On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 2:12 AM, Russell Standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au>wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 12:15:59PM +0200, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> >
> > On 15 Aug 2012, at 10:12, Russell Standish wrote:
> >
> > >On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 01:01:10PM +0200, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> > >>
> > >>On 14 Aug 2012, at 12:30, Russell Standish wrote:
> > >>
> > >>>
> > >>>Assuming the coin is operating inside the agent's body? Why
> > >>>would that
> > >>>be considered non-free?
> > >>
> > >>In what sense would the choice be mine if it is random?
> > >
> > >It is mine if the random generator is part of me. It is not mine if
> > >the generator is outside of me (eg flipping the coin).
> >
> > I don't see this. Why would the generator being part of you make it
> > your choice? You might define "me" and "part of me" before. It is
> The self-other distinction is a vital part of conscsiousness. I don't
> think precise definitions of this are needed for this discussion.
> > not clear if you are using the usual computer science notion of me,
> > or not, but I would say that if the root of the choice is a random
> > oracle, then the random oracle makes the choice for me. It does not
> > matter if the coin is in or outside my brain, which is a local non
> > absolute notion.
> My brain make a choice, therefore it is my choice. My boss orders me
> to do something, its not really my choice (unless I decide to disobey
> :).
> Why would this be any different with random number generators? A coin
> flips, and I do something based on the outcome. It is not my choice
> (except insofar as I chose to follow an external random event). My
> brain makes a random choice based on the chaotic amplification of
> synaptic noise. This is still my brain and my choice.
> >
> >
> >
> > >
> > >>It is like
> > >>letting someone else take the decision for you. I really don't see
> > >>how randomness is related to with free will (the compatibilist one).
> > >
> > >Compatibilism, ISTM, is the solution to a non-problem: How to
> > >reconcile
> > >free will with a deterministic universe.
> >
> > The very idea that we have to reconcile free-will with determinism
> > seems to be a red herring to me.
> >
> Agreed. But that is what all the fuss seems to be about. I try not to
> engage with it, as it is so century-before-the-last.
> > >It is a non-problem, because
> > >the universe is not deterministic. (The multiverse is deterministic,
> > >of course, but that's another story).
> >
> > But then you have to reconcile free-will with indeterminacy, and
> > that makes not much sense.
> > I don't think free-will (as I defined it of course) has anything to
> > do with determinacy or indeterminacy. The fact that someone else can
> > predict my behavior does not make it less "free".
> >
> Um, yes it does.

I don't follow this.  Can you explain how?

If super intelligent aliens secretly came to earth and predicted your
actions, how has that diminished the freedom you had before their arrival?

> Someone asked why this concept is important. It isn't for me, per se,
> but I would imagine that someone implementing an agent that must
> survive in a messy real world environment (eg an autonomous robot)
> will need to consider this issue, and build something like it into
> their robot.
I agree with Bruno.  A mind can only be made less free if it is built from
non-deterministic parts, it is less free to be itself in its full sense
because with parts that do not behave in predictable ways, there is no way
to perfectly realize a given personality.  They will always have some level
of capriciousness that will stand in the way of that person realizing the
person they are meant/designed to be.  The mind will never work perfectly
as intended, at best it can only asymptotically approach some ideal.

I do agree with Russell that there are evolutionary advantages for access
to a source of good randomness.  It would enable people to choose better
passwords, be better poker players, pick lottery numbers with fewer
collisions, and so on.  But I am not convinced humans access to anything
approaching a good random number generator.  If we did, I would see it more
as a sense which is external to the mind.  The mind could determinsitically
decide to make use of inputs from this sense, but even if the mind never
drew on this random oracle it would still be every bit as free to exercise
its will.


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