Culture Intelligent Design Science

An ID guy writes to ask us why this new paper ISN’T ID…

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From a paper. p. 3 (pdf),

“Herein, we present the foundations of a new theoretical approach to agnostically quantify the amount of potential pathway assembly information contained within an object. This is achieved by considering how the object can be deconstructed into its irreducible parts, and then evaluating the minimum number of steps necessary to reconstruct the object along any pathway. The analysis of pathway assembly is done by the recursive deconstruction of a given object using shortest paths, and this can be used to evaluate the effective pathway assembly index for that object (13). In developing pathway assembly, we have been motivated to create an intrinsic measure of an object forming through random processes, where the only knowledge required of the system is the basic building blocks and the permitted ways of joining structures together. This allows determining when an extrinsic agent or evolutionary system is necessary to construct the object, permitting the search for complexity in the abstract, without any specific notions of what we are looking for, thus removing the requirement for an external imposition of meaning, see Figure 1.” Quantifying the pathways to life using assembly spaces Stuart M. Marshall, Douglas Moore, Alastair R. G. Murray, Sara I. Walker, Leroy Cronin (Submitted on 6 Jul 2019 (v1), last revised 9 Aug 2019 (this version, v2)) (ArXiv)

We’re told that author Sara Walker is a long-time collaborator with Paul Davies at Arizona State and that she put this material forward at “Mind Matters: Intelligence and Agency in the Physical World” in July 2019 in Italy. Other talks’ pdfs here.

Another reader writes to ask, about that and some of the other conference papers’ themes: “Mind Matters? Natural and Artificial Intelligence? Irreducible parts? Minimum number of steps? Extrinsic agent? Biological or technological processes?” Where have we seen this stuff before?

Oh yes, we’ve seen it hanging from the racks in our own toolshed.

Okay, they lifted our tools. But did they remember to take the troll spray too?

We might have lent them the tools. But without No! Troll, begone!TM, oh dear…

Another reader points out that their stuff is probably not called ID simply because no known ID sympathizer is associated with the paper. Cute.

Okay, fine. No one owns a general idea. No dispute here.

But to proceed without a means of neutralizing trolls risks careers. One must hope that they have developed a troll spray themselves. One that survived beta testing.

7 Replies to “An ID guy writes to ask us why this new paper ISN’T ID…

  1. 1
    john_a_designer says:

    “Herein, we present the foundations of a new theoretical approach to agnostically quantify the amount of potential pathway assembly information contained within an object. This is achieved by considering how the object can be deconstructed into its irreducible parts, and then evaluating the minimum number of steps necessary to reconstruct the object along any pathway.

    That sounds like irreducible complexity, doesn’t it? But wasn’t IC falsified by Judge Jones at the Dover trial? Right away the author sabotaged her own paper. She shouldn’t have started by using a legally questionable and politically incorrect concept like irreducible complexity.

    That’s not what I believe. I’m just making a preemptive strike on behalf of the trolls who keep a watchful eye on this site.

  2. 2
    doubter says:

    News:

    Another reader writes to ask, about that and some of the other conference papers’ themes: “Mind Matters? Natural and Artificial Intelligence? Irreducible parts? Minimum number of steps? Extrinsic agent? Biological or technological processes?” Where have we seen this stuff before?
    Oh yes, we’ve seen it hanging from the racks in our own toolshed.

    Let’s not count all our chickens before they’re hatched. I scanned the topics and presentations given at this conference, and most are solidly materialist. An example is Two Physicalisms, by Alyssa Ney, a philosopher at UC Davis.
    Excerpts:

    “Why is it reasonable to search for explanations of intelligence, agency, consciousness in physical terms? Common answer: Because our world is (exhaustively) fundamentally physical. I.e. The world is fundamentally the way physics says it is.”
    A More Modest Physicalism
    All mental phenomena can be explained in physical terms. Inductive argument: 1. Many macrophysical phenomena of living organisms have received physical explanations.
    Therefore, 2. All macrophysical phenomena of living organisms will receive physical explanations.”

