Evolution Informatics

Information theory is bad news for Darwin: Evolutionary informatics takes off

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Return to product information The book Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics continues to make waves. The Lab writes to say:

A lot continues to happen surrounding the release of “Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics” by Robert J. Marks, William A. Dembski and Winston Ewert:

Here’s a quick summary of media.

– AI means the topic is Artificial Intelligence hype – EV deals with Darwinian Evolution

(AI) Janet Mefford Today – A.I. Hype & Limitations with guest Robert J. Marks (American Family Radio)

(AI) “Point of View” with Kerby Anderson. Robert J. Marks talks about AI hype

(AI) “The Remnant Road” Raging Against the Machines with guest Robert J. Marks

(AI) “Are Super Computers on the Verge of Becoming Our Overlords?’ Terry Lowry interviews Robert J. Marks

(AI) Bob’s interview on “The Going Home Show with Mark Cope” Newstalk 102.3 KXYL

(EV) Bob’s interview with Julian Charles’s on “The Mind Renewed” about “Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics”

(EV) Bob’s essay at EN “Top Ten Questions and Objections to Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics'”

(EV) Winston Ewert’s “ID the Future” podcast #1 on “Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics” titled “Author of New Book Tells Why Evolution Simulations … Don’t”

(EV) Winston’s “ID the Future” podcast #2 on “Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics” titled “Why Digital Cambrian Explosions Fizzle … Or Fake It” …

Granville’s EN “Intelligent Design Goes International — A Report from Istanbul

(EV) Bob’s essay in CNS News “Sorry Darwin: New Video Game Proves Adaptation Is Ubiquitous – Not Evolution”

(EV) Bob’s editorial in the Dallas Morning News

(EV) Bob’s interview on the Bob Phillips Show in Austin.

78 Replies to “Information theory is bad news for Darwin: Evolutionary informatics takes off

  1. 1

    Excellent post. Thank you.

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    TWSYF,

    what post?

    Denyse has yet again, given us nothing more than that a new book has been published.

    A book BTW that will sit right up there with Jinathan Wells’s efforts.

    Or more accurately, as Christopher Hitchens writes, “not be worth a footnote in the history of piffle.”

    ‘New Book?’ How about new research?

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

    “Information theory is bad news for Darwin”?

    Has there been anything that is not bad news for the Darwinian hogwash lately?
    Every new biology-related research discovery makes their pathetically weak case embarrassingly much weaker.
    It’s a shame that textbooks still refer to that nonsense as if it were serious.

  4. 4

    rvb8 @2 – you ask “‘New Book?’ How about new research?”

    Borrowing from Otangelo Grasso at a nearby post, he provides commentary of such research as follows:

    ______________

    DNA and RNA error checking and repair, amazing evidence of design

    During replication, nucleotides, which compose DNA, are copied. When E coli makes a copy of its DNA, it makes approximately one mistake for every billion new nucleotides. It can copy about 2000 letters per second, finishing the entire replication process in less than an hour. Compared to human engineering, this error rate is amazingly low. E coli makes so few errors because DNA is proofread in multiple ways. An enzyme, DNA polymerase, moves along the DNA strands to start copying the code from each strand of DNA. This process has an error rate of about one in 100,000: rather high. When an error occurs, though, DNA polymerase senses the irregularity as a distortion of the new DNA’s structure, and stops what it is doing. How a protein can sense this is not clear. Other molecules then come to fix the mistake, removing the mistaken nucleotide base and replacing it with the correct one. After correction, the polymerase proceeds. This correction mechanism increases the accuracy 100 to 1000 times.

    A Second Round of Proofreading
    There are still some errors, however, that escape the previous mechanism. For those, three other complex proteins go over the newly copied DNA sequence. The first protein, called MutS (for mutator), senses a distortion in the helix shape of the new DNA and binds to the region with the mistaken nucleotides. The second protein, MutL, senses that its brother S is attached and brings a third protein over and attaches the two. The third molecule actually cuts the mistake on both sides. The three proteins then tag the incorrect section with a methyl group. Meanwhile, another partial strand of DNA is being created for the region in question, and another set of proteins cut out the exact amount of DNA needed to fill the gap. With both the mistaken piece and newly minted correct piece present, yet another protein determines which is the correct one by way of the methyl tag. That is, the correct one does not have the methyl tag on it. This new, correct section is then brought over and added to the original DNA strand. This second proofreading is itself 99% efficient and increases the overall accuracy of replication by another 100 times.

    ________

    Back to you rvb8 –

    Comments on the above?
    How is it that you don’t see the hand of design here?
    Can you give us insight on how such a process of error detection and repair (Quality Control) might have developed over ‘deep time’? You pick the length.

    HT and thanks to Otangelo Grasso

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    DonJohnsonDD682 @5:

    Thanks for posting OG’s interesting information @4.

    Now, regarding your sharp questions @4 & @5 you should not expect the politely dissenting interlocutor to answer them seriously, because the problem is not lack of eyeglasses but lack of will and there’s nothing we can do about that. There’s no natural remedy for such a malady.
    Don’t hold your breath while waiting for serious answers to your questions. It may never happen. That’s the sad reality.

  7. 7

    Dioniso — thanks. After suffering several years of commenting at NCSE presenting similar evidences there, the unknown hope I came away with is that “lurkers” may have been receptive to evidence presented. The NCSE faithful, as has rvb8 here, have for the most part, refused to put on the glasses and remain “color blind.”

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    DonJohnsonDD682,

    Agree. Thanks.
    KF convinced me to keep in mind the lurkers, onlookers, anonymous readers.

  9. 9
    critical rationalist says:

    I’m completely confused. How is biological informatics the death blow to Darwinism?

    The appearance of design is adaptations that are the result of the creation of knowledge by nature. Knowledge plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. This isn’t new. Karl Popper developed an epistemology that included a theory of knowledge without knowing subjects decades ago.

    Sure, if you think that knowledge only comes from authoritative sources, you might conclude it’s a problem for neo-darwinsism, but that’s not exactly part of intelligent design. Not to mention that it’s bad philosophy.

    So, apparently, it’s only bad news for Darwinism if you hold an impoverished epistemological view about knowledge and philosophy.

  10. 10
    critical rationalist says:

    Yes, It’s possible that designers can design things. With that out of the way, the question is: under what conditions is it possible and wny?

    Any takers?

    Note: saying designers can design things because they are designers or have the “property of design” is a tautology.

    Still any takers?

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    Denyse has yet again, given us nothing more than that a new book has been published.

    So?

    That’s what News articles are for.

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    Yes, It’s possible that designers can design things. With that out of the way, the question is: under what conditions is it possible and wny?

    The Design of Everyday Things

    Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work

  13. 13

    critical rationalist @9:

    “The appearance of design?”
    When the phrase “The actuality of design” is used is when you see researchers start developing new engineering fields such as Biomemetics and inventing such things as Velcro and those new magical glasses that allow color blind people to see color for the first time.

    By the way rvb8 — Have you put on the glasses yet?

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=glasses+for+color+blind&&view=detail&mid=CB3E63CFB5DE5D9F4944CB3E63CFB5DE5D9F4944&FORM=VRDGAR

  14. 14
    critical rationalist says:

    @Mung

    Summarize it for us, Mung. What’s the 50,000 foot overview?

  15. 15

    Knowledge plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium.

    Why don’t you tell us what is necessary for that to take place.

  16. 16
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Why don’t you tell us what information is in exact physical terms? That is, what theory of information you are referring to when you say “information”?

    Wouldn’t a definition of what information is physicaly be rather important factor in determining what would be necessary to embed it in a storage medium?

    I’ve asked several times, and even suggested a theory that is linked to on your website (which apparently has nothing to do with it.)

    Why is this?

    Could it be that you are implicitly presenting biosemiosis itself as a physical theory of information? You just haven’t come out and explicitly said it?

    If not then, what theory are you referring to? Again if you are going to ask what is necessary to embed something physically, that implies the properties of that something must be retained in the process, which includes copying, readability, interoperability, etc. and it should take into account information in both classical and quantum physics, correct?

    Are you suggesting biosemiosis should be considered such a theory of information, and criticized as such?

  17. 17
    critical rationalist says:

    Note: when I say “a physical theory of information”, I’m referring to something like this.

