söndag 15 maj 2011

Free Will and Finite Precision Computation 1

In recent books I have shown that the concept of finite precision computation, in reality in analog form and in simulation of reality in digital form, can be used to give rational deterministic (mathematical) explanations of the following phenomena:
  • direction of time
  • 2nd law of thermodynamics
  • blackbody radiation,
which have evaded explanations using both classical deterministic exact mathematics and classical statistical physics. Finite precision computation opens classical exact determinism to some imprecision or indeterminism, without going all the way to the full indeterminism of statistical physics, and thus avoids the impossibility of both extreme determinsim and extreme indeterminsim.

In finite precision computation, little things may be decided by throwing a dice, corresponding to chopping a decimal expansion into a finite number of digits, while big things still may be fully deterministic.

The concept can be described as one of the following options for using dice throw to decide what to do:
  • Full Determinism: Calculate everything exactly. Never throw a dice.
  • Full Indeterminsim: Calculate nothing. Always throw a dice.
  • Finite Precision: Calculate the big. Throw a dice to decide the small.
Full Indeterminism is represented by the cult novel The Dice Man by George Cockcroft about the psychiatrist Luke Rhinehart, who decides to let the dice decide everything with catastrophical results from using it to decide big things like getting divorced or not.

Full Determinsim is represented by the fatalism of Richard Taylor exhibited by the cult author David Foster Wallace, who took his own life on Sept 12 2008, maybe after asking the dice to decide to pull the trigger or not.

Wallace wrote a college thesis on Taylor's fatalism with title Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay of Free Will, republished in 2010 by Columbia State University.

Can Finite Precision Computation be used to shed some light on the eternal philosophical problem Free Will? I will address this question in a sequence of posts, while reading a bit of Wallace. I will start with the following question:
  • Is it helpful to let a dice decide little things?

1 kommentar:

  1. Interesting topic Claes, looking forward to your thoughts.
    In my view it is not helpful to let a dice decide little things.
    Maybe not quite applicable to quantum mechanics but there is an old english saying "Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves". There is a contrary saying "Pennywise Pound foolish" which seems to apply to some company Directors and Government departments (and even Government ministers)through the Peter Principle (ie promotion above the level of competence)

    keep strong -cementafriend