This writing does not attempt to defend anarchism, libertarianism, or authoritarianism. Freedom is independent of, or may be spoken of independently in all three environments, if the authoritarianism is of the mild form found here in the California portion of these United States, then it is plainly true. We still have freedom of speech, for the most part (not completely, though We still have the FCC, and people can get into trouble for screaming things that are essentially negligent and put fellow human being’s lives in immediate danger. Causing unnecessary panic, is something that most humans understand and know how to avoid). People can of course take care of such outrageous outbursts by fining the person responsible. The theater owner, for example, has an implicit contract that you agree to whenever you enter his theater. By now, there should be no need to write it down. The “guest” or customer must agree to their side of the two-way agreement. All they need do is pay the agreed price, and behave themselves during the show or performance.

I am not going to even attempt to prove the existence of natural rights. I can tell you that I have a strong desire to live my life as my own. My brain wants to be the brain that tells the rest of my body what to do. I recognize that there are other similar entities called “my fellow human beings”, who roam around on the surface of this same, little rock, orbiting the sun. It certainly feels natural to me that at least some percentage of these other humans are truly sentient, freedom-loving individuals.

However, other individuals remind me that we are the 5th ape. They are the authoritarians, of which there are two basic types.

One: people who don’t know better, and can barely survive on the slice of pizza they just stole from a street vendor. I am speaking here, not of bully teenagers, but of some poor guy down on his luck, through a series of circumstances. Perhaps he was a farmer’s son, and they had no crops, because of 5 years of drought. You would want to offer him some water, if you saw him. Surely, charity can handle these extreme cases.

Two: People who should know better, but apparently need to be told anyway. They include common criminals, of the violent kind; and people who support authoritarian laws that violate other people’s individual liberty.

Limitations: My liberty to move around on this planet, make my arms, mouth, lungs, stomach, penis, legs, and other parts do, is limited by other person’s liberty to do the same. If somebody tells you to not touch them, in fact, the default is, don’t touch them.

Real estate property rights are not absolute. Property rights end at the point where a human’s life is in danger, and that human can increase her chance of survival with minor inconvenience to your real estate property. Suppose you have a water well, and someone really needs a drink. If all they do is get a drink, and they do not willfully contaminate your water, you have no right to stop them. All real estate was obtained initially through rather dubious means. Ownership of it is slightly random. You have a right to own it and use it, up to a limit of where your use of it interferes with the survival of another, within reasonable boundries, as agreed upon, by the immediate community within. The community may do nothing that infringes upon the individual who remains on public or unclaimed real estate. The killing of an individual, merely for the theft of a few personal items or electronic gadgets is an example of a violation of individual liberty. You have a right to capture them, hit them, or do whatever is necessary to get your property back – short of killing them or using excessive force.

All trades have come with an implicit contract. What I tell you this object is, or what it does, it is. Obviously, it is a good idea to put your statement in writing, post it, or hand it out to everyone. If it is a common, standard item, such as a currency, then the contract is already stated on the note or implied in such a way that is well understood by all who participate. “Food that looks good, and the seller accepts your currency, then you will not get food poisoning resulting directly from the consumption of the food, if properly prepared, in a manner that is acceptable by the community.”- could be a local standard, to avoid putting everything in writing. You can eat a raw egg, if you like, but don’t complain, if you get sick. Your coverage would then become between your and your insurance company. Your freedom to consume whatever food or herb you like would not be diminished.

There is no place for a DEA agent in a free society.

There is no place for laws against prostitution, drugs, or gambling, in a free society.

In a free society, people may behave as free traders without fear of arrest or outside interference. It is already implied that no fraud is to be tolerated. No additional regulations are needed when two adults are doing the trading. We no longer have a need for big brother to google that for us. I can read about the products that I am considering to purchase on my own. Plenty of Consumer Reports-like web sites are available for me to choose from. If I so desire, I can pay for others to do the research. That is what Consumer Reports is for.

In a free society, banks and other failed businesses don’t get bailed out. Other businesses buy up the remains, and life goes on. It’s all pretty seamless for the consumer, except a few will luck out and won’t have to make any additional mortgage payments.

In a free society, individuals ultimately decide what to do with their own lives, their own liberty, and their own pursuit of happiness.

There can never be a military draft, in a free society. This amounts to involuntary servitude (or slavery), only it is much worse than slavery. The individual is forced to kill or be killed, in the service of a mob of people, calling themselves either a Republic or a democratic society.

