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free-will

eSkeptic for eSkeptic for January 11, 2017

Stephen Beckner reviews season one of HBO’s most-watched TV series Westworld, and considers some of the concepts presented in the first ten episodes: creation, evolution, artificial intelligence, memory, consciousness, self-awareness, free will, and suffering. WARNING: This review contains spoiler alerts.

Reading Room
Out of the Loop, Lost in the Maze:
The Stealth Determinism of Westworld

Stephen Beckner reviews season one of HBO’s most-watched TV series Westworld, and considers some of the concepts presented in the first ten episodes: creation, evolution, artificial intelligence, memory, consciousness, self-awareness, free will, and suffering. WARNING: This review contains spoilers from season one, and speculation about future events.

Past Lecture
Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist

Neuroscientist Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest—his instinctual (if “romantic”) belief that life is meaningful.

Past Lecture
Sam Harris on “Free Will”

In this lecture, based on his new book, Sam Harris “…demonstrates—with great intellectual ferocity and panache—that free will is an inherently flawed and incoherent concept, even in subjective terms. If he is right, the book will radically change the way we view ourselves as human beings.” (UCSD neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran)

Past Lecture
Who’s in Charge? Free Will and
the Science of the Brain

Do we have free will or are our lives simply determined by the same physical laws that control the world around us? For the most part, science has embraced the determinist point of view. But the U.C. Santa Barbara psychologist Michael S. Gazzaniga—the man Tom Wolfe has called “one of the most brilliant experimental neuroscientists in the world”—is not convinced…

eSkeptic for 11-04-27

In this rich article on an ancient problem, Skeptic contributor Phil Mole discusses the problem of free will. The problem is this: how can we hold people accountable for their actions if we live in a determined universe? A variety of solutions to the problems are reviewed from the ancient Greeks to modern scientists, philosophers, and even science fiction writers such as Philip K. Dick in his classic novel Minority Report. Mole finds compelling new arguments from complexity theory and cognitive neuroscience that reveal the intricate network of causes and effects at work in our conscious minds.

Past Lecture
From Particles to People:
The Laws of Nature and the Meaning of Life

HUMAN BEINGS DO NOT STAND OUTSIDE NATURE; we are a part of it. Ultimately we are made of particles, evolving and interacting according to the laws of physics. And we know what those laws are — the progress of modern science has reached a point where the laws underlying everyday life are completely understood. This is a lecture you won’ want to miss!

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