Determinations of Cause

Always uncertain, even in the abstract.

(Add in some group dynamics to see that pluralistic ignorance and information cascades cannot be avoided.)

Causality and deceit: Do androids watch action movies?, by Dusko PavlovicTemra Pavlovic.

Abstract: We seek causes through science, religion, and in everyday life. We get excited when a big rock causes a big splash, and we get scared when it tumbles without a cause. But our causal cognition is usually biased. The ‘why’ is influenced by the ‘who’. It is influenced by the ‘self’, and by ‘others’. We share rituals, we watch action movies, and we influence each other to believe in the same causes. Human mind is packed with subjectivity because shared cognitive biases bring us together. But they also make us vulnerable.

An artificial mind is deemed to be more objective than the human mind. After many years of science-fiction fantasies about even-minded androids, they are now sold as personal or expert assistants, as brand advocates, as policy or candidate supporters, as network influencers. Artificial agents have been stunningly successful in disseminating artificial causal beliefs among humans. As malicious artificial agents continue to manipulate human cognitive biases, and deceive human communities into ostensive but expansive causal illusions, the hope for defending us has been vested into developing benevolent artificial agents, tasked with preventing and mitigating cognitive distortions inflicted upon us by their malicious cousins. Can the distortions of human causal cognition be corrected on a more solid foundation of artificial causal cognition?

In the present paper, we study a simple model of causal cognition, viewed as a quest for causal models. We show that, under very mild and hard to avoid assumptions, there are always self-confirming causal models, which perpetrate self-deception, and seem to preclude a royal road to objectivity.

Viewpoint: Causality in the Quantum World

In the case of two entangled particles, Reichenbach’s principle would suggest that the correlations between the particles could be explained by a common cause. However, we also know that quantum statistics can violate Bell’s inequalities, which means that variables** serving as common causes that could make the correlation disappear cannot exist. A quantum causal model should redefine the connection between causal statements and statistical observations by accounting for this phenomenon (see Fig. 1). It should also tell us how to derive conditional independence relations, which in turn allow us to perform Bayesian updating of probabilities. Finding a model that meets both of these requirements has been challenging.

**Yoav: Local variables.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: