Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

East of Durham: The Incredible Story of Human Evolution

Share
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Flipboard
Print
Email

Imagine if Galileo had built his telescope from parts that had been around for centuries, or if the Wright Brothers had built their airplane from parts that were just lying around. As silly as that sounds, this is precisely what evolutionists must conclude about how evolution works. Biology abounds with complexities which even evolutionists admit could not have evolved in a straightforward way. Instead, evolutionists must conclude that the various parts and components, that comprise biology’s complex structures, had already evolved for some other purpose. Then, as luck would have it, those parts just happened to fit together to form a fantastic, new, incredible design. And this mythical process, which evolutionists credulously refer to as preadaptation, must have occurred over and over and over throughout evolutionary history. Some guys have all the luck.  Read more

Comments
That is false as consciousness is required to write the algorithm, set up the initial conditions, set the goal and provide the resources required.
That is the question posed by the origin of life. You seem to know the answer before the research is done. GP: You seem to go a bit further and suggest that genetic algorithms are incapable of creating complex structures, regardless of the nature of functional space. I'm impressed that you guys know so much about nature just from thinking about it. Makes all that tedious research seem superfluous.Petrushka
December 14, 2011
December
12
Dec
14
14
2011
11:05 AM
11
11
05
AM
PST
englishmaninistanbul: Well, thank you for the fun :) To next time!gpuccio
December 14, 2011
December
12
Dec
14
14
2011
09:17 AM
9
09
17
AM
PST
Some IDists just think like you, that avoiding a direct connection to consciousness simplifies things. Well, in my view, avoiding a direct connection to consciousness is only a valid approach if you have something to replace it. And since nobody else has yet come forward with that something I am left to assume either that the right people are not monitoring this thread, or that it is impossible. Or maybe this humble layman really is on to something here. Snigger, chortle. Now, if I were a reductionists, I would say that consciousness is an emergent property of complexity. So, consciousness is a byproduct of dFSCI, and not the other way. So, aliens can have generated dFSCI on earth, but what about their dFSCI? We are at the infinite regress problem again. True we are at the infinite regress problem. However as William Lane Craig so eloquently puts it, you don't need "an explanation of the explanation of the explanation" to have a workable starting point. (On the other hand do you need that for a unified, intellectually satisfying position. Like yours.) Playing Devil's advocate again here: If I am a reductionist and I accept the existence of consciousness, but as an emergent property of complexity, I am still forced to accept the statement "de novo dFSCI has only ever been observed to be produced by conscious entities." If I'm also prepared, as a reductionist, to accept that chance and necessity could have produced dFSCI under specific conditions on this planet, why should it be such a leap for me to accept that it could have appeared elsewhere? And if it turns out that dFSCI is unlikely to have appeared through the forces of chance and necessity operating under the specific conditions of this planet, I really have no business trying to force the evidence when I have a form of the design inference that I cannot deny is empirically valid. Just like with the Mars machine. (It puts me in mind of Francis Crick and his proposal of directed panspermia. Regardless of the validity of his position, I respect his intellectual honesty for bravely following it wherever it lead instead of hiding behind the consensus.) For those who do not accept consciousness, "dFSCI has only ever been observed to appear or be mediated as the specific function of entities" is a redraft I slipped in under the wire in my last post. I expect you raised an eyebrow at it but decided not to tackle it at the time. If any specific problems with it come to mind I would like to know. But... And yes, I am careful what I wish for (at least sometimes…) ...ever since 28.1.1.2.6 I am gradually coming to the point of saying that defending consciousness as an empirical fact is not only the best approach, it's the easiest. Ah well, so much for the humble layman's dreams of changing the world. :) At least I go away knowing I asked "the fatal question." We have probably not gone to the extremes in our discussion about consciousness theories, especially reductionist strong AI theory. There are many reasons to refute it as a valid scientific theory, but for the moment I will not go into them in detail (after all, we have to keep ourselves engaged in the next years…). [...] Reductionism is, IMO, a bad scientific and epistemologic and philosophical approach, so I presonally refute it as a valid position. I would certainly like to know more about all this, but I suspect it might be best to leave it to future discussions. "Debate fatigue" has finally set in.englishmaninistanbul
December 14, 2011
December
12
Dec
14
14
2011
09:05 AM
9
09
05
AM
PST
englishmaninistanbul: I have already expressed my pèersonal idea of why the "consensus" is what it is. Reducionists just try to avoid the hard problem of consciousness, because they cannot solve it the way they would like to. Some IDists just think like you, that avoiding a direct connection to consciousness simplifies things. As said, I don't agree with that position. So, I do have some idea of the why, and still I believe "that I am indeed the only one going in the right direction" (Your words. I don't really believe that I am the only one. Well, maybe there are two or three of us, after all :) ). And yes, I am careful what I wish for (at least sometimes...) This assumes that the complexity in computers is a true model of the complexity of the human brain. We still have next to no idea how the brain works, so this doesn’t look like a very tenable position to me. We have probably not gone to the extremes in our discussion about consciousness theories, especially reductionist strong AI theory. There are many reasons to refute it as a valid scientific theory, but for the moment I will not go into them in detail (after all, we have to keep ourselves engaged in the next years...). I have only asked that the reductionist position (that cosnciousness is an emergent property of some configuration of matter) be not assumed as true. However, complexity is complexity, whatever the hardware where it is implemented. An algorithm performs the same calculations on a computer as on an abacus. Obviously, we don't know exactly the software implemented in the brain, but sofwtare is software anyway. For the moment, I will not go more in detail with this argument. A reductionist could say that it is possible that consciousness arises entirely from dFSCI, and you can’t really argue it definitely doesn’t. I can certainly argue. And I never argue "definitely". It's not one of my many bad habits. Arguments are always temporary, like all scienctific knowledge. This is what I mean when I say that a really empirical approach to design should should not rule out either reductionism or vitalism. I certainly don't rule out vitalism. Reductionism is, IMO, a bad scientific and epistemologic and philosophical approach, so I presonally refute it as a valid position. How can you be so sure about this? You asked for my position. I am not specially sure, but sure enough. Maybe I am self-deluded. Let’s say one of our Mars rovers happens upon a machine. It’s nothing