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Thread: The Great Contradiction

  1. Top | #261
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Second, I do not presume to have power. On the basis of the information available to me, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that I have the power to move the mouse on my desk. I was using that as an analogy, since I did not expect anyone would actually suggest I do not even have that power.
    Third, I do not "admit" anything, and "seems extremely improbable" is indeed a rational probabilistic assessment.
    Ooooh. Now " ... it is beyond reasonable doubt that you .... power"

    Quit sliding. I got you in an evidence trap. Evidence is material. Your argument definitely is neither material nor evidence. It is rational argument. Might be good in court or for a speech, but It can't be used to construct physical theory. You don't have to admit anything. The evidence is clear. You presented none.

  2. Top | #262
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Second, I do not presume to have power. On the basis of the information available to me, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that I have the power to move the mouse on my desk. I was using that as an analogy, since I did not expect anyone would actually suggest I do not even have that power.
    Third, I do not "admit" anything, and "seems extremely improbable" is indeed a rational probabilistic assessment.
    Ooooh. Now " ... it is beyond reasonable doubt that you .... power"

    Quit sliding. I got you in an evidence trap. Evidence is material. Your argument definitely is neither material nor evidence. It is rational argument. Might be good in court or for a speech, but It can't be used to construct physical theory. You don't have to admit anything. The evidence is clear. You presented none.
    No, I'm not sliding. You are mistaken. It is beyond a reasonable doubt that I have the power to move my mouse, or press they keys on my keyboard. I do not need a physical theory for that (though one would need to make assessments like that intuitively all the time to just live, and so also to make a physical theory, even if you call it something else).

  3. Top | #263
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc
    I suggest that you can imagine what she's imagining if you ask yourself whether robots have free will now. Do neural nets, which learn and get smarter, have free will?
    No, because they do not have minds, so they do not have a will, free or otherwise. However, his scenario is not compatible with that, as he says that the robots think (if the robots in the scenario did not have minds, then what they do to each other would be entirely morally irrelevant).

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc
    The four reasons for punishment are rehabilitation, isolation, deterrence, and vengeance. If you rule those out as unjust, you leave no justification for punishment at all.
    I did not rule all of them out. I said the central reason - what can make it just - is retribution ("vengeance" might implicitly carry a suggestion of injustice).
    As I said, other reasons can be considered when it comes to allocating limited resources. For example, if not all those who deserve punishment for criminal acts can be punished, it's reasonable to pick the most dangerous ones, as long as they can be contained protecting other inmates. But if you take out retribution, it is always unjust - or if you punish beyond what is deserved.

    By the way, you already made this claim here, where we debated the matter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc
    What's that, poetic justice? That's not a main goal. I don't think it's any goal at all. What would be the point?
    No, it is justice. Why poetic?

    The point would be justice (see our debate from a couple of years ago ( in this thread ).

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc
    If punishment isn't justified as an attempt at rehabilitation, isolation, or deterrence, then it isn't justified at all.
    Quite the opposite. Rehabilitation, isolation or deterrence do not justify punishment. Just retribution does.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc
    Can you offer an example of a punishment that is deserved for a reason other than rehabilitation, isolation, or deterrence?
    Yes, all punishments that are deserved. An insane person who lost contact with reality and killed might have to be contained for either rehabilitation or isolation to protect others, but that would not justify a punishment, because he does not deserve to be punished. Deterrence is unjust if the person being punished is innocent but the public believes otherwise and so it would be deterring.

    On the other hand, a mass murderer might no be longer dangerous (say, he's an old Nazi and he has no power at all), cannot be rehabilitated (too evil, and convinced of his own righteousness), and deterrence might not be necessary (it's not as if punishing an old Nazi would prevent others from becoming Nazi sympathizers, and actual Nazis were no longer a consideration), but that does not mean he does not deserve to be punished if caught (maybe now they're all dead or too damaged by brain degradation to be still moral agents, but think 2000 instead of 2020).

  4. Top | #264
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    How do you know that neural nets don't have a "mind"?

    How do you know that "mind" is even a thing?

    I assume that I have a mind, and that others sufficiently like me therefore do too. But I am not at all sure about either assumption.

    If my assumptions are correct, then it seems odd to not also assume that any neural net also has a mind.

