Observations of the Random sort

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Warren
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Warren » 20 Sep 2017, 11:48

Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 18:43
dead_elvis wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 16:09
I'm having one of those moments where no matter how you slice or dice it, it just seems so clear that *of course* the universe *has* to be deterministic.
Well, to put the issue another way: what would the alternative be? What would that look like, and how could we tell the difference?
One alternative is that everything is based on random chance. It would look like the universe we see. If identical initial conditions always produced identical results, that would be deterministic. Such is not the case in this universe.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Mo » 20 Sep 2017, 12:03

Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 11:48
Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 18:43
dead_elvis wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 16:09
I'm having one of those moments where no matter how you slice or dice it, it just seems so clear that *of course* the universe *has* to be deterministic.
Well, to put the issue another way: what would the alternative be? What would that look like, and how could we tell the difference?
One alternative is that everything is based on random chance. It would look like the universe we see. If identical initial conditions always produced identical results, that would be deterministic. Such is not the case in this universe.
When do you ever get identical initial conditions? The likelihood of that happening at an atomic level or even a personal situational level are so small as to be basically indistinguishable from zero.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Aresen » 20 Sep 2017, 12:11

Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:03
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 11:48
Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 18:43
dead_elvis wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 16:09
I'm having one of those moments where no matter how you slice or dice it, it just seems so clear that *of course* the universe *has* to be deterministic.
Well, to put the issue another way: what would the alternative be? What would that look like, and how could we tell the difference?
One alternative is that everything is based on random chance. It would look like the universe we see. If identical initial conditions always produced identical results, that would be deterministic. Such is not the case in this universe.
When do you ever get identical initial conditions? The likelihood of that happening at an atomic level or even a personal situational level are so small as to be basically indistinguishable from zero.
Even if we accept 'The Butterfly Effect' - that small, random variations can scale up to macroscopic differences - that still does not give us free will. It just means that we are reacting to a different set of conditions.

However, at any level we can determine, we have agency.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Warren » 20 Sep 2017, 12:11

Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:03
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 11:48
Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 18:43
dead_elvis wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 16:09
I'm having one of those moments where no matter how you slice or dice it, it just seems so clear that *of course* the universe *has* to be deterministic.
Well, to put the issue another way: what would the alternative be? What would that look like, and how could we tell the difference?
One alternative is that everything is based on random chance. It would look like the universe we see. If identical initial conditions always produced identical results, that would be deterministic. Such is not the case in this universe.
When do you ever get identical initial conditions? The likelihood of that happening at an atomic level or even a personal situational level are so small as to be basically indistinguishable from zero.
You can fire identical photons at a metal shield with a slit in it and see where they alight on a screen behind it.
Women with strollers are legitimately the worst people, and should, like motorcyclists, not be considered people for liability and criminal purposes. - lunchstealer

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Mo » 20 Sep 2017, 12:45

Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:11
Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:03
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 11:48
Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 18:43
dead_elvis wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 16:09
I'm having one of those moments where no matter how you slice or dice it, it just seems so clear that *of course* the universe *has* to be deterministic.
Well, to put the issue another way: what would the alternative be? What would that look like, and how could we tell the difference?
One alternative is that everything is based on random chance. It would look like the universe we see. If identical initial conditions always produced identical results, that would be deterministic. Such is not the case in this universe.
When do you ever get identical initial conditions? The likelihood of that happening at an atomic level or even a personal situational level are so small as to be basically indistinguishable from zero.
You can fire identical photons at a metal shield with a slit in it and see where they alight on a screen behind it.
Even if you fire two identical photons at the exact same metal shield back to back, it does not mean that everything is the exact same. There could be slight variations in temperature, there may be interactions with the air particles in the chamber (as there is no perfect vacuum), etc. Just because the conditions have the appearance of being precisely the same does not mean that they are.
Aresen wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:11
Even if we accept 'The Butterfly Effect' - that small, random variations can scale up to macroscopic differences - that still does not give us free will. It just means that we are reacting to a different set of conditions.
I agree, that was my point.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Warren » 20 Sep 2017, 12:56

Ah yes, the invisible gnome theory.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by JasonL » 20 Sep 2017, 13:01

I lump will and the existence of rights into a bucket of things that are almost certainly not true but are the most important assumptions we can make. If you are a materialist you are more or less stuck. Even if you aren't, it's a strange thing to propose a choice is made independent of emergent brain chemistry yet still is reflected in the brain somehow. I get it there can be properties that emerge, but I don't see how a will trump card over physical processes can be one of them.

