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Desc:Soon we will have no schizophrenics to play with... or free will.
Category:Science & Technology, Educational
Tags:schizophrenia, Parkinsons, optogenetics, impossible to use for evil
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Comment count is 22
Before a fustercluck starts, let me just say the free will thing was a joke and I am excited about this technology. There is no such thing as free will (shut up, fuck your religion), and this is a damned sight better than shoving chemicals in peoples' faces at random, or Victorian clown hammering brains with electricity.
The "No free will" thing is a religious construct, not an irreligious one.

You just keep telling yourself that, meanwhile, physics remains causal.

Tell Jesus and unicorns I said hi.

Oscar Wildcat
I would feel remiss if I did not point out that a great deal of modern physics is predicated on statistical mechanics. Hardly a clockwork orange, that.

100% of the observable universe is based on cause and effect due to the arrow of time and entropy. The model used to predict it is irrelevant. Acausality does not exist.

Oscar Wildcat
That was sort of the prevailing view in the early 20th century. Imagine their shock and dismay when the quantum mechanical effects they were beginning to experiment with required statistical mechanics to describe them! Einstein railed, "God does not play dice with the Universe!". But as it turned out, that bearded and be-penised desert nomad deity does indeed seem to do just that.

Grandmaster Funk
So "statistical mechanics" at the quantum level give us free will? Baloney. The brain functions responsible for experience take place on the biochemical and cellular levels, not the quantum level. And even if neuronal activity is heavily probabilistic, that says absolutely nothing about free will. To the contrary, it just introduces the possibility of more unpredictable interference between the executive control functions of the brain and the neuronal groups that would execute those instructions.

"Free will of the gaps" is no more interesting, useful, or comforting than "God of the gaps." Meanwhile we have actual neuroscience of emotion, decision-making, habit-formation, as well as behavioral disorders of all stripes and the simple observation that fewer than 100% of humans are perfectly satisfied with their own behavior patterns. These paint a very different picture that suggest our ability to actually impose our will on our behavior is an extremely difficult process helped along by indirection and tricks.

Besides, time only flows in one direction, and we have the illusion of free will, which is just as good. The real thing would be entirely superfluous.

Oscar Wildcat
The original claim was that free will was impossible because the universe was entirely deterministic. I countered with the observation that, experimentally, it is not. Parts of the functioning of the universe can ONLY be desribed using statistics. Pretty big parts, as it turns out.

Also, you both keep bringing up the arrow of time as if it backs up your claims. Yet time is defined by entropy, a statistical process. In a deteministic universe, time is entirely symmetrical. In a probabilistic one, time has a preferred direction.

Maybe what is required is a development of the concept of free will rather than just discarding it as you seem to want to. I suggest we start with the above observations, and the result of free will, and try to connect the two things.

Here, I'll even take a crack at it before I go off and sand kitchen cabinets ( oh sunday! )

claim : free will arises from the mixture of a deterministic system and a statistical one.

That's some EvilHomer levels of word salad, Oscar. The question of free will is a well worn discipline of inquiry. Physics is predictable, otherwise, miracles would happen and technology would be impossible. A free choice being discernible as free choice as opposed to one which is an effect of a causality existing before the choice is not observed. Hell, if time ran backwards it would still look like one thing preceded the other in a kind of causality. The flower pot would have to be broken on the ground before it would ever be able to fly up onto a shelf and be made whole again.

You can take a block of neutrons and have to use statistical mechanics to determine how many of them will decay after ten minutes, but none of them will ever decay into something other than protons, electrons, and neutrinos, and none of them will decay like neutrons without being neutrons first. This doesn't even touch the lofty metaphysics required to explain the concept of a sentient choice required for free will, to choose without pre-existing influence of causality. Considering humans cannot exist without the universe, and the universe was a priori to all humanity, it's blatantly obvious that our actions and existence is causal by something that came before us. Only God, and only the first time God did anything at all, might have a shot at free will. None of his creations would, even then, the causality would start with the only free choice, and only once. I am impressed, however, that you didn't pull out Heisenberg's uncertainty principle to argue for it like some hack metaphysicians have.

Also, before anyone says it, random action isn't free will.

>claim : free will arises from the mixture of a deterministic system and a statistical one.

This claim cannot be tested in the physical universe.

The argument that we should conserve biodiversity because "we don't know what species will be worth future harvesting" makes me a little uncomfortable.
Finally! An ethical cure for homosexuality!

I just hope that the UN will step in and regulate this technology, so that when our mind-control algae is finally capable of delivering targeted advertisements, only select retailers - Wal*Mart, McDonalds, and certified Disney subsidiaries - will be allowed to advertise in this way. Can you imagine the damage this technology could cause if Anarchists were to get their hands on it?!
Finally, a cure for autism for the rest of us.

Or a cure for non-autism.

Autistics are much better suited to life in the 21st-century than Normies; they acclimate much quicker to the Matrix, and have narrower, more focused areas of expertise (like human robots, perfect for finding niches in the post-industrial landscape). Normies, with their broad range of interests and difficult-to-control social outbursts, are good only for breeding and eating - and the breeding is largely a thing of the past, so where does that leave us?

Given that morality is relative and free will is an illusion, we would be remiss NOT to use our mind-control algae to turn neurotypical people into autistic uberchildren, with mental quirks perfectly tailored for the economic caste into which the state has assigned them.

infinite zest
Autism is such a vague term that I wish they'd reevaluate it because there there is so much of a spectrum. You've got some who are probably the people playing Kerbal or Minecraft who will probably go on to make rockets and can live independently, and others with- sad to say- the mind of a toddler for the rest of their lives and need to be taken care of by someone else and will violently attack you at random. You can say "high" or "low" but the stigma of the word is still a bit of a scarlet letter.

a couple years ago for Autism Awareness week/month/whatever there were banners flying all around town with a slogan that quoted some awareness organization claimed about 10% of people in the US were autistic.

So yeah, it has kind of become a meaninglessly broad category if that figure is even vaguely mainstream.

You guys are overthinking it. I was just imagining a box on EvilHomer's skull that would keep track of his word count, then fire the right chemicals into his brain to make him hit backspace until it reached a sane level.

Sanest Man Alive
Dammit, I read that as "Octogenetics" and thought some enterprising madman was trying to engineer land-dwelling super-cephalopods.
Rodents of Unusual Size
No, but if they are fooling around with plant genetics and proteins and such, maybe they can give us the ability to photosynthesize with our skin instead of getting cancer from it.

Or maybe give me the ability to fart maple syrup. Either way.

Rodents of Unusual Size
wait wait wait what was I thinking, the maple syrup should come out of my nose! Citric acid should shoot out of my butt. Now get going, science!

The jury's out on free will as it is.
Rodents of Unusual Size
I want to cure this whole dying thing. Bring on the resurrection ships!
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