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Buridan’s ass
 Posted: 23 May 2011 12:06 PM [ Ignore ]
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What is Buridan’s ass? From the wiki

Buridan’s ass is an illustration of a paradox in philosophy in the conception of free will.

It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein an ass is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Since the paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, it will die of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision to choose one over the other.

Buridan’s principle:

A discrete decision based upon an input having a continuous range of values cannot be made within a bounded length of time.

Metastability in digital circuitry:

The voltage value can then be likened to the position of the ass, and the values 0 and 1 represent the bales of hay. Like the situation of the starving ass, there exists an input on which the converter cannot make a proper decision, resulting in a metastable state. Having the converter make an arbitrary choice in ambiguous situations does not solve the problem, as the boundary between ambiguous values and unambiguous values introduces another binary decision with its own metastable state.

Now you know why the free will debate goes on and on ad infinitum.

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 Posted: 23 May 2011 06:26 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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To avoid the apparent unconscious factors within a living being, I suggest the following.  A computer program which will print the number which is further away from, say, five when the operator enters two numbers.  Then the operator enters four and six.  Have it set to re-examine the two entered numbers repeatedly until a choice is made.

I suggest that somewhere along the line some microscopic computer glitch will occur and one of the numbers, say, the four will become 3,99999999999999999 (4 -10^-13)  At that point the computer can make a choice and print a six, but since this intermediate step isn’t shown, it’s obvious (???) that the computer has demonstrated free will.

Occam

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 Posted: 25 May 2011 10:02 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Occam. - 23 May 2011 06:26 PM

I suggest that somewhere along the line some microscopic computer glitch will occur and one of the numbers, say, the four will become 3,99999999999999999 (4 -10^-13)  At that point the computer can make a choice and print a six, but since this intermediate step isn’t shown, it’s obvious (???) that the computer has demonstrated free will.

That could be due to a CPU bug, like the Pentium FPU bug, where there is a rare computation error and the computer makes a choice based on flawed results which surely could not be free will?

Alternately, due to pure chance, a stray cosmic particle striking the computer could produce the error which allows it to choose which again is hardly free will?

Whichever way one looks at it, computers are human created deterministic machines and if they seem to exhibit “free will”, one should suspect a defect somewhere in the machine.

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 Posted: 25 May 2011 10:55 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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kkwan - 25 May 2011 10:02 AM

Whichever way one looks at it, computers are human created deterministic machines and if they seem to exhibit “free will”, one should suspect a defect somewhere in the machine.

What reason is there to think computers are deterministic?

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 Posted: 25 May 2011 11:17 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 May 2011 10:55 AM

What reason is there to think computers are deterministic?

From the wiki on deterministic system (philosophy)

Nearly all electronic computers in use today are based on theoretical von Neumann computers or Turing machines, i.e.: they are devices that perform one small, deterministic step at a time. If all inputs are specified, the computer will always produce a particular output which is calculated deterministically

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 Posted: 25 May 2011 11:21 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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kkwan - 25 May 2011 11:17 AM

Nearly all electronic computers in use today are based on theoretical von Neumann computers or Turing machines, i.e.: they are devices that perform one small, deterministic step at a time. If all inputs are specified, the computer will always produce a particular output which is calculated deterministically

.

But we don’t know that they will.

And even if they will that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do something else given the circumstances, just that they don’t.

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 Posted: 25 May 2011 11:48 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 May 2011 11:21 AM

Nearly all electronic computers in use today are based on theoretical von Neumann computers or Turing machines, i.e.: they are devices that perform one small, deterministic step at a time. If all inputs are specified, the computer will always produce a particular output which is calculated deterministically

But we don’t know that they will.

Yes, even if we would know that the world is completely deterministic beyond any doubt, we even then don’t know it will always be. Maybe one day turns 2 +2 does not equal 4?

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 Posted: 25 May 2011 11:51 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Those who lay too much value on Buridanâ€™s ass do not see the difference between logic and rationality (or reason if you want). Try to think for one time, kkwan…

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 Posted: 27 May 2011 01:44 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 May 2011 11:21 AM
kkwan - 25 May 2011 11:17 AM

Nearly all electronic computers in use today are based on theoretical von Neumann computers or Turing machines, i.e.: they are devices that perform one small, deterministic step at a time. If all inputs are specified, the computer will always produce a particular output which is calculated deterministically

.

But we don’t know that they will.

And even if they will that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do something else given the circumstances, just that they don’t.

Stephen

We do, because by design, they are supposed to perform as designed. Hence, if they do otherwise:

1. There is a design bug or fault in the hardware.

2. There is a bug in the operating system (OS), the user has installed buggy software or she has compromised the OS by deleting/modifying vital system files.

3. The computer system is infected by malicious software attacks.

The above diagnostic list and the doable solutions are sufficient to resolve any computer system misbehaving.

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 Posted: 27 May 2011 01:58 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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GdB - 25 May 2011 11:48 PM

Yes, even if we would know that the world is completely deterministic beyond any doubt, we even then don’t know it will always be. Maybe one day turns 2 +2 does not equal 4?

And possibly, cows can jump over the moon?

