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FFAI Determinism and Free Will by Mind Map: FFAI Determinism and Free Will
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FFAI Determinism and Free Will


free will and determinism have a long and complicated history in philosophy

most of the literature on "free will" considers it an intrinsic property of a system

that leads to inconsistencies and contradictions

free will is often used as a "back door argument" to sneak in dualism, by appeal to intuition: "you have free will, therefore ... dualism must be true"

"free will" is easier to understand if you view it as theory that one agent has about the behavior of another agent

"From John's point of view, Jane has free will."

AI likely needs "free will", in the sense of interacting with humans in the way we expect humans to interact. I.e., an AI needs preferences, reasoning, the ability to choose, and the ability not to be arbitrarily overridden by other agents.

implications for morality, law

common recent argument: determinism means that there is no moral or legal responsibility for anything

we need to take into account for what purpose we determine "free will"

you go out and shoot someone for money

you get put into a murderous rage by a brain electrode

you get blackmailed into shooting someone

you drink too much and kill someone while driving

you take PCP and shoot someone

you get brainwashed into shooting someone


Greeks, Persians, Romans: fate is predetermined, possibly mechanical, or by gods

Hobbes (1600s): minds are mechanical and hence their actions are predetermined

Kant, Leibnitz (around 1800): minds have free will in at least some areas (inspired by religious thought)

Laplace (around 1800): the universe operates according to deterministic laws, and hence so do minds

Popper (around 1940): physical determinism doesn't exist because of quantum randomness and chaos

Hayek, von Mises (around 1950): it is computationally impossible to predict the behavior of complex systems


to come to terms with a definition, look at examples and hypotheticals


nature of the choice

nature of the statement

"free will" as a theory of mind

observer dependence

dualism in disguise

appeal to free will is really a way of trying to force people to accept dualism in some form

the argument is more driven by finding support for a belief than by explaining observation

implicit argument 1

implicit argument 2

free will

distinguish from "freedom of action": you make a choice but cannot implement it

vs determinism

religious origins

basic issues


free will

AI-related argument

connection with dualism

connection with morality


"A system is deterministic if, given a set of initial conditions, the future is perfectly determined."


classical physics

quantum physics

computer science