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← You do not choose what you choose

kriton's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by kriton

In my opinion, the best description of the brain would be that it is a "probabilistic signal processor". When we do and think things, there was a certain probability that we would do so, but often other things were also possible, with a certain probability.

There was a certain probability that i would write something here, but also a probability that I would have skipped it and went for a walk instead. If i write here that I'll go for a walk after writing the message, it will increase the likelihood of me doing so. But I might still play a game instead. And simply writing about that possibility probably affected the probability of doing that, since it activated certain patterns. And so on.

I think it's quite possible that some genuine uncertainty at the quantum level can be preserved on the mental level. Some processes in the brain may be like a pencil balancing on its point, a small perturbation may make it fall in one direction or another.

A computer would then be a "deterministic signal processor". Or at least, it would be designed to be. Errors do happen, and that's why we have things like ECC memory.

So the brain of a criminal would be one that's more likely to activate patterns that lead to crime. But there is always a certain probability that it will not do so, and that probability will be affected by lots of things.

I feel that when I see things from this perspective, all that talk about choice, freedom and will seems kind of unnecessary. There was a possibility that Sam would have written "elephant" instead of "rabbit", and other words were also possible. As it happened to turn out, "rabbit" won the lottery, and for reasons not known to us it likely had a larger chance than many other words. But there is not much more to it.

Sun, 12 Jun 2011 14:30:24 UTC | #637573