    The abstract:

    We present a theory of information expressed solely in terms of which transformations of physical systems are possible and which are impossible – i.e. in constructor-theoretic terms. Although it includes conjectured laws of physics that are directly about information, independently of the details of particular physical instantiations, it does not regard information as an a priori mathematical or logical concept, but as something whose nature and properties are determined by the laws of physics alone. It does not suffer from the circularity at the foundations of existing information theory (namely that information and distinguishability are each defined in terms of the other). It explains the relationship between classical and quantum information, and reveals the single, constructor-theoretic property underlying the most distinctive phenomena associated with the latter, including the lack of in-principle distinguishability of some states, the impossibility of cloning, the existence of pairs of variables that cannot simultaneously have sharp values, the fact that measurement processes can be both deterministic and unpredictable, the irreducible perturbation caused by measurement, and entanglement (locally inaccessible information).

  18. 18

    Has anyone ever asked you a question and you actually responded to the direct content of the question?

    You state that knowledge is information embedded in a medium that plays a causal role in it preservation. I asked you what is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation. That was your statement. Can you not speak about it?

  19. 19
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Has anyone ever responded to a question you’ve asked by asking you to clarify a term that is relevant to that question, and had you actually follow though? Is this not something you can speak of?

    Or are you asking me for a theory of information, as well as how it plays a causal role in being retained? I’ve already provided one in the link above. Do you have any criticism of it? Do you have any specific questions? Do you expect me to re-write the entire paper here in a comment box?

    If we do not agree on what information is in a physical sense, then exactly how do you expect us to make progress?

  20. 20

    Ill try again:

    You stated that knowledge is information embedded in a medium that plays a causal role in its preservation. I’m asking you what is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation.

    Please don’t ask me to clarify what you meant by the words you used to make your statement.

    If you cannot answer the question, then just say “I do not know”.

  21. 21
    Dionisio says:

    Dear all,

    Until the evo-devo literature shows macro-evolutionary cases of biological systems (ca,d1,d2) that rigorously meet the formulation described @1090 in the thread “A third way of evolution?”, any discussion on related topics is pure speculation. Archaic pseudoscientific hogwash shouldn’t be part of any serious explanation.

  22. 22
    critical rationalist says:

    You stated that knowledge is information embedded in a medium that plays a causal role in its preservation.

    What I did was present a very brief definition of knowledge that does not require a knowing subject. To elaborate, knowledge is distinguished from other information in that it plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium.

    I’m asking you what is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation.

    The term knowledge, as I’m using here, refers to a specific kind of information and the physical aspects of being embedded in a storage medium are not unique. For example, the laws of physics must be such that the copyable and counterfactual properties of information are possible, etc. Those requirements are listed in the paper above. However, I fail to see how that is relevant to the distinction I’ve made.

    If you have some specific criticism of this distinction, such as a theory of information that is incompatible with that definition, then by all means present it.

    If you cannot answer the question, then just say “I do not know”.

    You seem to have a very short memory span, as I’ve referenced a physical theory of information on multiple occasions, including in #17 on this very thread. Yet, when I’ve asked for the same, I’ve received nothing in return. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way to recommend one (Shannon’s) that is listed on the biosemiosis site, which you seemed to indicate was irrelevant.

    Have you not said “I do not know” because you’re presenting biosemiosis as a physical theory of information?

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, ponder complec text in coded language, transcription, error detection and editing. KF

  24. 24
    Dionisio says:

    Upright BiPed @20:

    If you cannot answer the question, then just say “I do not know”.

    Perhaps some politely dissenting interlocutors won’t say “I don’t know” because either
    1. They know
    2. They don’t know but think they know
    3. They don’t know but prefer not to admit it
    Here in this website cases 2 and 3 seem more common.
    Maybe some examples are right here in this thread.

  25. 25
    Dionisio says:

    Where is the information that is used by the biological systems in order to determine the localization of the morphogen sources?

    Where is the information that is used by the biological systems in order to determine the morphogen secretion rate at the sources?

    My answer to both questions is: I don’t know.
    I have not found anybody that knows that either.

  26. 26

    UB: You stated that knowledge is information embedded in a medium that plays a causal role in its preservation. I’m asking you what is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation.

    CR: The term knowledge, as I’m using here, refers to a specific kind of information and the physical aspects of being embedded in a storage medium are not unique. For example, the laws of physics must be such that the copyable and counterfactual properties of information are possible

    You stated that knowledge is information embedded in a medium that plays a causal role in its preservation. You were asked what is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation. Your answer is that the laws of physics must allow it. But since all people already know that the laws of physics allow it, your answer has no meaningful content whatsoever. It certainly doesn’t distinguish your conceptions from any others, and does nothing at all to actually answer the question. And so the question stands: what is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation? I believe you have no understanding of this question, and have therefore demonstrated that you are unable to provide an answer.

  27. 27
    critical rationalist says:

    UB: Your answer is that the laws of physics must allow it. But since all people already know that the laws of physics allow it, your answer has no meaningful content whatsoever.

    It was? Your memory span seems to be getting shorter, as I wrote.

    CR: For example, the laws of physics must be such that the copyable and counterfactual properties of information are possible, etc. Those requirements are listed in the paper above.

    It’s not just that it is merely allowed by some abstract laws of physics, but which exactly regularities in nature defines information via a dichotomy of possible and impossible tasks that result in properties of being copyable, counterfactual, substrate independent, etc. Those properties represent specific physical transformations. For example, quantum information cannot be cloned because specific laws prohibit the sort of transformations that would be required to perform it. That specific prohibition is part of what defines quantum information.

    IOW, the referenced paper goes into detail as to which necessary laws of nature are necessary to physically embed information in a storage medium because those laws define information physically.

    It certainly doesn’t distinguish your conceptions from any others, and does nothing at all to actually answer the question.

    First, it’s not my conception. Second, the paper outlines several problems with existing theories of information and resolves them. For example, in the case of Shannon’s theory distinguishablity is circular. They do not present information in a phyical way that is compatable acrosss both classical and quantum phyiscs, etc.

    I believe you have no understanding of this question, and have therefore demonstrated that you are unable to provide an answer.

    I don’t think you undererstand what it means to have a fundamentally physical theory of information, which includes what is necessary to store it in a medium. That’s because what is physically necessary would include posssible transformations that copies it from one substrate to another, the act of being stored there, the reversiablity of computations which make information it interoperable, the counterfactual aspect of if what is prohibited, which indicates which possible physical states a medium could not be in so it can be distinguished, etc.

    Note the problem this causes for ID, as a designer is supposedly the source of the knowledge in an organism’s genome. Namely, that the necessary regularities required that makes it possible for information copying into a substrate requires that knowledge to be present in the source as a input substrate in physical form. And, due to the interoperability principle, that information is the same as the information as found in the organism. So, you have the very same problem in that the same information need to be explained in the designer, etc.

    So, it would seem that you have no understanding of the question, and it’s implications.

  28. 28
    Dionisio says:

    To Whom This May Concern

    Please, nite that until the evo-devo literature shows macro-evolutionary cases of biological systems (ca,d1,d2) that rigorously meet the formulation described @1090 in the thread “A third way of evolution?”, any discussion on related topics is pure speculation. Archaic pseudoscientific hogwash shouldn’t be part of any serious explanation.

  29. 29
    Dionisio says:

    @28 error:
    It should read “note” instead of “nite”.
    My mistake.

  30. 30
    Dionisio says:

    @25
    https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/information-theory-is-bad-news-for-darwin-evolutionary-informatics-takes-off/#comment-634977

    It’s possible we’ll know the answer to those and other questions sooner or later. But then we’ll have new questions to answer.

  31. 31

    UB: You stated that knowledge is information embedded in a medium that plays a causal role in its preservation. I’m asking you what is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation.

    CR: The term knowledge, as I’m using here, refers to a specific kind of information and the physical aspects of being embedded in a storage medium are not unique. For example, the laws of physics must be such that the copyable and counterfactual properties of information are possible

    UB: all people already know that the laws of physics allow it, so your answer has no meaningful content

    CR: It’s not just that it is merely allowed by some abstract laws of physics, but which exactly regularities in nature defines information via a dichotomy of possible and impossible tasks that result in properties of being copyable, counterfactual, substrate independent, etc.

    – – – – – – – – – –
    Wow. It sure looks like you really know what is required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation. I bet if you found information embedded in a medium playing a causal role in its preservation, you’d know it. And I bet there’d be certain observations that would allow you to distinguish it from not-information embedded in a medium paying a causal role in its preservation. So can you tell me what that is? What is physically required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation?

  32. 32
    Dionisio says:

    Upright BiPed @31:

    Wow. It sure looks like you really know…

    It seems like your politely dissenting interlocutor’s comments are either in case 2 or 3, according to the classification given @24. At this point maybe it’s hard to tell exactly which case, but as your debate continues it may help to determine the case more precisely. 🙂

    However, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, because in either case the politely dissenting interlocutors and their party comrades have lost the main debate already. It’s just a matter of time for all to see it.