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Aresen » 20 Sep 2017, 13:18

JasonL wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 13:01
I lump will and the existence of rights into a bucket of things that are almost certainly not true but are the most important assumptions we can make.
You simply cannot have an organized society without an implicit assumption of agency on some level. If you do not accept that free will and rights exist, then you just go down a different rabbit hole.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Warren » 20 Sep 2017, 13:54

Aresen wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 13:18
JasonL wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 13:01
I lump will and the existence of rights into a bucket of things that are almost certainly not true but are the most important assumptions we can make.
You simply cannot have an organized society without an implicit assumption of agency on some level. If you do not accept that free will and rights exist, then you just go down a different rabbit hole.
Ants and bees have highly organized societies without a hint of agency. I don't see anything that compels one to accept human agency.
Women with strollers are legitimately the worst people, and should, like motorcyclists, not be considered people for liability and criminal purposes. - lunchstealer

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by nicole » 20 Sep 2017, 14:41

Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 13:54
Aresen wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 13:18
JasonL wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 13:01
I lump will and the existence of rights into a bucket of things that are almost certainly not true but are the most important assumptions we can make.
You simply cannot have an organized society without an implicit assumption of agency on some level. If you do not accept that free will and rights exist, then you just go down a different rabbit hole.
Ants and bees have highly organized societies without a hint of agency. I don't see anything that compels one to accept human agency.
Just human psychology, but we all know how stupid that is.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by JasonL » 20 Sep 2017, 15:54

The organization of the system is distinct from the notion of a directive will. Completely unrelated. It's more like, to the extent we are creating institutions and rule sets we had better assume agency. It is probably all an illusion, but within our illusion it certainly seems to be the case that deterrence is a thing and incentives matter. A bit like noumena,there isn't much point worrying about a "real" world distinct from our impressions in which hard determinism prevails. We perceive that we have choices and we perceive that people consistently react to stimulus at the macro level, so we had better assume through whatever mechanism that our perception of choice and agency maps to ... something. That is, nobody can really adopt a view different from some version of agents making choices any more than people can adopt a view that gravity doesn't exist. You can be squishy within that view but the core perception is unshakeable I think.

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by lunchstealer » 20 Sep 2017, 19:54

Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:45
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:11
Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:03
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 11:48
Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 18:43
dead_elvis wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 16:09
I'm having one of those moments where no matter how you slice or dice it, it just seems so clear that *of course* the universe *has* to be deterministic.
Well, to put the issue another way: what would the alternative be? What would that look like, and how could we tell the difference?
One alternative is that everything is based on random chance. It would look like the universe we see. If identical initial conditions always produced identical results, that would be deterministic. Such is not the case in this universe.
When do you ever get identical initial conditions? The likelihood of that happening at an atomic level or even a personal situational level are so small as to be basically indistinguishable from zero.
You can fire identical photons at a metal shield with a slit in it and see where they alight on a screen behind it.
Even if you fire two identical photons at the exact same metal shield back to back, it does not mean that everything is the exact same. There could be slight variations in temperature, there may be interactions with the air particles in the chamber (as there is no perfect vacuum), etc. Just because the conditions have the appearance of being precisely the same does not mean that they are.
The math and physics are such that this is how things work. There are literally processes for which one can determine probabilities to very high confidence but for which predicting specific outcomes is ruled out, not because we don't know the initial conditions well enough, but because it's literally not how the universe works.

There's a reason Deepak Chopra tells us that quantum mechanics means that anything can happen at any time for no reason at all. It's because once you get to a certain scale of mass and energy, it can. It probably won't, but the probability is non-zero.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Mo » 20 Sep 2017, 19:57

lunchstealer wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 19:54
Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:45
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:11
Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:03
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 11:48
Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Sep 2017, 18:43

Well, to put the issue another way: what would the alternative be? What would that look like, and how could we tell the difference?
One alternative is that everything is based on random chance. It would look like the universe we see. If identical initial conditions always produced identical results, that would be deterministic. Such is not the case in this universe.
When do you ever get identical initial conditions? The likelihood of that happening at an atomic level or even a personal situational level are so small as to be basically indistinguishable from zero.
You can fire identical photons at a metal shield with a slit in it and see where they alight on a screen behind it.
Even if you fire two identical photons at the exact same metal shield back to back, it does not mean that everything is the exact same. There could be slight variations in temperature, there may be interactions with the air particles in the chamber (as there is no perfect vacuum), etc. Just because the conditions have the appearance of being precisely the same does not mean that they are.
The math and physics are such that this is how things work. There are literally processes for which one can determine probabilities to very high confidence but for which predicting specific outcomes is ruled out, not because we don't know the initial conditions well enough, but because it's literally not how the universe works.

