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Thread: The Great Contradiction

  1. Top | #291
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    The Queen of Sheba was black, Ethiopian, you know, but she can be white if we wish her to be.

  2. Top | #292
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by 4321lynx View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    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.
    Do you mean any net that is sufficiently "evolved", "complicated" and/or "advanced"? Then we are in a quagmire of definitions of these and other words.
    Surely we and other "sentient beings", and some not so "sentient" (definition please) have free will within limits, the limits being set by our parents' DNA and its history from conception onwards, and influences of our environment, internal and external, upon that mass of DNA that in some 9 months or so becomes "us". IOW we are puppets of evolution and of our environment and of our reactions (physical,neurological, psychological, intellectual etc) to these, but puppets with free will within those limits. And the limits change as we mature with time and then as we age.
    If "mind" is merely "self awareness", then why not just say "self awareness"? Does self awareness imply or require "free will"? I very seriously doubt it.

    My strong suspicion is that we are (merely, and only partially) self aware, and that freedom of will is a nonsensical concept that arises inevitably from our limited self awareness attempting to understand ourselves in the context of its false expectation that it is far less limited than it actually is.

    I am aware of a tiny fraction of what my brain does; And that awareness feels like (but isn't) freedom to choose between options - when in fact the option I will take is already chosen by the subconscious brain, and the conscious brain then reports it as a "freely made decision". A conscious brain appears to me to be a rationalisation device. Which is a very useful thing for a social species to evolve (increasingly so, as it becomes part of the environment, as well as part of the individual); But it may not be a very effective thing for helping that species understand how its own brains work.
    You may be right. I see my post was influenced by the immediately preceding discussion of responsibility for one's actions, and whether those actions are caused by "free will" or "inevitable" and this thread is not about that.

  3. Top | #293
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    So I'm going to use some commonly learned terms. What are your intuitions about these phenomena. A click and a tone perceived to be e qually loud are presented one after the other. What would be the order of perceptions given click presented first, tone presented first. Just use your intuitions now. Don't look anything up. Especially don't refer to an article by Williams and Elfner.
    Well, if I seem to perceive that, my intuitive probabilistic assessment is as follows: I would give a probability almost 1 to the hypothesis that I heard a click and a tone, and also to the hypothesis that I'm in a lab, etc.
    Granted, it is logically possible that a superhuman agent is messing with my memories and I never heard any of that. But I reckon it's extremely improbable, so that's beyond a reasonable doubt.
    As to the order, well, in that situation, I would report what I hear first.

    Without reading anything but your post, I reckon that you're trying to provide evidence that intuitions are unreliable. Actually, our intuitions are generally reliable, and indeed we always use our intuitive probabilistic assessment in order to tell that in some particular cases, some of those intuitions aren't reliable. And it turns out that in those cases, we conclude that one of our intuitions failed on the basis of other, intuitively more probable ones.

    You simply cannot do science (or anything) without relying on your intuitive probabilistic assessments, and also on many others, even if some particular intuitions sometimes fail. Moreover, when it comes to everyday, regular phenomena, the rate of failure is minuscule when you compare them with the massive success background, without which it would not be possible to even navigate our environment.

    Now, you may have a very narrow definition of "intuition". But that's irrelevant. The point remains that I have conclusive (i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt) evidence that I have the power to move small objects around me, like a mouse, the keys of a keyboard (or for that matter the keyboard), and so on. Scientists also have no doubt on that when they use that power to carry out all of their experiments.

  4. Top | #294
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bilby
    My strong suspicion is that we are (merely, and only partially) self aware, and that freedom of will is a nonsensical concept that arises inevitably from our limited self awareness attempting to understand ourselves in the context of its false expectation that it is far less limited than it actually is.
    Why would you suspect that?
    Let's back up a little. I'm writing this post of my own accord, and you wrote the post I'm replying to of your own accord. Do you agree with that, or not?
    Sure. But that's an after the event claim. Everything I do, I do of my own accord. And as it is what happened, it's not even wrong to say I could have done otherwise - because I didn't. In fact, I have never, ever, in my entire life, done otherwise than what I did - despite almost always believing that I did it all of my own accord.