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 Posted: 27 May 2011 02:40 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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GdB - 25 May 2011 11:51 PM

Those who lay too much value on Buridanâ€™s ass do not see the difference between logic and rationality (or reason if you want). Try to think for one time, kkwan…

Notwithstanding logic and rationality, Buridan’s ass is relevant in the real world.

Consider metastability in digital circuitry, the halting problem, undecidability, uncomputability and the problem of induction which have no definite solutions because they have no well-defined rules.

Also human consciousness, mind/brain and free will.

[ Edited: 27 May 2011 02:47 PM by kkwan ]
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 Posted: 27 May 2011 11:07 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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kkwan - 27 May 2011 01:44 PM
StephenLawrence - 25 May 2011 11:21 AM
kkwan - 25 May 2011 11:17 AM

Nearly all electronic computers in use today are based on theoretical von Neumann computers or Turing machines, i.e.: they are devices that perform one small, deterministic step at a time. If all inputs are specified, the computer will always produce a particular output which is calculated deterministically

.

But we don’t know that they will.

And even if they will that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do something else given the circumstances, just that they don’t.

Stephen

We do, because by design, they are supposed to perform as designed. Hence, if they do otherwise:

1. There is a design bug or fault in the hardware.

2. There is a bug in the operating system (OS), the user has installed buggy software or she has compromised the OS by deleting/modifying vital system files.

3. The computer system is infected by malicious software attacks.

The above diagnostic list and the doable solutions are sufficient to resolve any computer system misbehaving.

If the stuff the computer is made of is indeterministic then we can’t design it to be deterministic.

Anyhow let’s assume it is.

I don’t know what your objection to deterministic machines being able to have free will in principle is?

We seemed to be focusing on influencing the future but surely computers influence the future?

Stephen

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 Posted: 28 May 2011 11:39 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 May 2011 11:07 PM

If the stuff the computer is made of is indeterministic then we can’t design it to be deterministic.

Even though micro reality is indeterministic, however at the macro level, there is adequate determinism which is sufficient for engineers to design/build deterministic computers.

I don’t know what your objection to deterministic machines being able to have free will in principle is?

We seemed to be focusing on influencing the future but surely computers influence the future?

In principle, deterministic machines (which are realizations of deterministic systems), cannot have free will.

From the wiki on deterministic systems:

A deterministic system is a conceptual model of the philosophical doctrine of determinism applied to a system for understanding everything that has and will occur in the system, based on the physical outcomes of causality. In a deterministic system, every action, or cause, produces a reaction, or effect, and every reaction, in turn, becomes the cause of subsequent reactions. The totality of these cascading events can theoretically show exactly how the system will exist at any moment in time.

Humans designed and use computers as a tool to influence the future.

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 Posted: 29 May 2011 01:39 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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kkwan - 28 May 2011 11:39 PM
StephenLawrence - 27 May 2011 11:07 PM

If the stuff the computer is made of is indeterministic then we can’t design it to be deterministic.

Even though micro reality is indeterministic, however at the macro level, there is adequate determinism which is sufficient for engineers to design/build deterministic computers.

Strictly speaking in this case they are indeterministic.

In principle, deterministic machines (which are realizations of deterministic systems), cannot have free will.

That’s what you think but the question is why?

A deterministic system is a conceptual model of the philosophical doctrine of determinism applied to a system for understanding everything that has and will occur in the system, based on the physical outcomes of causality. In a deterministic system, every action, or cause, produces a reaction, or effect, and every reaction, in turn, becomes the cause of subsequent reactions. The totality of these cascading events can theoretically show exactly how the system will exist at any moment in time.

This doesn’t help.

Humans designed and use computers as a tool to influence the future.

That the tool works and therefore does influence the future is enough.

Deterministic machines can influence the future which is one necessary condition of having free will.

I do believe you were suggesting if determinism were true we could not do that before?

What other objections do you have to deterministic machines being capable of having free will in principle?

Stephen

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 Posted: 30 May 2011 07:25 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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StephenLawrence - 29 May 2011 01:39 AM

Strictly speaking in this case they are indeterministic.

For all practical purposes, they are deterministic.

That’s what you think but the question is why?

That is the conceptual model of the philosophical doctrine of determinism and it’s concept of causality. The question of why does not arise at all because the past, present and future are determined. It has no room for free will.

That the tool works and therefore does influence the future is enough.

Deterministic machines can influence the future which is one necessary condition of having free will.

No, it is the intentions and actions of humans designing/building and using deterministic machines as tools that influence the future.

If there were no humans, machines would not exist, but not vice versa.

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 Posted: 30 May 2011 09:33 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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kkwan - 30 May 2011 07:25 PM
StephenLawrence - 29 May 2011 01:39 AM

Strictly speaking in this case they are indeterministic.

For all practical purposes, they are deterministic.

Like for all practical purposes we are, which just mean prevented from doing otherwise in a given set of circumstances.

No, it is the intentions and actions of humans designing/building and using deterministic machines as tools that influence the future.

It must be both Kkwan, otherwise what things do doesn’t influence the future only their causes, which is nonsense.

Stephen

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