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BTB, Q: Why all of this fuss about specific functionality and FSCO/I, when we already have CSI?


A: Of course, this was long since answered in Dembski’s No Free Lunch, but many (especially those who draw their understanding of ID from what ruthlessly manipulative objectors have to say) will not be familiar with what he has long since said on record.

So, let’s clip and highlight, as foundational:

>>p. 148:“The great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology is that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence. My aim throughout this book is to dispel that myth . . . . Eigen and his colleagues must have something else in mind besides information simpliciter when they describe the origin of information as the central problem of biology.

I submit that what they have in mind is specified complexity [cf. here ], or what equivalently we have been calling in this Chapter Complex Specified information or CSI . . . .

Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. . . . In virtue of their function [a living organism’s subsystems] embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the sense required by the complexity-specificity criterion . . . the specification can be cashed out in any number of ways [through observing the requisites of functional organisation within the cell, or in organs and tissues or at the level of the organism as a whole.

{Dembski cites:

Wouters, p. 148: “globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms,”

Behe, p. 148: “minimal function of biochemical systems,”

Dawkins, pp. 148 – 9: “Complicated things have some quality, specifiable in advance, that is highly unlikely to have been acquired by ran-| dom chance alone. In the case of living things, the quality that is specified in advance is . . . the ability to propagate genes in reproduction.”

On p. 149, he roughly cites Orgel’s famous remark from 1973, which — exactly cited — reads:

 In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity . . .

And, p. 149, he  highlights Paul Davis in The Fifth Miracle:

“Living organisms are mysterious not for their complexity per se, but for their tightly specified complexity.”}

p. 144: [Specified complexity can be more formally defined:] “. . . since a universal probability bound of 1 [chance] in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, [the cluster] (T, E) constitutes CSI because T [ effectively the target hot zone in the field of possibilities] subsumes E [effectively the observed event from that field], T is detachable from E, and and T measures at least 500 bits of information . . . ”>>

That is, complex, information-rich functional organisation in biological entities from the cell to the organism as a whole is recognised as an important context for CSI.

This is actually obvious, but the obvious sometimes needs to be hammered home hard to break through the effect of Plato’s cave shadow shows that have indoctrinated too many people in “[t]he great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology . . . that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence.”

And obviously, much the same phenomenon of functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I) is actually a commonplace in our world, from:

c-o-d-e-d-_-t-e-x-t-_- s-t-r-i-n-g-s of significant length (500 – 1,000 or more bits’ worth)

— which requires a communication framework of mutually adapted elements, with codes, protocols etc, here at first level:

A communication system
A communication system

— going full layercake:

comms_layercake— and, as Yockey exemplifies from the living cell (with my annotations):


— with, a Java Hello World dissected to illustrate how such a context affects what is going on:


— to gear trains in a fishing reel:


— to the mesh of nodes and arcs in the gears specified precisely to make them work:

spiral_gear_tooth— to the ABU 6500 C3 fishing reel as a nodes-arcs mesh:

abu_6500c3mag— to computers and living cells:

fscoi_facts— to the von Neumann Kinematic Self Replicator System Architecture implemented in the living cell (and which we hope to implement technologically):

vNSR. . . and many, many more cases in point, “too numerous to mention.” (Those who know radio obits in the Caribbean will get the joke. Oddly, one is going on as I type . . . is still going on as I finish.)

In short, FSCO/I is a commonplace phenomenon, literally seen by the trillion.

Its significance, of course, is that it is reliably, uniformly observed to come about by intelligently directed configuration. That is, it is a reliable sign of design as credible cause.