    My suspicions are grounded in my knowledge that dualism is physically impossible - my brain interacts only with other matter, and only in ways that are either determined, chaotic, or random - and none of those ways of interacting provides a mechanism for "free will" - at best, my actions are unpredictable in the same way that weather patterns are unpredictable; There are a vast number of inputs and it's effectively impossible to have a sufficiently detailed knowledge of those inputs to predict all of the results, although in many cases, very good short-term forecasts can be made.
    First, I'd like to ask for clarificaction. What do you mean by "the event claim"? What event, and what claim do you have in mind?

    Second, it is good that you do everything you do of your own accord. But that is not always the case for others. Sometimes, people get mugged, and they hand over their wallets and other goods. The certainly do not do so of their own accord. Moreover, others are under compulsions of different kinds. For example, they might have been given strong drugs, which significantly reduce their ability to act of their own accord. And so on.
    At any rate, I am writing this of omy own accord, and you are doing that as well. But 'of one's own accord' means the same as 'of one's own free will'. So, both you and I are writing these posts of our own free will.

    Third, I agree that dualism is false - though probably we reach that conclusion by different means -, but I do not see how that would that prevent me from acting of my own accord/free will. The question of the mechanism is not one that one would need to answer, in order to have conclusive evidence of something. See, for example, this post, in which Jack has conclusive evidence that he has the power to lift a small pebble, even if he has no idea how his muscles, brain, etc., work. Examples like that are ubiquitous. Well before modern science, people knew that exposure to sunlight heated things, evne if they had no idea about the underlying mechanism, and so on.

    Now, I do not know how it is that particles make minds, but that they do is clear - as dualism is false and we do have minds -, and it is also clear that we can generally act of our own accord.

    Fourth, the unpredictability of your actions is not the issue. Imagine in a Libet-type experiment, researchers equipped with some future supercomputers are always able to predict accurately what people will choose (this is how I had (mis)interpreted one of ruby spark's scenarios). That would provide good reason to think that researchers managed to identify the causes of the decision and so can predict it, but not that the subjects did not make decisions of their own accord as far as I can tell.

    So, I do not dispute your evidence, or your claims about dualism, etc., but I do not see how that is evidence against my claim that I am typing this of my own accord/free will.

  5. Top | #295
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly
    Feelings often don't reveal what's actually going on.
    It is not that feelings reveal what is going on. Rather, it is that I have conclusive evidence about what I feel, about the lack of an external threat, and also about the lack of internal compulsory factors like a serious mental disease or a powerful enough drug. The evidence also comes from my interactions with others, by the way. They're not screaming 'you've been given heroin, you're tripping', etc., but rather, things go on quite normally.


    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly
    If they did then anytime a task was difficult or unpleasant you'd say you were irresistably compelled to do it.
    That does not follow, as one would not feel compulsion. But still, not the point, so moving on...


    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly
    And conversely an alcoholic or drug addict might continue thinking that even though they wake up in the gutter it's something they freely choose to do.
    Maybe they did choose freely to take drugs, failing to predict the predictable consequences. How much their ability to act of their own free will has been compromised - if at all - depends on the type and amount of drug. But I can tell that I'm not under the influence of any mind-altering drugs that would compromise that ability in my case, or indeed of any other drugs (i.e., that is beyond a reasonable doubt).
    And sure, someone might suggest I have no evidence against a Matrix scenario in which the Matrix overlord are messing with my head exactly to make it look to me as if I'm making free choices (or similarly Yahweh is, or whoever), etc. But in that case, the prior is so low, that I would not be a reasonable doubt to think so.



