Extraterrestrial life Intelligent Design specified complexity

Would specified complexity help us find extraterrestrial intelligences?

Spread the love

Astrobiologist Caleb A. Scharf, takes issue with Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb: Skepticism about ET isn’t just conservatism, he says, it’s experience. Scientists he says, are cautious with good reason. There are many weird natural phenomena like Oumuamua out there.

Loeb famously speculated that space object Oumuamua was an extraterrestrial light sail.

But here’s a thought:

Here’s another way of looking at it, from information theory: The artifact or signal of an intelligent being should show “specified complexity. That is,

“Specified complexity: A long sequence of random letters is complex without being specified [it is hard to duplicate but it also doesn’t mean anything]. A short sequence of letters like “so,” is specified without being complex. [It means something but what it means is not very significant by itself]. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified. [It is both complex and hard to duplicate and it means a lot in a few words]”

That’s what we should be looking for in signals from intelligent beings — orderly patterns that hold meanings not found in inanimate nature.

If a roommate comes home and finds Scrabble letters on the board spelling out: IT’S YOUR TURN TO DO THE DISHES TONIGHT, he will hardly suppose that the arrangement resulted from someone dumping the bag of letters on the board.

If we can find signals like that, they will be hard to argue with. Meanwhile, informed skepticism is best.

News, “Astrobiologist cautions against jumping the gun in spotting ET” at Mind Matters News

You may also wish to read: Astrophysicist warns: The aliens may be boring or unreachable. Researchers are taking the emissions from the vicinity of exoplanet Proxima B seriously. But if it is truly a technological signal, what would follow? Science fiction would be prophetic in the sense that Proxima B might show that They’re Out There. But maybe too optimistic about our chances of making contact.

13 Replies to “Would specified complexity help us find extraterrestrial intelligences?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Let’s stop killing Deplorables before we worry about totally unknown and permanently UNKNOWABLE things.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Capital I and capital F, “IF” there is extra terrestrial intelligence out there in the universe somewhere, its existence would still be inexplicable to Darwinian explanations.

    In the Darwinian worldview, there is simply no such thing as an ‘Intelligent cause’. In fact, in the Darwinian worldview, the entire concept of a ‘self’, with the “free will” necessary to be an intelligent cause in the first place, is held to be merely a neuronal illusion.

    Free Will: Weighing Truth and Experience – Do our beliefs matter? – Mar 22, 2012
    Excerpt: We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/social-brain-social-mind/201203/free-will-weighing-truth-and-experience
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    This completely absurd claim from Darwinists that our sense of self, and free will, are merely neuronal illusions, (and that therefore there are no truly Intelligent causes in the universe, but that everything must ultimately be reducible to blind physics and/or naturalistic causes), puts SETI researchers in a rather awkward position.

    As Paul Nelson explained, “some feature of “intelligence” must be irreducible to physics, because otherwise we’re back to physics versus physics, and there’s nothing for SETI to look for.”

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism
    Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: Assessing the Damage MN (methodological naturalism) Does to Freedom of Inquiry
    Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism. If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.
    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?
    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,
    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.,,,
    ,,, some feature of “intelligence” must be irreducible to physics, because otherwise we’re back to physics versus physics, and there’s nothing for SETI to look for.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/09/do_you_like_set/

    You don’t have to take Dr. Nelson’s word for the fact that Intelligence is irreducible to physics, and/or to naturalistic causes.

    In 2014, group of leading Darwinists honestly admitted that they have, “essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,” And as Casey Luskin added, ““It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    Casey Luskin added: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    The ‘intelligence chasm’ that separates us from the other creatures of the world, contrary to what Darwinists try to portray to the public, is simply gargantuan.

    As the following author noted, “This is not a question of degree. It is all or nothing: there is no semi-bipedal animal, none that makes only small fires, writes only short sentences, builds only rudimentary spaceships, draws just a little bit, or prays only occasionally.”