The stated purpose of the establishment of the US federal government was to defend individual liberty, not to destroy it. Yet, time-after-time, the authoritarians raise up their evil, collective head, while wrapped in a bloody flag, and carrying a bloody cross. They symbolically eat flesh and drink blood. They are dangerous. They teach that rational thought is a sin, as their favorite forms of cult activities and faith-based thinking directly and quite deliberately interferes with rational, scientific thinking.

A free society cannot have a basis in a primitive belief structure that was invented before modern concepts of liberty, science, art, music, architecture, beauty, civilization, or morality.

We are limited by our nature and the laws of physics only. Artificial limits that go beyond absolute necessity are not needed. Laws that infringe on our liberty violate our nature. Sometimes the alpha makes, in a group of apes (and we are the 5th ape) has an authoritarian nature. Human beings should be able to rise above their flawed nature, in this one case. Natural leaders will be followed in natural, voluntary ways. If I am sick, I know enough to see a doctor. If I fail in my life, I know enough to ask for help. If I become wealthy, I know enough to share with my family, friends, and those in need. I am free enough and lucky enough to have been able to learn these things.

Many people need help with many different things, from research, to helping the poor, and so forth. It is up to everybody to give what they can and help out in the best way that they know how. It is not up to a mob of people to misuse the government, designed to defend individual liberty, to force others to give to others in ways that THEY feel is best. One can convince others that it is their duty to help, and these people are well within their rights to refuse service to purely selfish people, if they want. Would it not be better to simply take N% of your earnings, and apply those funds to your favorite charities instead? That way, hundreds or thousands will donate to your cause, much like a government tax would do for followers of the late Ted Kennedy, or the Tea party.

Your favorite charity does not have to occupy other countries as a side-effect. It probably could not if it’s members wanted to. Your charity might turn out to misuse funds, but they are not likely a terrorist organization, unless you are.

iPhone app, from Starbucks on Hawthorne and PCH.

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Version: 1.5

Author: David Saxton Ullery

Suppose that, after thorough analysis of the human brain, free will for us is really proven to be an illusion with emergent properties closely associated with consciousness and human intelligence. Some time later, we take this knowledge to build a sophisticated, powerful artificial brain machine with scores of billions of high-speed neurons and possibly trillions of self-modifying synaptic-like connections,  which eventually designs an even more sophisticated machine on its own. This new machine calculates how to create free will and so it documents a detailed design of a practical free will machine for us.  Should we go ahead and build the free will machine – or more realistically, should we have the machine(s) build it for us?

Suppose the newly built free will machine could be integrated into our brains such that we would have artificial free will. A logging is recorded every time a true free choice is made that is different than the illusory free choice that we would  have otherwise made. If the machine has complete knowledge of all of its human host’s needs and wants, it seems possible that it would always decide exactly what we would have decided anyway – it would always do precisely what we “want”. A trillion-dollar do-nothing machine! On the other hand, it might occasionally or frequently select a different choice which may very much anger or disturb the host who ironically feels like he is no longer in control. The host may begin to feel like a slave.  The host would want one thing, and his machine would override, resulting in a different decision being made.

If free will is not ruled out, then it is possible that we do not possess it in our own brains, but that it is physically possible to construct a device that would enable it. One of its parts may consist of a type of time machine capable of passing information, in the form of quantum bits, backwards in time through an artificial wormhole. The possible future choice outcome could be analyzed and weighted against the current state. The new future choice could then be taken. The process would recursively repeat until a final decision is made. Effectively we really do go back and change our choice at time “t” (potentially several times). This would satisfy the requirement for free will, since the machine allows for us to make a different choice given the same previous causes.  Not only could we make a different choice, but we would occasionally make a different choice for the exact same event, at the exact same time, for the exact same set of circumstances.

Logically speaking, we already have such a devise… to a degree. We can take our past, learned experiences, combined with logical future outcomes, think about logical outcomes until we come up with a final decision that we act upon. We never actually act upon any but one of the “what if” scenarios, but we can often logically deduce the outcome (if I eat the cake, it will taste great, but I will gain weight; if I jump off the cliff without a hang glider, I will likely die; …). At time “t”, we actually make our choice.  We end up doing what at least a part of our self “wants”, based on a set of resources within our brain. If we are good at predicting outcomes, then we will often make exactly the same choice that we would have, in the science fiction scenario given above.