  33. 33
    critical rationalist says:

    I bet if you found information embedded in a medium playing a causal role in its preservation, you’d know it.

    That information would be present there because it acts as an abstract constructor that causes itself to be retained. The specific kind of transformations it causes are the reason why it is there. We do not choose which information will play this role anymore than we can choose for some specific information on a thumb drive to result in the transformations of matter necessary to cure cancer. When people, through the process of conjecture and criticism, eventually create the knowledge that does cause those specific transformations it will play a causal role in being retained. It will be copied at the detriment of, or overwrite overwrite storage mediums that contained, knowledge of transformations of matter that are less effective at treating cancer.

    And I bet there’d be certain observations that would allow you to distinguish it from not-information embedded in a medium paying a causal role in its preservation.

    That information is eventually lost as the substrate that contains it breaks down or is discarded before it is copied. Or it is overwritten with some other information. It fails to be retained or it is carried along because it is embedded in the same substrate with knowledge that does play that role.

    However, the physical requirements to store them in both cases are identical because the specific tasks that are possible and impossible, which defines information physically, are the same. In the sense that I’m using the term here, not all information is knowledge but all knowledge is information. And since it plays a casual role in being retained, knowledge doesn’t require a knowing subject.

  34. 34
    LocalMinimum says:

    CR @ 33:

    It seems that you’re including the valuation and maintenance via “knowers” as a causal role of information in its preservation (how else is a cure for cancer going to play a role in “preserving itself”?)

    But then you state that since it plays a causal role in being retained, it doesn’t require a knowing subject?

    Am I getting this right? Because that would clearly be a contradiction.

    Also, can you give a definition for “knowledge” as you’re using it here?

  35. 35

    CR, I’ve read your response at 33. You didn’t lift a finger to answer the question I asked. There is no reason to believe you have any intention of doing so. So before I bow out, I will leave you with my answer to the question.

    What is required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation.

    It requires a system that is capable of semantic closure.

    Systems that are capable of semantic closure use a combination of representations and constraints to establish a medium of information. This medium uses discontinuous association in order to specify the structure of the constraints, and the structure of the constraints assign the relationships between the representations and their referents. This enables semantic closure to occur. It occurs when there is a functional relation between the arrangements of the representations and the structures of the constraints. This is an interdependent system, meaning that the establishment of any single referent by its constraint requires functional constraints for many other referents. Semantic closure only occurs when this successful coordination is in place.

    So the answer to the question is this: it requires a combination of representations and constraints to establish a medium of information, and it requires a functional correspondence between the sequence of the representations and the structures of the constraints. These observations were recorded in the physics literature starting about half a century ago, and were predicted years prior to that.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    By the way, you suggest that the “physical aspects” of this information “being embedded in a storage medium” are “not unique”. This is completely wrong. An information system with the capacity to specify and organize all the constraints of its own translation is quite an object. It requires the use of spatially-oriented representations. This means that the relationships between the representations and their referents must be based on the spatial orientation of objects within each individual representation. This requires an organizational hierarchy in the recognition of the representations. This organizational heirarchy is what enables the system’s high capacity and transcribability. And the only other place that such a physical system can be identified is in recorded language and mathematics.

    It would be difficult for it to be more unique than that.

  36. 36
    Origenes says:

    CR.

    Given constructor theory, knowledge is retained because of its usefulness not truthfulness. The “knowledge” that informs us that we must avoid tigers, because they want to capture and brainwash us with false ideas, may very well be useful and thus retained, but it happens not to be true.
    There is a huge chasm between usefulness and truth, which constructor theory does not acknowledge.
    Constructor theory of information, like evolutionary theory, only allows “knowledge” to be true as a byproduct of some struggle for survival. However, truth and reason simply will not fit in the back seat.

    If constructor theory of information is true we have no reason to believe that any knowledge (constructor theory of information included) is true.

    Therefor.

    Constructor theory of information is self-defeating.

  37. 37
    Dionisio says:

    Please, note that until the evo-devo literature shows macro-evolutionary cases of biological systems (ca,d1,d2) that rigorously meet the formulation described @1090 in the thread “A third way of evolution?”, any discussion on related topics is pure speculation. Archaic pseudoscientific hogwash shouldn’t be part of any serious explanation.

  38. 38
    critical rationalist says:

    @Local Minimum

    I included “knowers” in that example to point out that people cannot choose what information plays a causal role in being retained. If we could, we could simply choose that some information on a flash drive should cause the necessary transformations to cure kill cancer cells without killing the patient and we would have a cure today. Yes, we want to cure cancer. But in that environment, that specific information would cause itself to be retained, as opposed to some other information.

    Genes in organisms are another example of knowledge. The causal role they play in being retained is getting themselves copied into future generations. In this cases, there are no “knowers”.

    As for the definition of knowege, I’ve already presented it. Knowege is information that causes itself to be retained when embedded in a storage medium.

  39. 39
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, I’ve read your response at 33. You didn’t lift a finger to answer the question I asked. There is no reason to believe you have any intention of doing so.

    And, as I stated, we haven’t reached any sort of agreement of what information is. So, it comes as no surprise that you feel my response is lacking in some way.

    For example, let’s look at your response…

    So before I bow out, I will leave you with my answer to the question.

    What is required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation.

    That would refer to physical theory of information. So, it would seem you are presenting just that but, for some reason, you have refused to come out and say so explicitly. Yet you claim I’m the one who is avoiding the question.

    So the answer to the question is this: it requires a combination of representations and constraints to establish a medium of information, and it requires a functional correspondence between the sequence of the representations and the structures of the constraints. These observations were recorded in the physics literature starting about half a century ago, and were predicted years prior to that.

    Yes, UB. I’m quite aware of your answer on the subject. But that’s not a physical theory of information.

    I’m short on time, but it lacks key attributes of information itself, such as interoperability, copyablity, consistency with quantum mechanics, etc. What physical laws does it require that make those properties possible and define information itself?

    Again, we haven’t even agreed on what information is, so it comes as no surprise that we’re having difficulty agreeing on what is physically required to embed it in a storage medium.

  40. 40

    CR, allow me to refresh your memory:

    You’ve made the statement: Knowledge is information embedded in a medium that plays a causal role in it being retained.

    I asked you What is required for that to happen?

    I also asked you to please not ask me to clarify what you meant by the word “information” when you used the term.

    But, apparently, that sort of distraction appears to be all you have left. You can’t answer the question, so you start looking for something to attack — perhaps the oldest trick in the book.

    The bottom line here is that you have no idea what is required. So, I answered the question for you.

    You’re welcome.

  41. 41
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR:

    “physical theory of information”???

    Put that one up there with the square theory of circles.

  42. 42
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    It appears a refresher is in order. I opened with two comments.

    First I wrote:

    I’m completely confused. How is biological informatics the death blow to Darwinism?

    The appearance of design is adaptations that are the result of the creation of knowledge by nature. Knowledge plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. This isn’t new. Karl Popper developed an epistemology that included a theory of knowledge without knowing subjects decades ago.

    Sure, if you think that knowledge only comes from authoritative sources, you might conclude it’s a problem for neo-darwinsism, but that’s not exactly part of intelligent design. Not to mention that it’s bad philosophy.

    So, apparently, it’s only bad news for Darwinism if you hold an impoverished epistemological view about knowledge and philosophy.

    This was referring to epistemology, appeals to authority and a theory about the growth of knowledge.

    Furthermore, the title of the OP is “Information theory is bad news for Darwin: Evolutionary informatics takes off”. Yet, we haven’t actually come to an agreement on what information is, which would refer to a “theory of information”. I’ve linked to a specify theory, but you have not, despite being asked to please provide such a theory repeatedly. I’ve even suggested one for you, which was linked to your site, but you implied was irrelevant.

    And I’m the one that’s employing a distraction?

    Second, I wrote:

    Yes, It’s possible that designers can design things. With that out of the way, the question is: under what conditions is it possible and wny?

    Any takers?

    Note: saying designers can design things because they are designers or have the “property of design” is a tautology.

    Still any takers?

    This was a question of what is physically required for designers to design things, which is supposedly what ID is all about. If you don’t have an explanation for why we experience designers designing things, then it’s unclear why you wouldn’t expected to have experienced nature designing things in the past.

    That would be like someone who, on one hand, admits they have no idea how computers work but, on the other hand, claims only devices made of silicon can compute things because they had only experienced computers made of silicon computing things.

    This is inductivism. But the future is unlike the past in vast number of ways. Nor has anyone developed a “principle of induction” that can actually give guidance as to what will continue, in practice.

