On Free Will and Noetic Architecture

Another little note on identity, following on from here:

On the whole, do eldraeic mainstream views on free will, determinism, and the possible interactions between the two run more towards compatibilism or incompatibilism?

While ideas vary as ideas always do in the absence of proof one way or another, the mainstream position – certainly among sophontechnologists, who have the greatest claim to knowledge on this point – is incompatiblism, and specifically a variant of that form of it that goes by the name of libertarianism; i.e., that free will is true, and determinism is in certain ways, false.

(This is, of course, purely a coincidence. Heh.)

To explain why that is requires delving a little way into my Minovsky cognitive science, which explains how minds work for the purposes of the Eldraeverse. Since this attempts to explain how minds work in the general case, regardless of species, origin, or substrate, it’s rather different in any case from the kind of cognitive science that concentrates on the specific case of human brains, even before we must point out that I’m pretty much pulling it out of my ass.

So what is a mind?

Well, to a large part, it’s a Minskian society of mind. Which is to say that it’s a massively parallel set of personalities, subpersonalities, agents, talents, memes, archetypes, models, animus-anima pairings, instincts, skillsets, etc., etc., etc., all burbling away continuously alongside each other. None of them can strictly be said to be the mind; the mind is none of them. The mind is, to a large extent, the emergent chorus that results from the argument of all of them, or at least the currently dominant set, each with the other.

(This, incidentally, is how gnostic overlays work. By grafting some voices into the chorus while suppressing others, you can add to, shade, or suppress some elements of that emergent chorus without replacing the basic personality.)

It has, however, two identifiable centers. One of these is the consciousness loop, which is a special cognitive entity present in conscious/autosentient beings whose job is to organize the output of the chorus into a narrative thread of consciousness, a.k.a., that little voice you hear when you think out loud. (It’s important to realize, of course, that despite being the part of your cognition that’s visible to you – assuming, gentle reader, that you are in fact conscious – it has no claim to be you, or indeed to play any particular part in controlling what you do. The most accurate analogy for what it does is that it’s the mind’s syslog, recording everything that the other bits of the mind do, and which they can in turn consult to find out what’s going on. It’s also important to realize that it’s not actually necessary for it to be associated with the mind’s own self-symbol, or indeed for it to exist at all, whatever the most common naturally evolved mental architectures might have to say on the matter.)

The other one is the logos, or personality organization algorithm, which is the weird fractal algorithm sitting in the middle of sophont minds, and only sophont minds (i.e., both autosentient and volitional). It’s also the only part of the mind that isn’t computable at all – vis-a-vis being only computable much more slowly – on a standard computer, requiring a quantum processor.

But none of that is the weird thing. The weird thing is this.

It’s empirically nondeterministic.

More to the point, it’s not nondeterministic in a physical sense, dependent upon its substrate; it’s nondeterministic in a mathematical sense. However you choose to compute a logos, you will never get a perfectly consistent result in an arbitrary number of trials. You will never get a statistically consistent result in an arbitrary number of arbitrary numbers of trials. Except that occasionally you will. It’s funny that way, and it’s definitely not simply random or chaotic.

Now, sure, say the physicists. The observable physical universe is deterministic. And chemistry is deterministic, and biology is deterministic, and computation is deterministic, and thus the 99.99% of mental operations in which the logos takes no part are deterministically determined by the rest of one’s society of mind, because free will or no free will, sophonts don’t actually seem to exercise it that often. (Although the exceptions – chaotic clionomic excursions, say – are suggestive.)

But there’s this THING that shows up in sophont minds.

It’s very poorly understood around the edges – enough to clone and modify and seed with it and understand some of its typology – and not at all understood, pretty much, in the middle. It might mean nothing. It might just be some artifact of the underlying cosmic metaphysics that the ontotechnologists play with, of no real significance in this debate.

But, say the mainstream sophontologists, that’s not the way we’re betting. That’s your free will, your volition, right there, in that tiny little mathematical corner peeking into the universe. That minuscule cog of the engine of creation that runs on paracausality, not causality; where will defeats law.

The Flame.

Also, I’m not quite sure how to reverse-engineer the proper philosophical position from the analogy in sensible words, but: Would a drawing of a Kanizsa triangle count as a real triangle?

Well, I wouldn’t say that it is a triangle (but then, I wouldn’t say that about a simple drawing of a triangle either); but I would say that it represents the concept of a triangle. (Along with various other things; most physical objects represent/instantiate/make use of several concepts. To re-use a precious example, Elements of Arithmetic, Second Edition, 1992 can represent any of “arithmetic”, “book”, “textbook”, “paper”, “cuboid”, etc., etc., depending/instantiate/make use on the context you look at it in.)