Which is the pivotal “basics” point that seems ever so hard for many to accept or just to acknowledge or appreciate as a serious point of view. END

D, The Caribbean, you gots to see to believe. KF kairosfocus
KF, Most probably your politely-dissenting interlocutors would "buy" both offers without hesitation. Those folks seem to believe anything, as long it's in line with their atheistic worldview. However, the 3-in-1 beach front development in Kansas, where they can enjoy a breathtaking view of three oceans from the same all-around balcony is hard to beat. And the best part is that those buildings are developed by unguided processes of natural selection of random changes on an original building prototype that came out of nothing from a multiverse stuff (or something like that). :) Dionisio
D, hey mon, you underminin' my offer of Caribbean beach front hotel properties in Montana! KF kairosfocus
KF, Extending on what is written @29:
If it weren’t for the obvious presence of FSCO/I or the shorthand CSI in biological systems, I definitely wouldn’t be here in UD at all.
Simply because UD wouldn't have been created. The core of the whole biological enchilada is the fascinating collage of interwoven functional information-processing choreographies masterfully orchestrated within the biological systems. Numerous research papers referenced in the thread "Mystery at the heart of life" provide strong evidences that can't be ignored. This complex complexity on steroids has been the stumbling block for some folks with academic degrees and credentials that haven't recognized the plain reality. We had an example here in this site when professor Larry Moran of the University of Toronto answered 'Yes' to the basic question: "Do you know exactly how the morphogen gradients are formed?" After reading the most recent papers on the given subject anyone could conclude that leading-edge scientists working on that particular topic would have answered 'No' to the same question without any hesitation. Because the ultimate description of morphogenesis is closely associated with functional complex specified informational concepts. But we're not there yet. Not even close. BTW, we ain't seen nothing yet. Future research will shed more light on this, revealing fascinating functional complex specified informational concepts implemented in biology. The fact that scientists have been using the words 'choreography' and 'orchestration' when describing the observed processes within biological systems should serve as an indication that this is serious stuff. Weizmann Institute for Science Professor Uri Alon was so fascinated by biology that he switched career, after having a PhD in Physics went to study biology. His textbook on Systems Biology is referenced in a course taught by MIT Professor Jeff Gore, who is also from the Physics department. A while ago News referred to an Italian Computer Science professional who works in a multidisciplinary biology research team at a university in the US. A few years ago I saw a presentation on cell polarity research at a university in the US. That research team was led by a lady who has a degree in Electrical Engineering Control Systems. For those who believe that we got all that complex complexity through natural unguided processes I have good news: There is an ongoing development of beautiful oceanfront apartments with spectacular 360 degrees view of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, from the 77th floor and up in an impressive 100-story building right in the center of the state of Kansas, in the US. The apartments have instant elevators that use the most advanced quantum physics teleport (QPT) technology, with direct access to fabulous beaches on all three oceans, boat docks included in the low maintenance fee. :) Dionisio
SA, and more: FSCI, dFSCI (cf esp GP on digital code in organisms), functional sequence complexity and the Durston etc ladder of metrics, etc. We see things from Orgel and Wicken in the 70's which were picked up by Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen in the early 80's. Dembski picked up the more general term and provided a metric model. Abel et al including Durston developed others. And so forth. That the reality of configuration-dependent, functionally specific, complex organisation and associated implicit or explicit information should be a focus for attack and discrediting by marginalisation speaks tellingly about the actual decisive force of the point. Flak gets really heavy over a sensitive target. KF PS: Implicit info in config based organisation should be obvious in a day of AutoCAD and the like. kairosfocus
gpuccio @13:
Is the ability of ATP synthase to generate ATP by transforming into chemical energy the energy implicit in a proton gradient between membranes directly derived from the environment? Is it just the result of selection by the environment?
Excellent questions. Thank you. Has your interlocutor or anybody else tried to answer these questions yet?
Maybe that, if you can find the difference between thick coats and complex molecular machines, implemented by hundreds and thousands of aminoacids in specific sequence, you can start understanding what CSI, in any of its forms, is about.