    We would expect to experience devices made of vacuum tubes or even cogs to compute things, even if we had never experienced it in the past, due to the theory of computation.

    In the same sense, we would expect to experience nature creating knowledge in the distant past, even if we’ve never experienced it the recent past. This is because our theories about how designers design things. The creation of knowledge is possible in both cases due to the same regularities in nature and variations on the same process: a form of variation and criticism.

  43. 43
    critical rationalist says:

    The bottom line here is that you have no idea what is required. So, I answered the question for you.

    But you haven’t. Again, it’s no surprise that we’re not agreement on what is required to store it, because we haven’t even agreed on a definition of information yet. Did you expect anything else? Did you expect us to actually make progress? I’ve provided a definition, but you have not.

    Or is genuinely making progress one of those things you ignore because you don’t find it “interesting”?

    For example, a key aspect of ID is that some designer, at some time in the past, supposedly put knowledge in the genomes of past organisms. And that same knowledge is embed in the DNA of current day organisms because it was copied there. So, what regularities in nature are necessary to make copying possible? Because, if it wasn’t copied it wouldn’t be stored there, which is a necessary part of the question…

    What is required for information to be embedded in a medium and play a causal role in it being retained..

    However, nothing in your response addresses that. At all. And that’s just one aspect of information that is missing. This comes as no surprise as you do not seem to understand the issue at hand or the consequences to ID as a theory, etc.

    Specially, referring to the copyablity property of information, this requires that reversible computations are possible tasks. And the interoperability property of information indicates that any such designer that supposedly copied it there would necessarily had to previously possess that same embedded information. So, you have the very same problem: how did that same information get into the storage medium of a past designer (or a medium in had access to) to cause the necessary transformation that resulted in the copy?

    Some designer that “just was” complete with that knowledge, already present, doesn’t serve an explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared” with that knowledge, already present.

    That’s a consequence of the interoperability property of information.

    It’s also why creationism is actual creation denial. Namely, the interoperability principle of information indicates the very knowledge in organisms would be the same knowledge that was always with one’s preferred supernatural creator. So, it denies that any genuine creation actually took place.

  44. 44
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry Arrington

    “physical theory of information”???

    Put that one up there with the square theory of circles.

    That would have been a great criticism had you indicated how the theory I referenced of what physical regularities are necessary for and define information is like “a square theory of circles”.

    But you didn’t.

  45. 45

    965 more words … and still no answer to the question.

  46. 46
    critical rationalist says:

    I haven’t? So, surely, you must have some criticism of the paper I linked to. Where is it? Or have you even read it?

    Also, you’ve posted yet another comment and still no answer to the questions…

    – Which theory of information are you referring to?
    – Is your answer a theory of information itself?

    The first of which I’ve ask long before this thread. Should I take you’re refusal to provide one or identify your answer as such indicate you have no theory of information? Or is it yet another thing you simply don’t find investing and continually ignore?

  47. 47
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    and still no answer to the question.

    If you really want to make progress, you’d elaborate of that statement.

    For example, you would say “You haven’t answered the question, in a comment on this thread, as opposed to giving brief statements about a referenced a paper”. Or you’d say “You haven’t answered the question, because you’ve ignored some specific property of information.”, Or you’d say “you haven’t answered the question because your answer conflicts with some other theory we think is true”, etc. Yet you’ve done none of these things.

    It’s unclear how you know I haven’t answered the question because that would require having a theory of information in the first place, which you refuse to reference or disclose.

    So, what you’ve effectively said is “You haven’t answered the question to my liking.”, to which I’d respond, It’s unclear why what “you like” is relevant or why I should care.

  48. 48

    I haven’t?

    That’s right.

    You made a statement on this thread, and you were asked a question about your statement. You are completely (and glaringly) unable to answer the question. But instead of acknowledging this fact, you keep pretending that a particular paper provides an answer to this question, which the paper itself does not even address. The reason you keep pointing to the paper is because you yourself are unable to draw from that paper an answer that it does not contain. This is your first deception. Secondarily, in this conversation and in our previous conversation, you’ve managed to manufacture this silly idea that I am somehow withholding from you a statement about which “theory of information” I am referring to when I write. Yet, you have already been pointed to my website, which is clearly labeled Biosemiosis, thus indicating that my comments stem from a semiotic view of biological information. This is your second deception.

  49. 49

    A very simply way of demonstrating the deceptions is to merely give you what you want and observe your reaction. So, I will first tell you that I (obviously) find nothing in the paper that spells out an answer to the question I asked you. I will then ask you to point it out to me in relevant detail. Additionally, I assumed from the name of my website that you’d quickly pick up on the fact that my comments here are based on a semiotic view of biological information. But in case this has escaped you, I will gladly confirm for you that my comments here are based on a semiotic view of biological information.

    Now what are you going to do?

    I know one thing for certain that you will not do in your next comment: you will not answer my question:

    What is necessary for information to become embedded in a medium and play a role in its preservation?

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Let us see if you will now, finally, answer the question.

  50. 50
    LocalMinimum says:

    CR @ 38:

    So, your working example of “knowledge” involves “knowers”, but your statement that “knowledge”, i.e. information that preserves/maintains/improves itself, does not require “knowers”, is based off of..?

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, pardon but why do you put the cart before the horse regarding ID? The design inference is an empirically based inference on tested, reliable sign that the best explanation for certain naturally occurring phenomena is intelligently directed configuration. This is based on for example finding complex text that functions algorithmically in DNA, in the heart of the living cell. Can you show cases of text beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of information that are originally produced by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity? I suggest not, but kindly give examples: _________ Even your objection is yet another case in point of how such comes about by design. Among literally trillions of such observed cases. Going further, the conclusion on such inference that design is the best current empirically grounded explanation then opens up the further questions of candidates and how one chooses. Currently, scientific investigations are unable to answer this, either for the world of life or the fine tuning of the cosmos. I have pointed out for years that a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter et al could plausibly account for cell based life on earth. But the source of a cosmos is a different matter indeed, espeically given the logic of being and the need for a finitely remote, necessary being world root. KF

  52. 52
    Origenes says:

    CR

    The paper you referrence in post #17 nowhere mentions “knowledge”, instead it uses the term “information.” Is conflating these two terms your own ‘invention?’

  53. 53
    Origenes says:

    critical rationalist

    CR: What I did was present a very brief definition of knowledge that does not require a knowing subject.

    If knowledge doesn’t require a mind, or rather isn’t held by a mind, then its content, if it exists at all, is not recognized. By this I mean that only a mind can grasp the content — the semantics — of knowledge. As we all know, physical processes are neither interested in semantics, nor are they capable of grasping it.
    Therefore, you seem to be arguing for knowledge that is causally efficacious in virtue of its syntax, not by virtue of its semantics.
    For clarity, by ‘syntax’ I mean the electrochemical properties of ‘knowledge’, e.g. the number of neurons involved in the knowledge, the connections between them, their firing thresholds, the rate and strength at which they fire, the way in which these change over time and in response to other neural activity, and so on.

    CR: The creation of knowledge is possible in both cases due to the same regularities in nature and variations on the same process: a form of variation and criticism.

    You suggest that an evolutionary mechanism (‘variation and criticism’) is responsible for the creation of knowledge. It follows from your definition of knowledge (see above) that this evolutionary mechanism only selects for the syntax of knowledge while its semantic properties are invisible to selection.

    Which means that the meaning/content/semantics of all our knowledge is purely ‘random’ — unfiltered by selection.

    Hence we are all utterly moonstruck.

    Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, now does it?

  54. 54
    critical rationalist says:

    …you keep pretending that a particular paper provides an answer to this question, which the paper itself does not even address. The reason you keep pointing to the paper is because you yourself are unable to draw from that paper an answer that it does not contain.

    You seem to be heading in the direction of “There are aspects of information the paper doesn’t address.” If so, what are those aspects? Please be specific.

    Note: this would require having a theory of information to define what aspects need to be accounted for. Apparently, you disagree with how information is defined in the referenced paper, yet you haven’t provided any specific criticism of it.

    Secondarily, in this conversation and in our previous conversation, you’ve managed to manufacture this silly idea that I am somehow withholding from you a statement about which “theory of information” I am referring to when I write. Yet, you have already been pointed to my website, which is clearly labeled Biosemiosis, thus indicating that my comments stem from a semiotic view of biological information.

    And, from the start, I’ve presented criticism of biosemiosis as an attempt to bring information into fundamental physics. In fact, I’ve given one in this very thread. Namely, there are a number of properties of information that are not addressed, aspects that are circular and aspects for which there are more fundamental explanations than it provides (and do not lead to the supposed conclusions you’ve reached). Your lack of a response gave the impression you are referring to some other theory of information that fills in those gaps, such as Shannon’s theory, which is linked to on your site. Finally, I asked if you consider Biosemiosis just such a theory, which took you several comments to answer.