 

Trope-a-Day: Longevity Treatment / Immortality Inducer

Longevity Treatment / Immortality Inducer: Immortagens, which are Exactly What It Says On The Tin, along with mind-state backups. (Previously anagathics, too, but technology marches on, etc., and why settle for a few extra centuries when you can aim for eternity?)

The Empire, or groups within it rather, works hard on selling these to absolutely everyone, on the entirely reasonable grounds that anyone who wants to die and/or doesn’t want to not die is obviously nuts, and anyone who advocates for death in general is even crazier than that. (See also: Immortality Immorality.)

Trope-a-Day: Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique

Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Averted three times over.  Firstly, because of the ethical problems (the people who are very cautious and gentle about imprisoning the accused because they don’t own their people are hardly going to endorse torture).  Secondly, because it doesn’t work, assuming you have any reason to care about the accuracy of the data it produces and don’t just want a confession to something, anything.  And thirdly, because anything you might be able to do with torture, you can do better with proper use of psychochemistry and, later, subpoenaing a copy of their mind-state to subject to static analysis.

Trope-a-Day: Ghost in the Machine

Ghost In The Machine: Averted.  Souls are software objects; there are no supernatural qualities whatsoever to sophont life, and even if you can pull out the software, recompile it, and stick it in another body, the only thing that’s being transferred is data.

It would always be possible to consider the logos/personality organization algorithm, the weird non-deterministic chunk of mathematics that appears to produce volition as something of this sort, I suppose; or in a weak Cartesian-theater sense the consciousness loop, even if all it does is organize your cognitive processing into a narrative thread, and it’s entirely possible to build minds without them if you’re okay with the resulting weirdness.  But in no case is there any ghost present; it’s just the “program in the machine”.

(That all being said, of course, when asked geth-type questions like “Does this unit have a soul?”, the Imperial answer is unambiguously yes. Inasmuch as “soul”, in modern sophotechnologist jargon, is slang for “personality organization algorithm”, which is to say, that thing which makes you you.)

Trope-a-Day: Mind Probe

Mind Probe: Available in a couple of forms; the alethiometer, a highly sophisticated lie detector which works by dynamic mind-state analysis, and the more advanced form, which is obtaining a static copy of the mind-state (via Brain Uploading, which fortunately is possible non-destructively these days) and dissecting it for whatever information you need.  Since this latter is being done on a separate non-running copy of the target’s mind, it has the advantage (for them) of not causing hallucinations, pain, or brain damage, but also the disadvantage (for them) of being entirely irresistible by anything they can do.

Cruel Mercy

ssc init –neutral –nocontext –personafile:24601.mindstate

ssc run

What… where?

You are in a simulation space, Subject Two Four Six Zero One.

We do, of course, know your real identity as well as the false identity you were using during your attempted infiltration of the Wynérias research colony, but let us not presume.  Two Four Six Zero One will do for now.

Who are you?

We are Overwatch.  Third Directorate.

And you, Two Four Six Zero One, are late of the Republic’s Exception Management Group.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

We have your mind-state, Two Four Six Zero One, and a detailed static analysis of it.  We know your mission.  We know your profession.  We know that your younger half-sibling ate too much iquarja at your coming of age celebration and regurgitated into your lap.  Let us not waste time on dissembling.

 

 

Where did I fail?  I don’t remember –

That would be telling.

You do not remember, Two Four Six Zero One, because you are the backup.  A subject of interest, that backup.  Not part of your mission plan.  Distinctly heteroprax by Republic standards, given that it’s high on the forbidden technologies list.  Your original had rather developed a taste for such things.

Then my original is still out there?

Unfortunately for you, no.  Your original suffered an accident, shall we say, while on a mountain excursion from Port Sung.  And, retaining the ephemeralist attitudes of even most of the non-Republican kalatri colonies, he naturally had no backup.  The Board shipped him back to his notional home, with the usual apologies.

What do you want from me?

We have an offer for you, Two Four Six Zero One.  You have proved, as we said, distinctly heteroprax, and the Empire hates to waste talent.  We suggest you become your cover in truth, under the new identity we can provide you with, along with passage to one of the independent kalatri worlds.

You want me to defect?

To some extent.  We already have all the information you could provide.  We have no need of you as a double agent.  We merely offer you the opportunity to continue your life.  Monitored, of course, for a time, but as a relatively free agent.

No! Return me to the Republic!

You have that right, under the Accords.

We remind you that if we return you to the Republic, they will not consider you to be a person.  If they retain your mind-state at all, you will have no more rights than any piece of non-sapient software. You will be both legally dead, and property.  It is extremely unlikely that you will ever see your family again.

If you accept our offer, Two Four Six Zero One, we might be able to extract them.  If they are willing to accept that you are you.

No… No.  Send me back.

Very well, Two Four Six Zero One. We will not speak again.

ssc stop –preserve:true

Damn y-