Introduction to this blog

Consciousness can be generated by the process of computation! This is the claim of neuroscientists and computer scientists. However, the Vedic literature provides a clear idea that conscious by its nature is not a matter and hence it cannot be generated by any kind of complex computation that is due to matter. This blog is to explore the science of consciousness from Vedic perspective.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Computation and Free will

The most debatable topic among researcher of computation  and consciousness is whether the living entity posses free will or not ? Most of the prominent scientists think that there is nothing like free will and everything that human being does is based on deterministic course of actions. According to some neuro-scientists the actions that a human being performs is nothing but a set of instructions executed in the brain in algorithmic fashion. Hence from that scientists speculate that there may not anything like free will, everything that happens is due to some complex algorithmic computation. However there are some phenomena which are really impossible to explain in terms algorithmic steps. Prof Penrose in his books Emperor's New Mind and Shadow of the Mind explains that there is something exists in the human which is non-computational in nature. He argues that the self awareness of human being is non-computational in nature. He compares this self awareness nature of human being with the various kind of action that a machine can mimic. Although the action that a machine can mimic might looks very similar to that the man can perform, however the difference between these is that the man is aware that he is performing something but the machine can not. Hence from this argument we can know that there is something which is non-computational in nature. Now, we have to see that how the similar kind of non-computational nature is also present in the will of human being which is known as free will. We will discuss the Vedic perspective on this free will in latter sections.

The free-will which is defined as a subjective choice of each individual  for their thoughts and action. Lets first consider the human being and try to observe and analyze some phenomena that  human being perform in his day to day life.  Lets try to observe the following sets of experiment; lets ask a person to make a foot path by walking for the first time and then let ask him to do the same for the second time and each time he does the we will color the foot print with unique colors. Now if we observe properly we can see that each of these foot path trace are different at least in one place (practically these foot prints are misaligned). From this observation the question comes why these foot prints are not aligned ? Lets do another experiment. Lets ask a person to write his own signature multiple times. In this case also we can see that none of these signature will match with each other exactly one-to-one. Why ? What is the reason for this ? 

Another kind of phenomena are also worth noticing. When we walk on the street or road  it is impossible for an observer to predict the movement of our feet or even it is not possible to predict the next step. Why this is a difficult problem although it does not seems like that ? Similarly it is difficult (perhaps impossible) to predict the projectile path of a flying bird.
Why it is difficult  to determine the next step in case of above described experiments. If we turn bit towards the machine we never faced any difficulty in determining the next step of computer. It is really very easy for some one to tell about the future steps of computer if he knows sufficient about the past and present state of computer. More technically, if some knows the current instructions he can very easily predict he next instruction to be executed by the processor. However in case of human foot step and trace of flying bird its seems that it is impossible to determine the next step. Science has its own approach to answer  this problem and similarly spirituality also its own approach to answer the same.

Looking from the modern science there are many attempt taken by prominent scientists mainly from neuro science. There opinions suggest that such kind of phenomena are mainly due to the collective behavior of  many neurons. Hence they hypothesizes that if we can learn sufficient enough the complex behavior of neurons it is possible to predict the future action of any living system(foot steps of human or trace of flying bird ). The spirituality goes beyond the neurons and answers the same question in quite differently. According to the Indian Vedic scripture each and every living entity are not just a lump of chemicals but they are spirit soul. The spirit soul has a set of fundamental property. One of its fundamental property is FREE WILL and because of this free will a living entity can act subjectively. The subjective action is only know to the performer but not to the observer. Hence according to the Vedic scripture the presence of free will is the cause of non deterministic action.

Jaynarayan, Bangalore, India

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