I've been struggling with this concept for a while now.
Sam Harris can "prove" that our thoughts "have us" rather than the reverse.
In my mind there seems to be a subtle implication here.
A clockwork mind.
If is there was a decision tree, like that in a choose your own adventure book, then each choice is driven by a node in that tree.
And each node is highly loaded to a specific outcome and can be stimulated to respond to a set of inputs.
And by extension can manipulate the choice outcome in a deterministic way.
I'm not so sure.
I'm in two minds about free will.
On the one hand I can see that Sam Harris can provoke a choice of a specific node by brain stimulation.
On the other I see that in my own mind I have changed my POV based on aborting an action despite an overwhelming tendency to act on it. I'm border line aspie, so that may factor in.
I am beginning to think that Harris is right but only for one set of limited cases.
Newtonian vs Einsteinian so to speak.
If, and I do stress this, IF, as I think, the mind is a fantastically complex expert system with a massively integrated and reversal feedback system, with massively integrated, non linear, overlapping and orthogonal nodal systems, then it is conceivable that individual nodes can be non-deterministic and self weighting.
If that is a valid statement, then I am left to conclude that the mind IS a complex expert system using a learning feedback loop/decision tree, but that each node and inter connected nodal systems are quantised. The implication for me is that each of the specific minuscule chemical events at the nodes can be affected by quantum effects, thus leading to outcomes which change over time. One electro-chemical event occurring, due to quantum effects, fractionally before another leading to a cascade effect across the entire nodal system and causing adjustments to the weighting system at the node and inter-nodal levels.
If that is the case, then I can only come to the conclusion that inter-connected nodal systems can be simulated as in Harris' view, but the overall system can have an existence that overrides such effects.
Thus our free will may be deterministic, but affected by non-deterministic quantum effects.
Are we still free?
We are left with the question as to whether the complex decision tree nodal systems can have any effect on the quantum effects. Hmm. If, as I suspect, our minds are similar to the Chewie effect, then some events may occur before others depending on what perspective frame one views it in. Effect may be before cause in one frame and the reverse in another.
This is a bit of a muddled post, but I will clear it up as time progresses. I'm still thinking about this one and will clear it up as I go along.