There's a reason Deepak Chopra tells us that quantum mechanics means that anything can happen at any time for no reason at all. It's because once you get to a certain scale of mass and energy, it can. It probably won't, but the probability is non-zero.
I understand the math and physics behind it. But what may appear to be random to our observations and modeling may be deterministic due to something we can't detect, whether it is ambient conditions or as of yet behaviors of subatomic particles.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Mo » 20 Sep 2017, 20:15

Cable News has higher standards than Harvard.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politi ... le-n802781
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

no one ever yells worldstar when a pet gets fucked up - dhex

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by dhex » 20 Sep 2017, 20:24

i mean, if i could pull some strings and get spicy to do a campus appearance, i probably would. i think there's some value there, if only because shit is hella bonkers and why not get at least some inside baseball on the process of what it feels like to have the dmt hit straight into the aorta. even if it is 90% hagiography.

on cable news, tho. i mean, fuck that. he's fucked himself. no one is going to tune in, even people who manage to tolerate/achieve full tumescence to tucker carlson's whatever the fuck you call what that shit is.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by dead_elvis » 20 Sep 2017, 20:27

JasonL wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 13:01
I lump will and the existence of rights into a bucket of things that are almost certainly not true but are the most important assumptions we can make.
This is usually how I think of it- it's a useful myth. If the universe has rules that govern how atoms and sub-atomic particles behave, then the very thoughts inside my head were determined at the moment the universe came into being. This is annoying, so I usually don't think about it, because really, what can you do about it? It doesn't affect anyone's life on a practical level- you still have to go about your life, but it just seems to completely sabotage any ability to choose your own meaning of life. It pretty much puts us all back at "whatever God's plan for you is", like we're just puppets going through predetermined motions. But the essential idea intuitively seems ridiculous because of the scale, but if I start thinking about it, I have a hard time coming up with another option. The only thing I can think of is if there are multiple universes that interact with ours in ways that are unpredictable. But if *those* universes have rules...
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Eric the .5b » 20 Sep 2017, 20:48

Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:45
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:11
You can fire identical photons at a metal shield with a slit in it and see where they alight on a screen behind it.
Even if you fire two identical photons at the exact same metal shield back to back, it does not mean that everything is the exact same. There could be slight variations in temperature, there may be interactions with the air particles in the chamber (as there is no perfect vacuum), etc. Just because the conditions have the appearance of being precisely the same does not mean that they are.
Imagine that we could rewind the entire universe and replay events, watching from some external viewpoint.

In a deterministic universe, absent any intervention, the same things would happen again in the replay. Rewind a few seconds ago, and I'm sitting here at my desk. I notice one cat wander by, Snowy notices I have her attention, and so she stops and I pet her. Replay those few seconds a billion times, and the cat and I not only play out the same sequence of actions, we have the same thoughts, the same circulation of blood in our bodies, etc.

But what's the non-deterministic alternative? That if we replay events, the cat and I would just randomly do different things?

And which represents "free will"?
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Mo » 20 Sep 2017, 21:01

dhex wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 20:24
i mean, if i could pull some strings and get spicy to do a campus appearance, i probably would. i think there's some value there, if only because shit is hella bonkers and why not get at least some inside baseball on the process of what it feels like to have the dmt hit straight into the aorta. even if it is 90% hagiography.

on cable news, tho. i mean, fuck that. he's fucked himself. no one is going to tune in, even people who manage to tolerate/achieve full tumescence to tucker carlson's whatever the fuck you call what that shit is.
Yeah, but they have Lewandowski for that. Spicer only provides value if he's doing a one man show version of Rashomon.
his voice is so soothing, but why do conspiracy nuts always sound like Batman and Robin solving one of Riddler's puzzles out loud? - fod

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Aresen » 20 Sep 2017, 21:07

Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 19:57
I understand the math and physics behind it. But what may appear to be random to our observations and modeling may be deterministic due to something we can't detect, whether it is ambient conditions or as of yet behaviors of subatomic particles.
I don't claim to understand the math and physics (beyond a layman's knowledge), but I think that quantum events must be random. Otherwise a whole lot of experimental evidence is wrong.

(This is only my understanding. If I am wrong, please correct me.)

