
Again all this thought experiment does is pre-suppose that what you are arguing for is right. You suppose the universe is determenistic, and then you craft a thought experiment that "shows" the universe is determenistic.


Then provide a counter example that shows indeterminism without resorting to "true randomness", which is something that you can likewise not prove.


We can say, under current scientific theory, this outcome can never be predicted.


using the word "never" is very very dangerous in this context. it's like using the word "impossible".


And occam's raizer would imply that they are in fact random. Which is more likely. Ebola makes people sick or hidden imps think ebola is really cool, follow it around and make people near imps get sick?


Wikipedia says:
Occam's razor (or Ockham's razor[1]) is the principle that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem). The popular interpretation of this principle is that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Simplest is not defined by the time or number of words it takes to express the theory; "[simplest] is really referring to the theory with the fewest new assumptions."


Which is introducing a new assumption: the assumption that some (random) things don't have a cause, or the assumption that everything has a cause? According to a proper application of Occam's Razor, "true randomness" is the less simple explanation, given that all other physical events require a cause to have an effect. To set a precedent to disprove this, name one non-random event whereby an effect is not preceded by a cause.


So give me another example, from the "Big Bang" onwards.
Everything that ever was and ever will be not enough?


No, because the cause is outside the frame of reference.


The time it takes for nuclear decay to occur.


This does not answer the question.


Determinism says that this is still only the appearance of true randomness, since the observer becomes part of the observed system, and therefore taints the results. It does generate what looks like, from inside the system, a random number, but an ideal external observer with, as you say, perfect knowledge and computation would likely find the result all too predictable. Yes, I'm aware that the practicality of finding the ideal external observer might be a tad difficult, but we're not talking about what is practical, we're arguing on the Internet! And doing thought experiments, I guess that's important to add.
Determenism can say whatever it wants (can philosophical positions have wants?). But that doesn't make it true.


Great reasoning! :roll:
Carne
 
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby Carne » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:40 pm

Chit Rule Railroad wrote:
Carne wrote:Did Hypothetical Bob really have a choice? Of course not. It only appeared to Hypothetical Bob that he did, but the eventual outcome was already determined, both by the secondary simulation, but also by the natural progression of the machinery of the universe. One brain state leads to the next, leads to the next in entirely predictable ways (EDIT: given that we have perfect knowledge of the situation).


It's not clear how you are defining choice. Setting aside observations about physics, I'm not sure your criteria are even logically possible.


The definition of 'choice' depends on your frame of reference. In the example, the frame was external to Bob. 'Choice' would indicate the possibility of a non-predetermined outcome to occur. Externally, there is no choice - Bob had to choose the chicken, as the causes and effects were the same during both iterations.

Internally, Bob does not have enough data to accurately model, in advance, the outcome. He never will, since his model would have to also account for the model of the model, and so forth. Therefore, working on insufficient data, his viewpoint is one where his choice cannot determined in advance.

This is why discussion of determinism is difficult - unless all parties start by assuming an outside frame of reference, they can talk past each other until the cows come home and never get anywhere.

Most of the counter arguments (if not all) that I've seen posted here have been internally framed. So I can see their point of view. It's just wrong in my frame of reference :)


Imagine you could change the laws of physics any way you wanted in order to make choice possible, while still satisfying the anthropic principle (the universe supports self-aware choice-makers who study themselves). What would have to change?


Removal of cause and effect, i.e. the "true randomness" that is spoken of in reverent tones by the indeterminalists.


Regarding my "spirit world" thought experiment, I didn't describe the set-up clearly enough. Imagine a deterministic sub-multiverse and a larger super-universe that can observe the entire deterministic sub-multiverse but cannot change anything in it. The universe that scientists have been studying is a single branch of history in the deterministic sub-multiverse. Another subset of the super-universe is the "spirit world". The spirit world has a flow of time, but at any point in spiritual time, the entire tree of alternate histories of the deterministic sub-multiverse is accessible for observation.

