Freebits: An Interesting Big Bang argument for free will



Caleb Sharp (in the picture), Author of The rise of information (2021), offers A section at the nautilus This introduces two new terms, the “dataome” and “freebits”.

The Datom is all the way people create information, from cave paintings to cloud servers. He asks, “Was it all really inevitable? Have we ever had the choice to create a dataome or to do some of what we do, and does every self-conscious being in the universe have a choice? “

Dependent on theoretical computer scientists Scott Aaronson‘s 2013 essay, “The ghost in the quantum Turing machine“He urges us to remember that there are two types of uncertainty, only one of which could create a choice.

Typical “coincidence” actually follows statistical laws, a point that is often referred to here Mind Matters News by Gary Smith. For example, large data sets can have phantom patterns (“Women who develop breast cancer are more likely to have two dogs”). With so many possible patterns in a data set of 50,000 cancer patients, a few “phantoms” are sure to show up. Such patterns are generally deleted in a new set of 50,000. But in the meantime, someone can post some research creating fear of cancer and dogs. See: “Cancer Maps: An Expensive Source for Phantom Patterns?” So statistical randomness does not mean freedom; it just means that the patterns we think we see are often absent.

There is, says Scharf, a different kind of randomness Chivalrous uncertainty named after an economist in the early 20th Frank Ritter:

An airline could predict that the risk of an accident on one of its aircraft is exactly one in every 20 million take-offs. But the economic outlook for airlines 30 years from now contains so many unknown factors that it is incalculable.

Peter Dizikes, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Explained: Knight’s uncertainty” at the

As far as we know, there may not be Be all airlines in 30 years. So what is to be calculated? As sharp says it “There is no neat and tidy probabilistic solution. It will never be known why the chicken crossed the street. ”If we had the computing power to calculate everything in the universe, we would come across quantum mechanics, which gives free will to nature. And this is where the freebits come into play:

Aaronson argues that things are more interesting when the very first (quantum) state of the universe has Knight’s uncertainty. The exact state of the new universe does not have to be determined by the statistical rules of chance. It could be just as strangely unpredictable as the previous example where someone perverted guess the code crash number. In this case, the information describing this state – and subsequently all the states that the universe will assume, including all of its atoms, us and all extraterrestrials – can be regarded as “freebits” (in Aaronson’s terminology). And freebits are, so to speak, the last word in the cosmic decision.

These freebits must also be of a quantum mechanical nature. This means that they are also “qubits” – the version of the simple old 1 and 0 bits that apply to objects and systems with quantum behavior. They are blurry, indefinite things until called up and brought into focus. This is a complication I’m not really going to bother with because it really gives us a headache. Fortunately, you don’t need to know all of these details to get a feel for where freebits are taking us

Caleb A. Sharp, “Is the Universe an Open End?” at the nautilus (June 16, 2021)

Sharp suggests that these freebits be in the cosmos as part of the estimated 10mos122 Bits here that are gradually used up over time. You may be a factor in human consciousness:

Perhaps this could also apply to structures such as the human brain and its thoughts. If we could untangle the myriad trillions of molecular and atomic interactions and chained events in a brain and the still subtle impulses of quantum uncertainty here and there, we could find that everything goes back to the original free bits, thereby restoring some kind of free will to ourselves. I’m not suggesting some kind of stupid mystical quantum brain connection; it’s all just physics (well, it’s all physics-on-the-border-with-philosophy). But it could very well be that your spontaneous decision to put an unsuspecting chicken on the side of the road is truly chivalrous, with a lineage that goes back to the Big Bang.

Caleb A. Sharp, “Is the Universe an Open End?” at the nautilus (June 16, 2021)

The idea is imaginative, but Scharf concludes with a practical conclusion: “The essence of all of this is that information is more than one would expect. It’s not just a way to explore the fundamentals of nature; it can be part of the basics. “

Indeed. But, in general, information is created and recognized by heads. Or maybe, in the case of the universe, a ghost. Sharp doesn’t sound like it’s going that far. But if a spirit created the universe and wanted free will to be possible, then perhaps Aaronson’s freebits would be a way to do it.

You may also want to read:

At Scientific American: The aliens could be extremely boring. Well we can’t be sure, can we? It’s literally a whole different world. Caleb Scarf asks us to imagine that they are outside but just not very exciting – like a boring crowd in the neighborhood.


Quantum randomness gives nature free will. Whether or not quantum randomness explains how our brains work, it can help us create unbreakable encryption keys. In the quantum world I can flip the same coin under exactly the same conditions and sometimes heads and sometimes tails without any factor in the universe determining the result. (Robert J. Marks)



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