Without randomness we would have no intelligent artificial agents. It's like intelligence can only happen at the demarcation line between chaos and order.
I doubt most NN's are trained using true randomness. Most likely a fairly simple deterministic generator works just fine.
This totally reminded me of the Chuck Palahniuk quote from Fight Club: “You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
This article covered a lot of ground, I quite enjoyed it. It made me think there’s a big irony, or maybe it’s a paradox.
We need the existence of true randomness in physics in order to allow for free will. And yet willfulness is the exact opposite of randomness.
Guess I have some reading to do.
On the other hand, having randomness opens up the possibility to act in ways that are not completely predictable and that's where the potential for freedom of the will comes in. But randomness alone isn't enough for free will, for the reason you allude to (that one might be "forced" to follow some sort of cosmic "dice roll", as unpredictable as it might be). It just seems to be one pre-requisite, in a certain way of viewing the problem.
It certainly feels to me that I have free will, but the older I get, the less sure I am that I actually do. Consequently, I have no idea how I came to write this post.
On re-reading the thread, I am not sure what point syyrim was making. The ultimate unpredictability of the universe doesn't seem to settle any issue with regard to free will. Free will is not a claim that we cannot predict what we will do; it is a claim that we can make a choice (within some constraints) about what we will do.
For some reason it had to be pointed out to me (awhile back) that being ruled by the rigorous iron fist of science's "yes technically non-deterministic but totally statistically modelable" quantum dice rolls isn't necessarily much better, if any, than being ruled by the rigorous iron fist of deterministic cause and effect.
Ruled by chance or by force of sheer causality alone - at this point, I feel that any useful definition of "free will" probably equally applies (or doesn't) to both scenarios, and won't hinge on quantum unpredictability.
This is a good point, and relates directly to the paradox I see.
It's not that randomness is required for free will, or even desired, it's that all other known processes are deterministic. It's an age-old discussion that if the state of the universe and all the particles in it at any given moment is determined entirely by physical laws like conservation of energy, then, it is theorized, free will cannot exist because the future state of the universe can be predicted.
We may have the appearance of free will, but if our thoughts emerge from predictable phenomena, then autonomy and consciousness as we know it can only be a facade.
Quantum randomness is the only process we know of that can't be predicted by a sufficiently powerful simulation. Therefore, quantum randomness is what some people rely on to posit the existence of free will, only because it's the only thing left by process of elimination.
Your point is similar to my question, namely that even if there is randomness, we still have a problem. What's willful about an unpredictably chance event?
Maybe when we think about free will we actually refer to cooperation-betrayal strategies between people (prisoner's dilemma) which are essential in the functioning of societies. We want to see ourselves as free to choose our strategy in response to other agent's actions. "If they betray me, I have the choice between cooperation and retaliation" - that's what we feel as free will that counts.
The idea that there something non-deterministic give some hope that though it “look random” there actually order being directed by “something” there. Essentially if you’re a mind-body dualist, this is the point where mind meets body (would be my understanding).
The mind was created by self replication and competition over multiple generations (evolution). Self replication requires ability to adapt to environment, to collect energy and materials, to protect from predators. This was the playground where minds evolved. We're using similar techniques in AlphaGo, for example, where a sequence of players are pitted against each other.
Randomness is essential for exploration, which is a step without which we couldn't be intelligent. In reinforcement learning, the so called epsilon-greedy strategy of exploration says to select a random action with probability epsilon. It is a simple strategy that leads to intelligence. Of course, humans have smarter exploration strategies which nonetheless rely on randomness.
The only thing free will has going for it is the unmistakable, unshakeable feeling that I really have it.
My instinct says that if you run the same random number generator in the same hardware with the same Unix timestamp and same inputs wouldn't the outputs be the same?
People sell hardware random number generators that are based on Geiger counters, since radiation is (as far as we know) truly random.
But, fwiw, this isn’t “truly” random in the quantum sense. It’s only difficult to predict as far as anyone knows, but is still built on deterministic processes. Radiation, on the other hand, is (as far as anyone knows) physically “truly” non-deterministic.
If you could somehow pause the universe, create an exact duplicate, then press "play" on both at the same time, would they remain in sync? Would their futures be the same?
If so, it implies that any randomness we think exists is actually deterministic but too difficult for us to currently understand.
If they diverge then randomness or free will do exist. But this doesn't explain what mechanism makes it possible.
True randomness is like believing in god if your life is good or praying to a god if your life is bad.