# VI. The Mind’s Eye and Free Will

Quantum probabilities always manifest themselves to you as preferences. You are more likely to direct your thoughts to those states with higher $\alpha_k$ state coefficients, that is, you are more likely to direct your thoughts to those things you prefer. You freely choose what to think about. And, once you’ve chosen where to direct your thoughts, the choices you make there, too, follow quantum probabilities corresponding to your preferences. So, your will is free and indeterminant, but it is constrained to follow the probabilities of quantum mechanics – you are constrained to probably do what you want and need to do.

Is this truly free will, though? Descartes famously said: “the will is by its nature so free that it can never be constrained“. But, if we examine our will certain things are very hard to do. For example, it would be very hard to, on a whim, stab ourselves in the gut with a knife. Search your feelings, do you think you can even will yourself to do that? I have a very strong preference to not do this action. The quantum coefficients there are very small. Even though my will is free it is probabilistically constrained. On the less dramatic side, I have a very hard time resisting chocolate. My best strategy is to not even think about eating chocolate. I have made this mistake in the past and felt terrible later. I have learned over time, and, relying on my ability to store long-term memories, my quantum probabilities have adjusted to avoid this trap. Nowadays, I am aware of the consequences of my choices, my preferences have adjusted, and I don’t “go there”. This illustrates how our preferences can be recursively affected. Furthermore, the more I think about chocolate the more tempting it becomes – the mere act of thinking about something can recursively alter the state we are in, change our preferences. The quantum state coefficients may be altered the more and more we think about something. And, once I eat one bite, it becomes almost impossible to not eat more. My choices feel constrained probabilistically to my preferences which are dual to the quantum state coefficients.

Figure 14: Artist’s illustration of the mind’s eye. The focus of our thoughts can feel like a third eye. From Psychology Today here.

“You can choose a ready guide

In some celestial voice

If you choose not to decide

You still have made a choice

You can choose from phantom fears

And kindness that can kill

I will choose a path that’s clear

I will choose free will.”

– the song Free Will by Rush (1980)

Of course, thinking about the prospect of going to dinner, and actually doing it are two different things. If we make too many weak measurements too quickly we will ascertain the state of the system definitively and collapse the wave function – a strong measurement. If that’s what you want to do – if you choose to push the button – you focus on it sufficiently to activate it. You make enough weak measurements of yourself to reveal sufficient information about yourself to push the button, you make a definitive choice. You make a choice in the 1st person to push the button, and a measurement is made of you in the 3rd person by the button. Then, this button triggers a whole chain of events, including pressing other buttons, related to going out to dinner.

A great question naturally arises: can you “game” the system”? In other words, can you do what you don’t want to do? The mere act of thinking about this, however, changes the game. You no longer are just thinking about whether you want to go out for dinner, but are now considering a much more abstract topic. Indeed, you are projecting yourself now onto a whole different button – a “game the system” button!

“Free will is neither fate, nor chance. In some unfathomable way it partakes of both.” – Martin Gardner. Hat tip here for the quote