Well, glad you started the paragraph with the word 'maybe', because finding the most solid evidences won't help if a sincere willingness to understand is not there. Without a deep desire to understand, no understanding is guaranteed. We are told to test everything and hold onto what's good, but that doesn't mean that we would do it if we aren't willing to. There are many nice people who still smoke, even though it's been shown repeatedly that it is not good for our health. We were made to be good, but we also were given a free will, to decide whether we want to test everything and understand the results of our testing. Mysteriously the willingness to test everything and understand is not necessarily always present in us humans. Don't ask me why. For years I did not test many things and definitely didn't hold onto what was good. Still today do things I don't want to do and don't do things I want to do.
But I am not holding my breath.
This brings up an interesting point. Can we hold our breath voluntarily, i.e. without external forces or devices affecting our potential actions? What are the biological processes underlying the normal human reactions associated with the answer to this question? What is the origin of such biological processes? How did we get them? Isn't this an example of CSI in biological processes? Dionisio
Of Pandas and People doesn't really cover ID theory qua theory. It covers some of the biology, but none of the math. Dembski's "The Design Inference" didn't come out until a decade later, and "No Free Lunch" a decade after that. I'm referring more to ID as a theory in the mathematical sense, similar to the theory of gravity, where you can work equations to get answers. There is a lot of interesting stuff there that is missed when everybody is over-focused on biology and evolution. For instance, see Eric Holloway's presentation on Imagination Sampling. johnnyb
It seems it is mentioned here at UD, only: https://www.google.com/search?q=FSCO%2FI&oq=FSCO%2FI&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i58j0l4.939j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 Nagoo
There is already Of Pandas and People. AhmedKiaan
Just a quick note - several people have criticized ID for coming up with a plentitude of information-theoretic terms. The criticism is valid to a point, but it is part of building a new science. (a) Sometimes multiple people stumble upon the same thing, but in different contexts, and wind up calling it different things. These are usually resolved with time. Think about the Liebniz vs Newton on Calculus. It was a while before people noticed that it was the same thing. (b) Sometimes two things are derived from each other or from some common thing. For instance, the fundamental unit in Newtonian physics is force. However, momentum is often quite useful. You can derive all of the momentum equations *from* the force equations. That doesn't mean that the concept of momentum is useless or weird. It just means that in certain circumstances it is easier to work with. Even with force, the general equation for gravity is different than if you are specifically looking at gravity on earth (because the mass of the earth and the distance to the center is fixed). (c) Sometimes things are in the right direction but off of the mark. In the initial development of calculus, there were conclusions that were later proven to be plain wrong. Liebniz's original formulation of the product rule was actually just plain wrong (he later got it right). (d) Sometimes there are plain missteps. Specified Complexity is probably the more general form of the information arguments. The ones based on function are more specific, as they do (or should) factor in the "No Free Lunch" theorem, which gives a method of finding an expected average value for achieving fitness goals, which is not available within Specified Complexity in general. I have been thinking of doing a high-school textbook on ID theory, but have been waiting to see what Marks and Ewert come out with in January. My guess is that it will be too technical for the average reader, but I figure I'll wait and see what it looks like. johnnyb
All this huffing and puffing and selective hyperskepticism by objectors therefore has no basis.
Agreed. I read roding's initial comment on another thread about the search for the term FSCO/I with some sympathy, thinking it was an attempt at understanding (as bw's comments have truly been). roding did not find the exact indication of those letters as FSCO/I. But can that really be an objection when the letters FCSI are also used? It's not the combination of the words (letters) that counts, but the concept behind the letters. roding mentions Jeffrey Shallit's critique of CSI, which is 13 years old now, but none of the subsequent work that more than sufficiently answers the challenge. We posted Durston's peer-reviewed work defining functional specificity. roding replied "Oh well, I guess I’m just not smart enough." I'll assume that meant "not smart enough to understand" and then "I don't care enough really to try". Is it more about huffing and puffing to take cheap shots, or to try to understand? Shallit demands a mathematically rigorous definition of CSI, when no one can even give a 'semantically rigorous' definition of what "evolution" is supposed to be. If evolutionists cannot recognize what design is, they also cannot recognize what 'apparent design' is, right? Silver Asiatic