With the possession of the time machine, we could actually taste or eat an entire piece of chocolate cake and decide that it is well worth it, and finally decide to actually eat the cake as our final choice.  Without the time machine, we may decide to eat the cake, based on the knowledge that the last cake made by the same chef, was really delicious and decide on eating the cake.  We must assume here that the time machine owner may not have her cake and eat it too.  The owner will forget that she tried the cake once the final decision is made.  Otherwise, the owner may conclude that she can both eat the cake and finally not eat the cake, thus gaining the pleasure of the cake eating, and not suffering from the extra fat added on to her body as a result. The machine would work as if it processed future events in its owner’s subconscious – whether it actually did or not – not unlike a medicine that induces short-term amnesia on a patient.

Even the time machine version is deterministic, because the future qubits are still part of the cause of the agent’s final choice, in an automated way. However, that may only be one of the components.  It may be completely deterministic, yet satisfy all of the requirements for free will.  This deterministic machine allows the agent to change her mind and make a different choice.

Now suppose this same free will machine is kept outside of your brain or is rewired such that your illusionary “free will” referenced the free will machine only when called upon.  Perhaps you decide to use it every time you go to play roulette or buy stock.  That machine would no longer be a free will machine – it would be used to figure out what to bet on at the casino or what stock to choose. You would surely end up following the money trail in each and every case.  Even if not used strictly for money, it would no longer effectively be a free will machine, but just another weight to be used by your deterministic decision making resources – your non-free choice.

It seems an agent could have real free will yet perceive it as slavery since his choices would not always behave in ways he “wants”; have the illusion of free will yet perceive it as real, and prefer the latter. Another possibility is that there is no difference between the two. Then, we have yet another possibility that would have free will, but still be determined in an odd sort of way.  Finally, we have the illusion of free will calling upon a free will machine and end up rendering it useless as a free will machine, yet getting wealthy from it as a time machine.

As long as you can do whatever you “want”, why would want the ability to freely “will” a choice?  Since you do not posses a time machine, your best bet is to carefully consider all available options, and choose the one you “want” – hopefully the one that has the most promising outcome. Having free will implies that you may choose something other from that which you “want”.  What you “want” is based on a process of weighted variables created by competing resources within the brain. The choice or determined decision is not always rational or the best option for your future well being, but it is what you “want” at the time. What you should strive for is to learn how to always “want” what is best for you in the long run.  This “want” is determined by a combination of your genetic makeup, and your past experiences.

Most of what you want is determined by subconscious processes that the conscious parts of you never have the privilege of seeing.  Many decisions you make happen too quickly – there is no time conscious part of you to rationalize or think about the choice to make. If you are threatened by a predator, your “fight or flight” instincts kick in.  If you stopped to ponder the outcome and reflect on all possible options, you will likely be eaten.  For decisions that do allow time for thought, for example: “Should we go on vacation next month or not?”, eventually require action or movement in your body parts to make reservations, pick up car keys, drive the car, call a cab or whatever you decide.   Eventually, in your brain, an action potential must cause a chain of neurons to fire in the motor cortex portion your brain, triggering a signal to move down your spine, causing your hand(s), arm(s), and/or legs to move – all of which you have no conscious knowledge or direct control.

Repeatable tests continue to show that this action potential occurs well before you consciously decide that you “want” to do something (see here –  for a start, then here…feel free to search these and other tests).  The thought that initially came to you – the pondering of vacation – initially came into your conscious mind as a result of previous causes in your unconscious resources. Undoubtedly, the fact that the process became conscious has some effect on the overall causal chain, but it is not purposely causal – it is just another set of inputs – or rather it tends to strengthen the already existing variables having to do with the thought processes revolving around the concept of vacationing – a process already set in motion.

It seems that people who are both very happy most of the time, and successful most of the time, within the standards coming from within their own minds, from their family and from their peers; make choices that would most often match up with the choices they would make if they actually did posses the time machine-based free will machine.  The same would hold true for those who do what they want, based on hedonistic, short-term gain, as long as they are good at predicting short-term outcome.  Any person with good predicting abilities will make the same choices most of the time, within the framework of their personality and their personal philosophy of life.  In cases where the free will machine works better than our own choices, it will only be because it is a better predictor, or at least has the potential for being a better predictor, if we assume that the future “trials” do not change the past, present or future.

