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Free won't | Moran Cerf | TEDxAix

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Are we indeed making choices volitionally and freely, or can our decisions be predicted before they are accessible to us? In a world where neuroscientists are able to access the depths of our psyche and parse our choices before ‘we’ do, the question of who is this ‘we’ who is speaking on our behalf becomes even more enchanting. In a compelling talk about the current state of neuroscience studies of free will, Professor Moran Cerf addresses questions like: How many people are there inside our head? Can we incept an idea? Is there a way for us to record our dreams? and How can businesses benefit from current neuroscience research when knowledge about our own desires is not always even available to us? Moran Cerf is a professor of Business (Kellogg School of Management) and Neuroscience. His research uses methods from brain research to understand the underlying mechanisms of our psychology. In addition, he is the Alfred P. Sloan professor of screenwriting at the American Film Institute.He works with patients undergoing brain-surgery to study behavior, emotion, decision making and dreams, by directly recording the activity of individual nerve cells using electrodes implanted in their brain. Recently, his focus has been on the neural mechanisms that underlie decision-making, thereby offering a new perspective on predicting future choices and investigating how much free will we have in our decisions. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Cerf spent nearly a decade in industry, holding managerial and development positions in computers security, pharmaceutical, telecom, Fashion, software development, and innovations development. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx
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Text Comments (29)
AMT (4 months ago)
Is it the unconscious mind or like your somatic response kinda thing like does your body not send signals that "i am going to control motor movements to press button A" which is not the same as reading your mind... can someone confirm or disconfirm this?
Arthur Hare (5 months ago)
This guy reduces us all to Pavlov dogs!
Marcos Iorio (5 months ago)
I'd like to translate it to portuguese and spanish. Defenitevely a knowledge worth sharing! May I?
Made In China (6 months ago)
This is not disproves 'free will' it just tells us that our brain already knows what we going to do/say before it expressed.
Mox Nicks (1 year ago)
The fact that there is no free will is pure logic. It takes some people time to understand this and others see it right away. We are and continue to be the result of our DNA and all our previous experiences. The illusion of free will is shown very obviously on the MRI's. The simultaneousness of what results in the process of what we think is free will, reaffirms the illusion.
Wanda St. Hilaire (1 year ago)
Brilliant. Fastest speaker I've ever heard.
Passionate Living (1 year ago)
Slow down man. You are speaking so fast.
Rhea303 (1 year ago)
Humans do nòt have free will .. but it sure feels like we do .. and that's part of the lovely mystery that Life is.
Ashley Taylor (6 days ago)
+Dmitry Kravchenko prove water can stick to a ball. Water always remains level proving we live on a flat plane not a ball
Josephine Alquinto (1 month ago)
We have free will
M (1 year ago)
Dmitry Kravchenko The experiment of the box proves it somehow. It proves that we dont actually make CONSCIOUS decisions, but subconscious ones
Rhea303 (1 year ago)
Dmitry Kravchenko .. you are smart enough to know there is no proof that 'free will exists' and neither for ' there is no free will ' .. so your statement is kind of childish .. but maybe if you google 'Sam Harris and free will'.. you'll find some statisfying answers. I can't do or be anything more for you. Have a good evening!
Dmitry Kravchenko (1 year ago)
Argumentum ad verecundiam is a type of logic error. I don't speak about any beliefs. I speak only about reasoning. You want to prove there is no free will -- then prove it. Don't make a theatre, just make proof.
Roger Bushell (2 years ago)
Life's experiences can be very strange. For those of us with an awareness of thing's a tad above most other people's conceptions of how the mind works, this can lead one to question one's own mental stability. I am a natural lucid dreamer and throughout my life have encountered no end of strange occurrences both within sleep and waking consciousness, but one of my most sought after answers I seek is to do with voices in the head. After over sleeping my early morning alarm call I heard the gentle whisper of a female voice calling my name. That gentle whisper made me sit bolt upright in bed, it was just as if an un authorised person had entered my bedroom to stir me from my slumber. Over the next few weeks this played on my mind, as I tried to come to terms of how a seemingly external voice could encroach on my consciousness, but was the voice external or was it within my mind? A few weeks later I once again over slept my alarm clock, and once again I was awoken from sleep by the gentle whisper of the female voice calling my name , this time however I was dreaming at the time, and I was aware that the voice was not from within my dream and did not come from within my head, it was one hundred percent external. How on Earth could this be possible?
Dmitry Kravchenko (2 years ago)
Humans do have free will
Linnea Cassillas (6 months ago)
There is no logic behind this sentence: you say the brain itself is the little man. This statement does not work. You can not equate the analogy, the metaphor, with what it refers to. The little man's metaphor stands for the assumption of an agency that can override the deterministic laws that govern the functioning of the brain. To say the brain itself is the little man makes no sense anymore.
Dmitry Kravchenko (1 year ago)
We are just chemicals that follow natural laws -- absolutely agree. But this doesn't prove we don't have free will. There's no "little man" in the brains -- agree. Brains themselves IS that little man. My weird logic is just logic. Even being weird it's a logic. While your's is preaching...
Redwald Cuthberting (1 year ago)
They're not free stop deluding yourself. Microbes with 'free will' you're off your trolley. See how much you want to hold on to your delusional will? We're just chemicals that follow natural laws. There's no self located in the brain with a little man at the controls. There's no individual bit that's in charge just areas with different desires and no place where it all comes together. You've basically debunked yourself with with your weird logic in trying to make odd rationalisations so you can cling to your self illusion...
