Re: Free will (was: Re: Nucleus Accumbens Transplant)

J. R. Molloy (
Sun, 14 Feb 1999 10:32:19 -0800

Scott Badger asks,
>Didn't Crick just get done explaining that we are aware
>of the decisions to act but not aware of the computations
>which lead to the decisions to act? And consequently
>we confabulate to make meaning out of it all and reassure
>ourselves of our self-determination? There is only process
>and outcome. We observe the outcome and convince
>ourselves it is the product of our will.

We can't do this unless we want to do it. Our wanting to do it (or anything else, for that matter) requires that the region called the "anterior cingulate sulcus," next to Brodmann's area 24, functions well.

To prove this, Crick relates the story of what happens to someone whose anterior cingulate sulcus (the seat of Free Will) has become inoperable due to damage to that area of the brain.

>Why then would he suddenly start talking about where in the
>brain Free Will is located? Doesn't he mean "where the
>computations are?"

The computations constitute Free Will.

>Anyway, it's long been disconcerting to me that so much
>of my behavior is not actually under my control. This is one
>of the reasons I'm a transhumanist. Transhumanism to me
>is all about attaining Free Will and potentiating our intelligence.
>It may be the most important human limitation to overcome.

Many people find this information disconcerting, as Crick points out in _The Astonishing Hypothesis_.
Many people found the discovery of DNA disconcerting. Many people found the theory of heliocentricity disconcerting (especially the Pope).
Many people may find an autonomous synthetic intelligence disconcerting.

Perhaps further research and experimentation along the lines suggested by Crick (he describes several experimental approaches in his book), will discover the area of the brain which relates to feelings of disconcertedness.

--J. R.