Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Question #2: Regarding Artificial Intelligence

Why is it so hard to design a machine that can make free, undetermined choices?

6 comments:

Steve said...

I couldn't do it because I have never been sure how to define what free will is. I sure hope we have it though.

scoots said...

My suspicion is that we don't actually have free will, but that our minds are so complex (and our senses take in so much data all the time) that we can never trace out for certain why we make certain choices, so it looks like we have free will.

There's actually some biblical support for this in Paul and John, in the idea of being slaves to sin –– which in Paul's case means we live according to the flesh. It could be that only when we're set free by the Spirit are we actually granted the ability to act in freedom.

Sounds nice, anyway.

Matthew said...

Thanks for your ideas, guys ...

Blah, I can't even manage to finish typing a response because I keep rereading your comments, and they make me think of something else, and so on ...

Basically, I agree that the idea of free will is stupidly hard to define, and may be inherently contradictory.

And I guess if the illusion of free will comes out of massive, impenetrable complexity, I guess the only way to generate it is to build something so complex that we don't understand how its consciousness works?

Jennifer said...

And the simple answer to the AI question: Programming an AI machine requires defining a finite number of possible responses, even in the case of highly sophisticated programs for which the number of possible responses is large enough to appear to simulate thought (think Deep Blue)... the current state of technology is that we don't know how to produce a machine that can create output that was not, in some form, input in the first place.

On the other hand, even our "free will" is bound generally by social norms/societal expectations/etc... so perhaps what we have is actually more like the potential for free will?

Matthew said...

"the current state of technology is that we don't know how to produce a machine that can create output that was not, in some form, input in the first place"

And that seems to be one of the reasons it's so hard to define "free will" in any coherent way. If the universe is a closed system, it's hard to explain how human outputs could be anything but sensory inputs that have been deterministically processed by our bodies.

Matthew said...

Related, from Richard Beck's current post:

What would it mean that we had reasonings or desires with no causal antecedents. What would acausal reason, volition, or love look like? I'm with Frankfurt on this, I can't even envision what this would look like. More strongly stated, these acausal models/speculations (which many theologians have truck with) border on being linguistic and conceptual rubbish. We have the freedom we have and that is the freedom theology must work with.