Machine Free Will: Is Free Will a Necessary Ingredient of Machine Consciousness? [chapter]

Riccardo Manzotti
2011 Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology  
Sooner or later, machine consciousness will have to address the elusive notion of free will either to dismiss it or to produce a machine implementation. It is unclear whether freedom and consciousness are independent aspects of the human mind or by-product of the same underlying structure. Here, the relevant literature is reviewed focusing on the connection between determinism and freedom-usually explored by compatibilists. Eventually, a tentative model for machine free will is outlined.
more » ... is outlined. Abstract Sooner or later, machine consciousness will have to address the elusive notion of free will either to dismiss it or to produce a machine implementation. It is unclear whether freedom and consciousness are independent aspects of the human mind or by-product of the same underlying structure. Here, the relevant literature is reviewed focusing on the connection between determinism and freedom-usually explored by compatibilists. Eventually, a tentative model for machine free will is outlined. For a time I thought of the problem of the freedom of the will as the most suitable Gordian knot; but in the end I opted for the concept of the mind (Ryle 1970 [31], p. 2) Free will might be a necessary ingredient to design autonomous machines. Furthermore, as it has been said for consciousness, the attempt at emulating free will in machines might pave the way to its understanding. Between consciousness and free-will there are complex relationships that did not receive enough attention in recent cognitive literature probably due to demanding ontological and philosophical issues. The recent debate on free will often stresses the relation with consciousness notwithstanding the skepticism of a few authors. Martin Heisenberg remarks that we need not be conscious of our decisionmaking to be free. What matters is that actions are self-generated. Conscious awareness may help improve behavior, but it does not necessarily do so. Why should an action become free from one moment to the next simply because we reflect upon it? [14, p. 164]. Yet, the target of this skepticism seems to be the enabling role of consciousness rather than some broader and deeper connection between consciousness and free will. And it is difficult to criticize Heisenberg's view although, it must be stressed that he is arguing probably against a conceptual straw man-has anyone really maintained that consciousness is enough to the freedom of a choice? And what kind of consciousness? Heisenberg's criticism is fueled by a reflective model of consciousness seen as higher order thought. This is by no means the only possibility. Although self determination is a key ingredient of free will, without a more precise understanding of consciousness final conclusions are prematurely drawn. Is it justified to rule out deep relations between consciousness and freedom? Aren't our intuition endorsing some kind of identity between a free choice and a conscious one? Have one ever taken a free choice while acting automatically and unconsciously? Is it conceivable a subject at the same time conscious and lacking any free will, whatever it is? R. Manzotti ( )
doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-0164-3_15 pmid:21744219 fatcat:hf73oune7jcz5jn2poussc6ufy