Any connection between time in our universe and time in the spirit world is a delusion that an observer in the spirit world has imposed on itself. As Carne pointed out, that spirit observer cannot predict his own delusions and whether they will alter or dissipate.


You mention "our universe". I take it by this you mean one of the branches of the sub-multiverse here. Also, I assume the spirit world cannot observe the super-universe. Can the super-universe scientists observe the spirit world? Also, can the spirit world observers choose which parts of the sub-multiverse they participate in at any given moment?


So we have the following combination:
  • The deterministic universe scientists have been observing exists.
  • There are people (including followers of certain mainstream Eastern religious teachings, if I understand them correctly) who claim that "we" are all actually observers - or a single multi-threaded observer - in the spirit world, and that scientists have been wearing blinders. Their claim could be true.
  • We have no reliable data on the spirit world. We do not know if it has a thermodynamic time arrow, truly random events, etc.
  • Anybody who is speaking to you is not a spirit but a mechanical body and any thoughts that are being expressed are not coming from a spirit. However, the words may coincide with the thoughts of a spirit, and that coinciding may not be a coincidence. Your spiritual POV may somehow gravitate to a timeline where a body you identify with hears words that coincide with the true thoughts of a spirit - which could be another being or yourself.
  • The combination of the above could explain why we hear reports of premonitions, past-life regression, clairvoyance, channeling, etc. but such reports don't collectively fit together as well as scientific theories. Science comes from the observations of mechanical bodies, while spiritual truth can only come to us via human experiences that are mechanically illusions but happen to coincide with wisdom.


It seems to me that, if the sub-multiverse was truly deterministic, then the spiritual observers would also have no ability to effect changes, relegating them to observer status only. If they could effect changes on the sub-multiverse, then the sub-multiverse cannot be defined when taken alone, and the whole system (sub-multiverse and spirit world) would need to be considered in sum to label it determinate or indeterminate. Determinism works on the assumption that the system under consideration is a closed system and contains no randomness.


Carne wrote:By forgetting our true nature, we become other than that which we were. Is it ethical to forcibly reinstate that which was lost, thus restoring the original personality? Or is the new personality in possession of the right to exist? If someone woke Zhuangzi, would they be killing the butterfly?


If the dream world is a deterministic multiverse, then the waking of the observer does not affect the dream world itself. On the other hand, if the dreamer loses access to the dream, that could be a tragedy for the dreamer.[/quote]

Indeed.
Carne
 
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby cheeseaholic » Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:00 pm

Carne wrote:The definition of 'choice' depends on your frame of reference. In the example, the frame was external to Bob. 'Choice' would indicate the possibility of a non-predetermined outcome to occur. Externally, there is no choice - Bob had to choose the chicken, as the causes and effects were the same during both iterations.


Well there's the problem. You're saying that because determinism, no free will. You're also defining free will as a lack of determinism. So your entire argument is essentially "because of determinism, determinism". No wonder I was confused, your argument doesn't make any sense.
Last edited by cheeseaholic on Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Book 2 – Text Updates 031

Postby cheeseaholic » Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:20 pm

On to the topic of weather or not determinism exists, I'll say that I believe that it does, for the simple reason that if you could go into history but not affect anything then things would (I expect) turn out the same way that they occurred originally. I say that this is so because history appears unchanging. While certainly I must admit that if history has ever changed it would be possible that I would not be aware of it, I can honestly say that I've never seen history change. If one were to travel back in time and somehow not change anything, then one could have predetermined knowledge of what was to happen.

We do not (so far as I know) live in a universe where traveling backwards in time is possible. So my argument is weak. But I haven't seen any actual evidence for the idea that there is true randomness. There are certainly arguments for it, but until there is a unified theory of how everything in the universe works, that question can't be answered. There are a multitude of theories and hypothesises, so I'll just stick to my thought experiment for the moment.
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