complicated, just a vehicle of some sort with a engine that uses some sort of fuel, obviously designed to carry things. And certain aspects of it, weight, age etc, establish beyond doubt that it simply cannot be of human origin. What would the headlines say? “EVIDENCE OF ALIEN LIFE AN ILLUSION, SAY REDUCTIONISTS”? I doubt it! You are right, I should have been more detailed. "No" was fine and quick, but some more specifications are due. The design inference can be done without entering into detailed discussions about what a designer is, but at some point someone, like you, will ask the fatal question. And, as you know, I have a fatal answer, and only one. And that answer implies the acceptance of consciousness as an empirical fact, and the requisite that a reductionist explanation of consciousness be not assumed as true. Now, if I were a reductionists, I would say that consciousness is an emergent property of complexity. So, consciousness is a byproduct of dFSCI, and not the other way. So, aliens can have generated dFSCI on earth, but what about their dFSCI? We are at the infinite regress problem again, and we are only playing Dawkins' gross game. As explained, there are only two ways to solve that problem of infinite regress: one is to assume that complexity (dFSCI) can come from a simple agent (a simple conscious "I"). That is, IMO, the only conscistent solution for a complete ID theory. The second is to assume that dFSCI can come form non cosncious, non complex systems. That is the reductionist position, and neo-darwinism is it disappointing tool. I don't believe the two positions are compatible. So, I maintain my answer. No. Even if you go along with reductionism and say that consciousness could simply arise from the sum of our parts, it still doesn’t negate the design inference. The design inference is only a part of a general design theory. However it happened, consciousness exists. It is a phenomenon of the universe. I fully agree. ust because the only beings we definitely know have it are humans, or at least beings that are confined to our planet, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist elsewhere. I agree. And the only entities we know of in the natural world that have function are life forms. That is reasonable. Therefore no reductionist would seriously argue that the machine on Mars was anything other than evidence of some sort of alien life, and yet he would not see that his philosophical position had been compromised. Correct. A reduxctionist can admit alien design. But then he will state that aliens evolved thorugh neo darwinism. And the problem remains.gpuccio
December 14, 2011
December
12
Dec
14
14
2011
03:05 AM
3
03
05
AM
PST
I suppose I do ask a lot of questions. I hope you enjoy answering them as much as I enjoy asking them.
You say that many ID thinkers shy away from explicitly referring to consciousness; why should that be? I cannot answer for them.
Well, that is a true statement, and I certainly am not saying that we should follow the consensus or anything like that. But to ask why the consensus is the way it is, is obviously a sensible thing to do. In much the same way as you react when you see everybody walking in the opposite direction to you. You at least want to have some idea of why before coming to the conclusion that you are indeed the only one going in the right direction.
If it really is that watertight, I would say that it should feature more prominently in the ID paradigm and receive the vigorous defence it deserves. I am already defending it. You can join, if you like.
Be careful what you wish for ;).
Human dFSCI originates in human consciousness. There is no doubt that humans use a complex brain to express, and in part to elaborate, the dFSCI they create. But still, the fundamental functions in creating dFSCI (understanding of meaning, purpose) are all conscious representations, and they don’t exist in computers, however huge their complexity. So, in the empirical examples of human design, complexity contributes to the design activity, but complexity alone can never explain it, if it is not “used” by a conscious agent. Again, the possibility that a simple conscious agent, who needs not a physical brain to interact with matter, could well output complex functional information in matter, remains a perfectly acceptable model.
This assumes that the complexity in computers is a true model of the complexity of the human brain. We still have next to no idea how the brain works, so this doesn't look like a very tenable position to me. A reductionist could say that it is possible that consciousness arises entirely from dFSCI, and you can't really argue it definitely doesn't. This is what I mean when I say that a really empirical approach to design should should not rule out either reductionism or vitalism.
Does ID work in a reductionist paradigm? No. Should it? No. Can it? No.
How can you be so sure about this? Let's say one of our Mars rovers happens upon a machine. It's nothing complicated, just a vehicle of some sort with a engine that uses some sort of fuel, obviously designed to carry things. And certain aspects of it, weight, age etc, establish beyond doubt that it simply cannot be of human origin. What would the headlines say? "EVIDENCE OF ALIEN LIFE AN ILLUSION, SAY REDUCTIONISTS"? I doubt it! Even if you go along with reductionism and say that consciousness could simply arise from the sum of our parts, it still doesn't negate the design inference. However it happened, consciousness exists. It is a phenomenon of the universe. Just because the only beings we definitely know have it are humans, or at least beings that are confined to our planet, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist elsewhere. Whenever we happen upon design and we have no viable theory to explain how it could arise stepwise through forces of nature, we automatically assume that it was produced or mediated all in one go as the specific function of an entity. And the only entities we know of in the natural world that have function are life forms. Therefore no reductionist would seriously argue that the machine on Mars was anything other than evidence of some sort of alien life, and yet he would not see that his philosophical position had been compromised. As I'm sure you've gathered, I'm building a tower of bricks just to see how you knock it down. Because if it can be knocked down I'd really like to know how.englishmaninistanbul
December 14, 2011
December
12
Dec
14
14
2011
01:30 AM
1
01
30
AM
PST
englishmaninistanbul: Wow! So many questions! I will try not to repeat what I have already said. why is it proving so difficult to silence “consciousness is an illusion” rubbish, or are they all just being pig-headed? Maybe they are all just being pig-headed :) . In general, I cannot modify my ideas about reality only because most people think differently. In a way, I am accustomed to that. I am, definitely, a minority guy. You say that many ID thinkers shy away from explicitly referring to consciousness; why should that be? I cannot answer for them. Your approach to the subject of consciousness seems perfectly robust to me Thank you. To me too, otherwise I would change it. If it really is that watertight, I would say that it should feature more prominently in the ID paradigm and receive the vigorous defence it deserves. I am already defending it. You can join, if you like. But is it not true that all hitherto observed conscious agents are complex? No. That is an assumption. I would only say that observed conscious agents (humans) express their consciousness through a complex brain. Now, maybe consciousness is independent from the brain, even in humans, as many think (including me). Or maybe consciousness is just an emergent property of the brain, like reductionists believe. I do believe that there are many