# Re: Do prime numbers have free will?

From: Dominic Tarr <dominic.tarr.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2006 20:04:33 +1200

> ...Karl Popper did make an attempt to explain
> free-will in term of "self-diagonalization" indeed. The basic and
> simple idea is that IF I can totally predict myself, then I have the
> opportunity to refute such a prediction. This is why in a trial your
> lawyer cannot invoke determinacy (like my client has made a murder, but
> really he was just obeying to the physical laws), because if such a
> determination can make sense then the "client" could have use in some
> responsible way to escape its murderer fate still without violating the
> physical laws. I don't pretend there is any rigor here.
> "Free from what?": Free from what you can determine. The one who can
> determine that heavy bodies fall, will soon or later be able to fly.

I was just about to make a post to this effect, and then when i read
down to the end i found it.

but so how could primes be said to have free will? primes are complex
in the sense that they can not be predicted except by performing the
calculation they literally represent faster than some algorithm which
you are trying to beat.

likewise, one could surely calculate the outcome of a coin flip with a
sufficiently large and accurate number of measurements and fast
calculations, or even a human being, if you could accurately model
them and a sufficient amount of their local environment. there is no
shortcut to computing these things, you just have do all the hard work
quickly to make a prediction, so they are all complex, if not free.

however, as a person's local environment might plausibly contain a
computer which modeled their local environment and predicted their
behaviour. so the model would actually have to model itself, now
having to recalculate what the subject will do after every calculation
would take so long the subject would have already done something and
the model wouldn't be making a prediction any more!

this looks like a different order of magnitude of unpredictability to
what primes and coins have, because of the potential self-referential
step.

perhaps the key is that primes and coins do not have a will, thus
remain indifferent to being predicted. so you might say they are
"free", but you could not say they had "freewill".

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Received on Thu Apr 06 2006 - 04:05:46 PDT

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