    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly
    When we feel good it's self-affirming. It becomes part of who we are, in so far as reasonable expectations of one's behavior go. And that's a useful context whether taken from a judicial interpretation or as a way to characterize what it means to have agency. An alcoholic might think that the feeling she gets while drinking is worth the resulting inconvenience, so the overall effect is to reduce anxiety. But I think how we feel is completely due to brain processes and whether they produce harmony and serenity or dissonance and anxiety. When our actions don't comport with expectations of who we are or who we aspire to be we attribute it to something not us. In other words we're compelled, or it's not in accordance with what we have come to expect of ourselves. And that's how I explain "the feeling" of free will. Basically all varieties of feelings stem from this primordial sense of well-being and how it becomes attached to our various experiences. Free will is associated with our basic need to see ourselves as responsible agents within our society. Beyond that it tells us nothing about the brain's processes and often comes down to "I don't know why I did that, but it's something that I could reasonably see myself doing".
    No, that's not it. I have made bad choices, and I have also had beliefs I should not have had. I try to get better, rather than to explain everything away as compulsive. That would be epistemically irrational. Moreover, it would be a fault of my part if I failed to choose - of my own free will - to dedicate some time and effort to check some of my most consequential beliefs.

    As to brain processes, it's not meant to tell us about it. I'm saying I'm typing of my own accord, not that I know how neurons (or, at a lower level, particles) interact to make this possible.

  6. Top | #296
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    So I'm going to use some commonly learned terms. What are your intuitions about these phenomena. A click and a tone perceived to be e qually loud are presented one after the other. What would be the order of perceptions given click presented first, tone presented first. Just use your intuitions now. Don't look anything up. Especially don't refer to an article by Williams and Elfner.
    Well, if I seem to perceive that, my intuitive probabilistic assessment is as follows: I would give a probability almost 1 to the hypothesis that I heard a click and a tone, and also to the hypothesis that I'm in a lab, etc.
    Granted, it is logically possible that a superhuman agent is messing with my memories and I never heard any of that. But I reckon it's extremely improbable, so that's beyond a reasonable doubt.
    As to the order, well, in that situation, I would report what I hear first.
    Well there you go. Apparently you intuited whether I asked about whether one hears tone and clicks, I didn't. I specifically asked you to give me your intuition about whether clickor tone would be heard first. You blew it. The click will be heard after the tone in both the tone and click first presentations.

    Turns out we are more interested in information in auditory signals than we are about whether the bear is breaking a branch as it attacks us. This advantage persists up to approximately one acoustic perceptual integration cycle (200-300 ms).

    My view of intuition is quite broad but I do draw the line at level of information in hand. If I used my intuition to design these experiments knowing what follows might be open for discussion.

    Given that intuition so limited, so suspect, and so flawed that it would lead one to set up for processing for communication rather than predator, other than man, when the acoustic mode has a 20 to30 ms advantage over vision without taking in to account lags for pointing sensors at threat target is counter intuitive.

    Referring to the intuition possibility above that conclusion would be counterintuitive because I know the relation between eyes hearing and vestibular mechanisms for sensor coordination which would have lead me to intuit that click would hold attentional high ground. It was almost self evident. So even informed intuition is a fool

    It is precisely because we are fooled by magicians, jugglers, filed ground illusions and expectations that I discount intuition as useful in getting to a proper experiment. Using your view we would still be studying the music of the spheres.

    No. Experiment cannot rely on intuition. We must measure and accept physical and behavioral and perceptual limitations and understanding that what we sense is not what we see, hear, smell, or feel. We process by evolutionary transformation of biological systems into systems: capable of processing photons by twisting molecules, processing airborne and mechanical changes, capturing molecular shapes, and detecting chemical energy. Intuition would be very useless in getting us there.

    It is very important to understand the changes in thinking that came about during the enlightenment. As soon as we accepted that we need become impartial observers, that we isolate variables, that we measure, and that we attempt to integrate what we find into systems that are testable, then we began this amazing journey to where we are now.