KF, FYI - If it weren't for the obvious presence of FSCO/I or the shorthand CSI in biological systems, I definitely wouldn't be here in UD at all. Dionisio
SA, yup. Though, near as I can see, CSI comes in 1973 from Orgel, and in 1979 Wicken brings together the elements of FSCO/I. So, it has all been there from before the ID movement, and from non-ID thinkers well known for their OOL research. They found these concepts necessary to address what they were seeing, and indeed these phenomena are actually readily recognisable from many fields of praxis, including computer science. All this huffing and puffing and selective hyperskepticism by objectors therefore has no basis. KF kairosfocus
Thus, science has arbitrarily excluded an entire class of explanatory resources, not for scientific reasons, but philosophical ones.
Another thing they do is deny that CSI even exists. CSI was interpreted as Shannon Information. That's what caused the additional refinement in adding Functional as a component, and then defining function. Silver Asiatic
But I will need to revive it and give it another read first. Thanks. EugeneS
Sorry KF, it's been a while. I am afraid I don't have it any more. Could you drop me a line at eugene dot selensky at gmail dot com. Ta. EugeneS
Why not shoot it over to me if you have an article ready, it's the quickest way. You should still have my email. My standing offer to host OP's still obtains. kairosfocus
KF Who do I want to talk to to publish an OP here? Many Thanks. EugeneS
KF's point regarding FSCO/I is well taken. I use CSI (Complex, specified information) as a shorthand for all of that. Dembski did spell this out nicely in "No Free Lunch". Interestingly, the core of argument of that book has never really been refuted. No one has yet shown how undirected, natural causes can account for CSI in biological systems. Not even close...and THAT is the core issue. KF rightly points out that the constant denial of the obvious under the false claims of "not science" is getting old, weary and tiresome. Detailed analysis of the functional information observed in biological systems can get a bit onerous, especially for those less familiar with the science. The point to be appreciated, though, is that no peer reviewed research paper has ever been published providing a credible model of how undirected, unintelligent causes can account for the effect of CSI. One would expect that scientists, who surely have an understanding of biological information, would have been able to at least provide a credible model to explain CSI. That they have not speaks volumes. It isn't because there is no explanation...it is precisely because there is no explanation that falls within the arbitrary restrictions of methodological naturalism (MN). Thus, science has arbitrarily excluded an entire class of explanatory resources, not for scientific reasons, but philosophical ones. One of the main positives of the entire ID movement is exposing the philosophical bias in the underbelly of science. KF's series of articles here are evidence of that bias and how it restricts science. For a good treatment of this topic aimed more at the layman, I'd highly recommend Doug Axe's recent book "Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed". DonaldM
KF Thanks! It's nice to be back and to see the lively dialog. Bw, My pleasure. One thing in my previous comment I'd like to phrase better than I did is this. Instead of saying "Once they observe it, ID is immediately falsified", I should have really said "Once they observe it to arise in inanimate nature, ID is immediately falsified". One such possible falsification is bona fide abiogenesis, i.e. abiogenesis without the experimenter's control over the experiment. EugeneS
kairosfocus & EugeneS, thanks so much for the extensive replies! I have to zoom out but will review everything later and respond. Cheers again for taking the time! bw
Dr Selensky, good to see you. You may find my additions on comms systems in the OP (I forgot, yesterday) interesting. KF kairosfocus
F/N: oh yes, Wicken, 1979:
‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’ [“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added.]
Note, again, a classic source, and from a key figure in OOL research before there was an ID movement. Indeed, this is one of the key triggers. To get that oh so suspect abbreviation FSCO/I, simply re-arrange. KF kairosfocus
If I see an animal I can guess quite accurately its environment. If the animal has large ears we predict a hot climate ...
https://www.google.com/search?q=arctic+rabbit&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi11PSNgo_QAhVMJiYKHeNXDhcQ_AUICCgB&biw=1366&bih=608 Silver Asiatic
