EP Repost: Chaos Theory and Philosophy

I’m reposting the posts I posted on ExperienceProject onto this blog.
Some of the information in this is factually incorrect, but I’ve since learned.
I never did get around to updating it.

Original post date: November 26, 2013

Note: I’m also including various comment replies (with their usernames censored, of course), since I’ve generated some very long comment threads with this.

Chaos Theory And Philosophy

I need to update this story. My arguments are weak and there is some inaccurate information. I will eventually post a stronger and better argument.

What is your opinion on free will? Chaos Theory dictates that randomness does not exist. Doesn’t that mean free will doesn’t exist? Everything is predetermined. But then we have to argue about the Uncertainty Principle. Is it truly random? Or is it quasirandom? If the Uncertainty Principle is truly random, then the universe would be over-run by chaos. It seems as if the universe is governed by a fractal-based ToE equation–a recursive fractal-esque formula. With any mathematically-generated formula, there is no “true” random. It seems that, if the Uncertainty Principle is not truly random, there can’t be free will. Even so, how can we be sure the Uncertainty Principle is random or not? We live in a universe governed by it, and you can’t take a measurement of a set from within the set itself. You can approximate the set, but you can’t make accurate measurements (you are bounded by the limits of the set). Unless we were an outside observer, we would never truly know whether or not the Uncertainty Principle is truly random. It may seem random, but there’s a set order to the chaos (Chaos Theory and fractal geometry). Everything, in this case, would be predetermined. What does that mean for our judgement and ethics? Doesn’t that give reason for everyone to do what they please (because it was their fate to do so? If we get answers that point towards “fate” (quasirandom outcomes), wouldn’t that alter our better judgement (even though we were “destined” to do so) and cause us to make rash “decisions” (even though the outcome was predetermined)? Chaos Theory raises many philosophical and ethical arguments. What’s your take on all this?

Click Read More to read selected comment threads (Warning: GIANT wall of text. It’s organized, though). They contain more insight Or if you don’t want to sift through a wall of text, browse the actual page: http://bit.ly/12NTDWm

Thread 1

User 1 [Dec 2, 2013]: First, I request you forgive me for speaking plainly. I understand physics but that is not the language Im most fluent in.. Im a bit more metaphysical. Our free will is what determines the conditions. It doesnt disapear because of our entry into the set universe. It can appear to if you forget that you made the rules. At the very least you agreed to them upon entry, your mind and free will agreed to certain conditions.. Your trajectory IS predetermined, your mindset is the variable. Remembering that you have free will in spite of being tempted to blame the fates we do indeed create, is the key to truly understanding and transcending.

Me [Dec 16, 2013]: My, my, sorry for a late reply. You must have posted on a day I had received several responses, and thus, I might have overlooked your response. Metaphysics is certainly an interesting thing to talk about, and can be considered in this particular situation, but it’s important to draw a line between philosophy and physics somewhere. So let me ask you this: Prove to me that you have free will (via logic, deductive reasoning, or whatever you may feel fit to use). What set these initial conditions? Isn’t our mindset the result of the processes of a billion neuron firings. which is in turn controlled by chemistry, in turn puppeted by physics, in turn governed by mathematics, and thus, has a set pattern? I mean, gravity accelerated at 9.8m/s^2 before, during, and after its discovery. Just because we haven’t found the formula yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I’m talking philosophically and mathematically, that is, purely hypothetically and theoretically speaking.

User 2 [Apr 29, 2014]: What the hell does it matter that we are AI or that sentience is nothing special. Fact is, you cant get out of it. So why all this useless bickering.

We’ve invented logic, deductive reasoning and all that crap for ourselves. Nothing can completely♥ hijack a video game/universe and make it completely subservient to it’s own whims. It can have more control if it’s more intelligent, but then after reaching a certain intellectual level it’ll stop giving a shit about things a certain level of intellect below it. Making at least a certain part of them basically free.


User 3 [Dec 15, 2013]:  My pocket calculator has a random number function. When I want a random number, all I have to do is press the button for it. If it’s so easy to generate randomness in a device so cheap and small, then I have to conclude that the universe, being so enormous, certainly must allow randomness too. Therefore I must have free will — at least to a degree that’s sufficient to get me through the day without doing something against my will.

