On Saturday, March 2, 2013 6:18:07 PM UTC-5, Brent wrote:
> On 3/2/2013 1:18 PM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote: 
> > On Sun, Mar 3, 2013 at 7:45 AM, Craig Weinberg 
> > <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>> 
> wrote: 
> >>> 
> http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-03-dartmouth-neuroscientist-free-neural-basis.html
> >> 
> >> "A new theory of brain function by Peter Ulric Tse, a professor of 
> cognitive 
> >> neuroscience at Dartmouth College, suggests that free will is real and 
> has a 
> >> biophysical basis in the microscopic workings of our brain cells. 
> >> 
> >> Tse's findings, which contradict recent claims by neuroscientists and 
> >> philosophers that free will is an illusion, have theological, ethical, 
> >> scientific and legal implications for human behavior, such as whether 
> people 
> >> are accountable for their decisions and actions. His book shows how 
> free 
> >> will works in the brain by examining its information-processing 
> architecture 
> >> at the level of neural connections. He offers a testable hypothesis of 
> how 
> >> the mental causes the physical. 
> >> 
> >> In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data to argue 
> >> whether mental causation or consciousness can exist, he explores these 
> >> issues by starting with neuroscientific data. Recent neurophysiological 
> >> breakthroughs reveal that neurons evaluate information they receive, 
> which 
> >> can change the way that other neurons will evaluate information and 
> "fire" 
> >> in the future. Tse's research shows that such informational causation 
> cannot 
> >> change the physical basis of current information, but it can change the 
> >> neuronal basis of future mental events. This gets around the standard 
> >> argument against free will that is based on the impossibility of 
> >> self-causation. Tse lays out his argument in his new book titled "The 
> Neural 
> >> Basis of Free Will"�
> https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/neural-basis-free-will"; 
> >> 
> >> Another nail in the coffin of simplistic physical models of 
> consciousness. I 
> >> noticed that his view seems to completely support my ideas about 
> >> consciousness being longitudinal through private time rather than 
> publicly 
> >> accessible during any given moment. His findings seem to suggest a 
> >> panpsychic, sub-personal, and sense-based (informational causation) 
> >> biophysiology in which "the mental causes the physical." 
> >> 
> >> So yeah. It's not random or determined by physics, rather it is 
> intention 
> >> which drives physics on many different and conflicting scales. 
> > >From this page it appears that he *does* think it is random. It has to 
> > be either random or determined. If you say it's something else you're 
> > making up something that is not only physically but also logically 
> > impossible. 
> > 
> > http://www.informationphilosopher.com/solutions/scientists/tse/ 
> > 
> > "Peter U. Tse is a cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at 
> > Dartmouth who argues for a novel form of mental causation that he 
> > calls "criterial causation." 
> > 
> > The idea is that large numbers of neurons (a complex of cells or "cell 
> > assembly") are likely to be involved in even the simplest thoughts and 
> > actions. Tse argues that the brain may be able to modify dynamically 
> > the probabilities that individual neurons are "firing." He calls this 
> > "dynamical synaptic reweighting." 
> > 
> > Since the process by which a pre-synaptic neuron releases chemical 
> > neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft is a statistical one (large 
> > numbers of neurotransmitter molecules must diffuse across the cleft to 
> > activate ion channel receptors on the post-synaptic neuron), Tse says 
> > that there is some ontological randomness in the process. He argues 
> > that this is real indeterministic chance, quantum mechanical in 
> > origin. 
> > 
> > How exactly such weights or probabilities of firing might work is not 
> > understood, but Tse argues that weights would constitute 
> > "informational" criteria as opposed to being simply physical. They 
> > could represent mental events that supervene on the physical brain 
> > events. 
> > 
> > 
> As I read it, Tse is just saying that at the neural level there is 
> learning (changes the 
> physical requirements for firing in the future) which is in some degree 
> random. 

Nah, it's just your confirmation bias trying to water it down.

" He argues that a particular kind of strong free will and "downward" 
mental causation are realized in rapid synaptic plasticity."


neurons evaluate information they receive, which can change the way that 
other neurons will evaluate information and "fire" in the future.

Read more at: 

> "The key point is that criteria will be met in unpredictable ways if there 
> is inherent 
> variability or noise in inputs, such as can be introduced by the 
> randomness inherent in 
> neurotransmitter molecules crossing the synapse. Just because new criteria 
> are set up by a 
> nervous system in a manner dictated by the satisfaction of preexisting 
> criteria does not 
> mean that either the future or present criteria will be met in a 
> predetermined manner. 
> Moreover, because our neurons set criteria for the firing of other neurons 
> in response to 
> their future input, the choices realized in the satisfying of those 
> criteria are our own 
> choices." 
> Up to that point it is just compatibilit determinism plus some noise 
> (randomness).  But 
> then he gratuitously asserts that this constitutes in 'strong free will' 
> (whatever that 
> means). 

It means that exactly what you did to compose your comment is the same 
process which is seen in the neural evidence.

> "Ontological indeterminism and neuronal criterial causation permits a 
> physical causal 
> basis for a strong free will." 
> He assumes that the randomness is really the brain determining it's future 
> behavior, which 
> is metaphorically true of any learning but is a mixing of levels  He blurs 
> over the point 
> he had made that the change is random insofar as it is not deterministic 
> and implies that 
> "criterial causation" is something called "free will". 

The randomness is not important. That just provides a margin in physics for 
us to directly control changes in the brain, now and in the future.

> "Criterial causation therefore offers a path toward free will where a 
> brain can determine 
> how it will behave given particular types of future input. This can be 
> milliseconds in the 
> future or, in some cases, even years away." 
> I've no reason to doubt his theory that neurons change the synaptic 
> strength of their 
> connections (both excitory and inhibitory) as they fire and that there is 
> a random 
> component to this change and that the cumulative effect is that future 
> responses will not 
> be strictly predictable in any practical sense, but it may be broadly 
> predictable in the 
> sense of learned behavior. 

I don't think so. The change in synaptic strength is driven by semantic 
intent, which is why it can be telegraphed into some future criteria being 
realized rather than some generic expiration date. 

> However there's nothing in this theory of "criterial causation" that would 
> prevent a robot 
> from having it. 

Yeah, I would think that it's likely going to take a long time for that 
dream to die. Maybe 50 years. Some people will never give it up.


> Brent 

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