Neuroscience writer David Disalvo writes there:
In a recent study published in Cognition, researchers tested the question with hundreds of undergrads at Georgia State University in Atlanta. The students were first told about a high-tech cap that allows neuroscientists to predict decisions before people make them, based solely on brain activity. The students were then given an article to read about a woman named Jill who tested wearing the cap for a month, during which time neuroscientists were able to predict all of her decisions, including which candidates she’d vote for. The technology and Jill were made up for the study.
The students were asked whether they thought this technology was plausible and whether they felt that it undermines free will. Eighty percent responded that it is plausible, but most did not believe it threatened free will unless the technology went beyond prediction and veered into manipulation of decisions. Only if the neuroscientists had somehow changed Jill’s mind to make decisions she would not have otherwise made did most of the student’s think her free will was jeopardized.
A bit different from here,
Science writer Michael Lemonick announced in Time (1995), ” … consciousness is somehow a by-product of the simultaneous, high-frequency firing of neurons in different parts of the brain. It’s the meshing of these frequencies that generates consciousness … just as the tones from individual instruments produce the rich, complex and seamless sound of a symphony orchestra.” Actually, Francis Crick and Christof Koch, who put forward that concept, considered it highly speculative. And Crick prudently hedged his bets anyway by saying that Darwinian evolution did not equip our brains for such tasks as understanding consciousness.
What’s remarkable (to some of us) is how few educated people see that undermining free will is a direct assault by totalitarians on society. It always means, in practice, that instead of us making decisions, they will. They don’t care if they don’t have free will. They just want to be the ones making all decisions, and then they are happy.
On the other hand, the decision to cater to traditional thinkers could have to do with questionable profitability of big media in the age of the Internet. Hard to say.
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (the human mind)
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