What you descibe is called compatibilism. Compatibilists understand the deterministic nature of reality, but they don’t want to give up the notion of personal responsibility. (Or sometimes even personal sin).

The evaluation and reevalution is done by a deterministic system. And even if it is iterating several times, the outcome of your evaluation is going to be based on the stored information your brain accumulated over time, mixed in with external stimuli. Ultimately it is the result of the physics of reality. You have no control whatsoever over that outcome.

It’s a somewhat deeper level of the same illusion.

So at best you feel happy by feeding your pride. At worst you fool yourself into the wrong kind of morality.


This whole “all the universe forces this moment” thing is seriously tiresome.

The argument is offered that if you knew all the movement and energy of all the particles you could calculate the outcome and there is no free will. Sure - if you did somehow and quantum uncertainty was not a thing - you could do that.

Forgetting for the moment that there is absolutely no conceivable way to gather this information and process this as a simulation you still have to contend with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. You really can’t know these things to the degree necessary to make a useful prediction.

In theory and in practice the underpinnings of the determinism argument are dubious at best so determinism is sterile and useless.

Science is pretty good at explaining what happened and not so good at predicting the outcome of complex systems - like humans.

People perceive and decide based on experience. From an engineering point of view this has predictive power so this is what I am using.

The concept of Determinism has no predictive power; navel gazing philosophy does not inform my designs in any useful way.


hidden variable theories are still not fully ruled out. A nobel prize winning physicist is working on such, and I think wolfram of mathematica fame among others also hold similar views if I’m not mistaken.


I’m not arguing that you need to be able to make the prediction. You’re both arguing free will from ignorance: “I don’t know what’s going to happen, so my choice must be free”.

That is ridiculous, and it’s not what I’m saying.

I’m saying that whatever decision you make, it is out of your control. If determinism is true (which I don’t know) then it is the only outcome that could have happened. If reality is random, then you still have no control over which outcome happens.

(On a side note: I have heard an argumentation that even the collapse of the quantum wave can be interpreted as a deterministic function).

In practice, I’d say for 99% of your decisions, you’re probably right. But for the most fundamental questions, with morality as the first, I think you are making a capital mistake.

I’m not interested in what you have for breakfast. I’m not interested in whom you voted for. I’m interested in how the neo-cortex works. I’m interested in how an AI is going to be built out of that information, and how this AI is going to shape my future.

On this forum we can not allow ourselves to fall to the vagueries of religion. We’re not allowed to become pray to our pride. We need to understand what is right and true.


Still useless sophistry. I have to perceive and make actions to survive. I need to make predictions both from a day to day survival point-of-view and from an engineering perceptive. It’s a very mammal thing to do.

As an engineer I have to design systems to perceive and act. For this to happen I have to design it a certain way and for that I have to assume that it acts on the model of perceive and decide.

Along comes you (and others like you) that make useless pronouncement such as “it is all predetermined” as if this is some profound statement. Does the predetermination aid me in any useful way? Does it offer even one line of code or one line laid out in a circuit? Will this predestination build anything for me if I don’t make the decision to act?


Then in what way is this a useful theory?

Next I suppose you will tell me that the sun will morph into a giant red start someday and that everything we are doing won’t matter. Another utterly useless fact. Does that mean you stop going to work or even eat? After all - what’s the point?

You say the words but what are you doing about it? How should this change anything you or I do?

If it has no practical affect then it is … useless.


No I think it can be potentially known, and it is indeed deterministic and uncontrollable, only the illusion of control can be had. But that said if the control elements are internal even if it is not real control, the decisions can be viewed as acceptance of fate, even if that acceptance is forced, it could be viewed as a sort of free will, though I too dislike compatibilist notions.

Right now the laws of physics dictate what I can or cannot do. Once a computer is connected to my brain with AI, and enough security, I’m free to experience whatever I desire as I have full control of memory and sensation, of qualia, and can generate complex arbitrary sensations indistinguishable from real.

Perhaps I’m not truly free, in choosing an utopic cycle of experiences, but at least that state is quite different from one in which external forces determine the experiences had.


Not if you’re building a toaster, no. Or if you’re writing an app to find the closest pizzeria. Or if you’re printing glossy magazines full of ads for overpriced shoes and gold-plated wrist watches. That’s part of the 99.9% of decisions where it doesn’t matter whether you have free will or not.

Do you think Marie Curie envisioned nuclear energy while she was discovering radioactivity? Did George Boole think of digital computers when he developed binary logic? Did Isaac Newton predict ballistic trajectories when he came up with differential calculus? Did Archimedes, two millennia before him?

These people didn’t care about usefulness. They were interested in advancing science.

But you know what, @Bitking, we have enough toasters already. And doing the same thing over and over, that is kind of useless. :-).


But that’s why free will is an illusion. I do experience the feeling of being in control of my decisions. It’s just that I am rational enough to understand that it is not real.

And for the majority of my decisions, it does absolutely not matter. When I wake up, I decide what to wear. When I go for a walk, I decide which direction I go. When I watch a movie, I choose which movie. I enjoy the feeling of being in control.

But when we debate the real important problems, like migration policy, or copyright law, or perpetual emprisonment, or abortion law, then it matters. And very soon we’re going to have these debates with an AI at the head of the table. I think it’s worth preparing for that.

How is it different? How would you be more free?


Nice try - still not useful. Get back to me if anything useful pops up.


I explained why it is important to me. You said it was “hard to follow”. Maybe we should leave it at that…

closed #194


Let’s take a break from this topic for a bit.

opened #196

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