What’s the fuss anyway?

Don’t slam it! Many people, including many scientists, go to great length to save the concept of free will. Why is that? One of the arguments is that without free will we can not be morally accountable for our actions. But is it really a sign of free will to “choose” to do what the contemporary society thinks is morally acceptable? To me it sounds rather like the opposite. And more importantly, Continue Reading

Libet’s experiment

Several seminal experiments that illustrated crucial aspects of consciousness were performed by Benjamin Libet in the 60’s and 70’s. (I have still, like everybody else, failed to give a definition of consciousness but for the purpose of this post we can define consciousness as such awareness of an event that the awareness can be communicated to another person.) In an early and somewhat macabre (all in the name of science) experiment, Libet Continue Reading

Repent! The singularity is near (or maybe not)

Reading the June 2008 issue of IEEE Spectrum [1] left me impressed with the courage of the editors. The whole issue was about the “singularity”, meaning the point in time when computers become powerful enough to be able to define their own future. At that point development starts accelerating as powerful computers design even more powerful computers and so on. This point in time is also known as the “event horizon”, since Continue Reading

Wikipedia on free will

I can’t resist this urge of mine (will?) to post yet another post on free will. I read the Wikipedia article on free will [1] (I know, I should have done a literature study covering the last 2500 or so years before hitting “Publish” but then I’d never get anything published, would I?). Anyway, it looks like the Wikipedia article is pretty well written for most parts. At least it has over Continue Reading

Is there such a thing as a useful operations manual?

Now to something completely different I started out my career designing image processing algorithms and hardware. At one point I rather inexplicably diverted into management consulting and took interest in issues such as operational effectiveness, cycle time reduction, and quality management. A while after my defection an old colleague of mine, who was at that time working on his PhD in image processing, asked me in an email what I was doing Continue Reading

More on free will

Obviously the discussion about free will (or not) has had a revival lately. I wasn’t aware of that until a friend today pointed out an article in a popular science magazine. It seems that a physicist and Nobel Laureate Professor Gerard ‘t Hooft has an idea about how to remove randomness from quantum mechanics. His theory seems to be that everything is caused by something else, also on quantum level, but we Continue Reading

Free will revisited

This post is about one of the classic philosophical questions. I admit it is preposterous to think that I can add anything to it but I still feel tempted to write down my own twist to it, just to see what it looks like in writing. Some time ago, during a car ride with my son, he told me had been debating the topic of “free will” on one of the Internet Continue Reading

Pleasure and pain

Can it feel pleasure and pain? While in a philosophical mood, here’s another enigma that may be related to the previous post: It is obvious that pain helps us survive since it makes us shun harmful situations. Analogously the prospect of pleasure makes us seek virtuous situations. (Although some of these situations may not be so virtuous in modern times as they can be enjoyed in excess.) But why do we feel Continue Reading

Strange loops

I recently read Douglas Hofstadter’s “I am a strange loop”. Hofstadter’s Escher, Gödel, Bach reached something of a cult status in the 80’s when I was a university student. It was one of those few books that changed my outlook on life a little bit. I even claim to have understood the proof for Gödels theorem for several minutes. The new book is not a masterpiece of the same caliber as EGB Continue Reading