    In conclusion: It's like I said. Introspection is the hood of a fool and of no use to science.

  7. Top | #297
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    Well there you go. Apparently you intuited whether I asked about whether one hears tone and clicks, I didn't. I specifically asked you to give me your intuition about whether clickor tone would be heard first. You blew it. The click will be heard after the tone in both the tone and click first presentations.
    I did not blow it. I explained why that would be irrelevant, and how your challenges were not tenable. There are such things as optical illusions, which are well known. Sound illusions can happen too, and are not particularly surprising.


    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    It is precisely because we are fooled by magicians, jugglers, filed ground illusions and expectations that I discount intuition as useful in getting to a proper experiment. Using your view we would still be studying the music of the spheres.
    No, you clearly do not understand my view at all. You cannot do it. You cannot not rely on some of your intuitions - and, in particular, on some your intuitive epistemic probabilistic assessments - in order to do an experiement of any kind, or even to minimally succeed in navigating the world around you.

    However, if you do not want to call our intuitive probabilistic assessments "intuition", then call them as you like. The point is that it is so probable that I have the power to type on my keyboard, move my mouse, etc., that it is beyond a reasonable doubt (i.e., it would be unreasonable on my part to do it). And it's not only about me, by the way. It's also beyond a reasonable doubt that humans normally have the power to move that sort of small objects.


    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    No. Experiment cannot rely on intuition. We must measure and accept physical and behavioral and perceptual limitations and understanding that what we sense is not what we see, hear, smell, or feel. We process by evolutionary transformation of biological systems into systems: capable of processing photons by twisting molecules, processing airborne and mechanical changes, capturing molecular shapes, and detecting chemical energy. Intuition would be very useless in getting us there.
    You must rely on some of your intuitions when measuring anything, if you want to do any science. You need to rely on some of your senses, memories, and generally your intuitive probabilistic assessments about what is going on. Otherwise, you can't even rule out that the result of the experiment is not what you think you observed, but rather, your senses failed, or you remember incorrectly what happened a second ago, etc.

  8. Top | #298
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post

    You must rely on some of your intuitions when measuring anything, if you want to do any science. You need to rely on some of your senses, memories, and generally your intuitive probabilistic assessments about what is going on. Otherwise, you can't even rule out that the result of the experiment is not what you think you observed, but rather, your senses failed, or you remember incorrectly what happened a second ago, etc.
    First let me say I'm enjoying this discussion very much. We have different perspectives and I'm pretty sure neither of us will be converted.

    On with it.

    No I mustn't.

    I wrote independent observations. Mainly that means independent of human intervention in the process. Why? Well a Humans can't beat a good chess computer precisely because humans tend to infer things based on incomplete data. That seems to be something I think you call insight or intuition. It's not. It's guessing. It, on average, is very inefficient.

    Anyone can build a telescope or any other instrument if one has the information and the training to do so. No need for human probabilistic assessments at all. There is no need for intuition at all. It gets in the way of progress, it loses games. What one needs is the discipline to execute what one knows without inserting some form of mental gambling.

    We've become very good at designing apparatus that is almost immune from human interference and of methods which minimize interference in analysis. If there are errors in execution there are devices that provide measurements which correct those errors in execution.

    We've become very good at trying to apply stuff that works in other situations on current problems. Just keep in mind that when I say stuff I am saying objective stuff derived from independent measurement in particular situations and conditions. One may see a relation that exists is applicable to another situation. That would be generalization or applicability, that is not some airy construct of - Hey I'm a human being damn it - insight or intuition.

    Your confidence in what you call human abilities are way exaggerated and IMHO they're costing most much.


    I try thinking about evolution as finding ways to get through to the next generation in a chaotic environment.. Not everything can be determined by an individual. So chance steps in and provides tools that work better than what the being has available online. Maximizing, probablizing, guessing, intuiting, are all forms that have evolved that work well enough that we continue to survive. That does not mean they are good or even adequate.

