Brain Frees

I’m going to try to make some deductions based on the assumption of free will. This won’t really be an argument trying to prove its existence, however. I’ve always thought the idea of free will being an illusion to be fairly silly. In later essays I’ll give some actual arguments in support of free will, but this essay is going to focus on trying to get an understanding of what has to happen for free will to come about and what that implies with regards to things like artificial intelligence and understanding consciousness.

In order for free will to exist there must be at least parts of the universe that are not totally deterministic; that is, free will requires some degree of Uncertainty.

All uncertainty in the universe arises from (but is not necessarily limited to) quantum events.

Exercising an act of free will is a mental event so must have its physical basis in the brain.

Therefore: it follows that one function the brain performs must be to physically generate quantum events of various Uncertainty values, and then physically transfer that Uncertainty to various brain states.

Uncertain events occurring within the brain might be a way to determine which areas of the brain are directly responsible for the creation of our conscious awareness. Conscious awareness (or ‘mind’ as I define it) is only a small portion of overall brain function. Memory, sensory information processing, etc. occur within our brains, but not within our minds. The mind is like a mediator or arbiter between various specialized cognitive modules. Like an air traffic controller, it collects pertinent information about each entity it’s in contact with, analyzes the information in order to understand the ‘big picture’, and then makes the upper level commands to the relevant entities which will hopefully bring about the desired goal.

Brain modules that perform purely non-conscious functions probably interface minimally, if at all with the mind module, while other modules would have a huge number of inputs and/or outputs connecting it to the mind module. There would be a massive amount of inputs in to the mind module from sensory processing modules, and a similarly large number of outputs from the mind module to the module where memory is stored.

Since choices are made in the mind module, it has to be the epicenter of our free will; using the input data from other modules to impose parameters on the otherwise non-deterministic resulting actions.


~ by jneuhaus on June 10, 2008.

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