good arguments in favor of the first option, but for the moment let's say that the issue must be left at least "undecided". The statement that "all hitherto observed conscious agents are complex" is an implicit assumption of the reductionist view, so it cannot be accepted as "true". Let's say undecided. dFSCI has only been observed to come from dFSCI-containing entities Again, that is an assumption. Human dFSCI originates in human consciousness. There is no doubt that humans use a complex brain to express, and in part to elaborate, the dFSCI they create. But still, the fundamental functions in creating dFSCI (understanding of meaning, purpose) are all conscious representations, and they don't exist in computers, however huge their complexity. So, in the empirical examples of human design, complexity contributes to the design activity, but complexity alone can never explain it, if it is not "used" by a conscious agent. Again, the possibility that a simple conscious agent, who needs not a physical brain to interact with matter, could well output complex functional information in matter, remains a perfectly acceptable model. “Is a protein functional? Well, does it do anything useful to the organism, or does it trash it? That's not really correct. For most proteins, we can define a specific biochemical function, measurable in the lab, independently from its utility or not for an organism. That is the immediate function, and we have to explain it. It would not be naturally selectable, but it could perfectly be intelligently selected. For example, an enzyme greatly accelerates a chemical reaction, be it useful to the organism or not. Gpuccio, does your definition of consciousness imply vitalism, or is consciousness a kind of black box? No. Consciousness and life are different concepts. Consciousness, as I have repeated ad nauseam, is an empirical fact, with specific form and aspects. Life is much more difficult to define. I am not sure of what could be called vitalism, or neovitalism. It does not seem a very tendy position. Still, I have already stated here, and I repeat now, that IMO mere biological information is not enough to explain life, whatever it is. That life comes only from life is still perfectly true. Even with all the single parts already available, and all the information already there, nobody can make a living cell from non living parts. That's the most I can say. Consciousness is not a black box. It is very much open. We can directly see much of what happens in it, between inputs and outputs. So, not a black box, definitely. Does ID work in a reductionist paradigm? No. Should it? No. Can it? No. To the next time... :)gpuccio
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
04:22 PM
4
04
22
PM
PST
gpuccio, in reply to 28.1.1.2.6 Thanks for yet another razor sharp analysis. So razor sharp in fact, that I'm pretty much pared to the bone. Shame, just when it was getting fun. With regards to point 1, I agree with you that the preferred approach is, of course, to tackle the objections head on and vigorously defend the validity of consciousness. However if you and I are so right about consciousness, why is it proving so difficult to silence "consciousness is an illusion" rubbish, or are they all just being pig-headed? You say that many ID thinkers shy away from explicitly referring to consciousness; why should that be? I come back to the point I've been harping on about all along. As a layman attempting to self-educate, when researching ID I come across endless references to dFSCI et al. which are used to argue for the design inference, very effectively it must be said, and yet precious little about the source of design itself. And by the source of design I'm not talking about God, I'm talking about a nuts and bolts definition of any given designer. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. But if my observation is borne out, surely this is not a good thing. Your approach to the subject of consciousness seems perfectly robust to me. In fact, I would say it's my biggest take-home from this entire debate. If it really is that watertight, I would say that it should feature more prominently in the ID paradigm and receive the vigorous defence it deserves. However if, for whatever reason, it is generally seen as or found to be problematic to defend, maybe a more general definition such as what I am attempting to formulate might be useful at least as a unifying basis. Now on to my point 2. Of course, I was writing in haste and forgot to include in a) both conscious agents and dFSCI-containing entities. You do my homework for me: “dFSCI is observed in material objects only when one of the following two conditions is true: a1) They are designed by a conscious agent a2) They are produced by some entity already containing dFSCI" You are also correct about the infinite regress if we do not hypothesize a conscious agent at the beginning, and that a conscious agent is not necessarily complex. But is it not true that all hitherto observed conscious agents are complex? Just thinking out loud here: So if I took only the a2 part of your definition I would be saying "dFSCI has only been observed to come from dFSCI-containing entities." This would be akin to "all life comes from pre-existing life", which leads us all the way back to first life, and nobody really has any clue about that, at least not in empirical terms. Still that doesn't stop people hypothesizing until the cows come home about prebiotic stews and soups and whatever. At least they refill the bread basket every time it runs out, I'll give 'em that. As for my b) definition, "Entities that perform a function", I just inserted the "F" from "dFSCI" with the intention of doing a bit more reading and then coming back. As applied to amino-acid sequences in proteins, I think it's a much easier concept to apply in that domain than outside of it. "Is a protein functional? Well, does it do anything useful to the organism, or does it trash it?" Easy. I admit I have no idea where to start in defining function with regard to any design executor. So unless you or someone else would like to help me with that I'm tapped out for the moment I'm afraid. Jon Garvey says: So a beaver, or a cellular system, could be construed to be exercising a design function, and either to be acting as a mere algorithm or as a purposeful agent, which in theory ought to be distinguishable. But if beavers or cells are teleological agents, one would not like to have to attribute the same consciousness to rodents and bacteria, or one might end up with a vitalist concept of design. I must admit this is a bit over my head as well. For all modern scientists' rubbishing of vitalism, at present it seems that any really empirical approach to design should not discount the possibility of either reductionism or vitalism being borne out in design agents, because we haven't got aaaaaanywhere neeeeear enough data. Gpuccio, does your definition of consciousness imply vitalism, or is consciousness a kind of black box? Does ID work in a reductionist paradigm? Should it? Can it? And Jon, what is a vitalist concept of design and how would attributing consciousness to rodents and/or bacteria end up with one?englishmaninistanbul
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
10:22 AM
10
10
22
AM
PST