    Having this load of shit has gotten us to the place where we now know that there is a large amount of order in the world. Now that we have better tools we need to get these vestiges off our backs. Intuition, etc, are no better for us than are our conceits that we are the straw that makes the tea move or we are in the image of a God or any other grand notion brought about by generations of being fairly successful. I live on the coast where Tsunami take place about every 300 years and it's been 320 years since the last one for luck's sake. I understand your fondness for such folk notions. The one I'm using as rationale may kill me tomorrow.

  9. Top | #299
    Senior Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    Robert_Sapolsky is a neuroendocrinologist at Stanford with a fairly large footprint on Youtube. Here is his very brief (3 min) presentation on Free Will (he's not a beiiever):


    (View video on YouTube)

  10. Top | #300
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    I wrote independent observations. Mainly that means independent of human intervention in the process. Why? Well a Humans can't beat a good chess computer precisely because humans tend to infer things based on incomplete data. That seems to be something I think you call insight or intuition. It's not. It's guessing. It, on average, is very inefficient.

    Anyone can build a telescope or any other instrument if one has the information and the training to do so. No need for human probabilistic assessments at all. There is no need for intuition at all. It gets in the way of progress, it loses games. What one needs is the discipline to execute what one knows without inserting some form of mental gambling.
    You're not getting this.
    In the process of doing an experiment, you intuitively reckon that so probable that it is beyond doubt that, say, you saw the results of some measurements less than a minute ago. That of course rules out hypothetical scenarios like you did not even read the results, or even performed any parts of the experiments, but you remember yourself doing that - just a minute ago or less - because a sufficiently powerful agent with the intent of deceiving you actually put that memory in your head. You also rule out that your eyes and the rest of your senses are malfunctioning oddly in a way that makes sense but still is completely wrong. And so on.

    You cannot do the experiments without that. You do not have to say 'this is probable' or whatever. You intuitively make those probabilistic assessments non-verbally. A chimp would do something like the same, though in a less complex manner.

    However, if you prefer not to call that intuition, call it as you like. The point is that you are defending an absurd position, and of course it is beyond a reasonable doubt that adult humans normally have the power to move small objects surrounding them, which by the way you need to perform the experiments you are talking about in the first place. When assessing my own capabilities, I have even more evidence than I do about the general case, so of course it's beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Now, my point that it is beyond a reasonable doubt that I have the power to move my mouse (or press the keys on my keyboard, etc.) was not a point I expected to be challenged at all. Rather, I used the obvious fact that I have that power to make a parallel between my assessment that I have that power and my assessment that I'm writing this on my own accord/free will. It is the latter point that was(is) being challenged, and that is the one I tried to defend by making a parallel with the obvious point that I have the power to move my mouse, etc., in terms of what is beyond a reasonable doubt for someone in my epistemic position.

    The fact that you chose to challenge the fact that I have the power to type on my keyboard or move my mouse (!) is distracting from the main point, and frankly odd. Moreover, you even challenge the claim that normally, humans have the power to move small objects in their vicinity. I recommend that you stop for a moment and take a closer look at what you're actually challenging.


    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    We've become very good at designing apparatus that is almost immune from human interference and of methods which minimize interference in analysis. If there are errors in execution there are devices that provide measurements which correct those errors in execution.

    We've become very good at trying to apply stuff that works in other situations on current problems. Just keep in mind that when I say stuff I am saying objective stuff derived from independent measurement in particular situations and conditions. One may see a relation that exists is applicable to another situation. That would be generalization or applicability, that is not some airy construct of - Hey I'm a human being damn it - insight or intuition.
    You of course intuitively rely on the time on your memory that the experiments were in fact performed, that your eyes can be trusted when you read the results in whatever machine you use, etc. You cannot avoid using some of your intuitions all the time, and in particular, your intuitive probabilistic assessments.

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