  5. Top | #265
    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc View Post
    Ruby may believe that future robots--robots capable of passing the Turing test--will be the result of well-understood incremental improvements over tech that we have now. Tech that does not have free will.

    Ruby doesn't foresee any magic moment in the development of robotics that will remind us of this:



    And, absent such a moment, robot brains will grow in complexity, but the differences will always be of degree rather than of kind.

    If ever we learn to make robots that think like humans, it will be because we've figured out how humans think--and it will have turned out that we just a kind of robot ourselves.
    Pretty much, yes.

    Temporarily setting aside randomness (which if it exists would not enable free will anyway) determined causality is, it seems, and to use an analogy, like an ongoing and mobile steel clamp that holds tight at every instant on every single thing that happens, including anything you or I think or do, and there is no known way out of being completely clamped, so there is no known way that any entity, no matter how complex and sophisticated, can, of itself, freely choose to do other than what it does in any instance, even if it does not 'feel like that' to any particular, always fully-clamped entity, including one running something akin to algorithms which allow it to learn, run simulations and make decisions. All there is, it seems, is the illusion (of free choice).

    As to intelligent machines, what else could humans possibly be?
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 01-14-2020 at 12:38 PM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  6. Top | #266
    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    An interesting question might be, if we don't have free will, why does it often or generally feel like we do? No one knows, but one possible/plausible answer is that however the belief initially arose, humans today are the resultant survivors of a process of natural selection that has selected for that belief, because having the belief may be useful, for reproduction and survival, regardless of the truth or falsity of the belief.

    The Compatibilist Daniel Dennett suggests that if we lost our belief in free will, we would not work as hard to achieve things, and also that humans would not act in ways that sustain the societies on which our survival depends.

    He might be right. I don't know. It's plausible he is. In the end though, it would arguably not be a very honest reason to deny an illusion, though it may be that as Jack Nicholson's character shouts in the film, 'A Few Good Men', "You can't handle the truth!'

    Or Dennett might be wrong, and worrying unnecessarily. It was said of both atheism and our evolution from apes that the consequences for humanity would be bad if they became widely accepted beliefs, and that has not happened. In fact, if anything, the signs are that stronger beliefs in those have resulted in generally more benign outcomes, as indeed weaker beliefs in free will appear to do. My own view is that humans can probably cope with and may even benefit overall from at least a weakening in beliefs in free will. Sometimes we just seem to fear change, for no good reason.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 01-14-2020 at 12:39 PM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  7. Top | #267
    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    An interesting question might be, if we don't have free will, why does it often or generally feel like we do? No one knows, but one possible/plausible answer is that however the belief initially arose, humans today are the resultant survivors of a process of natural selection that has selected for that belief, because having the belief may be useful, for reproduction and survival, regardless of the truth or falsity of the belief.

    The Compatibilist Daniel Dennett suggests that if we lost our belief in free will, we would not work as hard to achieve things, and also that humans would not act in ways that sustain the societies on which our survival depends.

    He might be right. I don't know. It's plausible he is. In the end though, it would arguably not be a very honest reason to deny an illusion, though it may be that as Jack Nicholson's character shouts in the film, 'A Few Good Men', "You can't handle the truth!'

    Or Dennett might be wrong, and worrying unnecessarily. It was said of both atheism and our evolution from apes that the consequences for humanity would be bad if they became widely accepted beliefs, and that has not happened. In fact, if anything, the signs are that stronger beliefs in those have resulted in generally more benign outcomes, as indeed weaker beliefs in free will appear to do. My own view is that humans can probably cope with and may even benefit overall from at least a weakening in beliefs in free will. Sometimes we just seem to fear change, for no good reason.
    A colony of bees acts similarly. If humans actually possess free will, then so must a colony of bees, and every single bee. The same would go for a colony of bacteria that emits a slime shell to protect itself. Even a root encountering a rock can begin to grow in different directions. Does it choose right instead of left? Of course it does.

    Probably the healthiest way to think about free will is to see it as an outcome that has been selected for given a set of conditions. Maybe the same is actually true at the quantum level, we just aren't there yet.

  8. Top | #268
    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    A colony of bees acts similarly. If humans actually possess free will, then so must a colony of bees, and every single bee. The same would go for a colony of bacteria that emits a slime shell to protect itself. Even a root encountering a rock can begin to grow in different directions. Does it choose right instead of left? Of course it does.
    I would not make an equivalence between a human brain and things like colonies of bees or bacteria. I accept and agree that a human brain has functions and capacities that are far more sophisticated than....almost anything else in the universe that we know of.