Jon: You raise serious issues, but I am afraid that most of them can only be debated at a philosophical level. About beavers, I have explicitly stated that any opinion on how and how much they are conscious, or intelligent, or purposeful, is at present a matter of individual choice, because we have no way to know really what happens in a beaver's mind. The same is true, obviously, for bacteria. The problem is not really relevant for ID, I believe, because ID is not about design in general, but about detectable design. And, as we know, the only design that is really detectable in the designed object is complex design, design which exhibits FSCI. Now, personally I do believe that FSCI, and specifically dFSCI, is observed only in human artifacts and in biological information. The most difficult scenario is that of animal intelligent behaviour: in many cases we can certainly observe FSCI (although usually not dFSCI): but, as I have tried to argue, the complex part is probably guided by hereditary information (probably in the genome), as suggested by two facts: a) The functional result is largely repetitive (same function, limited architectural variation). b) The functional behaviour is shared by all members of the species, and therefore likely inherited. If that is true, then the complex information neede must be in the genome (or equivalent), probably in digital form. That information is therefore of the same kind that describes proteins. It can be found and analyzed. And the designer is, I belive, the same designer as for the rest of biological information. Finally, while I agree that intent is important, I would not say that it "defines more closely that aspect of consciousness that applies especially to “design”". As I have tried to argue, at least two fundamental aspect of consciousness must act for design to emerge: cognition (understanding of menaings) and purpose (the feeling, the desire to implement those meanings in outer reality). What use would intent be without any understanding? And understanding without purpose would never translate into action. Again, consciousness is the only link between cogntion and feeling, between meaning and intent. There is no conscious representation that is not both things at the same time. I would happily add a third aspect, that is free will. But I avoid that because it is iMO the only aspect of consciousness that is not completely empirically described, and requires a more philosophical, and not only scientific, approach.gpuccio
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
09:02 AM
9
09
02
AM
PST
gpuccio I wouldn't disagree that intention implies consciousness, but maybe that it defines more closely that aspect of consciousness that applies especially to "design". It also enables one to separate the level at which design is expressed so as not to dilute the idea of consciousness, and even to address the criticism that "design" is too limited a concept to the fluidity of living systems. So I'm a little cautious to call beavers "conscious" and then have to qualify it heavily to say why beavers are not people. Even more so were mechanisms of purposeful "design" to be admitted in cellular processes once the ND paradigm goes to its allotted resting place. In that evolutionary model, "Star Trek", delegated crew members exercise purposeful intentions to switch on the hyperdrives and do whatever is necessary to anti-matter pods, and even the ship's computers perform functions, but it is Captain Picard whose "Make it so" is the origin of the course-change. In a sense he is the one significant conscious agent of the particular effect. So a beaver, or a cellular system, could be construed to be exercising a design function, and either to be acting as a mere algorithm or as a purposeful agent, which in theory ought to be distinguishable. But if beavers or cells are teleological agents, one would not like to have to attribute the same consciousness to rodents and bacteria, or one might end up with a vitalist concept of design. I don't believe beavers have a theory of self, despite the Narnia stories. The defence against that? Well, one would be to show that self-conscious agents, in your sense, are necessary to *initiate* design, even when they work through leseer teleological agents. In either case, teleology in the central concept.Jon Garvey
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
07:07 AM
7
07
07
AM
PST
Jon: Thank you for your contribution. But do you really believe that intention means anything out of consciousness? Intention and purpose are special feelings applied to a cognitive map. The conscious being perceives a cognitive representation and feels that its implementation is desirable. Therefore he wills to implement it. Nothing of that has any meaning, other than as a conscious experience. Intention is an aspect of conscious experiences. Meaning is another one. I find nothing metaphysical in consciousness, considered merely as an empirical fact. As for that, "matter" is probably a more metaphysical concept. We have been hypnotized by a generic, and often incorrect, use of some words, such as "natural", "metaphysical", and so on. Those words mean nothing, and yet they bring about heavy philosophical assumptions, simply by existing. Consciousness is empirical. It cannot be denied. Please note that in my scientific arguments I never use any specific theory about what consciousness is, or how it originated, or how it can be explained (ot not explainbed). The only thing I ask is to admit that it exists, that nobodu has ever explained it in terms of obkective configurations of matter, and that it interacts with the material world. All those statements are, IMO, incontrovertible. Whatever EIIìs worries about beavers, we don't really need to know what happens in their consciousness to detail our Id theory. In my empirical definition of design, of dFSCI, and of the ID inference, I need the recognition of consciousness at two different points: 1) I need to define design as the process where cosncious meaningful and purposeful represenations are otputted from a conscious agent (the designer) to a material system (the designed object). Well, we wiltness that every day, and in our own consciousness. We have meaningful, purposeful conscious representations all the time. And we output their form to material systems all the time. That's exactly what I am doin when I am writing this post. That's what you will do if you answer it. That's exactly what has been called "design" since the word was created. Who can deny that, or say that it is "metaphysical"? 2) In the definition of dFSCI, I need a conscious agent to recognize and define a function for the difital information, a function for which the dFSCI will be computed. Only a conscious agent can do that, because only a conscious agent understands what "function" means. (Of course, non conscious entities can recognize specific functions that they have been programmed to recognize: but in no way do they understand what "function" means). So, the conscious agent recognizes a function in the digital information (if he can), and must explicitly define it, so tha it may be objectively recognized and measured by other conscious agents. A human being is perfectly apt to do that. So, to sum it up: 1) Consciousness is necessary to define design. Intent is a good tool too, but it is only an aspect of consciousness. I always speak of meaningful purposeful conscious representations as the origin of design. That includes all the necessary components: consciousness (representations); meaning (the cognitive aspect); and intent (the feeling aspect). 2) A cosncious agent is necessary to define the function for which dFSCI is measured. A human being is fine for that. And, obviously, the simple recognition that human beings are conscious, intelligent and purposeful beings is necessary when we demonstrate the connection between dFSCI and conscious agents, using human artifacts and non designed things as the two groups where we check our dFSCI definition.gpuccio
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
06:26 AM
6
06
26
AM
PST
In intelligent selection a function is purposefully serache by intelligent engineers, and its appearnce is measured, even at vey low levels, where it would not significamtly contribute, for the better or for the worse, to replication power...
