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Blog: Is there such a thing as "Free Will"

By Dave Morton


Not long ago, I joined a discussion group that focuses on Artificial Intelligence. So far, I'm finding the discussions to be quite informative and inspiring. One particular discussion centers on the concept of "free will", whether we humans actually have it, and how important it is to the field of AI. As you can imagine, this discussion is more philosophical than scientific in nature, and I'm finding the exchanges in this discussion to be quite stimulating. One thing that I find both fascinating and disturbing is that I seem to be the only person involved that believes in the phenomenon. What I consider to be "free will" is seemingly being disregarded as being nothing more than a biochemical process, and this bothers me more than a little bit, because to deny free will is to deny one's self, which reduces us to nothing more than a seemingly random collection of chemicals, liquids and organic matter (bear in mind that the "randomness" inferred here is in the fine details, not the gross ones). One "ground rule" that was laid out from the beginning was that religion and spirituality were not allowed in the discussion, mainly because we were attacked by a troll, who condemned everyone for "believing in fairy tales", and then referred to the bible as the source of such tales. In a way, I agree with the exclusion, as that would prove to be a distracting presence in the discussion, and has already proved to be such on a couple of occasions.

Anyway, the discussion continues, and I continue to stand my ground. Whether I'm successful in defending my stance remains to be seen. These folks are stubborn, and they're good at making seemingly sound arguments (they haven't stood up to close scrutiny so far, though). We'll have to see who prevails.