In the end, possessing a better predictor mechanism, or possessing a mechanism that adds additional weight to any well-informed rational resources within our brains would seem more desirable than possessing true free will.  Having true free will, with no benefit of a decent outcome predictor would tend to cause negative outcomes.  Having a decent outcome predictor does not require free will to take advantage of it – better to leave those processes in the hands of the unconscious resources deep inside a brain that took tens or hundreds of millions of years to evolve to do what it already does very well on its own. Free will, if possible would be a negative mutation unless it is of the time-machine kind – which is oddly deterministic and a very excellent outcome predictor.  However, do you really want to know the outcome of everything you do?  You may likely end up perfectly unhappy and never satisfied with no surprises.

Suppose you had a machine that could be implanted in your brain that would stimulate the pleasure zones in your brain every time you think of it or want it…. oops wrong topic…or is it?

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Enjoy more discussions on Free Will at the following forum:

Free Will II

Another post related to Free will:

Patterns, Design, and Physical Laws

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Try parallel processing…

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A computer program will behave in exactly the same way at any time on any computer, given the same initial state. A software program is an example of a “pattern”. The program may be copied. Two copies of the program will behave exactly the same way on two different computers even though the two computers, on which the program copies run, are made up of completely different atoms from one another.

Because the computer program is a pattern, it could be translated into an entirely different programming language and run on an entirely new type of computer. The computers are patterns as well. The pattern called “computer” and the pattern called “program” have a degree of independence from the stuff of which they are made. At the physical level, the atoms, and electrons, and the energy states are absolutely 100% different on both machines and both “copies” of the “same” program, yet the programs behave in exactly the same way on the “design” level!

Ultimately, the computer and the program that runs on it are subject to the pre-determined laws at the physical level, but the patterns at the design level are subject to a much stronger force – that imposed by the pattern itself. Even though the atoms, the initial state and everything about the two computers and the two programs can be absolutely 100% different in space, time, behavior, initial state, molecular structure, elements, and on and on…, the pattern manages to “overrule” the pre-determined physical state that the computer and the program will be in at the start and the end of the running at end of the program. We are not even concerned over the “physical” state of the pattern, only the “design” state of the pattern.

Patterns are at least somewhat independent of the stuff of which they are made. A boat is a pattern. If it has several parts replaced on it, as the parts wear out, it is still recognized as the same boat. A person is a pattern with atoms and cells that are constantly changing.

Similar to the program pattern, identical twins are born with identical copies of a DNA pattern, but each copy is obviously made up of separate molecules. The twins rapidly form separate identities because their initial conditions and environments are different at both the physical and the pattern level.

Unlike boats; DNA, people, computers, and Turing machines all are patterns that contain a type of memory and take input from the outside environment in the world in which they exist. DNA and people are different from computers and Turing machines, somewhat due to their relative complexity, but largely because their overall behavior are subject to both physical changes and pattern states. Physical objects, independent of the person or the DNA may change their respective pattern behavior in unpredictable ways, but they can adapt to the changes within limits. Unless pre-programmed in advance, to accept inputs, for example, an ordinary software program will ignore external events. A computer will simply stop functioning if its parts wear out.

Although, ultimately “it is all physical”, the white blood cell reacts to the germ that it “detects” in the blood stream, because it is “programmed” by the DNA to seek and destroy germs, not merely clumps of amino acids, but the special pattern we may call a “germ”.

DNA mutates in a random way due to being struck by various particles. These mutations are the physical mechanisms by which Evolution occurs. Mother Nature would not get very far by merely following low-level physical laws. Random change must be augmented by a Design mechanism – the Pattern of Natural Selection which is used to select the most “useful” designs for replication, and to eliminate the “bad” designs. Natural Selection is a very slow process, because it is so closely linked to the natural physical level. That is why relatively simplistic life forms do not have many degrees of freedom. However, as the patterns (life forms), become more and more complex, with patterns layering upon other layers of patterns, they gain more and more freedom from their physical makeup. Each pattern layer is subject to the new laws of the pattern “designs” of the layers “below” allowing a slightly higher degree of freedom from the underlying physical layer.

