My whole life I’ve pondered over the issue of free will, as humans are claimed to have free will, and I will now summarize my conclusions.
First there are two things I see as axioms:
0: I exist therefore I think
1: I think therefore I exist
This, however implies a dualism which can not describe itself, therefore these axioms leads to:
0: A world with beings that think
1: Beings that think about the world
Several thinking beings however, implies a society, as a being needs other beings to interact with. These beings produce:
0: concepts (ideas,fairy tales,fiction)
1: hypotheses (how concepts relate)
2: objects (observations, i.e. information, theories and things that can be perceived,used,improved and shared)
A: Concepts can by definition not be false, they are always true
B: Hypotheses can be more or less plausible
C: Objects can be more or less consistent
It is claimed that “free will” implies that we can change our opinion about something voluntarily, this is something which makes no sense for me, as I don’t consider myself able to do that, as that would not be logical. The only thing which can make me change my opinion about something is that I have achieved new concepts, hypotheses or objects to ponder over, or alternatively that I haven’t thought something through enough, that is, I haven’t yet come to a non contradicting conclusion.
Thinking is a hard problem, therefore may take time.
However, a few days ago a guest researcher (thanks Thomas [I forgot your last name at the moment]) suggested that “free will” is considered:
to be able to say “NO” to something you want.
This makes sense, as saying NO to something you want is something which in a sense is a lie and thus a kind of contradiction, and this is actually something I can do.
Now there are different reasons for saying no:
Let’s take chocolate as an example. I love chocolate!
First, is there any reason to say no to chocolate?
Yes, there are several.
Assume that I would say YES to chocolate each time I was offered chocolate and for all money I could find I would buy chocolate and eat chocolate all the time.
This would then lead to me getting fat, unhealthy and poor. If I get unhealthy and poor, then I would less likely be able to fulfill my other goals, and if these other goals also include to create better conditions for all, then me indulging in chocolate would be an indirect harm of other beings’ future, and I don’t want to harm anyone, neither myself nor other beings, now nor in the future.
Fortunately chocolate has a built in self regulating mechanism. It is enough with quite little chocolate. With one little piece you are pleased for a long time, as also the memory of the taste, stays long after you have eaten it, and if you eat too much of it at once then you simply feel bad as it doesn’t taste good any more.
However, if you were offered chocolate all the time, that is, as soon as you have forgotten the taste of the previous piece then you would take another, and another and… Well, that would lead to problems.
Here we are fortunately equipped with an auto-reinforcement learning mechanism, that is over time you adjust some kind of random generator by reinforcement learning so that it tunes itself towards the stable weight value.
Like YES,NO,YES,NO,YES,NO would produce e.g. a desired 50% ratio
for your desired set-point weight.
I also love food!
When you love food you eat a lot when it’s good, which has consequences as you gain weight and you can become unhealthy and thus not be able to fulfil your goals, you may die early and thus not be able to fulfil your plans or become a burden for your self or for the social system or indirectly harm your future fellows if you die early. So,
the logical is to keep the container of your mind healthy.
Now there is a problem, as food is not only something we like but also something we need, then how can we find a suitable algorithm to make this system self regulate?
First, due to experience you know that more food makes you unhealthy which implies the conclusion that you need to eat less.
If you ask people, how to lose weight? People quite unisonly would say “eat less“. OK, that is easy to say but what does it mean? As people often say things without thinking about the meaning of what they say.
You can say that “eat less” is a theoretical concept on how to make your weight decrease.
My usual approach for this was to fast (starve) now and then, which has allowed me to keep my shape during decades. This worked well until I met my current spouse. At a former workplace ASEA/ABB they used to denote my approach as “Roland’s digital diet” 😉
If we look upon how this is solved in nature, that is:
0: eat when you are hungry
1: eat when there is food when food is scarce
this is obviously an approach which works well, we don’t usually see fat animals. They eat what they need and then stop eating.
Now, since humans left the hunting stage and started organizing food by growing it, cooking it, adding spices, making it tasty, as well as made it possibly to store it for long periods, then we got an extra incentive to eat, just because it was good, and when it’s good then one may not stop eating just because it’s good and we want more. It added a “greedy” behavior to our relation with food.
So how to combine these two?
Since I met my spouse 2004 I noticed this last spring 2011 that I had gained 2 kg/year.
Now this implied that I had to change my behavior, that is, eat less. My original approach was to regulate this in a digital manner, that is stop eating for some period, but this didn’t work well longer due to several reasons: love for food (my spouse’s French cooking is very good, I cook too but not as good as she) and my love for and longing for my dinners with her.
Now, this problem has two extreme solutions
0: skip some meal
1: eat less at every meal
As “eat less at every meal” would imply that I would need to moderate my life in a way I considered impossible, and I know that I can’t do (for my spouse this approach works great though), so the only reasonable way would be to skip some meal. Now humans have many stupid, not well thought through ideas (humans live in some kind of constant lie). People say things like, if you skip a meal, then don’t skip breakfast nor lunch.
Which would be insane!
If I would skip dinners then I would skip the main reasons for me to eat, that is, to have a nice enjoyable meal with my lovely spouse, and I would also miss the opportunities to eat the food she makes. This would likely lead to risking the relation as well.
Skipping dinners would thus make me unhappy, and her as well.
So, the only logical was to do the opposite to what people say (which I have found is usually the only sustainable solution), that is skip breakfast and lunch.
This implied that I within a few months, April to June lost 14 kg, and then stabilized at my youth weight, and I feel great
A: I occasionally eat breakfast only when I’m hungry
B: I eat lunch occasionally of social reasons or when I’m hungry
C: and… now I never have to bother about bad conscious when it’s party time or plenty of good food, I can really indulge and enjoy it. Double win!
0: It’s stupid to blindly believe what people say.
1: What people say should be seen as hypothesis generation.
QED: Assert the anti thesis as well, and think!
When you think, and somewhere in your thought train there is a contradicting hypothesis, which would imply that some parts of the system will fail, then you have reached an inconsistent solution, which implies: think further!
0: Thinking is pure logic, but it needs to be reinforced with learning.
1: Thinking sets you free!
PS. I’ll later describe how thinking can be implemented in a machine.