Hi bw, roding I think that the simplest way of looking at it is this. Anything whose structure can be represented by this tuple: {data,protocol,interpreter} is an artefact. Here is a valid (so far) ID prediction: if you observe a system of this sort, it has an intelligent origin. That's it really. It is really easy to understand at least for a person that has an undergraduate level in IT, computing or related. It is as easy as that. Data may or may not necessarily have artificial origin itself (e.g. environmental cues or other natural signals) but what's important is that it is interpreted as data by the semiotic core of the system whose representation is as above. The protocol determines how signals from outside are to be interpreted, the interpreter actually does the interpretation. The interpretation is done in a way that is pragmatically meaningful in the context of the system. Now, in the inanimate nature there are NO such systems. At least they have never been observed until today. Once they observe it, ID is immediately falsified. Information translation has never been observed to take place in inanimate nature (apart from human artefacts whose origin we do know). Information processing systems made by humans (i.e. intelligent agents) have the above structure. And, remarkably, absolutely all living things also do have such structure at their core. Nothing else has this structure. Consequently, the ID hypothesis states that the structure of the genetic information processing system in organisms also has intelligent origin. Now, some argue that all that is idealistic stuff that does not have an embodiment in real systems. Yes, it does. All components of the above tuple are material in real material systems. E.g. in RNA translation, data is represented in the form of messenger RNA, the protocol in the form of aminoacyl_tRNA_synthetases, the interpreter in the form of t-RNAs on ribosomes. The key property enabling information translation in any system like that is the absence of physico-chemical bias towards one of the many alternative material signs. E.g. any of the four nucleotides can polymerize any other in aqueous solutions. I hope that my explanation was not too difficult. EugeneS
F/N: Do not overlook the significance of Roding at 2 asking whether I have had Dembski review my work, in a context where the OP is in key part an extensive cite from Dembski, in NFL, on how in bio contexts function is the key framework of specification. KF PS: This reference is of course not original to WmAD, he is 2nd generation as a modern design theorist. In their 1984 work, The Mystery of Life's Origin [TMLO], Thaxton et al stated, echoing the well known OOL researchers Yockey and Wicken:
Yockey7 and Wickens5 [sic] develop the same distinction, that "order" is a statistical concept referring to regularity such as could might characterize a series of digits in a number, or the ions of an inorganic crystal. On the other hand, "organization" refers to physical systems and the specific set of spatio-temporal and functional relationships among their parts. Yockey and Wickens note that informational macromolecules have a low degree of order but a high degree of specified complexity. In short, the redundant order of crystals cannot give rise to specified complexity of the kind or magnitude found in biological organization; attempts to relate the two have little future. [--> save as dismissive rhetoric, of course]
(This is in fact the source of my summary term. Slightly rearrange and one gets: functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated [--> often, coded] information. Thus, FSCO/I.) kairosfocus
rvb8, evolution is great at being both perfect and imperfect at the same time isn't it! When talking with those who believe life is designed for this planet it is a chaotic mess. Though when discussing biology out of that context evolution is this perfect miracle worker capable of solving complex problems with no effort at all. Fascinating! You can see which animals belong in which environment, good for you! You mention things are "molded by selection, not information" I think you might be confused here, surely it is information that is being molded in the first place. Never mind how an ear evolved to begin with but there are probably over a million varieties of ear out there, each of those evolving from some base ear, that base ear already had to have been flexible enough to allow functional ears all the way up the process. That is not as simple as it might sound (pun intended). Human ear, bat ears, seal ears, shrew ears all through the same process. When you really think about the idea, it doesn't make as much sense at it might at first... Too big a change will likely harm an organism's chance of survival. To small a change and it will offer no advantage. Then the Goldilocks change has to get fixed in a population somehow, despite every single variation before it being perfectly successful - else the species would be dead. All that and we are only discussing variations, never mind the base structure and function! Viewing problems in a naive way may make solutions seem viable, it does not make them so. You also state that the argument you make is simple and clear. It is and I commend you for it, sadly it doesn't make it true (or false either). But simplicity doesn't help. Simple statement: Snakes evolved a venomous bite. Simple statement: This happened slowly over time through gradual steps, not over night. Reality: Somehow snakes needed to create venom in a way that doesn't harm them for some apparent reason. They need to be able to store it unharmed. They need to develop holes in their teeth. They need to develop tunnels in their teeth. They need to connect the tunnels to venom sacs safely. They need to build muscles to squeeze the venom out this pathway. They need to develop the nervous system correctly to allow for this. This all needs to come together at some point perfectly. Believe it or not, all of the above are still a hugely and grossly simplified version of what needs to happen. Simple statement: All that happened with pure blind luck. b bw