    What took so long?

  55. 55
    critical rationalist says:

    So, I will first tell you that I (obviously) find nothing in the paper that spells out an answer to the question I asked you. I will then ask you to point it out to me in relevant detail.

    I could have told you that before you asked it, which is why I asked for clarification on what is information. We don’t agree on the definition. Specifically, you’re starting out with an idea of information as an a priori concept. But that’s not the approach taken in the paper. That is a fundamental difference in how information is defined.

    To quote the paper…

    The basic principle of constructor theory is that
    I. All other laws of physics are expressible entirely in terms of statements about which physical transformations are possible and which are impossible, and why.

    The “theory” part of constructor theory is the question of can all other laws be expressed in that way. Another part of constructor theory is a kind of algebra that makes expressing those things possible, just as new methods were required for quantum mechanics.

    On one hand, you’re saying that information in organisms can viewed as symbols that have meaning in the traditional sense that we impart it. On the other hand, the constructor theory of information asks what physical regularities in nature define information, including symbols, etc. It represents a fundamental unification at a deeper level, in the sense that Newton unified the laws of motion between apples and planets (except Newton still was working in the current conception of physics and constructor theory is more fundamental mode of explanation.)

    So, what you implicitly wrote is…

    I know one thing for certain that you will not do in your next comment: you will not [accept my theory of information ]

    Because acceptance of that is implied in that statement. And, in that sense, you are correct. But, I’ve pointed that out from the start and have been working to resolve it. You keep repeating the same question.

    Of course, all of this is outlined in the paper itself. So, apparently you disagree with it, yet haven’t presented any criticism of it, either.

    From the paper..

    But in other respects, information does resemble some entities that appear in laws of physics: the theory of computation, and statistical mechanics, seem to refer directly to it without regard to the specific media in which it is instantiated, just as conservation laws do for the electromagnetic four-current or the energy-momentum tensor. We call that the substrate-independence of information. Information can also be moved from one type of medium to another while retaining all its properties qua information. We call this its interoperability property; it is what makes human capabilities such as language and science possible, as well as biological adaptations that use symbolic codes, such as the genetic code.

    Also, information is of the essence in preparation and measurement, both of which are necessary for testing scientific theories. The output of a measurement is information; the input of a preparation includes information, specifying an attribute with which a physical system is to be prepared.
    All these applications of information involve abstraction, in that one entity is represented symbolically by another. But information is not abstract in the same sense as, say, the set of all prime numbers, for it only exists when it is physically instantiated. So the laws governing it, like those governing computation – but unlike those governing prime numbers – are laws of physics. In this paper we conjecture what these laws are.

    From there, the paper goes on to explain this in detail, regarding reversible computations, etc. It also integrates information will quantum mechanics, which isn’t mentioned at all in biosemiosis and another reason why I asked if you considered it a theory of information.

    If I’m incorrect, please point out where quantum information is addressed.

  56. 56
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    If knowledge doesn’t require a mind, or rather isn’t held by a mind, then its content, if it exists at all, is not recognized. By this I mean that only a mind can grasp the content — the semantics — of knowledge. As we all know, physical processes are neither interested in semantics, nor are they capable of grasping it.

    Again, as I’m redefining it (or expanding the definition of it) here, Knowledge is information that plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage mechanism.

    You’re still suck in the idea that knowledge is something that requires knowing subjects, or that all symbols require someone to give them meaning. Sure, they have meaning to us, but that’s unavoidable when we define them for our purposes. But this doesn’t necessary mean that some one or some thing had to impose meaning for all knowledge to cause themselves to be retained when we’re not in the picture.

    Therefore, you seem to be arguing for knowledge that is causally efficacious in virtue of its syntax, not by virtue of its semantics.

    Again, I’m presenting a definition of knowledge that represents a type of unification, just like Newton provided a unification of the laws of motion for both apples and planets. Before then, they were assumed to distinctly different things.

    Knowledge plays a role in being retained. Sometimes people play a role as well. But not always. We exploit the regularities in nature that allow for information.

    From the paper..

    The second is that Shannon’s theory is about information represented in distinguishable states, but does not specify what distinguishing consists of physically. So, consider the non-perturbing measurement that distinguishes two possible messages x and y. It has the following effects in those two cases:
    message receiver message receiver x x0 ? x x y x0 ? y y
    (1)
    where x0 is a receptive state of some medium capable of instantiating the outcome x or y. But this does not in fact distinguish message x from message y unless the receiver states x and y are themselves distinguishable. Therefore (1), considered as a definition of distinguishability, would be circular. Indeed, no existing theory of information provides a non-circular account of what it means for a set of physical states to be mutually distinguishable. The theory that we shall present here does.

    In this sense, some previous agreement isn’t necessary at a physical level.

    Furthermore, we cannot merely choose for some information on a flash drive to cure cancer. That’s because a cure for cancer will only happen when the necessary knowledge of what transformations of matter are required is actually present there, which will result in killing cancer cells without killing the patient.

    As an intelligent agent, if you arrange bits on a flash drive with the intention to cause the right transformations, does that mean it will cure cancer? No, it doesn’t. If you received a flash drive that you believed to contain the right sequence of bits, does that mean it will accutally cure cancer? No, it doesn’t.

    So, our intent and belief is insufficient.

    Sure, we could choose not to employ such knowledge if, for example, we found it immoral due to requiring someone else to die as a consequence. And we would do so because we comprehended the consequences of it being successful. But, even then, that would be based on other theories about how the world works, which we do not choose either. So, the specific knowledge we end up with isn’t something we choose. If it was, I’d simply choose that the hard drive on my Mac has the knowledge to cure all known diseases and that would be it.

  57. 57
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    As I’ve pointed out before, of the trillions of times we’ve experienced intelligent agents, they’ve had complex material brains. Yet, I’m guessing you have not concluded from those experience that all intelligent agents require complete material brains. Right?

    Again, if you don’t understand how designers work (or are committed to the idea that designers must be inexplicable for theological or philosophical reasons) then it’s unclear how you known we wouldn’t experience nature creating knowledge.

    Let me present another criticism from this interview on constructor theory… (emphasis mine)

    One of the central philosophical motivations for why I do fundamental physics is that I’m interested in what the world is like; that is, not just the world of our observations, what we see, but the invisible world, the invisible processes and objects that bring about the visible. Because the visible is only the tiny, superficial and parochial sheen on top of the real reality, and the amazing thing about the world and our place in it is that we can discover the real reality.

    We can discover what is at the center of stars even though we’ve never been there. We can find out that those cold, tiny objects in the sky that we call stars are actually million-kilometer, white, hot, gaseous spheres. They don’t look like that. They look like cold dots, but we know different. We know that the invisible reality is there giving rise to our visible perceptions.

    That science has to be about that has been for many decades a minority and unpopular view among philosophers and, to a great extent, regrettably even among scientists. They have taken the view that science, just because it is characterized by experimental tests, has to be only about experimental tests, but that’s a trap. If that were so, it would mean that science is only about humans and not even everything about humans but about human experience only. It’s solipsism. It’s purporting to have a rigorous objective world view that only observations count, but ending up by its own inexorable logic as saying that only human experience is real, which is solipsism.

    I think it’s important to regard science not as an enterprise for the purpose of making predictions, but as an enterprise for the purpose of discovering what the world is really like, what is really there, how it behaves and why. Which is tested by observation. But it is absolutely amazing that the tiny little parochial and weak and error-prone access that we have to observations is capable of testing theories and knowledge of the whole of reality that has tremendous reach far beyond our experience. And yet we know about it. That’s the amazing thing about science. That’s the aspect of science that I want to pursue.

  58. 58
    Origenes says:

    CR @56

    You have been totally unresponsive to my argument. Maybe I wasn’t quite clear. Let’s try one step at a time:

    Are you familiar with “epiphenomenalism” (T.H.Huxley)? If so, do you understand why this is relevant to constructor theory?
    According to constructor theory, information/knowledge evolves independent from the mind. The selection process involved focuses on ‘syntax’ (see #53) NOT semantics (meaning). Semantics, if it exists at all, is invisible for selection.

    Are you with me so far?

  59. 59
    critical rationalist says:

    The paper you referrence in post #17 nowhere mentions “knowledge”, instead it uses the term “information.” Is conflating these two terms your own ‘invention?’

    No, it’s not. Again, not all information is knowledge, but all knowledge is information.

