John Conway, a brilliant mathematician most famous among the masses for his invention of the finite automata Game of Life, recently began publicizing a proof on the existence of free will. Although he does not claim to prove or disprove free will, he claims to condition it.
If there exist experimenters with (some) free will, then elementary particles also have (some) free will.
John Conway gave a lecture on this in Australia and his talk has been summarized in a very well written web document. Although this document does not explain the justification for a few quantum physics axioms, it does explain them well and how the proof follows from these axioms. From my remedial knowledge of quantum physics, these are not made up and certain theories that are starting to become accepted are built on them, such as Quantum Computing.
My comments on this do not object with any of Conway’s proof; they are actually more of a commentary on his conclusions drawn from his proof. Conway’s proof shows that a property of the result of the measurement of spin-1 particle is also embedded in the experimenter measuring the spin-1 particle. Conway represents this property as “free will.” Apparently at the conclusion of Conway’s talk a member of the audience objected to this and asked Conway to explain why this property is not randomness but free will. Conway conceded that “free will” was a name he used to describe the property, which he felt was appropriate, but it might as well be called “free whim.”
I believe that “free will” has connotations which are possibly inappropriate to claim. Rather these particles have some element which is immeasurable by current technology which is resulting in the apparent willful choice or randomness. These particles could very well have a deterministic underpinning, but our technology may be unable to measure this underlying deterministic process.
On the other hand, I think the inverse of this claim is almost intuitively true, although I haven’t attempted to write a formal proof. That is, if elementary particles have free will, then so do the experimenters that they comprise. I believe comparing Conway’s proof to its inverse sheds more light on its depth; that is, free will or randomness, or immeasurability need not lie at some level between the complete person and his/her synapses, because it also lies among elementary particles and potentially below. Thus, the quest for answering the mysteries of the working of the human consciousness may indeed rely on more fundamental principles than the neural firings of the brain. I am not suggesting that this area stop being studying, but it alone may not be sufficient to completely explain consciousness scientifically.