Free will and Tell Culture

(We'll meet at the Imperial Pub again as I couldn't book World's Biggest Bookstore. Next week (27th Feb, Thursday), we'll go there).

This week, lets do topics on both instrumental and epistemic rationality. 

"Tell culture" seems like a simple and useful article for instrumental rationality. http://lesswrong.com/lw/jis/tell_culture/

Let's return to "Free Will" for the epistemic part: http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Free_will. 

We've discussed Free Will in the past, but I don't consider it settled completely until I am able to dissolve the problem for another person, which usually involves reducing free will to an illusion. This time, however, I'm dealing with the opposite issue - if someone is convinced that there is no free will, and I think most of us are, but cannot identify with the illusion of free will (read LW posts), how can we explain our illusory feeling to that person? 

For added fun, consider which parts of a super powerful AI-like computer come closest to computing a free will-like illusion. 

Another good article with a computational complexity/quantum theory flavour to free will in a lecture by Scott Aaronson at U of Waterloo: http://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/lec18.html

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  • Lynda

    Sorry I can't come for a long while yet, I have to really watch my money, and coming from Mississauga, it costs me too much at this present time to attend for at least the next six months or so. I miss the talks we have.

    February 18, 2014

    • Steve D.

      Hi Lynda - we miss you too! Hope to see you again when things look up financially.

      1 · February 22, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry as well, a friend came earlier than expected to visit.

    February 20, 2014

  • Yuliya

    My apologies, I was skiing in Collingwood, thinking I could make it on time. Didn't get back in town till 7pm. It was too late to cancel or show up. So sorry to have missed it!

    February 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    More people RSVPd than showed up

    February 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Somehow I misperceived time by an hour!
    I will be late. My apologies, but I will be there.

    February 19, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Another quote is germane:
    "[P]eople think they have control over what they believe, as if the experience of being convinced by evidence and argument were voluntary. Perhaps such people also believe that they have decided to obey the law of gravity rather than fly around at their pleasure—but I doubt it. An illusion about mental freedom seems to be very widespread. My argument is that such freedom is incompatible with any form of causation (deterministic or otherwise)—which, as you know, is not a novel view. But I also argue that it is incompatible with the actual character of our subjective experience. That is why I say that the illusion of free will is itself an illusion—which is another way of saying that if one really pays attention (and this is difficult), the illusion of free will disappears."
    -Sam Harris
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-marionettes-lament

    1 · February 17, 2014

    • Saran N.

      "That is why I say that the illusion of free will is itself an illusion—which is another way of saying that if one really pays attention (and this is difficult), the illusion of free will disappears." - I disagree that they both are equivalent. When I pay attention, some of my thoughts refocus on other thoughts eliminating the illusion but when I don't consciously think about the illusion, it exists. In my head it exists as "higher-order"­ thoughts controlling "lower-order" ones such as "don't eat that" or "do more math" effectively giving some of my nerve firings agency over others. And since I usually associate "I" with only a subset of my thoughts, the free will illusion exists inasmuch as consciousness exists.

      February 19, 2014

  • Lynda

    Sam Harris rocks and is awesome!

    February 18, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Interesting, I'm updating to agreeing with you.

    February 18, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hey all!

    Since it seems that the "free will" component of this discussion was in large part spurred on by my uncommon perspective on the matter, I thought I should chime in and offer some relevant resources before the meetup so everyone can be a little more prepared.

    Basically, the person who best articulates my view on free will is Sam Harris. Watching three minutes from where this video starts (from 13m21s to 16m21s) should give the gist of my position on the topic:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq_tG5UJMs0&t=13m21s

    February 17, 2014

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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