On 10/4/2013 6:15 AM, LizR wrote:
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 irreducible uncertainty.


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.

He comes to this because he's *defined* "Knightian uncertainty" as radical unpredictability without randomness.

I agree that doesn't seem very significant, e.g. in terms of public policy for example. Nietzsche says "free will" is an invention of the priestly class in order to justify judgement, guilt, and punishment - all social tools.

Brent


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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