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Old 19-07-2020, 04:21 PM   #721
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MASSIVE ATTACK - TEARDROP

https://youtu.be/u7K72X4eo_s


FREE WILL

Our entire civilization is based on the concept of free will, which impacts on the notions of reward, punishment, and personal responsibility. But does free will really exist? It is it a clever way of keeping society together although it violates scientific principles? The controversy goes to the very heart of quantum mechanics itself.

It is safe to say that more and more neuroscientists are gradually coming to the conclusion that free will does not exist, at least not in the usual sense. If certain bizarre behaviors can be linked to precise defects in the brain, then a person is not scientifically responsible for the crimes he might commit. He might be too dangerous to be walking the streets and must be locked up in an institution of some sort, but punishing someone for having a stroke or tumor in the brain is misguided, they say. What that person needs is medical and psychological help. Perhaps the brain damage can be treated (e.g., by removing a tumor), and the person can become a productive member of society.

For example, when I interviewed Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, a psychologist at Cambridge University, he told me that many (but not all) pathological killers have a brain anomaly. Their brain scans show that they lack empathy when seeing someone else in pain, and in fact they might even take pleasure in watching this suffering (in these individuals, the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens, the pleasure center, light up when they view videos of people experiencing pain).

The conclusion some might draw from this is that these people are not truly responsible for their heinous acts, although they should still be removed from society. They need help, not punishment, because of a problem with their brain. In a sense, they may not be acting with free will when they commit their crimes.

An experiment done by Dr. Benjamin Libet in 1985 casts doubt on the very existence of free will. Let's say that you are asking subjects to watch a clock and then to note the precisely when they decide to move a finger. Using EEG scans, one can detect exactly when the brain makes this decision. When you compare the two times, you will find a mismatch. The EEG scans show that the brain has actually made the decision about three hundred milliseconds before the person becomes aware of it.

This means that, in some sense, free will is a fake. Decisions are made ahead of time by the brain, without the input of consciousness, and then later the brain tries to cover this up (as it's won't to do) by claiming that the decision was conscious. Dr. Michael Sweeney concludes, "Libet's findings suggested that the brain knows what a person will decide before the person does... The world must reassess not only the idea of movements divided between voluntary and involuntary, but also the very idea of free will."

All this seems to indicate that free will, the cornerstone of society, is a fiction, an illusion created by our left brain. So are we masters of our fate, or just pawns in a swindle perpetuated by the brain?

There are several ways to approach this sticky question. Free will goes against a philosophy called determinism, which simply says that all future events are determined by physical laws. According to Newton himself, the universe was some sort of clock, ticking away since the beginning of time, obeying the laws of motion. Hence all events are predictable.

The question is: Are we part of this clock? Are all our actions also determined? These questions have philosophical and theological implications. For example, most religious adhere to some form of determinism and predestination. Since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, He knows the future, and hence the future is determined ahead of time. He knows even before you are born whether you will go to Heaven or Hell.

The Catholic Church split in half on this precise question during the Protestant revolution. According to Catholic doctrine at that time, one could change one's ultimate fate with an indulgence, usually by making generous financial donations to the Church. In other words, determinism could be altered by the size of your wallet. Martin Luther specifically singled out the corruption of the Church over indulgences when he tacked his 95 Theses on the door of a church in 1517, triggering the Protestant Reformation. This was one of the key reasons why the Church split down the middle, causing casualties in the millions and laying waste to entire regions of Europe.

But after 1925, uncertainty was introduced into physics via quantum mechanics. Suddenly everything became uncertain; all you could calculate was probabilities. In this sense, perhaps free will does exist, and it's a manifestation of quantum mechanics. So some claim that the quantum theory reestablishes the concept of free will. The determinists have fought back, however, claiming that quantum effects are extremely small (at the level of atoms), too small to account for the free will of large human beings.

