Why We Want While Rivers Don’t

Nov 17, 2015

I'm still talking about the paradox of free will, and I promised last time to explain how people can want things even though rivers and other inanimate, material things do not. Stated simply, a living thing is trying to do something, whereas an inanimate thing is not. All living things try to survive in one way or another, and that's the whole difference. We want to survive, whereas rivers don't care one bit.

The next question, though, is how goals arise in complex systems. That's the key question, but there is actually a clear, well-established explanation. Goals arise due to evolution and natural selection.

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Will Still Exists Even if It’s Not Free

Oct 15, 2015

Last time I was talking about the paradox of free will and how the whole concept of free will seems incoherent and absurd. When people hear this kind of thing, they typically go bonkers and wonder how we can ever have a will at all. How can we want anything then? How can we feel love or pain or any of those kinds of emotions? How can mere chemicals ever fall in love?

Well, I've already explained previously that wanting is like inertia. It's like a physical force pushing you in some direction. The will is like a flowing river, pulled downhill by gravity. The river does not choose freely to flow this way or that, but it certainly does flow! This is what I mean when I say there can still be will even when it's not free.

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The Paradox of Free Will

Sep 30, 2015

The more I think about free will, the more confused I get. The whole concept just seems incoherent and meaningless. It's not just that we don't have free will; it's that the very idea of free will is nonsense.

By the way, I'm using Jerry Coyne's definition of free will as "could have done otherwise." In other words, determinism rules out free will. So now I want to suggest a simple conundrum that seems to rule out the possibility of anyone having free will at all.

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Key Question about Robot Sex – Can it be Consensual?

Sep 18, 2015

Robots seems to dredge up all our worst fears - if it's not battle droids trying to kill us, it's sex robots stealing our very hearts! And as you might expect, there is a high-profile organization already at work out there to save us. It's the "Campaign Against Sex Robots," and they say sex with robots is just bad.

Well, the unique thing about robot sex is the question of whether it's consensual. Yes, it's bad to have sex with somebody when it's not consensual. And then there's the question of why a true AI machine, with self-interest and a mind of its own, would ever want to have sex with a human being at all.

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Imminent Battle Droids Are Still Not AI

Jul 29, 2015

Wow, there was a huge International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, and on that occasion some thousand or so AI experts signed an open letter opposing autonomous weapons like battle droids. All the big names are in on it, including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. So now everyone's all scared about AI again!

Someone would have to be a real party pooper to point out the problem, but here goes. I can't resist saying it again: That's not AI! That's just slick software programming. It isn't qualitatively different from your old PC or your current smartphone.

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Lots more posts -->

Photo of the Week

Halloween Xmas tree, Futako-Tamagawa, Sept. 29, 2013

Halloween Christmas tree at a grocery store in Futako-Tamagawa (Sept. 29, 2013). Japanese people haven't quite got western holidays straight, I guess. (Enlarge)

Recent Entries:

  1. Why We Want While Rivers Don’t    (Nov 17, 2015)
  2. Will Still Exists Even if It’s Not Free    (Oct 15, 2015)
  3. The Paradox of Free Will    (Sep 30, 2015)
  4. Key Question about Robot Sex – Can it be Consensual?    (Sep 18, 2015)
  5. Imminent Battle Droids Are Still Not AI    (Jul 29, 2015)
  6. Lawrence Krauss Won’t Worry, but Most People Should – a Little    (May 27, 2015)
  7. Quick Paradox: You Can’t be Grateful to Be Alive    (May 8, 2015)
  8. Paradoxical Zombie Pirates of the Caribbean    (Apr 13, 2015)

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