    From this paper

    The information in the recipe is an abstract constructor that I shall call knowledge (without a knowing subject [26]). Knowledge has an exact characterization in constructor theory: it is information that can act as a constructor and cause itself to remain instantiated in physical substrates. Crucially, error-correcting the replication is necessary. Hence the subunits pi must assume values in a discrete (digital) information variable: one whose attributes are separated by non-allowed attributes. For, if all values in a continuum were allowed, error-correction would be logically impossible.

  60. 60
    critical rationalist says:

    According to constructor theory, information evolves independent from the mind. The selection process involved focuses on ‘syntax’ (see #53) NOT semantics (meaning).

    Again, you seem to be confused. Constructor theory is new mode of explanation, in which all scientific theories are expressed in possible and impossible transformations. So, there is a constructor theoretic description of information, which you seem to have confused as constructor theory as a whole.

    Information is exactly expressed in constructor theoretic terms that relate to what regularities in nature that define information. On top of that, Knowledge is a specific kind of information that causes itself to be retained when instantiated in a storage medium. This includes the storage mediums of brains, books an even the genome of organisms.

    So, I’m disagreeing with you in the case that all knowledge grows due to its syntax alone. For example, to quote from the same paper…

    I’m interested in basically anything that’s fundamental. It’s not confined to fundamental physics, but for me that’s what it all revolves around. In the case of constructor theory, how this is going to develop totally depends on what the theory turns out to say and even more fundamentally, whether it turns out to be true. If it turns out to be false that one cannot build a foundation to physics in the constructor theoretic way, that will be extremely interesting because that will mean that whole lines of argument that seemed to make it inevitable that we need a constructor theory are actually wrong, and whole lines of unification that seem to connect different fields don’t connect them and yet, therefore, they must be connected in some other way, because the truth of the world has to be connected.

    If it turns out to be wrong, the chances are it will be found to be wrong long before it’s falsified. This again is the typical way in scientific theories. What gets the headlines is if you do an experiment and you predict a certain particle, and it doesn’t appear, and then you’re proved wrong, but actually the overwhelming majority of scientific theories are proved wrong long before they ever get tested. They’re proved wrong by being internally inconsistent or being inconsistent with other theories that we believe to be true, or most often they’re proved wrong by not doing the job of explanation that they were designed to do. So if you have a theory that is supposed to, for example, explain the second law of thermodynamics, and why there is irreversibility when the fundamental laws of physics are reversible, and then you find by analyzing this theory that it doesn’t actually do that, then you don’t have to bother to test it, because it doesn’t address the problem that it was designed to address. If constructor theory turns out to be false, I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that it will be by that method that it just doesn’t do this unification job or foundational job that it was designed to do.

    Nature cannot criticize ideas though the sort of analysis described above. Only people can.

    In fact, what is unique to people is to notice a problem, conjecture explanatory theories about how the world works, in reality, that helps us solve it, then test those theories and discard errors we find.

    The contents of theories do not come from observations. They do not come from anything source that has some kind of foundation. They are guesses. But they are not retained randomly. In evolution, modifications to existing knowledge are random to any specific problem to be solve, as opposed to being completely random. In the case of people, modifications to existing knowledge that is targeted at a specific problem, but it still lacks a foundation. This is because what modifications we make isn’t derived from observations. So, both entail variation and criticism, but in different forms.

    For example, one key aspect of science is that criticism includes deliberate, specially designed empirical tests. But it’s still one of many forms of criticism, as illustrated in the quote.

  61. 61
    Origenes says:

    CR @59

    Thanks. It is a terrible use of words — knowledge presupposes a knower. But for now I can cope with it.

    My argument remains the same. Let me brake it down for you:

    1. Given constructor theory knowledge evolves independent from mind by some evolutionary mechanism — ‘variation and criticism’.
    2. This criticism (selection) focuses on syntax only; it ignores semantics (if that exists at all).

    Therefore.

    3. Semantics of all our knowledge is purely ‘random’ — unfiltered/untouched by criticism. IOWs according to constructor theory all knowledge is semantically incoherent.

    4. Knowledge is not semantically incoherent.

    Therefore (3 & 4).

    5. Constructor theory is false.

  62. 62
    Origenes says:

    CR @60

    CR: Again, you seem to be confused. Constructor theory is new mode of explanation, in which all scientific theories are expressed in possible and impossible transformations. So, there is a constructor theoretic description of information, which you seem to have confused as constructor theory as a whole.

    It is you who seems to be confused. Your constructor theory does not restrict itself to scientific theories. For instance, many times you have written about ‘knowledge’ in DNA.
    My point is very simple: if constructor theory is correct and ‘knowledge’ evolves according to some evolutionary mechanism, as is allegedly the case for information in DNA, then there are insurmountable semantic concerns WRT to knowledge.

  63. 63
    Origenes says:

    CR @60

    CR: Nature cannot criticize ideas though the sort of analysis described above. Only people can.

    Only a mind can grasp the content — semantics — of an idea. Criticism and conjecture are both based on the basis of that semantic understanding. Note the essential role of the mind here.
    Also note that from a materialistic perspective it is entirely unclear how one gets from semantics to syntax. How does one instruct one’s neurons to act in accordance with one’s understanding of ideas and write a forum post?

    CR: In fact, what is unique to people is to notice a problem, conjecture explanatory theories about how the world works, in reality, that helps us solve it, then test those theories and discard errors we find.
    The contents of theories do not come from observations. They do not come from anything source that has some kind of foundation. They are guesses. But they are not retained randomly.

    Indeed. They are based on semantic understanding and followed by a mysterious (from a materialist perspective) bridging of the chasm between semantics and syntax.

    CR: In evolution, modifications to existing knowledge are random to any specific problem to be solve, as opposed to being completely random.

    Evolution, as a physical process has nothing to do with semantics, so the usage of the “knowledge” is entirely wrong.
    Moreover, natural selection eliminates perfectly viable organisms. It does not discard errors. The not so wooly sheep are eliminated by a severe winter, not because they ‘wrong’ or ‘not viable’, but because it happens to be a severe winter. A comet killed the dinosaurs not because they were untrue, erroneous or ‘not viable’, no just …. because. That is not ‘criticism’ is any meaningful sense of the word.

    CR: In the case of people, modifications to existing knowledge that is targeted at a specific problem, but it still lacks a foundation.

    Do you not see that, considering the role of semantics, you cannot use “knowledge” in both cases? We are talking about fundamentally different processes.

    CR: This is because what modifications we make isn’t derived from observations. So, both entail variation and criticism, but in different forms.

    Clearly, fundamentally different forms.

  64. 64

    Checking back in. CR at #53 and #54

    You seem to be heading in the direction of “There are aspects of information the paper doesn’t address.” If so, what are those aspects? Please be specific.

    Okay:

    What is required for information to become embedded in a medium and play a causal role in its preservation?

    It requires a system that is capable of semantic closure. Systems that are capable of semantic closure use a combination of representations and constraints to establish a medium of information. This medium uses discontinuous association in order to specify the structure of the constraints, and the structure of the constraints assign the relationships between the representations and their referents. This enables semantic closure to occur. It occurs when there is a functional relation between the arrangements of the representations and the structures of the constraints. This is an interdependent system, meaning that the establishment of any single referent by its constraint requires functional constraints for many other referents. Semantic closure only occurs when this successful coordination is in place.

    By the way, you suggest that the “physical aspects” of this information “being embedded in a storage medium” are “not unique”. This is completely wrong. An information system with the capacity to specify and organize all the constraints of its own translation is quite an object. It requires the use of spatially-oriented representations. This means that the relationships between the representations and their referents must be based on the spatial orientation of objects within each individual representation. This requires an organizational hierarchy in the recognition of the representations. This organizational heirarchy is what enables the system’s high capacity and transcribability.

    I haven’t been merely “heading in that direction”. I’ve been standing there with a flashing neon sign and a marching band. I do not believe constructor theory addresses the fundamentals of recorded memory, and as its advocate, you cannot go to the theory and draw from it what it (apparently) does not have to give. That’s the whole point of asking you to tell me the physical conditions behind the comments you make. You’ve been unable to relate your theory to the universal observations of the gene system, so you build a sideshow where you and I don’t agree on what information is, and then complain that I won’t clarify myself. The whole thing is a sham. No one has said one word about the conception of information as you presented it in the comment in question, and in fact, I am more than happy to tell you that I too believe information is embedded in the genetic medium, and I too believe that it persists there because it plays a causal role in its preservation. The idea that information is embedded in genes and it plays a causal role in being retained is not the problem. The problem is that I can relate the semiotic aspects of the system to universal observation, but you can’t do the same with constructor theory. And thus, you are looking for something else to talk about — a distraction.