The situation today is actually rather muddled. Perhaps the question "Does free will exist?' is like the question "What is life?" The discovery of DNA has rendered that question about life obsolete. We now realize that the question has many layers and complexities. Perhaps the same applies to free will, and there are many types.

If so, the very definition of "free will" becomes ambiguous. For example, one way to define free will is to ask whether behavior can be predicted. If free will exists, then behavior cannot be determined ahead of time. Let's say you watch a movie, for example. The plot is completely determined, with no free will whatsoever. So the movie is completely predictable. But our world cannot be like a movie, for two reasons. The first is the quantum theory, as we have seen. The movie represents only one possible timeline. The second reason is chaos theory. Although classical physics says that all of the motions of atoms are completely determined and predictable, in practice it is impossible to predict their motions because there are so many atoms involved. The slightest disturbance of a single atom can have a ripple effect, which can cascade down to create enormous disturbances.

Think of the weather. In principle, if you knew the behavior of every atom in the air, you could predict the weather a century from now if you had a big enough computer. But in practice, this is impossible. After just a few hours, the weather becomes so turbulent and complex that any computer simulation is rendered useless.

This creates what is called the "butterfly effect," which means that even the beat of butterfly wings can cause tiny ripples in the atmosphere, which grow and in turn can escalate into a thunderstorms. So if even the flapping of butterfly wings can create thunderstorms, the hope of accurately predicting the weather is far-fetched.

Let's go back to the thought experiment described to me by Stephen Jay Gould. He asked me to imagine Earth 4.5 billion years ago, when it was born. Now imagine you could somehow create an identical copy of Earth, and let it evolve. Would we still be here here on this different Earth 4.5 billion years later?

One could easily imagine, due to quantum effects or the chaotic nature of the weather and oceans, that humanity would never evolve into precisely the same creatures on this version of Earth. So ultimately, it seems a combination of uncertainty and chaos makes a perfectly deterministic world possible.

Excerpts from THE FUTURE OF THE MIND by Michio Kaku

http://mkaku.org
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Old 19-07-2020, 05:30 PM   #722
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ENIGMA - RETURN TO INNOCENCE

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THE QUANTUM BRAIN

This debate also effects the reverse engineering of the brain. If you can successfully reverse engineer a brain made of transistors, this success implies that the brain is deterministic and predictable. Ask it any question and it repeats the exact same answer. Computers are deterministic in this way, since they always give the same answer for any question.

So it seems we have a problem. On one hand, quantum mechanics and chaos theory claim that the universe is not predictable, and therefore, free will seems to exist. But a reverse-engineered brain, made of transistors, would by definition be predictable. Since the reverse-engineered brain is theoretically identical to a living brain, then the human brain is also deterministic and there is no free will. Clearly, this contradicts the first statement.

A minority of scientists claim that you cannot authentically reverse engineer the brain, or ever create a true thinking machine, because of the quantum theory. The brain, they argue, is a quantum device, not just a collection of transistors. Hence this project is doomed fail. In this camp is Oxford physicist Dr. Roger Penrose, an authority on Einstein's theory of relativity, who claims that it is quantum processes that may account for the consciousness of the human brain. Penrose starts by saying that mathematician Kurt Godel has proven that arithmetic is incomplete; that is, that there are true statements in arithmetic that cannot be proven using the axioms of arithmetic. Similarly, not only is mathematics incomplete, but so is physics. He concludes by stating that the brain is basically a quantum mechanical device and there are problems that no machine can solve because of Godels incomplete theorem. Humans, however, can make sense of these conundrums using intuition.

Similarly, the reverse-engineered brain, no matter how complex, is still a collection of transistors and wires. In such a deterministic system, you can accurately predict its future behavior because the laws of motion are well known. In a quantum system, however, the system is inherently unpredictable. All you can calculate are the chances that something will occur, because of the uncertainty principle.

