Are the robots we create alive?

Fragment of a discussion from User talk:Sheldor
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"Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills." Or so it was once said.

I can imagine that the world might be entirely deterministic if you could truly know all the laws of the universe and all the states of matter and energy within. But I don't like the idea that people are how they are in a deterministic way rather than there being some non-deterministic quality to our free will. I think most of us would prefer the latter.

I'll end that thought with my cryptic answer to the question of the meaning and purpose of life: To be happy matter.

Presumably, that answer could be rewritten in a way that equals 42.

Skotty20:18, 22 February 2013

I generally think that for the most part, as people, we are fairly predictable and deterministic, however the set of variables going into our behaviour essentially makes up the entire description of our body and its surroundings, making it a problem of incalculable dimensions as far as predicting behaviour.

Although subatomic particles may be non-deterministic, once the billions of them are combined into a single cell in a single flake of skin which comprises a microscopic piece of the covering of your baby toe, the amount of redundancy essentially reduces the problem from non-deterministic into mostly deterministic.

Although our lives may already be mostly determined, because of that subatomic non-determinism the future cannot actually be predicted even if we managed to capture the current starting variables perfectly, because eventually the low-probability event of a lot of subatomic particles all acting together will come to pass and the wings of a butterfly will cause an unexpected hurricane.

Skilgannon10:50, 23 February 2013

The problem of non-determinism in quantum mechanics goes beyond the redundancy turning it from non-deterministic into deterministic on average.

The results of the double-slit experiment pointed in the direction that quantum mechanics reacts to observers.

If you assume an electron is a wave and observe it like a wave, it will behave like a wave. If you assume it is a particle and observe it like a particle, it will behave like a particle. You can drastically change the result of the experiment, simply by choosing how you look at it.

Dr Quantum - Double Slit Experiment

MN17:18, 23 February 2013