Clockwork wrote:And I'm going on but 100% Steve has the correct mindset.
I found this great video of an online talk he gave. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kHG7RK_kSw The audio isn't the best but he goes into more depth about feedback mechanisms than Patrick Winston did, so I guess the understanding of neural nets is further along than I thought. I can't quite shake the feeling that we'll never figure it out, because we're trying to comprehend neural nets using our neural nets. Kind of like trying to fit a box in an identical box. But maybe we'll give birth to an AI that's smart enough to give us a dumbed down explanation.
On free will, when you look at atoms and molecules and cells and organisms and even right up to childhood psychology it all seems to be deterministic. There doesn't seem to be anything free of cause and effect, so it looks as though there's no free will. We can feel like we have the free will to make decisions, but that feeling really comes down to a bunch of chemicals in our brains that are all subject to cause and effect. Manolis Kellis discussed this briefly in a recent interview with Lex Fridman. I think the whole interview is great.
But there's a couple of things I can't quite shake that makes me qualify "there's no free will" with "sort of". First of all, we think we have free will. We think we can make decisions and have some sort of control over outcomes. From the perspective of evolutionary biology, that's a really odd thing to have evolved. What benefit is thinking we have free will when we don't? Wouldn't life be just as effective if we acted like robots that didn't believe in free will?
The second thing is when we act as though there's no free will, society starts to fall apart. Like if judges said "you're guilty of murder, but there's no free will so it wasn't your fault" then the whole judicial system would collapse and we'd have anarchy. If there's no free will, why is it so important that we act as though there is free will? But maybe this second point is the answer to my first point.
There's a whole bunch of weird things that only emerge from intelligence and consciousness. Justice, humour, romance, nostalgia, etc. can't be found on the atomic level, but get a biological system complex enough and those things emerge. So maybe free will is an emergent property. Our brains have become so complex that we have imaginations and we can run little mental simulations of future reality and choose a course of action that optimumly suits us, so maybe that's a kind of soft free will. Then I remember we're made of atoms so maybe that's all wrong.
Anyway I haven't read much on this topic so these are just my ramblings and maybe philosophers have sorted these things out long ago.
Strange Wings wrote:I tapped into Advaita Vedanta a bit since the last couple of months, and some things you mention here correlates with what I gathered thus far.
I agree with some parts of it, but not other parts. I think suffering is a very real thing that happens to us and I would need some strong convincing that a mental reframing can significantly alleviate it. I'm also wary of spiritual leaders explaining to us what's going on, because I think ultimately as humans we don't even know what we are. Having said that, I think there's some merit to idea that we're part of the universe experiencing itself.
On a related note, have you read Tezuka's Buddha manga? I don't know how accurate it is to the historical Siddhattha, but he wrestles with the self-inflicted suffering of the ascetics and decides it's a bit of a dead end (no pun intended). Anyway it's drawn way better than his earlier Astroboy manga and I enjoyed it. I actually have the Dhammapada next to my bed but I don't think I'll ever finish reading it. Feels like each sentence takes a week to mentally digest.
I watched another Lex Fridman interview today that was a bit related. It was with Peter Singer and he talks about suffering. He also talks a bit about robot rights and whether or not robots can experience suffering. My brain is still processing it so I don't have any coherent comments on it just yet.