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Boas Bamberger

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A Quantum Computing Approach to Test for Free Will in Humans.

Assuming the Big Bang to be the starting point of quantum entanglement, we now have the situation of a seemingly infinite number of entanglements that make our universe what it is. From this point of view every decision we make forms new entanglements and is due to prior entanglements. If that is so, there is no free will, but merely the consequence of prior entanglements.

To test this assumption quantum computers could do the trick. An algorithm (AI) that draws on a subjects personality, life-history and some environmental factors to predict future binary decision could give an insight on how prior entanglements are predictive to new entanglements. To train the algorithm several subjects are needed to verify on binary decisions the computer clone of each subject made.

Thanks to quantum computing such an algorithm could be able to finish computing within our lifetime. There are several more advantages that come along with quantum computers for this kind of machine learning.

Now: If the accuracy for binary decision making predictions of this algorithm is significantly greater than 0.5 (pure chance for any binary decision), it can be said, that there is no free will.

I think to resolve the question of free will in humans is essential in understanding the purpose we are serving. This approach is relatively cost effective, as a small number of subjects would suffice to test the hypothesis. The costs would reside with the time to develop a proper algorithm as well as the hardware. Nevertheless there are ethical constraints to this approach, as the subjects would have to share a lot of very personal data. Furthermore if the hypothesis was tested to be true I assume there would be tremendous effects on society.

I would love to hear your opinion on this topic. Maybe someone can point out similar experiments or approaches I missed so far in my research.


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  • Apr 24 2013: Such an algorithm is just impossible (or at least imparctical) to develop. Even assuming everything in the universe is deterministic, our lives change in just one second, in ways we did not plan or expect, by things that seem to be random and which cannot be predicted with even the most powerful computer physically possible, because in order to be able predict anything accurately you need to code a model of the whole universe. Imagine the guy who met his wife because a flat tire, just a small nail in the middle of the road was all what's needed to change the life of two persons for ever, their children wouldn't exist if that nail wouldn't have been there at the right moment. Whether we like it or not our decisions are influenced in some measure by the people around us, meeting someone can have a tremendous impact in our lives in the long run. Life is plenty of those things we call "accidents", that seem to happen randomly and can change our situation and decisions dramatically in just a blink of the eye. So without all the information required to predict those accidents no accurate result can be achieved.
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      Apr 24 2013: I agree with this answer, life is too serendipitous for us to be able to assume predictability. Basically you are attempting to find the entanglements - or at least to analyze what data (life) we have now to discover congruencies, which I think is a great idea in fields other than sociology or psychology.

      For example we do this sort of thing I've noticed with inventions - what has worked here in time for the ancients may be formidible nowadays with a minor change. I guess I don't see the point in trying to find what little congruencies or entanglements that we can through study of people's lives - that is the one area where there actually is free will and I think we should leave it alone.
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        Apr 25 2013: Hi Kendl, I think it is a great idea to also pay close attention to non-human, non-living entities in regards to entanglements. However to test for free will, only humans subjects are applicable.

        I do not agree to 'leave alone' any topic, because it stops me from learning.
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      Apr 25 2013: Hi George, I agree that it is impractical to reconstruct the universe from scratch with current technology and resources! Nevertheless I think we are capable to remodel parts of the universe in a way that predictions higher than chance can be made. Personally I think there is no true randomness. Assume an aparatus that tosses a coin in a controlled, stable environment. If the aparatus acts the same, the coin will always show for example head. My point is, that perceived randomness of an event is always the result of a number of known and unknown factors. The more unknown factors that contribute to an event, the more 'random' the event appears to us.
      • Apr 30 2013: Maybe the universe is deterministic, may be not. But if you are familiar with the chaos theory you may know that even in fully deterministic systems, long therm predictions are impossible. Knowing all the facts, causes and consequences does not make you able to forecast any future state of the system, beyond certain point in time. In other words the accuracy of your predictions depend on the time span between the initial conditions and the point in time which you want to predict, which means you loose accuracy as you grow the time span. The point in which you reach zero accuracy may be years away or just few hours depending on the complexity of the system.
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          Apr 30 2013: You are bringing up an important aspect, thanks! Do you think that predictions for an immediate response to a problem / decision making process would be sufficient - if accuracy is higher than chance - to make a case against free will and for determinism?

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