    That said, I have, I believe, heard some say that colonies of bees or bacteria or tree roots "have at least a little bit of free will". To me that's silly. Is it as silly to say that a dog has at least some free will (but less than a normal/typical human)? No, it's not as silly, but imo it's still silly. Ditto humans said to be exercising their free will non-consciously. It's a small step from there to saying humans exercise their free will in their sleep.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  9. Top | #269
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby
    How do you know that neural nets don't have a "mind"?
    They're too simple and don't behave as if they did, so I'd say either they do not have a mind or they have one that is too simple to say they act of their own accord. However, I'm in error, then the answer would be that I do not know whether they can act of their own free will, as I do not know enough about their minds, how complex they are, and so on, but that does not help with the matter as hand, which is understanding ruby spark's scenario.

    Quote Originally Posted by bilby
    How do you know that "mind" is even a thing?
    That one is obvious, by introspection. I definitely can think, am self-aware, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by bilby
    I assume that I have a mind, and that others sufficiently like me therefore do too. But I am not at all sure about either assumption.
    I reckon, on the basis of the available evidence, that I have a mind, and others do as well. While the former is more probable than the latter, the latter is probable enough to be well beyond a reasonable doubt.

  10. Top | #270
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    An interesting question might be, if we don't have free will, why does it often or generally feel like we do?
    It's hard to think of something that would make us not have the ability to act of our own accord. I mean, it's like the question 'If we humans don't have the power to type on our keyboards, why does it feel like we do?'. Well, the evidence that I have that power is beyond a reasonable doubt, so if we don't have that power, something very weird would be happening, though I have no clue as to what it is.
    Similarly, if we do not have the ability to write these posts of our own accord - for which we have conclusive evidence -, something really weird must be happening.

    Note, however, that while I can see that I have the ability to do stuff of my own accord, it does not feel like my choices are not broght about by previous causes. I'm not even sure what that would feel like.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    No one knows, but one possible/plausible answer is that however the belief initially arose, humans today are the resultant survivors of a process of natural selection that has selected for that belief, because having the belief may be useful, for reproduction and survival, regardless of the truth or falsity of the belief.
    But something very weird would be happening here, because of what it would take for that belief to be false - the belief that we can act of our own accord, which is rather obvious -, as in the case of the power to type above.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    The Compatibilist Daniel Dennett suggests that if we lost our belief in free will, we would not work as hard to achieve things, and also that humans would not act in ways that sustain the societies on which our survival depends.
    It's very hard to imagine how a human could lose that belief, so who knows. What is easy to imagine is how a human could gain the belief that we cannot act of our own accord, but that would leave him with contradictory beliefs, since he would not lose the belief that we act of our own accord, most of the time.

    Now, I think if we gained that belief, it would only interfere with our actions sometimes, and the rest of the times, we would go around as usual.


    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    Or Dennett might be wrong, and worrying unnecessarily.
    Worrying unnecessarily if he thinks that that is a significant risk, because it seems the odds that humans would lose that belief (rather than gain one that contradicts it) is almost zero.
    How would it happen, without genetic engineering?
    On the other hand, if he's worried that the belief that we cannot act of our own accord will be harmful like a widespread religion, that might be so, but still unlikely, as it would likely lose out to other religions.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    It was said of both atheism and our evolution from apes that the consequences for humanity would be bad if they became widely accepted beliefs, and that has not happened. In fact, if anything, the signs are that stronger beliefs in those have resulted in generally more benign outcomes, as indeed weaker beliefs in free will appear to do. My own view is that humans can probably cope with and may even benefit overall from at least a weakening in beliefs in free will. Sometimes we just seem to fear change, for no good reason.
    A big difference is that those beliefs are true, whereas the belief that we cannot act of our own accord is not.
    Another big difference is that the belief that we can act of our own accord is tied to our moral concept of blameworthiness - as you noted. The ability to make blame judgments is a human capacity, and its exercise is part of what a properly functioning human mind does. Without it, you end up with a damaged mind.
    On the other hand, the belief that we evolved from other apes or that there is no omnimax agent does not require suppressing any proper function of a human mind.

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