Re: virus: real world?

Dan Plante (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 23:55:45 -0800

At 09:23 AM 1/22/97 -0600, you wrote:
>On Tue, 21 Jan 1997, Dan Plante wrote:

snip (sorry to whoever; the recursion was 5 deep at this point, and my reader
doesn't preserve poster identity..)

>> >Many-Worlds represents the arbitrariness of "free-will" as which
>> >time-line one is in.
>> >
>> >Copenhagen represents the arbitrariness of "free-will" as an "agent" that
>> >is explicitly NOT described by any axioms, except that it causes wave
>> >function collapses.

snip (references to Many Worlds and Copenhagen interpretations re: free will)

>> >There's some interesting psychophysics in the most recent Scientific
>> >American theme issue on Consciousness. "Researcher tries to disbelieve
>> >his own experiments, and *fails*."
>> My understanding of the peer-reviewed literature on this subject (if I
>> remember correctly), represents quantum interactions as completely
>> predictable through computation, and therefore deterministic. Assuming
>> any and all aspects of (our own particular instance of?) existence are
>> determined by these interactions, then there is no such thing as "real"
>> free will.
>That is *not* my understanding of the literature.
>What is completely predictable, in principle [to my best knowledge] is a
>probabilistic tree. *That's* deterministic.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'probabilistic tree'. I'll have to claim
ignorance, being one who aspires to 'rank amateur' status :-)
but I /am/ pretty sure that 'probabilistic' and 'deterministic' are mutually
exclusive terms.

>The computation isn't exactly numerically stable; some work is required.

Sorry, you lost me again. Numerically 'stable'?

>I clipped your further comments. You do see the relative uselessness of
>taking 1 year to emulate a few nanoseconds?
>/ Kenneth Boyd

I think I see where the problem is. A crucial point was made in the clipped
comments regarding initial states. I guess I could have put it at the
To reiterate:

The state vector describes the evelotution of a quantum system in a way that
is wholly deterministic /once the initial conditions have been established/.
With this caveat, the future behaviour of a quantum particle(s) is predictable
through quantum mechanical laws. (Ref: J. Baggot, The Meaning of Quantum
Oxford Science Publications, 1992, ch 2, sec 6).

But in practice, the initial conditions can /never/ be completely known. The
probability aspect of quantum mechanics is a tool devised to predict the
of /measurements/ on quanta, in the laboratory.

The efforts of Weingarten et al, that I referred to previously, side-step the
measurement issue and its /intrinsic/ probabilistic nature by assuming some
arbitrary, concisely determined initial condition for the system, apply the
of Quantum Chromodynamics (a superset of quantum mechanics) in a simulation,
and determine as a result, concise and complete predictions regarding atomic
behaviour and even simple chemical reactions that are accurate and repeatable
(Ref: Computing Quarks; Donald H. Weingarten. Reprinted in Scientific
American, Feb. 1996.)

The obvious conclusion is that quantum systems behave in a completely
fashion, but we can never make predictions on /actual/ systems due to lack of
a complete knowledge of the initial state of that system. The world lines of
each quanta "already" trace a path in Hilbert space, we'll just never know
"where" they actually are.

So again, in reference to the original poster's question;
Do we have free will?

The answer is (quite appropriately) two-fold and complimentary:
in theory we don't, in practice we do.

As far as the statement regarding the "relative uselessness" of this effort is
concerned, it is my understanding that this simulation approach, run on much
faster computers (just a matter of time, I would guess), has enormous
consequences for the fields of protein synthesis, investigations into novel
chemical compounds, research in condensed-matter physics, etc, and that
for this effort was supplied for these reasons.

Hope this is useful to somebody.

Dan Plante (Just a guy)

The Metasystem Transition History of the "Dan Plante" System (revised):

initial conditions = data (conception)
control of data = information (conception to puberty)
control of information = knowledge (puberty to marriage)
control of knowledge = wisdom (marriage to divorce)