Quentin Anciaux wrote:

Le lundi 11 avril 2005 à 22:41 +1000, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
> We would then still believe that we had "free will"
> , even though in reality we are all blindly following a predetermined
> script. How could we possibly know that this is not what is in fact
> happening?
> --Stathis Papaioannou

Hi list,

Even if the script is predetermined, the input of the script is not. So
it could be true that we follow a predetermined path for any input, but
we cannot predict what input, so the "free" seems to be there.

And in a similar vein from Brent Meeker:

Yet many things people do are predictable by those who know them well. I don't
know of any evidence that the human brain is chaotic - though it seems a good
hypothesis. But besides the brain being unpredictable due to its complexity
and possible random events at synapses, there is a third, and I think more
important source of effective randomness. Each person has perceptions, which
change their brain state almost continuously. Even if the brain were perfectly
deterministic, it's coupling with the rest of the world through perception
could make it unpredictable.

It is ironic that basically dumb environmental processes are being invoked to rescue the mind from mechanical predictability! Thinking about this I am reminded of the observation that humans are quite poor at the apparently simple task of generating random numbers. There is a strong tendency to try to avoid patterns in order to make the numbers "more random". A human-generated list will therefore have a relative paucity of consecutive digits, double and triple digits, and so on. This phenomenon is apparantly so consistent that it has found use in fraud investigations, where lists of financial data have been concocted to conceal illegal or negligent activities. This is probably one area where the proverbial chimpanzee bashing away at a keyboard would presumably do a better job than a human (if all the keys were equally easy to reach). Counterintuitively, the smarter you are, the more predictable you are.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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