Can I find examples that can fit any of the four following descriptions? Are some even impossible in principle?
[Assume first that the artifact in question has high improbability (like a set of a million coins or as stream of a million bits) or high Shannon entropy. Also assume by “disordered” I mean Kolmogorov simple or algorithmically simple or possessing low algorithmic entropy. Curiously (as far as I know), organization cannot be measured in terms of either Shannon entropy nor algorithmic entropy, it is a transcendent feature that can perceived almost only through subjective specification. Further, thermodynamic entropy isn’t even considered in any of these cases (and may not even be applicable)].
1. ordered and organized
2. ordered but disorganized
3. organized but disordered
4. disorganized and disordered
For #1 I would say 1 million fair coins all heads is a set that is both ordered and organized if one admits homogeneity as a form of organization.
For #2, this is hard, it may not even exist in principle, but my best shot at such an example is a car’s parts laid out in alphabetical order in a garage. Clearly the intended organization of the car is not in evidence, so it’s disorganized. But I really won’t press the point if someone contests this as an example of an ordered but disorganized artifact.
For #3, an encrypted ZIP file is an example of an organized but disordered artifact. With the possible exception of some pathological cases, it is highly disordered (perhaps maximally so since it cannot be described much more compactly by a smaller algorithm), yet it is highly organized. If it weren’t organized, decompression of the file would be impossible. A human embryo might be described as a highly compressed representation of an adult human. Thus a human embryo is highly disordered but also highly organized.
For #4 a million coins randomly shaken is both disorganized and disordered
What is curious is a disordered object can be either disorganized or organized. How can we know? I conjecture organization can almost only be perceived through the lens of a subjectively defined specification. For example, without a CODEC and a decoding key, the encrypted ZIP file will look just like gibberish. This also means, one person may see organization in an object while another may not, and in the case of encrypted files, the exclusion of others from perceiving the design through specification is actually the intent!
The beautiful thing about biology is that the specifications are built in, and specification from the world of human engineering also provides specifications to understand biology.
As far as built-in specifications in biology, the most obvious is the ability for biological organisms to function as copy machines of themselves. And not just any copy machine, but a Quine computing copy machine. Hence, one improbable copy (the parent) specifies another improbable copy (the child).
We see also self-specification in biology in as much as DNA specifies proteins. The homochirality in biology serves as a self-specification as well since homochirality is a configuration very far from expectation. As for specification from human engineering, we have many ready-made specifications that serves as design templates for biology such as: coders, decoders, error correction schemes, language processors, sensors, transducers, logic gates, networks, feedback control systems, motors, etc.
Even when anti-ID biologists study the architecture of a biological system, they are studying the organization implicitly through a specification. They use the instances of the explanatory filter without realizing it because biology looks designed. To perceive organization, one needs conceptual templates, and conceptual templates are specifications, and seeing physical objects (like a living creature) that conforms to specifications is what it means to perceive design.
[posted by scordova to assist the News desk with content and commentary through 7/7/13]