All you need to do is demonstrate a way of knowing in advance what it would take to increase replication power, whatever that is. Where does sexual selection and female choice fit into your scheme, and how do you balance hitchhiking effects?Petrushka
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
06:17 AM
6
06
17
AM
PST
gpuccio A quick interjection, that may either be a help or a hindrance in your interchange with EII. I see his point that "consciousness", whilst a completely transparent subjective reality, is difficult to apply to other entities (like beavers) reliably. But implicit in the concept, and at the heart of "design", is "intention" (aka goal-setting, teleology). With beavers, the key issue is whether they want to build, modify or repair a dam, or whether they merely have a set of algorithms to stick a log in wherever they see running water, gnaw on the river-facing side of a tree, etc. Petrushka's evolutionary algorithms have no intentions, but perform functions according to the original designer's intention. I don't think that's disputable, because they're not designed to *have* intentions. Central to the Neodarwinist thesis is *lack* of intention. So if, for example, cells were found (as per J Shapiro) to manipulate their biology towards specific goals, it would be profoundly non-Darwinian (or "heterodox" in Jerry Coyne's parlance) because the cells would then be "designers" in at least the same way that beavers are. The question would then be not so much whether they are conscious (putting vitalism on the table) but whether the "design intentions" are their own or those of *their* designer. Nevertheless, one would have shown that the *appearance* of design was not (as in Darwinism) the *illusion* of design, and the primary designer, having foresight and intention, would be a necessary corollary, for all the reasons you state. It may or may not be, therefore, that "intention" is a more scientifically verifiable, less metaphysical, basic starting point than "consciousness".Jon Garvey
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
05:53 AM
5
05
53
AM
PST
englishmaninistanbul: I am pleased with your answer too. Thank you for your patience and goodwill. :) A couple of comments. 1. I still think that such an inference would serve to show very clearly that the way of reasoning that goes, “If I can prove consciousness is not a valid scientific concept, naturalistic explanations instantly become more plausible” is utterly wrong. Frankly, I don't understand why you worry about that. No one in the world can "prove consciousness is not a valid scientific concept". Let them try. And you will easily be able to destroy their arguments. Consciousness is beyond any doubt a valid scientific fact (not a concept): it exists. Are they denying that subjective experiences exist? Not even solipstists have gone so far: solipsists merely state that only their own subjective experiences exist (which, while being false, has at least some logic, because it stresses the difference between personal observation of consciousness, a fact, and inference of consciousness in others). But who can ever deny that subjective expereinces exist? The best way, I would say the only way, to prove soething wrong is to explain why it is wrong. Looking for complex indirect ways will not help. 2. Well, b) is not completely wrong, but certainly tricky. a) is good, but not precise. I will try to explain why. First of all, when we infer design we cannot distinguish, in many cases, between a "design executor" and a "designer". So, your definition must be valid for both cases. Moreover, design is not defined by dFSCI. In many cases design is simple. Design is defined, as I have said many times, by the conscious intent of the designer. Achild can draw a very simple form representing a house. That's design. But it is not complex. dFSCI is always connected to design (an empirical observation), but the contrary is not true. I can accept a) only if it is formulated this way: "dFSCI is observed in material objects only when one of the following two conditions is true: a1) They are designed by a conscious agent a2) They are produced by some entity already containing dFSCI However, you can easily see that a2 generates an infinite regress, if we don't hypothesize a conscious agent at the beginning. The need for a1 is that we cannot assume, as materialists wrongly do, that a conscious agent needs be complex, because we don't really know the nature of consciousness. It is true that humans, as conscious agents, express their consciousness through a complex brain, that certainly has a lot of dFSCI. But, unless one agrees with the reductionist theory of consciousness (as unsupported empirically and logically false as neo darwinism), one cannot assume that consciousness requires complexity. So, a simple conscious designer at the origin of all complex designed things is the best way to avoid the problem of infinite regress. That's why you cannot say that dFSCI is observed only as coming from entities that already contain dFSCI. In that way, you are assuming that all conscious designers already contain dFSCI. So, I would say that consciousness is always the first, necessary and sufficient, originator of dFSCI, but dFSCI can be "propagated" by non conscious entities that already contain dFSCI.gpuccio
December 13, 2011
December
12
Dec
13
13
2011
02:34 AM
2
02
34
AM
PST
Thank you. I feel as if we're finally speaking the same language. I'm very pleased with this answer, it's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for... Right, so "discrete environment-manipulating entity" won't work. My thoughts: 1) While it is true that defining "design executor" to include humans, beavers and printers is perhaps not the most useful of inferences, I still think that such an inference would serve to show very clearly that the way of reasoning that goes, "If I can prove consciousness is not a valid scientific concept, naturalistic explanations instantly become more plausible" is utterly wrong. 2) My current redrafts of the definition of a "design executor" as the only observed immediate producers of dFSCI: --a Entities containing dFSCI --b Entities that perform functions I have serious doubts that b is viable, but I don't have the time to elaborate right now, I will try to do so later on today.englishmaninistanbul
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
10:51 PM
10
10
51
PM
PST
Petrushka: All forms of selection incorporate some feed-back system. What is you point? In NS, the feedback system is simply the differential reproduction of those replicators in that environment. That's why it is called "natural". No conscious agent has defined the function, the function is not measured exp'licitly, and the feedback does not depend on any measurement of a specific function: better repèlicators replicate better, and that's all. In intelligent selection a function is purposefully serache by intelligent engineers, and its appearnce is measured, even at vey low levels, where it would not significamtly contribute, for the better or for the worse, to replication power, and an active feedback, intelligently depending on the measure function, is applied to the system, to expand the replicators bearing the new function, even at very low levels, and even if they do not replicate better for that. This cycle is a repeated many times, and as we know for the experience of bottom up protein engineering, that function can sometimes be found in reasonable times and with reasonable resources.gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
09:15 AM
9
09
15
AM
PST
Joe: It seems simple, isn't it? But Petrushka does not like this type of answer...gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
09:08 AM
9
09
08
AM
PST