If it turns out that the reverse-engineered brain cannot reproduce human behavior, then scientists may be forced to admit that there are unpredictable forces at work (i.e., quantum effects inside the brain). Dr. Penrose argues that inside the neuron there are tiny structures, called microtubules, where quantum processes dominate.

At present, there is no consensus on this problem. Judging from the reaction to Penrose's idea when it was first proposed, it would be safe to say that most of the scientific community is skeptical of his approach. Science, however, is never conducted as a popularity contest, but instead advances through testable, reproducible, and falsifiable theories.

For my own part, I believe transistors cannot truly model all the behaviors of neurons, which carry out both analog and digital calculations. We know that neurons are messy. They can leak, misfire, age, die, and are sensitive to the environment. To me, this suggests that a collection transistors can only approximately model the behavior of neurons. For example, we saw earlier, in discussing the physics of the brain, that if the axon of the neuron becomes thinner, then it begins to leak and also does not carry out chemical reactions that well. Some of this leakage and these misfires will be due to quantum effects. As you try to imagine neurons that are thinner, denser, and faster, quantum effects become more obvious. This means that even for normal neurons there are problems of leakage and instabilities, and these problems exist both classically and quantum mechanically.

In conclusion, a reverse-engineered robot will give a good but not perfect approximation of the human brain. Unlike Penrose, I think it is possible to create a deterministic robot out of transistors that gives the appearance of consciousness, but without any free will. It will pass the Turing test. But I think there will be differences between such a robot and humans due to these tiny quantum effects.

Ultimately, I think free will probably does exist, but it is not the free will envisioned by rugged individuals who claim they are complete masters of their fate. The brain is influenced by thousands of unconscious factors that predispose us to make certain choices ahead of time, even if we think we made them ourselves. This does not necessarily mean that we are actors in a film that can be rewound anytime. The end of the movie hasn't been written yet, so strict determinism is destroyed by a subtle combination of quantum effects and chaos theory. In the end, we are still masters of our destiny.

Excerpts from THE FUTURE OF THE MIND by Michio Kaku

https://mkaku.org/

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Old 19-07-2020, 10:06 PM   #723
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NELLY FURTADO - SAY IT RIGHT

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Old 24-07-2020, 10:27 PM   #724
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BRIAN FALLON - FORGET ME NOT

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Old 24-07-2020, 10:39 PM   #725
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THE RED JUMPSUIT APPARATUS - FACE DOWN

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Old 24-07-2020, 10:44 PM   #726
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TRUST COMPANY - DOWNFALL

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Old 24-07-2020, 11:27 PM   #727
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THE PRETTY RECKLESS - TAKE ME DOWN

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Old 25-07-2020, 12:06 AM   #728
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Thanks for listening. Goodnight and have a fantastic weekend...

KODALINE - IN THE END

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Old 25-07-2020, 09:44 PM   #729
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FAOUZIA - YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW ME

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Old 25-07-2020, 10:35 PM   #730
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JOHN MARTIN - ANYWHERE FOR YOU

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Old 25-07-2020, 10:42 PM   #731
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SHAYNE WARD - NO PROMISES

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Old 25-07-2020, 11:29 PM   #732
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Goodnight...

KELLY CLARKSON - I DARE YOU

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Old 29-07-2020, 09:54 AM   #733
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"When you realise that you are here to learn, develop and gain wisdom; and there is something bigger than this life and beyond this life, this is the end. But, this is not the end. This is the road to The End."

~ Joe Mahmood, 29th June 2020, Singapore.

MATT REDMAN - NEVER ONCE

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Old 01-08-2020, 09:43 AM   #734
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In 1993, Bali. A Spirit said these to me ...

"...if you follow me to my world, its as though I've murdered you. Please forgive me."

"I will know where you are and I love you so much..."


HAEVN - WHERE THE HEART IS

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Old 02-08-2020, 09:10 AM   #735
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BRIAN AND JENN JOHNSON - YOU'RE GONNA BE OKAY

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