Thursday, April 17, 2008

Synaptic Magic

This has been one of the hottest topics for the "over the lunch" discussions in our little kitchen at Fanafzar. One that leads to lots of discussions and no results.

I am almost certain that the answer to this question can never be found, the question being: "Do we have real randomness in this world or is everything acting in a deterministic fashion?"

The most important corollary to this question is the existence of Free Will. Is there such a thing as free will or is everything predefined and every little movement in this world is deterministic and randomness is only an illusion for us since we don't know much about the causes and reality. Einstein's famous sentence is regarding the same question "God does not play dice!". Quantum mechanics talks about uncertainty and indeterministic behaviors but it doesn't shed light on the fact that whether this randomness seems random because we can not measure and our measurements change everything or is it random in its pure nature?

Rudy Rucker recently had a talk about these topics where he believed everything in the world is computational and hence purely deterministic. This should be what the majority of scientists and philosophers believe.

The answer to this question can have many different consequences, even some in ethics. Would you ever punish someone knowing that everything in this world is predetermined and no one can change anything? Modern science will be heavily jeopardized since all of a sudden we will be faced with a phenomena which has absolutely no reasons why it happened. Not something the scientists are used too.

In our minds, if free will is to be accepted, then that would mean some magic would happen in the synapse of the neuron in the brain. Where in a fully deterministic world, a synapse would fire an electric shock to the next synapse based on some deterministic rules and the input and its state would define its output, in the world with potential uncertainty, the synapse would fire or not fire (maybe randomly) based on the same input and in the same state, this behavior is what I find magic as the best description for it so far. Synaptic Magic!

This discussion can be thought about with a simple mind puzzle, if the world repeats from the same status that it had in the big bang, will everything happen again the way it did or will somethings change?

I am a big believer of free will and I do believe in the synaptic magic although I am almost sure that the real answer can never be solved, at least not by us as we know ourselves today. I am "almost sure" because I believe in uncertainty ;). ... oh and do I believe in magic !? Hell yeah ...

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