    Apparently, you disagree with how information is defined in the referenced paper, yet you haven’t provided any specific criticism of it.

    I haven’t said anything about the definition of information in the paper; I’m working directly from your own comments on the subject. As for providing criticism, you really must be joking — there’s that big part where the advocates of the theory can’t even relate it to universal observation because the theory itself skips over the defining physical and organizational features of the system. Frankly, at this point, given your assurance that the theory doesn’t address these aspects, I wonder why you think I should consider it any further. Making coherent sense of the universal observations is the very thing that matters in science. My suggestion is that you step back, tell yourself “Yep, another theory of everything”, then walk away.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    neither you nor any other person has reduced mindedness to the electro-mechanical, determined, programmed and/or stochastic behaviour of any computational substrate. Not to mention accounting for the functionality of such a substrate that must be chock-full of FSCO/I on blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. If you dispute these, simply provide cases ______ and _____ .

    I am confident, per utter absence of relevant Nobel Prizes as just one indicator, that those blanks will remain un-filled. Nor is that subject to the loaded strawman caricatures you projected to stand in for me.

    Genuine mindedness must be responsibly, rationally free and is guided by the governing impulse of conscience towards duty to truth and right, on pain of ending in self-referential absurdities and cynical manipulativeness. In short, evolutionary materialist accounts and their fellow travellers end in a bull in the china shop chaos. Meanwhile, design lies yet unaccounted for on such fatally cracked and broken foundations.

    I therefore Put back on the table the points you have distracted attention from, on ID as a scientific matter:

    pardon but why do you put the cart before the horse regarding ID? The design inference is an empirically based inference on tested, reliable sign that the best explanation for certain naturally occurring phenomena is intelligently directed configuration. This is based on for example finding complex text that functions algorithmically in DNA, in the heart of the living cell. Can you show cases of text beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of information that are originally produced by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity? I suggest not, but kindly give examples: _________ Even your objection is yet another case in point of how such comes about by design. Among literally trillions of such observed cases. Going further, the conclusion on such inference that design is the best current empirically grounded explanation then opens up the further questions of candidates and how one chooses. Currently, scientific investigations are unable to answer this, either for the world of life or the fine tuning of the cosmos. I have pointed out for years that a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter et al could plausibly account for cell based life on earth. But the source of a cosmos is a different matter indeed, especially given the logic of being and the need for a finitely remote, necessary being world root.

    Let’s see if, second time around, you will address on the focal issues.

    KF

  66. 66
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    CR: You seem to be heading in the direction of “There are aspects of information the paper doesn’t address.” If so, what are those aspects? Please be specific.

    UB: I haven’t been merely “heading in that direction”. I’ve been standing there with a flashing neon sign and a marching band. I do not believe constructor theory addresses the fundamentals of recorded memory, and as its advocate, you cannot go to the theory and draw from it what it (apparently) does not have to give.

    And I keep asking you for a definition of information in a physical sense. To say the “fundamentals of recorded memory” is incomplete, you first need to define what information is. So, it’s unclear how you know it’s absent from the paper. So, what properties of information are missing? Please be specific.

    For example, I’ve pointed out that most theories of information fail to define what it means to be distinguishable in a non-circular way. Nothing in what you presented addresses this. So, are you saying information isn’t distinguishable in this sense, and requires someone or thing to commutate that ahead of time? Is this why you think information in genomes of organisms signals design?

    Also, no other theory present a definition of information that “works” across classical and quantum physics. Where in your theory does this occur? Are you suggesting that information is something cannot be stored in qbits because it’s absent from your theory?

    And what about copying? Are you suggesting that copyabity isn’t a property of information because it’s absent from your theory? This would be particularly troublesome for ID, as a designer would need to copy the information present there when creating the organisms at some time in the past. And, to be present in its decedents, organisms would need to copy that information when making a copy of itself.

    Of course, any such physical theory of information would be bad news for ID, so it comes as no surprise that one hasn’t been forthcoming.

    As for what you seem to think is missing, this was addressed in both the constructor theoretic papers on information and life. I’ve quoted the relevant sections before on other threads. You didn’t provide any criticism of it there either. I’ll follow up on this shortly in additional comments.

    UB: I haven’t said anything about the definition of information in the paper; I’m working directly from your own comments on the subject.

    So, you’re also leaning towards the objection that I haven’t presented the theory here in a comment box, as opposed to referencing a paper? Is there some reason why you haven’t explicitly voiced this supposed objection, instead of disingenuously making it a qualification for providing an answer?

    UB:My suggestion is that you step back, tell yourself “Yep, another theory of everything”, then walk away.

    Given that constructor theory isn’t a “theory of everything”, it’s unclear why I should follow advice on something you don’t seem to understand. Being able to express all scientific theories as possible and impossible tasks and actually defining what those tasks in those terms is not the same thing.

  67. 67
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    If I’m presenting a characterization, I can expect you to present an explanatory theory as to how designers work, which allows them to accomplish design? And from there, point out that Neo-darwinism doesn’t fit that explanation?

    Otherwise, it seems that my characterization is accurate, in that your prediction of what we will experience isn’t baed on an explanation, but on inductivism.

    In fact, you seem to suggest that we will not experience Nobel prizes on the subject in the future because we have not experiencing the presentation of Nobel prizes on that subject in the past. Of course, that could have been said for all Nobel prizes on their related subject up to the date that we actually experienced them being presented. So, this isn’t a valid criticism because it’s applicable to all yet to be awarded subjects, not just the one in question.

    Again, what else is this other than inductivism? Your assumption wouldn’t happen to be baed on supposed divine revelation, instead of past experience, would it?

  68. 68
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Evolution, as a physical process has nothing to do with semantics, so the usage of the “knowledge” is entirely wrong.

    This is the crux of my disagreement with UB, who wants to paint everything in an semantic light, including the entirety of knowledge. Yes, organisms are the result of knowledge, but not knowledge in the limited sense that is defined as having a knowledge subject.

    Specifically, you’re assuming there is only one kind of knowledge – the kind that only people can create. However, I am suggesting there are actually two kinds: non-explanatory and explanatory. Both evolution and people can create the former, but only people can the latter.

    The latter occurs when people conjecture explanatory theories about how the world works, as a means to solve a specific problem, then test those theories. The result is explanatory knowledge.

    Evolution doesn’t conceive of anything, let alone problems or explanatory theories. So, the result is merely useful rules of thumb with limited reach.

    To elaborate, imagine I’ve been shipwrecked on a deserted island and I have partial amnesia due to the wreck. I remember that coconuts are edible so climb a tree to pick them. While attempting to pick a coconut, one falls, lands of a rock and splits open. Note that I did not intend for the coconut to fall, let alone plan for it to fall because I guessed coconuts that fall on rocks might crack open. The coconut falling was random *in respect to a problem I hadn’t yet even tried to solve*. Yet it ended solving a problem regardless. Furthermore, due to my amnesia, I’ve hypothetically forgotten what I know about physics, including mass, inertia, etc. Specifically, I lack an explanation as to why the coconut landing on the rock causes it to open. As such, my knowledge of how to open coconuts is merely a useful rule of thumb, which is limited in reach. For example, in the absence of an explanation, I would collect coconuts picked from other trees, carry them to this same tree, climb it, then release them at the same place I dropped it above the same rock to open them. This is a useful rule of thumb.

    However, explanatory knowledge has significant reach. Specifically, if my explanatory knowledge of physics, including inertia, mass, etc. returned, I could use that explanation to strike coconut with any similar sized rock, rather than vice versa. Furthermore, I could exchange the rock with another object with significant mass, such as an anchor and open objects other than coconuts, such as shells, use this knowledge to protect myself from attacking wildlife, etc.

    While there are always explanations behind useful rules of thumb, evolution isn’t required to conceive of problems or their underlying explanations to solve them as we do.

    This also explains why the sort of “just good enough” solutions we see in biology have a very limited reach. This is opposed to the kind of solutions that would come from a semantic understanding of how the world works, which would have greater reach.

    Note: this is a more explicit form of the criticism of natures “bad design.” Yes, human beings can design things in the absence of explanatory knowledge, but our current, best explanation for our relatively recent, exponential growth in knowledge is a growing preference for explanatory theories about how the world works, as opposed to useful rules of thumb. The degree in which we can currently design an organism’s DNA is based on discovering the explanations behind useful rules of thumb, like selective breading. Yet, that non-explanatory knowledge allowed us to make significant changes in absence of explanatory knowledge of how it actually worked.

    The laryngeal nerve of the Giraffe is what you’d expect to get from non-explanatory knowledge. People have the capacity to make better designs because we are universal explainers. We can create explanatory theories about how the world works, which have greater reach.

