13-16 June 2024

14 Jun 2024
Town Hall

Free Agents: Our Brain, and the Evolution of Free Will

Scientists are learning more and more about how brain activity controls behaviour. As we probe deeper into the mechanics of decision making, some conclude that free will is an illusion but leading neuroscientist Kevin Mitchell argues that we are not mere machines responding to physical forces – we are agents acting with purpose. Traversing billions of years of evolution, living beings capable of choice arose from lifeless matter. Mitchell’s argument has important implications — for how we understand decision-making, how our individual independence can be enhanced or infringed, how we think about collective agency in the face of global crises, and  how we consider the limitations and future of artificial intelligence.

Kevin Mitchell with Ian Robertson