Me [Dec 15, 2013]:  ACTUALLY, there’s no such thing as true random.

randInt works by the Random Digits table. It’s a string of numbers that are mathematically generated to be as random as you can get… yet it’s still pseudorandom. Each row of the random digits table are arranged into groups of five, and there are 30-60 numbers per row (if I remember correctly). So if you type in randInt(50,99,5), it’ll basically count off numbers in groups of three (maximum digits of upper bound). The calculator uses the Random Digits algorithm (though only pseudorandom) to generate this table. Let’s say your first row is:

19223 95034 05756 28713 96409 12531 42544 82853

We asked the calculator to give 5 random numbers between 50 and 99. It counts the numbers off in the random digits table in groups of 2, because our upper bound 99, has 2 digits. Is 19 in our bounds? Nope. Is 22 in our bounds? Nope. Is 39 in our bounds? Nope. Is 50 in our bounds? Yes. Is 34 in our bounds? Nope. Is 05 in our bounds? Nope. Is 75 in our bounds? Yes. Is 62 in our bounds? Yes. Is 87 in our bounds? Yes. Is 13 in our bounds? No. Is 96 in our bounds? Yes. Do we now have 5 valid pseudorandom numbers? Yes. Then display {50, 75, 62, 87, 96}. I learned how it did it earlier this year in AP stats. In fact, I had to take a Simple Random Sample manually (and probably will still need to on the AP exam and stuff).

In layman’s terms, even my high-end “pocket” calculator, the TI-Nspire CX, cannot generate true random. There is a mathematical algorithm to generate it. Like everything else we experience, it only SEEMS random… but there’s a set process to it behind the scenes.

Here is a string of allegedly random numbers I got from my calculator: 555017810353162274922920768022324036798858476879796859732617881164874302342102086462353706. Do you think they’re really random or is my calculator faking it?


User 4 [Mar 10, 2014]: Everything is done on free will, exept things that are uncontrollable. It’s that simple.

Me [Mar 10, 2014]: No it isn’t. That’s the layman, uneducated idea. That’s like saying “My cell-phone works because it just does, nothing more to it.”

User 4 [Mar 10, 2014]: A cell phone is not a good way to compare our lives.

A cell phone works because we use the scientific rules governing our world to make it work, ones life is completely random, saying otherwise would imply that there is a belief of a higher being.

Me [Mar 10, 2014]: No, but it is a good way to compare your logic. Your logic is flawed. Take the random number generator in a calculator, or any video-game of Pokemon. Everything appears random until you find the formula behind it.

User 4 [Mar 11, 2014]: Saying that the workings of life is not without cause is indeed true, but saying that the way life unfolds is all predetermined is acknowledging the existence of a higher being.

Me [Mar 11, 2014]: Not necessarily. (Also, while religion is BS, from a philosophical perspective, a higher being “creator” per-se could exist). Math, for instance, was not created. It is the one thing that will exist in some form in every universe, no matter what, due to the nature of math. It’s impossible to “create” math; only discover it and term it, kind of like how we discovered electricity and discovered ways to manipulate it (only it’s different because it isn’t conceptual and inherent). Also, statistically speaking, even if we say the initial states for each universe is randomly generated, due to mathematical models, everything will have a certain behavior (although, so incredibly intricate with so many variables that one would think it has to be random all throughout the process).

So really, “God” is math.

User 4 [Mar 11, 2014]: You seem to have it twisted. It seems you have acknowledge the existence of a higher being, but your dislike of a higher being stops the full acknowledgment.

Either life is random and not predetermined by God, or it is. There is no in between.

And again, all the things you compared to life are not even living. Philosophically speaking, life is random or being planned by God or something of that calibre.

Me [Mar 11, 2014]: I don’t have it twisted. You just don’t understand. I acknowledge a higher being in the same way I acknowledge the Multiverse Theory, String Theory, or the like. That’s what “God” is to me–nothing more than a theory, nothing more than a reasoned explanation. We base theories on theories all the time. In fact, we’re making the assumption that everything else exists. For instance, you can’t prove your existence to me. How do I know you’re nothing but a cleverly programmed NPC? I don’t put my foot down and say “String Theory is 100% correct.” Because it isn’t. It’s a THEORY. Something to be regarded. In fact, God is more of a conjecture than a theory. Theories are far more substantiated than a conjecture.

Saying there’s no in-between is an *extremely* naive, uninformed, and very layman approach to the topic. It is perfectly possible for the universe to come about without a creator. Infinity stretches in both directions. There could very well be a universe that has always existed, consisting entirely of Von Neumann machines. Take Conway’s Game of Life, but stretch its existence infinitely far back and infinitely forward. Instead of cells, these are the Von Neumann machines, which could theoretically exist; in fact, we are a form of Von Neumann machines.
Did I say LIFE? I never said life. Why? Because I’m talking about the universe as a whole, which includes life.

And no, I never said it’s planned by God. God is more like a slots-machine manufacturer and programmer playing his own slot machine. Even though he built it, even though he could technically hack the machine to have a certain outcome, the outcome is determined by a mathematical model of rapidly changing numbers. Again, math.

Even if there was a God, God would use some form of mathematically describable model to generate his universes.

Again. “God” is math.

Also, your “arguments” make absolutely no sense and you obviously have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. Please take some time to actually read, research, and comprehend what I’m talking about, before making another lame layman “argument” like you just did. I hope you’re not taking AP Lang; you would surely misunderstand the prompt and provide very weak arguments.

User 4 [Mar 11, 2014]: Please refrain from trying to degrade my intelligence, it is very annoying and ill mannered. This is a debate of the theories, not a personal brawl.

The Chaos Theory is only acceptable when using it to explain mechanics, biology, and other stuff that has a plain system of interrelated mechanisms and functions. It simply cannot be used to in all situations, life being one of them (that is why I made reference to life).

You can physics to predict whether a building is stronge enough to withstand certain weight, and arithmetic to predict how much your groceries will be, and geometry to see if the gears on your clock with fit, but you cannot use mathematical calculations or equations to predict what time you will wake up, or when you will die, as these things depend on many different things.

As you were mature enough to say, no theory is 100% right, else it wouldn’t be a theory. So, Chaos is about 1/2 right.

I hope you understand what I’m saying. 🙂

Me [Mar 11, 2014]: I’m not degrading your intelligence. You are most certainly far more intelligent than most your age; however, intellect has nothing to do with your ability to reason–you completely misunderstood my argument and say that I said things that I didn’t. General Chaos Theory can be used as a model in terms of its components and ideas: that randomness only appears random, and how in even the most simple of systems with the simplest set of rules, vastly different and vastly complex final states/iterations can be observed, due to the nature of the system (take the Game of Life, for instance).

To argue against your other point about our biological clocks and death times, it’s not that math *can’t* explain it, whatsoever. It can. but the equation needed to predict it would take more atoms to write down than exists in the universe–far more, because simply put, we’d need to take things back to the Big Bang, and have a model to describe each and every subatomic particle and how they interact. Or would we–the elusive Theory of Everything. Take particle simulators for cinematic purposes. We don’t need to write down the formula for every single particle. Each particle type has the same formula; plug in for the various variables to get prediction models. Of course, if all we have is an acceleration, we can’t say for sure what the velocity or position is. However, if we have two points of position, we can determine instantaneous velocity, and if we have three points of position, we can determine acceleration. Even if all we knew about a particle was its acceleration, it doesn’t mean the particle doesn’t have a position or velocity. By the laws of physics, it must have a position and a velocity, because that’s what acceleration is (literally) derived from.

Calculating this for one particle is relatively easy; nothing more than a basic Physics Honors problem; AP Physics if you do it using calculus. However, if we toss another particle into the system, if we want to be accurate, we’d need to take in the law of gravitation (F=G*((m1*m2)/r^2)) and such. Each particle interacts with every other, including the particles on opposing sides of the universe, however EXTREMELY weakly. Throw in a particle system. The more the particles (in the sense, up to an atomic limit), the more realistic the simulated system would be. They’d have to take into account the particle system for the air, smoke/fire, water–every possible atom and molecule in the frame (and then some), to be truly realistic, but each particle has the same fundamental behavior, with the laws of gravity, weak/strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and such governing their behaviors and interactions. Now we are far from having the computing power to do this. In fact, it’s impossible to do this (though mathematically possible) due to the lack of physical space to simulate every atom and molecule. Our brains are no different: biological computers that operate off of the principles of chemistry and physics. They are still particle systems, still made up of atoms and molecules with sets of rules to follow; they can be mathematically modeled, but it would be ridiculously difficult and impractical to simulate every atom of the brain. This doesn’t change the fact that we are nothing more than a part of an immensely huge particle system, for the most part a closed system–but due to the nature of the sun, stars, etc. part of the universal particle system, too. Still, each individual particle has a set of rules it follows.

It’s sort of like having a *very* huge board of a Conway’s Game of Life. Each tile represents a planck length, and the states represent whether the space has matter or doesn’t (it’s boolean due to the nature of the planck length). The board would be populated with these. It’ll *definitely* appear random and… living, even, from afar. The simplest of configurations that Conway made himself appear living and random to those unfamiliar with the game of life; on a large scale, Chaos Theory definitely kicks in–parts of the game board becoming turing-complete, fully sentient “creatures.” Yet it would still follow a basic set of rules, from a very specific set initial state.

There could very well be a model to mathematically map our every move. We just don’t know it yet. Oddly enough, my strongest argument here is not what I initially intended to make, but the prevalence of math…


Anyways, I’d love to talk more, but I am running really short on time; I have a huge project due for Graphic Arts by Monday… I need to really finish painting this model Companion Cube (I’m making a 3D foldable with facts about the cube on the inside panels–it’s hard to describe how it looks). Gotta go work on that 😛

EP Repost: Chaos Theory and Philosophy

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