    Another example: Agency in the Physical World, by Carlo Rovelli.
    Excerpts:

    “Working Hypothesis: The agent is a physical system. These apparent contradictions (such as the “Hard Problem”) can be solved. This requires also some physics insight.
    Solutions I am not interested in:
    – There is something in reality which contradicts or does not supervene on physics, such as spirits, souls, God, etc.
    – There is some new physics outside known basic laws needed to account for agency

  3. 3
    vmahuna says:

    “This is achieved by considering how the object can be deconstructed into its irreducible parts, and then evaluating the minimum number of steps necessary to reconstruct the object along any pathway. The analysis of pathway assembly is done by the recursive deconstruction of a given object using shortest paths, and this can be used to evaluate the effective pathway assembly index for that object (13).”
    This is EXACTLY the opposite of ID’s irreducible complexity. IC says that ANY combination of parts LESS THAN the final assembly is not only WORTHLESS, but frequently dangerous. The most applicable example is Behe’s discussion of Blood Clotting. It has a WHOLE bunch of components (more than 20? more than 100?!!) and if an animal has something LESS than the WHOLE PACKAGE, the result is INSTANT DEATH. That is, if you create and assemble the parts needed for the CLOTTING side of the system FIRST, your blood clots in your arteries and YOU DIE. But if you construct the CLOT-PREVENTION side first, any cut you get, even a small one, will simply LEAK until ALL of your blood runs out and YOU DIE.
    None of the pieces provide any auxiliary functions, and so every intermediate assembly between 1% and 99% is a waste of resources. So, as with whales and bats, which appeared POOF! without any prototypes, blood clotting MUST have appeared POOF! on Monday after the design team had pulled all-nighters over the weekend.
    Irreducible Complexity is itself irreducibly complex.

  4. 4
    EDTA says:

    From this paper, https://fqxi.org/data/documents/conferences/2019-talks/Tollaksen.pdf
    the following quote, ostensibly from Sean Carroll:

    “Back in the Dark Ages, a person with heretical theological beliefs would occasionally be burned at the stake. Nowadays, when a more scientific worldview has triumphed and everyone knows that God doesn’t exist, the tables have turned, and any slight deviation from scientific/naturalist/atheist/Darwinian doctrine will have you literally tied to a pole and set on fire. Fair is fair.”

    Interesting, if he actually said that.

  5. 5
    Bob O'H says:

    EDTA – the quote is here. Hopefully the talk took the same line as Carroll’s second & third paragraphs.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    VM, they are looking at irreducibly complex elements relative to a system, then how these building bricks are put together to make the whole. In some description and prescription language context the ultimate atoms are Y/N, Go/No, On/Off switches in cascade, ie bits. A bit is a minimal decision. So, if an alphabet of core parts is assembled per a process to form a complete product we can analyse functional info content. Such then brings to bear FSCO/I which goes beyond whatever may be irreducibly complex. KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    Abstract: >>We have developed the concept of pathway assembly to explore the amount of extrinsic information required to build an object. To quantify this information in an agnostic way, we present a method to determine the amount of pathway assembly information contained within such an object by deconstructing the object into its irreducible parts, and then evaluating the minimum number of steps to reconstruct the object along any pathway. The mathematical formalisation of this approach uses an assembly space. By finding the minimal number of steps contained in the route by which the objects can be assembled within that space, we can compare how much information (I) is gained from knowing this pathway assembly index (PA) according to I_PA=log (|N|)/(|N_PA |) where, for an end product with PA=x, N is the set of objects possible that can be created from the same irreducible parts within x steps regardless of PA, and NPA is the subset of those objects with the precise pathway assembly index PA=x. Applying this formalism to objects formed in 1D, 2D and 3D space allows us to identify objects in the world or wider Universe that have high assembly numbers. We propose that objects with PA greater than a threshold are important because these are uniquely identifiable as those that must have been produced by biological or technological processes, rather than the assembly occurring via unbiased random processes alone. We think this approach is needed to help identify the new physical and chemical laws needed to understand what life is, by quantifying what life does. >> This one goes in my vault. KF

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