englishmaninistanbul: First of all, thank you for a post that is more detailed and answerable than others. So answer it I will :) . I apologize for the imprecision about your statement: "I am most emphatically not attempting to define consciousness without referring to consciousness. I am attempting to define a designer without referring to consciousness." You are right, obviously. I was just to quick in writing, but my meaning remains the same, given my point that a designer can only be defined as a conscious agent. You zay: I would like to point out that in that Wikipedia definition you presented the word “conscious” is conspicuous by its absence. True. But there are the following words: a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system Do non conscious systems originate plans and conventions? a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, Goals. Here the specification of intent is very clear. Intent is a conscious representation. a roadmap or a strategic approach for someone to achieve a unique expectation Expectation. The person designing is called a designer Please, note the word "person". which is also a term used for people who work professionally in one of the various design areas People. The fact that th word "consciousness" does not even appear is a demonstration that the associacion of the word with a conscious agent is given for granted, not the opposite. The same happens in much ID literature. Now, let's go to your concept of "design executor". It is correct, but rather useless, indeed confounding. Let's see why. First of all, I find your specific definition very ambiguous. You define a design executor as a: "discrete environment-manipulating entity", and your statement is that: "dFSCI has only ever been observed to come from discrete environment-manipulating entities". To my perplexity about the meaning of that, you detailed: "To elaborate: I use the word “discrete” to say that after the inception of the entity in question its actions are internally caused, at least in part, ie. partially or wholly independent of external stimuli. I’d have thought “environment-manipulating” was self-explanatory." I really don't understand the discrete. Stretched, that could apply to any object. Less stretched, it can certainly be applied to radioactive substances, just to make an example. Are radioactve substances "design executors"? uantisicBut really, that could be applied to anything. A quantistic wave function evolves in time according to internal laws, that certainly modify its actions. And wave functions apply to all reality. Let's go to the environment manipulation". What does it mean? You say it "self-explanatory". It certainly is not for me. Maybe I am particularly dumb. I will consider two different possibilities: either "manipulating" implies consciousness, and is a synonim for designing, or it just means "changing". I looked at dictionary.com, and this is the result: "ma·nip·u·late? ?[muh-nip-yuh-leyt] Show IPA verb (used with object), -lat·ed, -lat·ing. 1.to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people's feelings. 2.to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance: to manipulate a large tractor. 3.to adapt or change (accounts, figures, etc.) to suit one's purpose or advantage. 4.Medicine/Medical . to examine or treat by skillful use of the hands, as in palpation, reduction of dislocations, or changing the position of a fetus. I would say that the definitions here support my view that "manipulation" is a form of design, and implies consciousness and intent. That would make all your reasoning wrong and useless. But let's consider the possibility that you intended the word as "changing, modifying", without any reference to intent. Then, a raidoactive substance is certainly a manipulating agent. A stone too (at least, it bends the gravitational field, although very little). A wave function too (it can interact suddenly with the macrocosmic world, through he well know wave function collapse. Every existing thing changes the environment. And every existing thing changes, bot because of its inner states and because of its interaction with the environment. So, your definition, in this sense, is definitely too widespread. So if you say: ""dFSCI has only ever been observed to come from entities that change at least in part because of their inner states, and change the environment for a specific intent" You are again referring, in a very imprecise way, only to conscious designers, who are the only entities that can have an intent. On the other hand, if you say: ""dFSCI has only ever been observed to come from entities that change at least in part because of their inner states, and that change the environment" You are juhst saying that dFSCI comes only from something that exists, which seems rather trivial. then you say: My current definition of an “design executor” as a “discrete environment-manipulating entity” basically treats said executor as a black box. There wasn’t FSCI before, some thing–a human, an animal, a robot, whatever–came along and, presto, it made some FSCI. But that has no sense. I can accept that you treat the executor as a "black box" at some level of the reasoning, but how can you ignore the fundamental question: is there dFSCI in that black box? When you say: "There wasn’t FSCI before", that is true only if there was not dFSCI in the black box. Let's go to the example of a computer printing Hamlet. You say: the computer is a black box. When it prints Hamlet (which is dFSCI without any doubt), lo, here dFSCI appears. But it is not true. That specific dFSCI was already there, in the memoty of the computer, as a file that some human had loaded. Now, according to you definitions, the computer os the executor of design. The man who loaded the file is, I suppose, a proxy executor. And the men who lent the file to that man is a proxy-proxy executor. Of what utility io all this? The only correct answer is: who wrote Hamlet? There, truly, we3 can say that Hamlet dod not exist before, and it started to exist after it was written by Shalespeare. There we see the whole miracle of dFSCI, with all its complexity and beauty. From the author's conscious representations, from his creativity and intent. I gave you also the example of an actor playing Hamlet. There is no doubt that the actor is a designer, becasue he adds all kinds of specified components to the drama that are not really in the wrtitten form. He decides how to move, the intonations of the voice, the times, facial expressions, and so on. That is certainly FSCI. But it is not the dFSCI that we find in the written drama. That, the actor takes wholly from the paper. The actor is a co-designer of the payed version of Hamlet, of that specific version, but Shakespeare remains the only designer of the original drama. IMO, that is also the position of beaver: they are certainly co-designers of the dam: they adapt the original algorithm to specific situations, and probably modify some aspects creatively. It's difficult to compute their orifinal contributations in terms of information, obviously, because we know too little of this particular system. But the basic algorithm to build dams, I believe, is written somewhere, in theor genome or elsewhere. And they are not the designers of that information. Moreover, in the specific case of beavers, there is really no design or design executor inference for them: we know that they build dams, because we observe the process of dam building. No inference is needed. But it is legitimate to ask about the origin of the information for dam building, if it is written in their genome. There, a design inference is necessary, and it does not imply beavers at all as agents (unless someone belives that beavers have intelligently written their own genome). For all these reasons I believe that your "design executor inference" is not useful. I hope you don't take offence for that, it's what I really believe, and I have tried to detail why.gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
09:04 AM
9
09
04
AM
PST
As often said, algorithms based on random variation and intellugent selection are designed.