    So, my statement that human beings can design a better biosphere is not just bravado. It is based on two things. The first is, unless something is prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from achieving it is knowing how. Including designing a more moral biosphere. The second is, we are universal explainers. We can create explanatory theories about how the world works. Evolution cannot.

  69. 69

    A stiff upper lip, eh, critical rationalist?

    If there was ever a time for you to lay into it and really relate your theory to the actual observations of the gene system, that was the time to do it. But you didn’t.

    Good luck to ya.

  70. 70
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    I’ll follow up on this shortly in additional comments.

    See this comment.

    Does it only “count” if I post in again in a comment in this thread?

  71. 71
    critical rationalist says:

    Notice that UB hasn’t even acknowledge a failure to address what’s physical necessary to copy information, which is a “universal observation’. Nor does he address the interoperability property, which is yet another “universal observation”, which has consequences for ID as illustrated above. And we’ve had quantum algorithms for at least a decade now, which is yet another “universal observation” his supposed theory of information doesn’t address.

    Again, this is why I kept asking UB if what he was presenting was a theory of information. What he’s described it as what is necessary for “recorded information”, as if that is some special kind of information.

    Is that what you’re suggesting? After all, you’re presenting a theory of information, correct?

    Furthermore…

    UB: On the one hand, you are setting up to argue that the capacity to establish a general purpose digital language isn’t really a correlate of intelligence (good luck on that one), and on the other hand you want to know if I believe designers have brains!!

    We can simply swap intelligence and language with brains an intelligence.

    The capacity of intelligence isn’t a correlation of complex material nervous systems. (Good luck with that?)

    Certainly, if one is an undeniable correlation, then why isn’t the other?

    Apparently, none of this things are what UB considered “interesting”, so he chooses to ignore it.

  72. 72
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @65

    Kairosfocus: CR, neither you nor any other person has reduced mindedness to the electro-mechanical, determined, programmed and/or stochastic behaviour of any computational substrate.

    Well said.
    Some further thoughts:
    Naturalism fails to ground rationality because reasoning cannot be something that happens to conscious and be rational; it must be a conscious process.
    One must be free to connect a conclusion to its grounds. One must be in conscious control of that process. If some external force compels one to make this connection, then one cannot know that one’s belief p is properly connected to its grounds and rationality breaks down.

  73. 73
    Origenes says:

    // correcting a mistake in #72:

    Naturalism fails to ground rationality because reasoning cannot be something that happens to consciousness and be rational; it must be a conscious process.

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, yes, reason involves understanding, awareness of duty to truth, soundness and right, determination and discipline under that guidance and more. KF

  75. 75
    Origenes says:

    Critical rationalist @33

    CR: We do not choose which information will play this role anymore than we can choose for some specific information on a thumb drive to result in the transformations of matter necessary to cure cancer.

    You make a valid point, indeed, we do not really choose the truth. I, by my choice, cannot make my belief true. Quite the opposite: I have to allow the truth to determine my belief in order for the belief to be true.
    However, the problem, of course, is that some claims with which we are presented are true and some are false, so I must be able to weigh the evidence for and against any given proposition—I cannot be determined by an external cause to accept a false conclusion while still maintaining that my reasoning is veracious.
    Again, one must be free to connect a conclusion to its grounds. One must be in conscious control of that process.

  76. 76
    critical rationalist says:

    Except we’re not always consciously in control of that process. If we were, we would be paralyzed. We are continually criticizing conjectures at a subconscious level.

    To use an example, regardless of how we try to be clear in our writing and speech, it is always possible to be misinterpreted. Yet, a great majority of cases, we do end up with what the intended message. This is because we subconsciously criticize possible meanings based on context, background knowledge, etc. and discard them until one is left.

    The same can be said about all experience, not just that of reading and listening. For example, it’s possible to reach a false conclusion if enough people with enough resources colluded to make it appear that someone committed a crime. Despite being possible, we discard that possibility most of the time because we lack a good explantion for why all those people would expend all those resources to do just that.

    Experience cannot be a source of truth. We guess, by varying existing knowledge, then test those guesses and discard errors we find.

    God, if he exists, could have created the universe we observe 30 seconds ago, complete with the appearance of age, false memories, which would include the false memory of having “authored” the earlier part of this comment.

    From this essay on Critical Rationalism.

    Relativism, Dogmatism and Critical Preference

    In the light of Bartley’s ideas we can discern a number of possible attitudes towards positions, notably those of relativism, dogmatism (called “fideism” in the scholarly literature) and critical preference (or in Bartley’s unfortunately clumsy language, “pancritical rationalism”.) Relativists tend to be disappointed dogmatists who realise that positive confirmation cannot be achieved. From this correct premise they proceed to the false conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    Fideists are people who believe that knowledge is based on an act of faith. Consequently they embrace whatever they want to regard as the truth. If they stop to think about it they may accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for their beliefs or any others, so they insist that we make our choice regardless of reason: ”Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other fundamentalists because they share the same ‘true belief’ structure of thought.

    According to the stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better than others are in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference.

    Note, I am not suggesting there is no knowledge, but suggesting it does not take the form you think it does.

    From the Wikipedia entry on Critical Rationalism.

    William Warren Bartley compared critical rationalism to the very general philosophical approach to knowledge which he called “justificationism”. Most justificationists do not know that they are justificationists. Justificationism is what Popper called a “subjectivist” view of truth, in which the question of whether some statement is true, is confused with the question of whether it can be justified (established, proven, verified, warranted, made well-founded, made reliable, grounded, supported, legitimated, based on evidence) in some way.

    According to Bartley, some justificationists are positive about this mistake. They are naïve rationalists, and thinking that their knowledge can indeed be founded, in principle, it may be deemed certain to some degree, and rational.

    Other justificationists are negative about these mistakes. They are epistemological relativists, and think (rightly, according to the critical rationalist) that you cannot find knowledge, that there is no source of epistemological absolutism. But they conclude (wrongly, according to the critical rationalist) that there is therefore no rationality, and no objective distinction to be made between the true and the false.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we though

  77. 77
    Origenes says:

    CR,

    Origenes: Again, one must be free to connect a conclusion to its grounds. One must be in conscious control of that process.

    To be clear, this must be the case in order to be rational.

    CR: Except we’re not always consciously in control of that process. If we were, we would be paralyzed. We are continually criticizing conjectures at a subconscious level.

    This is fine as long as you are talking about automated behavior — behavior that is “programmed” by and stems from consciousness.

    CR: To use an example, regardless of how we try to be clear in our writing and speech, it is always possible to be misinterpreted.

    How is the interpretation of others relevant?

    CR: Yet, a great majority of cases, we do end up with what the intended message. This is because we subconsciously criticize possible meanings based on context, background knowledge, etc. and discard them until one is left.

    I assume you that you are talking about automated processes (language, logic) that originated from consciousness. That’s not a problem at all.

    If we are determined to believe a particular truth, we would obviously have a true belief. But would we know it? My belief is true, but how do I know it is true? Well, because it was produced by the appropriate processes, processes that are allegedly deterministic in nature. But how do I know that?
    My belief about those processes is another belief that was also produced by those processes. What if these processes determine me to hold false beliefs?
    Then they would determine me to falsely conclude that they determine me to hold true beliefs.3 If the processes that are in play are reliable, if they tend to produce true beliefs, then well and good. But we could not know that these processes were actually reliable without examining their reliability. According to determinism, however, the only methods by which we could examine such processes are products of these processes themselves. To appeal to the reliability of these processes in arguing for their reliability is an invalid procedure. This may be able to show that the processes in question are not reliable (by showing that they lead to an incoherent system, for example), but to appeal to these processes in order to verify the reliability of these processes is simply, and blatantly, to beg the question.
    So it seems that we need something more. At first glance, the problem with determinism arises when the determining forces are 1) other than rational and 2) external to the individual (remember, this latter issue was why both Aristotle and Kant objected to determinism). In other words, there must be a reason for a belief and it must be my reason.
    [Jim Slagle]

  78. 78
    Origenes says:

    CR: By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, …

    Some people unwittingly saw off the branch they are sitting on…
    From what position does the so-called “critical rationalist” think he is operating? Put another way, those who claim that knowledge and rationality, reason and science are neither foundational nor infallible are positing a closed circle in which no beliefs can be said to be veracious or rationally founded. Yet at the same time, they are arrogating to themselves a position outside of this circle by which they can judge the knowledge/beliefs of others, a move they deny to their opponents.

    CR: … but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we though.

    This view on rationality is, by the ‘critical rationalist’s’ own admission, neither foundational nor infallible. IOWs the whole thing dissolves on self-reference.

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