I'm still slogging through Scott Aaronson's paper, and have now reached
page 37. It looks as though there are still lots of interesting matters to
be discussed, but there is something I already have a problem with that
seems central to what he is saying, namely what is the significance of
Knightian uncertainty? He has pointed out that it's a valid objection to
free will being in any useful sense free that all physical processes are
either deterministic or random (the usual dilemma), but then goes on to say
that we can get around this if some processes rely on "Knightian
uncertainty". These are, if I understand correctly, quantum states that go
back through a causal chain to an initial condition of the universe. These
states ("freebits") cannot be determined by any measurement. And that
therefore it's possible that some physical systems contain a source of
To which I have to say - so what? What is the crucial distinction between a
source of randomness that happens to go back to the big bang, and one that
doesn't? How does this in any way get around the argument that free will
isn't usefully free if it merely relies on determinism and randomness?
I will read on, but I feel that my hope of learning why this type of
randomness is better than anyone else's is going to go unsatisfied, because
I think Scott thinks he's already explained why, and I didn't get it.
By the way, it also occurs to me that as time goes on, there will be less
and less freebits around, since he says they can get turned into "ordinary
bits" by various processes. So does that mean that a person born in the
distant future will have less free will than one born now?
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