On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 12:54 PM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
> On 8/17/2012 12:51 AM, Jason Resch wrote:
> 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.
> That's an interesting take, but why isn't caprice part of a personality?
Caprice, as an element of personality can be simulated using chaotic, but
deterministic, processes. But if the operation of, rather than external
inputs to, a mind random, the mind will not be able to express itself 100%
of the time. X% of the time you may be interacting with the flawlessly
operating mind, and the (1 - X%) of the time, the mind fails to operate
correctly due to a random failure of the mind's underlying platform.
It is a bit like the difference between a computer with working memory, and
one with a fault memory that occasionally causes bits to flip. A properly
operating program can still exhibit unpredictable behavior because its
internal operation can be hidden from inspection, but you never know what
you might do if you have non-deterministic hardware.
A computer with an internal hardware-based random number generator can
still exercise its will 100% of the time, because the logical decisions
made by the computer's processor remain 100% deterministic, and thus its
program code retains its meaning.
> What's the standard of "perfectly as intended" if the intention were to be
A deterministic mind faced with the goal would have to use pseudo
randomness. It is not difficult to remain unpredictable. For every n bits
of of memory, a pseudo-random algorithm can produce on the order of 2^n
bits of output before repeating.
> And given that one's knowledge is never complete, game theory shows that
> being able to make a random choice is optimum in many situations.
One's will can remain free, and choose to defer to a random source. E.g.,
I choose to flip a coin to determine which shirt to wear. But if one loses
the choice to decide what to do, due to randomness, then they have lost
some freedom for their will: it wasn't their choice, it was that of the
random process. E.g., I chose to wear the blue shirt not because my mind
decided to, but because a cosmic ray hit my neuron and cause a cascade of
other firings leading to the selection of the blue shirt.
You can see this clearly if you imagine a sliding scale, on one side,
decision making is made on 100% deterministic processes, on the other, 100%
random. One obviously has no freedom if all decisions are made by
something else (the random process), so my question is, at what point on
this scale is maximum freedom achieved?
> 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.
> But "good" is relative. Humans aren't very good at arithmetic either, but
> they can do it and it's useful.
It is certainly worse than random oracles, cryptographically secure
rngs, statistically sound but insecure rngs, and it seems much worse than
even the very faulty C's rand() function. Therefore, I don't buy the
argument that true randomness is an integral part of the mind, at least it
isn't at a level we can use when we try to be random.
> 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.
> I agree with that.
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