Is there a quantum mechanic in the house?
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Jennifer » 20 Sep 2017, 21:08

Regarding the free will discussion, I'd think the fact that people can and do (sometimes) learn from past mistakes goes into the "yes, free will exists" category.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Aresen » 20 Sep 2017, 21:08

Eric the .5b wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 20:48
Mo wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:45
Warren wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 12:11
You can fire identical photons at a metal shield with a slit in it and see where they alight on a screen behind it.
Even if you fire two identical photons at the exact same metal shield back to back, it does not mean that everything is the exact same. There could be slight variations in temperature, there may be interactions with the air particles in the chamber (as there is no perfect vacuum), etc. Just because the conditions have the appearance of being precisely the same does not mean that they are.
Imagine that we could rewind the entire universe and replay events, watching from some external viewpoint.

In a deterministic universe, absent any intervention, the same things would happen again in the replay. Rewind a few seconds ago, and I'm sitting here at my desk. I notice one cat wander by, Snowy notices I have her attention, and so she stops and I pet her. Replay those few seconds a billion times, and the cat and I not only play out the same sequence of actions, we have the same thoughts, the same circulation of blood in our bodies, etc.

But what's the non-deterministic alternative? That if we replay events, the cat and I would just randomly do different things?

And which represents "free will"?
The cat, of course.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by lunchstealer » 20 Sep 2017, 21:16

I don't think you really do understand the math behind it. Which is normal and you should probably feel good about. No regular person should really get that math without doing a lot of work. I assumed the same thing - that there was a hidden layer of determinism that people just didn't get - until I did the math, and nope, it's not just a we-don't-know-but-it's-deterministic type of thing. The math is pretty clear that it cannot be deterministic. It's not that you can't predict it using this math. It's that the math rules out the possibility of it being predicted.

It would be an astonishing coincidence if there were a physical deterministic mechanism that so perfectly mimicked a system in which determinism was mathematically impossible. Like ASTONISHING astonishing. Like almost proof of intelligent design* astonishing. That is how non-deterministic the math and physics are. The one big asterisk on that is general relativity. The standard model basically doesn't allow for determinism, but general relativity is completely absent from the standard model. So there's still something to learn out there, and there's a tiny chance that it will blow up the whole particle/wave thing somehow, but that outcome would only be slightly less astonishing than proof-of-intelligent-design astonishing.**

*not really because that's bullshit, and you basically cannot have proof of intelligent design because who designed the designer see it's circular - but I use this phrase to underscore just how astonishing it would be to me. So a scenario that is more likely than proof of intelligent design and probably on par with finding out that quantum mechanics are actually deterministic is a scenario where at age 25, Jill Goodacre invented a time machine, and completely independently, Heidi Klum invented a time machine nine years later, also at age 25, and both of them independently decided to use those time machines to travel to the present day to come have sex with me, and I have to convince them that we can't have a three way because I'm married, and then two-days-from-now Gal Gadot steps out of HER time machine just to give me a high five.

**more likely is that quantum stays nondeterministic but general relativity nonetheless shows that spacetime is this kind of fixed four-dimensional mesh that we simply perceive ourselves moving through, but which are actually all more-or-less simultaneous events when viewed from 'outside'. So there's no reason why two identical photons going through the same slit appear in different places, but they were always going to randomly-and-non-deterministically behave that way anyway, despite there being no mechanism that forces them to do one over the other.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Jadagul » 20 Sep 2017, 21:33

At least some versions of pilot-wave hidden-variable theories haven't been ruled out.

But from what I understand, they honestly make "causality" even harder to buy, since they're all nonlocal and thus effectively involve constant time travel---though it doesn't violate the no-communication theorem. But I don't understand it well enough to say much more than that.

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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Shem » 21 Sep 2017, 02:56

Jennifer wrote:
20 Sep 2017, 21:08
Regarding the free will discussion, I'd think the fact that people can and do (sometimes) learn from past mistakes goes into the "yes, free will exists" category.
But what is "learning?" If there's no such thing as consciousness, and what we think of as self is just an emergent property of our meat computers, to say that you learned from an experience is like saying your computer learned when you installed Word onto it. The computer didn't learn, it just got changed. Just like how, under the Commeatdore 64 framework, it wasn't you learning, it was external events applying programming to you.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Jadagul » 21 Sep 2017, 03:06

"Free will" and "determinism" (or, more properly, stochasticism) are just modelling at different levels of resolution.

Sure, with enough initial information and a powerful enough computer, you could compute probabilistically what would happen in the future. But realistically you can't, so we can't see the determined future.

At the same time, at a social level, even the most determined free-willer believes that our decisions are influenced by our genetics, environment, upbringing, past experiences, etc. And a determinist believes that our decisions are influenced by...our genetics, environment, upbringing, past experiences, etc.

There's no actual matter of fact that divides the two perspectives.

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