You keep harping on "intelligent" selection. Kindly provide a formal mathematical proof that intelligence or consciousness is required for a feedback system to work. And you are not just making it up.Petrushka
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
08:54 AM
8
08
54
AM
PST
Petrushka, Do you not see the contradiction between your statements?
My point is that electronic are increasingly being designed by computers, with humans setting the “targets." ... Consciousness is not required to solve complex problems.
Computers "designing" require targets. Targets in turn require consciousness at some point. Who invented the concept of the motherboard? Who decided that for some specific problem a computer with a motherboard would be a good solution? Consciousness, consciousness. Having computers that design motherboards is also a target. Who programmed computers to design motherboards? What you call evolution is a mass of intelligent activity assisted by intelligently designed components. As soon as you realize that any and all observed instances of design always involve setting a target, you'll realize what intelligence can do that evolution can't. The target, by definition, is abstract. It does not exist until it is implemented. It can only exist as an abstract idea in the conscious mind that envisions it. Without it no one writes evolutionary algorithms, and without it they have nothing to do. You are trying to separate intelligence from design, but not succeeding.ScottAndrews2
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
08:08 AM
8
08
08
AM
PST
Petrushka: I haven’t seen anything in the field of AI that is likely to lead to a conscious machine, so I find that particular debate to be without value. That's what I call a sincere observation. Only, the observation is not without value. In epistemological terms, it can be expressed as follows: The theory that AI can lead to a consacious machine is, at present, completely unsupported by empirical data. Which, in science, is not an observation without value.gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
08:07 AM
8
08
07
AM
PST
Petrushka:
If proteins are ever designed, it will be done with software using evolutionary algorithms.
We agree. I say that is how the original proteins were designed.
Consciousness is not required to solve complex problems.
That is false as consciousness is required to write the algorithm, set up the initial conditions, set the goal and provide the resources required.Joe
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
08:05 AM
8
08
05
AM
PST
Petrushka: As often said, algorithms based on random variation and intellugent selection are designed. Ay you say yourself,"humans set the “targets”. IOWs, human define the functions to be achieved, And human also set the rules, the algorithms, the machines, and anything else. Your only point seems to be that RV is used by human in their design. We know that. Machines do the computing, not the inventing. If they invent at all, it's because we write what and how to invent in their code. If they by chance did invent something really new, they would not recognize it, unless we have written in their code how to recognize it. Machines cannot set targets, because they have no targets, except for those that we write in their code. All "evolutionary algorithms" you refer to are not neo darwinian algorithms. They are designed algorithms, based on RV and intelligent selection. You may repeat this point n times, you will get n times the same answer from me.gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
08:04 AM
8
08
04
AM
PST
OK, fair enough, I respect your candidness. ...your attempt at defining consciousness without referring to consciousness... I am most emphatically not attempting to define consciousness without referring to consciousness. I am attempting to define a designer without referring to consciousness. You say that a designer is necessarily conscious. If we are talking about the ultimate origin of FSCI then I happen to agree with that statement (although I would like to point out that in that Wikipedia definition you presented the word "conscious" is conspicuous by its absence). However I had hoped that by now it would be clear that by "designer" I mean the observed immediate origin of FSCI. Now that I put it in so many words, I can see why you are so adamantly telling me that I'm thinking in circles. We're talking at cross purposes, and that's not really your fault. For simplicity, I'm going to stick to your definition of a designer as the conscious originator of design, and for the purposes of this discussion I am going to use the expression "design executor" to refer to my "observed immediate originators" of design. My current definition of an "design executor" as a "discrete environment-manipulating entity" basically treats said executor as a black box. There wasn't FSCI before, some thing--a human, an animal, a robot, whatever--came along and, presto, it made some FSCI. Maybe the design executor is conscious and is executing its own design, maybe it isn't and is executing the design of the designer that made it, it doesn't matter. It is the observed, immediate originator of the FSCI, and therefore lends support to the inference of the existence of a design executor whenever FSCI is encountered. Similar to my "apples come from plants" story above, I am not denying the existence of conscious designers, I am trying to formulate a definition that includes both conscious designers and their proxies. This would, in my mind, lend even more weight to the argument that the design inference (although I suppose that would be an "design executor inference" now) is much more plausible than naturalistic explanations of the origins of information and therefore life. For example: beavers. If we ask the question "Are beavers designers?" the answer revolves around the question "Are beavers conscious?", and the answer to that question is unclear at present. So if we are searching for demonstrations of the reliability of the design inference, at the moment beavers leave us empty handed in terms of what we can dogmatically assert. However if we ask the question "Are beavers design executors?" the answer is a resounding "yes." Coz they make dams. Beavers now become a shining demonstration of the "design executor inference." Now we come back to the question, is this inference as useful as I think it might be?englishmaninistanbul
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
08:01 AM
8
08
01
AM
PST
What do you mean? Do computer circuit boards emerge from natural physical systems without any human design?
Computer motherboards are being designed by evolutionary algorithms because they do a better job than humans. This technology is just a few years old. Machines will be doing our inventing and product development long before there is any serious discussion of their consciousness. I haven't seen anything in the field of AI that is likely to lead to a conscious machine, so I find that particular debate to be without value.Petrushka
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
07:33 AM
7
07
33
AM
PST
That’s just silly. That’s like saying that my screwdriver and my drill hung the shelves in my closet, and I just indicated a preference. You know, because humans can’t make perfect 5/16? holes in wood.