rvb8: Forget for one moment large ears and thick coats, and answer this: Is the ability of ATP synthase to generate ATP by transforming into chemical energy the energy implicit in a proton gradient between membranes directly derived from the environment? Is it just the result of selection by the environment? Maybe that, if you can find the difference between thick coats and complex molecular machines, implemented by hundreds and thousands of aminoacids in specific sequence, you can start understanding what CSI, in any of its forms, is about. But I am not holding my breath. gpuccio
PS: No wonder, c 50 BC, Cicero remarked:
Is it possible for any man to behold these things, and yet imagine that certain solid and individual bodies move by their natural force and gravitation, and that a world so beautifully adorned was made by their fortuitous concourse? He who believes this may as well believe that if a great quantity of the one-and-twenty letters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were thrown upon the ground, they would fall into such order as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius. I doubt whether fortune could make a single verse of them. How, therefore, can these people assert that the world was made by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, which have no color, no quality—which the Greeks call [poiotes], no sense? [Cicero, THE NATURE OF THE GODS BK II Ch XXXVII, C1 BC, as trans Yonge (Harper & Bros., 1877), pp. 289 - 90.]
BW, Let's start with the first example in the OP, now that I can take time. Text, such as in posts in this thread:
c-o-d-e-d-_-t-e-x-t-_- s-t-r-i-n-g-s of significant length (500 – 1,000 or more bits’ worth)
Do you see how to communicate as text in English, this needs particular elements (glyphs for alphanumeric characters, here based on ASCII code etc) that must be arranged in a string data structure in particular highly constrained orders to effect communication? H'mm, I am going to add a communication model to the OP, I forgot to do so. This model will show the wider context of that string and how many fairly complicated things have to be in place just so for it to work as a means of communication. Where, absent such communication, we cannot even have a reasonable, responsible discussion. [BREAK IN TRANSMISSION; WIP . . . ] {Okie, comms model frameworks and cellular context added.} Now, do you see the string structure of chained elements? Generally: *-*-*- . . . -* Notice, how as a rule particular distinct elements must be chained in accord with protocols and/or remote functional requisites, to construct words, phrases, sentences, etc? We see here organised function that depends on particular configuration of a system's components, requiring particular, well matched parts that can be arranged as oriented nodes joined by couplings (arcs). Here, the 128 states of alphanumerical elements and linked operational symbols of the ASCII scheme. Such constraints are informational, and depend on distinctions; ultimately these are reducible to yes/no, structured questions and their answers. One ASCII character is a structured answer to seven y/n q's, expressed as a binary code of 1's and 0's or onwards hi and lo voltages in circuitry etc. The amount of info is then naturally measured on the number of such y/n elements in the chain, bits. Equivalently, in terms of choices and probabilities, we go to negative log base two functions. (That complication, we will not explore here.) We are now at the point where we may see that about 72 ASCII characters will express 3.27 *10^150 possibilities, using bit patterns from 000 . . . 0 to 111 . . . 1 inclusive, giving us a configuration or state space, which can be mapped out as a lattice of connected elements. Blind chance and/or mechanical necessity can then be seen as walking through that space blindfolded and as a bit of a drunken sailor's weaving. It turns out that if every atom of our solar system were for argument regarded as a processor manipulating such a 500-element bit string (for concreteness, think of a string of coins), and flipping and inspecting every 10^-12 to 10^-14 s, for about 10^17 s (~ the span since the commonly stated time of the big bang), it could not more than scratch the surface of that configuration space. That is, we see here the inability of a blind process to credibly arrive at islands of function, for lack of resources to effect serious search. Yes, these config spaces are beyond search by astronomical scale resources. (With 143 characters, we similarly overwhelm the resources of the observed cosmos, ~ 10^80 atoms.) A common way to discuss such is needle in haystack search. For 1,000 bits, the maximum possible search would be as a straw to a haystack that would utterly dwarf our observed cosmos, roughly 90 