The computer program “if” statement “reacts” to the value (pattern, design) of “true” or “false”, and does not give one hoot about the makeup of the computer or how the “true” or “false” is ultimately represented at the physical level. An “if” statement embedded inside a computer program follows rules that are designed into the programming language. The computer program may be of the sort, such as the Java programming language, that is interpreted by a virtual machine – yet another program. The virtual machine is said to run “on top of” the computer operating system. Eventually, these multiple layers of programs (patterns) get converted into the machine language that the Central Processing Unit (CPU) “understands”. The CPU, in turn, is made up of patterns of circuits. The circuits are made up of a complex pattern of logical “AND”, “NOR” and “NOT” gates, and are manufactured out of silicon and various other elements, consisting of atoms, and powered by electricity.

Each layer outlined above, from the bottom physical layers, to the top software layers, have room for multiple design or pattern variations in their makeup. As long as each pattern layer is designed in such a way as to produce the same outputs and accept the same inputs that are “expected” by the layers immediately above and below it, the design variations will not affect the state of the program of interest at the top layer. In general, the higher the level in the pattern layers, the higher the degrees of freedom one has in the design of that level. The original program could be written in several different ways, and still express identical results to the original.

A child playing catch with a friend (obviously consisting of many more complex layers than a computer program) may decide to move out of the way of the ball rapidly flying towards his face, because the ball is going to smack him in the face and it will hurt. The physical state of the ball is of no immediate interest. It could be any baseball at any time in any space – it is the “ball” and “face” and “pain” patterns that are the important pieces of information stored somewhere in the child’s brain. It could be any child playing with any friend. It is not inevitable that the child will be hit by the ball or that child will avoid the ball.

The child’s conscious level is built upon countless pattern-based “design” layers which allows for a degree of freedom allowing for the avoidance of the “inevitability” of being struck by the ball. The child’s conscious mind is much more influenced both by the patterns it is processing, and the patterns doing the processing, than by the physical stuff that the child’s brain is made of.

Ultimately, the physical structures of the atoms involved do matter. The physical laws do determine the direction, speed, and force of impact of the ball. The brain is physically made out of atoms, but the baseball player does not care or think about those things. The player is considering the patterns (and avoiding pain).

As Daniel Dennet aptly pointed out (Freedom EvolvesViking Penguin, 2003), Free Will and Determinism are not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts. Indeed, an agent “pattern”, with a memory and feedback from the external world can make predictions better in a fully deterministic universe than it could in a non-deterministic universe. Calculation can be made by that agent, to avoid dangers, seek energy sources, improve its local environment, self-replicate, communicate (via yet another set of patterns following rules) with other similarly-patterned agents, and so on.

Above, I mentioned that “patterns at the design level are subject to a much stronger force – that imposed by the pattern itself”. “A much stronger influence” is a more accurate phrase. Weaker forces seem to have stronger influences at macroscopic levels than do the strong forces.

At the sub-atomic level, we see that there seems to be a non-deterministic quantum state “ruling” this “lowest level of all worlds” world – the center of the onion. However, it is masked by a more deterministic, atomic-level “pattern” one, or just a few levels above it.

The Neutrons and Protons consist of sets of 3 quarks each, held by the strong nuclear force. A residual force holds the nucleus together. The weak nuclear force works at a larger distance but is obviously weaker. The Electro-magnetic force controls electrons, with the residual binging atoms to create molecules.

Already, at these lower pattern levels, determinism seems to overcome the quantum effect. The larger the pattern, the more reliable and useful they become. For example, on my way to work, I do not have to hunt for the local Starbucks, where I get my coffee for my long trek to work in the morning. It is a sure bet that I will drive past two or three withing the first 20 minutes of my commute.

Gravity is a force that is so weak, that scientist are just now getting the point where it can be measured at distances down to the millimeter. I have heard that gravity is 5-10 orders of magnitude weaker than the electro-magnetic force, yet it has a dominant influence over ordinary matter! As I sit here at my computer desk, I can very much feel gravity holding me down on my chair. The patterns of solar systems and galaxies are not “interested” in the stronger forces. Still larger patterns are dominated by Dark Energy (from the vacuum of space?) Is this because the entire Universe is the largest and greatest pattern?

=========== New Stuff to Consider ===========

Enjoy more discussions on Free Will at the following forum:

Free Will II

Another post on Free will:

The Free Will Machine

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References: Freedom Evolves (Viking Penguin, 2003), Daniel C. Dennet

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