Re: "Free Will Theorem"

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 09:58:03 +1000

On Tue, Apr 12, 2005 at 06:03:57PM -0400, John M wrote:
> Please find my remarks interspaced below.

As are mine...

> John M
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Russell Standish" <>
> To: "Stathis Papaioannou" <>
> Cc: <>; <>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2005 2:11 AM
> Subject: Re: "Free Will Theorem"
> Russell wrote in his attachment-style post:
> ------------------------
> [RS]:
> Since we live in a quantum mechanical world, randomness is inherently
> quantum mechanical. Chaos, as a classical mechanism will amplify
> quantum randomness.
> [JM]:
> Rather: "we call the world we live in a QM-al one, because based on the
> limited information humanity gathered over the past 2-3 millennia a QM was
> derived and adjusted with our limited view of the world", so the statement
> should fit. Earlier such statements did expire and we have no proof that
> future enrichment of the epistemic cognitive inventory we get will not
> change the QM-based worldview as it did the Flat earth earlier.

Actually the argument doesn't depend on the exact details of QM. Bruno
Marchal gives a very persuasive argument based on the difference
between 1st and 3rd person experience (Tegmarks Frog and Bird picture)
as to why any observer will exist in a indeterminate world regardless
of how deterministic the 3rd person world is.

I use quantum mechanics because it is the current best theory of
reality, but really the argument is far stronger than that.

> [RS]:
> However, from the point of view of extracting sufficient randomness to
> fool opponents in an evolutionary setting, classical chaos is good
> enough. No agent will have the computational power of Laplace's daemon
> [JM]:
> poor daemon still could only compute known facts. Future discoveries are
> hard to include into ongoing computations - however Ms Daemon may have
> deeper insight than our cognitive inventory (knowledge-base)
> of today.

The daemon computes the future - not just predicts or guesses, but
computes it exactly. Of course the daemon doesn't understand higher
level emergent concepts, but that's another story.

> [RS]:
> I'm dealing with these questions in an artificial life system - Tierra
> to be precise. I have compared the original Tierra code, with one in
> which the random no. generator is replaced with a true random
> no. generator called HAVEGE, and another simulation in which the RNG
> is replaced with a cryptographically secure RNG called ISAAC. The
> results to date (and this _is_ work in progress) is that there is a
> distinct difference between the original Tierra PRNG, and the other
> two generators, but that there is little difference between HAVEGE and
> ISAAC. This seems to indicate that algorithmic randomness can be good
> enough to fool learning algorithms.
> [JM]:
> I am sure you do a decent job. Tierra, however, does not include facts
> that will be discovered (observed?) centuries from now. So the system
> is based on a limited model of today's (yesterday's?) modeling. It may
> give valuable answers to situations we face now, but your remark about
> applying the unknowable (RNGs) does not secure the outcome to match
> the future ways we may find later on.
> Of course this is the way to do research, science and the (limited model
> based) results are treasures for the further work. Our entire technology has
> been developed this way.

Of course, Tierra is not a model, it is a computational system that
can be studied in its own right. Of course the question I'm studying
is under what conditions can a computational system be creative. If
the answer is "none", then we will probably never know it, and the
search will be futile. But if we were forced to this posiition, then
the consequences for our world view would be profound.

On the other hand, if we succeed, we will have a far better
understanding of creativity, plus probably have a powerful new
technology to boot.

> John Mikes
> (PS: you assure us that the 'attachment format' you apply is harmless.
> I agree, but to read it one has to open the attachment, then open the text
> (4 clicks) and it appears on a different screen from the one a reply can be
> written.
> Several members give us the convenience of reading their posts on the page
> where the list is answerable.
> JM, just an old grouch.)

The "attachment" is a bog-standard RFC2015 signature. You can read the
RFC at if you want to
know the technical reason why the message body needs to be in an

The problem is that certain popular email clients (eg MS Outlook) are
simply not standards compliant. This is not *my problem*. It is the
problem for the users of that software. the RFC dates from 1996, so its
not as though the email software hasn't had enough time to implement
the standard.

I need to sign my emails for work and other reasons, however I can
explicitly remove certain email addresses from being signed
altogether. I have added all my subscribed email lists to these
exceptions (as I don't really care if someone forges my identity on
those lists), but direct emails from me to you will still be signed.


*PS: A number of people ask me about the attachment to my email, which
is of type "application/pgp-signature". Don't worry, it is not a
virus. It is an electronic signature, that may be used to verify this
email came from me if you have PGP or GPG installed. Otherwise, you
may safely ignore this attachment.
A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 8308 3119 (mobile)
Mathematics                         	       0425 253119 (")
UNSW SYDNEY 2052                      
            International prefix  +612, Interstate prefix 02

Received on Wed Apr 13 2005 - 19:21:43 PDT

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