billion light years across. The only known -- and readily observed -- means to get to such FSCO/I rich strings is through intelligently directed configuration. Of course, as Yockey hints at and as we are familiar with from DNA and RNA etc, such strings are found in the living cell, where minimal genome size is likely of order 100 thousand to a million base pairs, or about the same in bits of information-carrying capacity. (A four-state element, G/C/A/T or U, can store 2 bits worth of info. Its information-carrying capacity.) That is, just on D/RNA and associated proteins and enzymes, we are looking at a truly formidable search challenge. Where, a typical protein has 300 AA's, or about as many 3-letter 64-state codons, i.e. info capacity 1800 bits. We already see huge search challenges just to get to the living cell. No wonder OOL studies run into such challenges, especially when they are ideologically confined (it's "lazy" and "anti-science" or "giving up" to not so confine) to blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. The info-search challenge upends the lot of such ideological constraints and sends the very strong message, from the root of the tree of life, the FSCO/I involved calls for design as best, empirically and analytically plausible explanation. Now, we are not just dealing with strings. Even proteins fold up based on strings to work in 3-d, key-lock fitting forms. And, in general, systems are based on 3-d meshes of nodal components coupled together through arcs. As the gears and reels illustrate, these entities are organised, complex and functionally specific, thus information-rich. This then points to AutoCAD and the like [bit-based!], thus how the info involved can be reduced to structured strings of Y/N q's and A's in relevant description languages. That is, discussion on strings is WLOG. We then see just how pervasive FSCO/I is, and why there is a trillion member base around us. Where, the search challenge readily makes sense of why it is, consistently, we see that the cause of FSCO/I is intelligently directed configuration. AKA, design. This then points to the living cell as a member of a class of machines we have analysed since the 1940's following von Neumann, but which we are struggling to approach. It's not just FSCO/I, but a von Neumann Kinematic Self-Replicator automaton. vNSR for convenience. See the model outlined in the OP. BTW, if we get there soon, this is a breakthrough to industrial civilisation 2.0, with the universal constructor fabber at its heart. Development transformation across this century, and a base for solar system colonisation beyond. Then, if we can solve the distance problem, the stars and galaxy. That is a line of research that lurks behind these concepts, and that points to a major transformation of thought about economics, development, sci-tech, governance and sustainability and more. There is far more at stake on the ID debates than is commonly realised. (And yes, RVB8, this discussion is of responsible length so that those needing a bit of explanation based on technical background may readily see where we are coming from.) Now, the tree of life model suggests that there is a grand continent of incrementally accessible life forms, enabling smooth and easy transitions from original "simple" forms -- given info requisites, "simple" is simplistic -- to the diversity of the world of life. This is highly misleading to the point of being a Plato's cave shadow show myth long since past discard by date. The inherent nature of FSCO/I as requiring well-matched, coupled correctly arranged parts is a first clue. (Way back, I used to discuss a model, a 1 m cube vat filled with parts in water. Where if correctly assembled such would yield a flyable micro-jet, parts which are small enough to be involved with Brownian forces. How long would we have to wait for assembly by blind molecular forces? How hard would it be to clump the required correct parts at random, then organise into a functional entity? What practical difference would it make to convert the observed cosmos into such vats for 10^17 s? Why? [See the significance of search challenge?]) The evidence of FSCO/I points instead to deeply isolated islands of function, surrounded by wide seas of non-functional arrangements. To see why, think about a bait bucket full of ABU 6500 parts, shaken around for a long time. What fraction of arrangements would be a functional reel? Or, anything else depending on specific arrangement and coupling of well-matched parts? Going to the next level, why is it that we have factories and assembly lines or at least manuals to guide builders? What would it take to go to the next level, a vNSR capable of outputting such reels? Then,ponder how the living cell effects the multitude of functions of life AND embeds a vNSR in the compass of an entity of order ~ 1/1000 of a mm across. 1/100 the thickness of a typical sheet of paper. Behold the power of molecular nanotech based on the power of C-atoms to chain, and of monomers to also chain. As in proteins are very smart polymers that the cell shows us are also incredibly versatile. In short, the FSCO/I issue points to the need for serious rethinking. KF kairosfocus

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