Re: Consciousness and free will

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Sat, 29 Nov 2008 21:49:19 +0100

On 29 Nov 2008, at 16:45, M.A. wrote:

> (Assuming MEC/Comp.and MWI) If the computational universe which I
> experience

Assuming MEC I would say *you* experience an infinity of computational
histories. The term "universe" is far too ambiguous (now).

> is a single instance of a vast array of similar universes playing
> out every possible variation of the initial axioms, then no one
> universe could depart from its predetermined program since in so
> doing it would alter its program and duplicate that of another
> universe thus spoiling the overall mission of implementing every
> possible variation.

Histories can bifurcate in a way that you will find yourself in both
histories ("you" seen from some third person point of view). Each
histories is deterministic but, your future is uncertain.

> It follows that each program-universe is completely detirministic

All right.

> and that consciousness is merely an observing passenger inside the
> program;

At some point I could "defined" consciousness as the state of
(instinctively at first) betting on a history. This will speed up
yourself relatively to your current stories, and make greater the set
of your possible continuation. As an exemple you become aware an
astero´d is coming nearby make it possible for you to envisage a set
of possible decisions, which can themselves augment your probability
of survival.

> thus each program that contains a thinking entity is in a
> schizophrenic condition.

Come on!

> This is because consciousness--which is part of the program--is
> capable of judging the actions of the program. When the program acts
> in a way approved by it,

by it?

> the thinker is encouraged to believe that its free will produced the
> action.


> But when the program acts in a manner repugnant to it,

to who?

> the conscious observer, refusing to give up the notion of free will,
> explains the lapse by rationalizations such as: God, luck, destiny,
> possession, halluciation etc.

As far as I understand, the program here acknowledge its ignorance.
If, by being too much proud, he doesn't, then he make higher some
catastrophe probabilities.

> So every consciousness, bearing burdensome memories of repugnant
> actions, must either surrender the possibility of free will
> (fatalism),

Wrongly, I would say.

> accept the intercession of supernatural powers (theology),

"it" could just accept it belongs to a collection of deep unknown
histories, and many other unknown things, some even not nameable (and
deadly if named). It can consolate itself by pointing on its *partial*

Note also that it is not really the program or the machine who thinks,
but the people "vehiculated" trough that machine computation
relatively to its most probable (and local) computational histories.

> or theorize an inaccessible part of itself that is able to override
> its purposes (Freud).

That is not entirely meaningless imo.

> All of which implies a schism between consciousness and one of the
> following: the program, the universe or itself.

Here I agree. Universal machine are born to experience such a schism.
We can come back on this. In its purer form it is a consequence of
incompleteness. All universal machine hides a mystery to themselves,
and more the machine learn, more that mystery is bigger. (This is
related to the gap between G and G*, for those who reminds previous

> I'd be interested to know to what extent my thinking about this
> question agrees with or goes against the present discussion.
> m
> .a.

I made a try. Interesting post. Tell me if you are ok with it. (I
believe in free will, but I would prefer to say simply just "will".
Free-will is a bit of an oxymoron).


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Received on Sat Nov 29 2008 - 15:49:31 PST

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