Dmitry Kravchenko (1 year ago)
That doesn't matter. You may regard a neuron as a type of microbe. So brain is a microbe colony. But this colony has free will. Yes, microbes influence each other. So what? You found extra mictrobes, which influence neuron colony? So what? They still have free will as a collective unit.
Dmitry Kravchenko (1 year ago)
You don't know what's inside an object, you should describe it by it's observables. It's scientific approach. Randomness is a free by objective definition. If black box device has (true) randomness, it has freedom. That's just definition. Additionally, if this black box can also behave purposefully, it also has a will. It's also just definition. In combination we have "free will". Here is absolutely no place for delusions or beliefs, humans just have free will, whether you like it or not, it's objective reality.
museken (2 years ago)
There is something going on. With me I'm Dreaming about things before they happen. I dreamed I was on that Egyptian plane that crashed the plane turned left violently then it shot strait up rolled over and crashed into the ocean My eyes also closed in the force made me black out. Everyone did.. That plane broke no terrorist. I also dream about the earth quake and I told people.. I don't know where it will happen or when but it does. I do have control over my actions. Stay away from facebook or instagram... and twitter.
MrShaggyww (3 years ago)
To put it simple. Conscious choice and conscious responsibility and development > Free will (poor term) The term free which does mean here that we can choose how we react to internal/external stimulus, might unecessarily suggest the lack of such stimulus at all and thats where I think most people as of right now get lost arguing around human will. Free will is in action/decision we make even thoug we might be still influenced in each of them with our growing awareness we do respond conscious of those stimulus, like being conscious of our impuslive emotional state almost instantenously calms us down and give plenty other options(choices) to act on. Its cooperation between our body, subconscious and conscious that shapes our actions and who we become, I think. How actually free you are the is the question of how well you come to understand yourself, desires, tendencies and habits, how aware of your thoughts and emotions you become, because that actually gives you much more choices to choose from in the first place. The thing is that our subconscious creates options that we actually choose from, it all is in the matter of probabilities according to present state of physics but even though genes, environment, our physiological, emotional and other psychological states (like lets call examples of them hunger, sadness, panic) definitely play a role in our behaviour, build blocks of our consciousness its still up to us how we respond with it, there were experiments where other parts of mind than frontal cortex which we claim to be responsible for conscious cognition according to our still incomplete konwledge about mind and consciousness, fair enough, activates and works before conscious parts, well when you think about it doesnt seems so dubious. Even when you move your hand for some specific type of motion sometimes you have to correct just after you've started not so rarely your clumsy movement. The same often goes for our thinking which sometimes starts in similar maner which also depends on our thinking habits, overall state, knowledge and sharpness but what is important here that, Capacity to free will should be looked in not being responsible for all our desires, fears and ideas but rather the actuall will to act on those impulses or withold looking for better options and its what we most of the time experience, isnt it? Sexual desires, artistic or character flaws its not like we've decided to be that since the begining, heres the DNA, environment and many other factors that DOES influence our way of thinking about certain things and so the way we feel about them, because theres the strong connection. Even the first scientins which made succesful discoveries about faster subconcious brain activity that conscious one, MADE a statement that it furthermore proves existence of "free will" (clumsy term) by giving us better understandment of what it really might be and about each one of us. That our desires come before our conscious decision, so sexuality is indeed in genes we can decide to supress it, but how long can you handle if its hardly ressistable of its deep root in dna and it actually doesnt harm anyone unless their way of thinking is clearly limited and biased. There always will be different people some with less capacity to willpower some with stronger environmental biases or agressive tendencies, some people really have it harder to resist their nature, everyone is in these sense individual but every brain has capacity to change, thats neuroplasticity that goes on for our whole life, our genes and early fairly suspectible to influence years of life my determine/influence who we start us in life but its our consciouss responses to all those factors and to what extent we allow them to shape our behaviour make us who we are because we are constantly changing. We might not be responsible for the deck of cards we start with and the level of difficulty of the game which it throws on us, but it is indeed in our will to decide how to play them and use to our advantage. I dont belive in superdeterministic world, as a matter of fact it was only bald assumption because of the state which physics were in, in XIX century, before quantum mechanics were actually adopted and further developed simultanously canceling the notion of determinism. The illusion of free will us understood from that radical point of view seems pretty silly and arragant of our own lack of knowledge about the world, we dont know how brain exactly works and how it might correspond to quantum mechanics which still we dont understand and just as before quantum mechanics while determinism ruled we still dont understand how does consciouss work at all, all that is claimed by anyone are just assumptions and opinions, which is nothing more than subjective fantasies. The real answer is we dont know, but there arent already really reasons to force our thinking on that the world is superdeterministic and our conscious choices are just illusions because yet again we dont undestand how it works or might work, utterly completely ignorant, close minded attitude very inhibitting our progress, I think one of the reasons it took so much time to actually start experiment with quantum equations and accept the "possibilities" behind it. So even though our chemistry might and I do belive play certain role in how we develop and how we behave, so does proper education about psychology, overall world, society, philosophy and science. We should better understand what exactly we mean by our human will and understand better ourselves and our individuality, and how other factors influence our growth and possibilities in life, instead of looking for another reason for ingorance and to throw responsibility for our own growth/life out the window,
Moea Cabral (1 year ago)
Is it really a comment or should/shall it be an article?

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