I gave the illustration of computer motherboards, not simple tools. My point is that electronic are increasingly being designed by computers, with humans setting the "targets." This is a trend in its infancy. Eventually computers will develop the targets based on market trends. If proteins are ever designed, it will be done with software using evolutionary algorithms. Consciousness is not required to solve complex problems.Petrushka
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
07:24 AM
7
07
24
AM
PST
englishmaninistanbul: Ah, just for completeness. I realize now that you also object to my word "cheating" (I had missed that part at a quick read). Well, I admit that word is a little bit stronger. But again it is targeted to the reaoning, not necessarily to the intentions of the reasoner. A worng argument, that uses improperly the words and the logic, is certainly cheating those who listen to it. The proposer of a wrong argument must take responsibility for that, especially when the erros in his reasonings are explicitly shown. Whatever his intimate intentions were. And please remember that my tone has become "increasingly accusatory", as you say, only after repeated attempts from you to stick to a wrong representation of things, not by credible arguments, but only by rephrasing the same things in a slightly different way. After all, the obstinate proposer of a wrong reasoning is cheating at least with one person: himself.gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
06:14 AM
6
06
14
AM
PST
Petrushka: My approach to consciousness, as you should know, is empirical. Consciousness in ourselves is a fact, directly perceived by each of us. Consciousness in other humans is an inference by analogy, vastly shared by almost all. Consciousness in animals is a weaker inference by analogy (the analogy is lees obvious). Anyone is free to draw the line where he likes. Inferences can subjectively be accepted or refuted. As for me, I would answer yes to all your examples. But it's just a personal opinion. Frankly, I don't understand the other statement: "There are already manufactured objects that are too complex to be designed by humans. Computer circuit boards are an example." What do you mean? Do computer circuit boards emerge from natural physical systems without any human design?gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
06:02 AM
6
06
02
AM
PST
englishmaninistanbul: my tone is in no way accusatory about you, but certainly about some of your statements. Your sincerity and motivations are your problem, not mine. I have said nothing about them, now will I, unless you behave in explcitly incorrect ways, that you haven't done. Let's see. The first phrase of mine you quote is: "All these appoaches are simply intellectually wrong." Where these approaches include, as clear from the context, compatibilism, AI reductionism and your attempt at defining consciousness without referring to consciousness. The very obvious point is that I see in all of theose approaches the same mistake: the desire to get rid of something that is essential to the concept we are trying to define. That kind of approach, IMO, is intellectually wrong. Including yours. IOWs, it is a cognitive error. The same type of cognitive error in all three cases. Including yours. That is in no way a statement about your motivations, or sincerity, or how you see yourself. It is simply a statement that, IMO, you are reasining in a wrong way. If you can't take that kind of statements in a discussion, why do you take part in intellectual confrontation at all? On the other hand, you seem to be disturbed by the fact that, while believing that you approac is wrong: "on the other you invite me to elaborate on my suggestions and attempt to prove them empirically valid." What wrong with that. I believe that your approach is wrong, but I am not any final authority. I would be happy to show in more detail why your approach is wrong, but I cannot do that if you don't develop a more complete and detailed theory from it. So, I invite you to do so. Is that an offense of some kind? Perhaps the approach I am suggesting is flawed, but at least from my perspective I do not believe I am guilty of intellectual dishonesty. I believe that it is flawed, and I am happy for you that your perspective of yourself is reassuring. In particular, I am most certainly not playing the compatibilist game. I never said that. You have said nothing about compatibilism. I just expressen my idea that the same type of cognitive error can be found in compatibilsm, in AI reductionism, and in your reasoning. That's completely different. I’m sure, quite sure, that you will attack this comparison and say that I’ve got it all wrong. I do think you have got it all wrong, but I don't want to attack you any more. You could take offense. The point is this is what I see myself as trying to do. I do not see that I am guilty of intellectual dishonesty. Whoever said you are guilty of intellectual dishonesty? I just said that you are guilty of intellectual error. Are dishonesty and error the same thing for you? How would you define them? I wish you well too.gpuccio
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
05:57 AM
5
05
57
AM
PST
There are already manufactured objects that are too complex to be designed by humans. Computer circuit boards are an example.
That's just silly. That's like saying that my screwdriver and my drill hung the shelves in my closet, and I just indicated a preference. You know, because humans can't make perfect 5/16" holes in wood. You're attempting to lean on your "evolution as the designer" concept, pretending that it's been established. But it hasn't. Show me any circuit board and the company that manufactured it can trace it back to the people who designed it.ScottAndrews2
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
05:48 AM
5
05
48
AM
PST
You have robustly analysed all of my statements and ruthlessly pruned them of mistakes and misexpressions, which was what I wanted in the first place, so I thank you. However I am saddened at the increasingly accusatory tone of your comments. On the one hand you tell me that the approach I am suggesting is "intellectually wrong" and "cheating", and on the other you invite me to elaborate on my suggestions and attempt to prove them empirically valid. Perhaps the approach I am suggesting is flawed, but at least from my perspective I do not believe I am guilty of intellectual dishonesty. In particular, I am most certainly not playing the compatibilist game. Let me explain why by way of an example. Let's say we have a theory that goes "All apples come from trees" and it's a perfectly empirical and robust statement. Our opponents, who want to argue that apples could come from anywhere, start by debating the meaning of the word "tree." There are two ways to refute their objections: Define trees in an empirically unassailable manner or, if that turns out to be problematic, use another definition that says "All apples come from plants of some kind" to demonstrate that such objections are irrelevant. I am doing the second. I'm sure, quite sure, that you will attack this comparison and say that I've got it all wrong. That's not the point. The point is this is what I see myself as trying to do. I do not see that I am guilty of intellectual dishonesty. At present I have nothing meaningful to add to the discussion either. So thank you, it was a pleasure to meet you, and I wish you well.englishmaninistanbul
December 12, 2011
December
12
Dec
12
12
2011
03:40 AM
3
03
40
AM
PST
1 2 3 7

Leave a Reply