    “We are unique and alone now in the world. There is no other animal species that truly resembles our own. A physical and mental chasm separates us from all other living creatures. There is no other bipedal mammal. No other mammal controls and uses fire, writes books, travels in space, paints portraits, or prays. This is not a question of degree. It is all or nothing: there is no semi-bipedal animal, none that makes only small fires, writes only short sentences, builds only rudimentary spaceships, draws just a little bit, or prays only occasionally.
    The extraordinary originality of our species is not common in the living world. Most species belong to groups of similar ones.,,”
    – Juan Arsuaga (paleoanthropologist) – The Neanderthals Necklace – 2002 – page 3-4

    And as Michael Egnor noted, in terms of our Intelligence, “We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses. Our difference is a metaphysical chasm.”

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals
    Michael Egnor – November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: Human beings have mental powers that include the material mental powers of animals but in addition entail a profoundly different kind of thinking. Human beings think abstractly, and nonhuman animals do not. Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals themselves are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,,
    It is in our ability to think abstractly that we differ from apes. It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses. Our difference is a metaphysical chasm.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/11/the_fundamental_2/

    Darwinists simply have no clue why humans, out of all the creatures on earth, should uniquely possess intelligence.

    Indeed, in the Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ scheme of things, humans should not even exist.

    As the late best selling author Tom Wolfe explained, “Physically, man is a sad case.,,,, any animal his size would have him for lunch.,,,”

    “Speech is 95 percent plus of what lifts man above animal! Physically, man is a sad case. His teeth, including his incisors, which he calls eyeteeth, are baby-size and can barely penetrate the skin of a too-green apple. His claws can’t do anything but scratch him where he itches. His stringy-ligament body makes him a weakling compared to all the animals his size. Animals his size? In hand-to-paw, hand-to-claw, or hand-to-incisor combat, any animal his size would have him for lunch. Yet man owns or controls them all, every animal that exists, thanks to his superpower: speech.”
    – Tom Wolfe, in the introduction to his book, The Kingdom of Speech

    In other words, although humans are fairly defenseless creatures in the wild compared to other creatures, such as lions, bears, and sharks, etc.., nonetheless, humans have, completely contrary to Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking, managed to somehow become masters of the planet, not by brute force as would be presupposed under Darwinian assumptions, but simply by our unique ability to communicate information and, more specifically, infuse information into material substrates in order to create, i.e. intelligently design, objects that are extremely useful for our defense, shelter, in procuring food, furtherance of our knowledge, and also for our pleasure.

    What is more interesting still about the fact that humans have a unique ability to understand and create information, and have come to ‘master the planet’ through the ‘top-down’ infusion of immaterial information into material substrates, is the fact that, due to advances in science, both the universe and life itself, are now found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”
    Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.

    It is hard to imagine a more convincing proof that we are ‘made in the image of God’, than finding that both the universe and life itself are ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and have come to ‘master the planet’ precisely because of our ability to infuse information into material substrates.

    Genesis 1:26
    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    I guess a more convincing proof that we are made in the image of God could be if God Himself became a man, defeated death on a cross, and then rose from the dead to prove that He was God.

    And that just so happens to be precisely the proof that is claimed within Christianity.

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TL4QOCiis

    The evidence for the Shroud’s authenticity keeps growing. (Timeline of facts) – November 08, 2019
    What Is the Shroud of Turin? Facts & History Everyone Should Know – Myra Adams and Russ Breault
    https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/what-is-the-shroud-of-turin.html

    Minimal Facts vs. Maximal Data Approaches to the Resurrection: A Conversation with Dr. Lydia McGrew
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUt3r3dXBr4

    Verse:

    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    Of supplemental note, Darwinists, with their reductive materialistic framework, simply have no possible explanation for top-down ‘intelligent’ causation.

    Recognising Top-Down Causation – George Ellis
    Excerpt: Causation: The nature of causation is highly contested territory, and I will take a pragmatic view:
    Definition 1: Causal Effect
    If making a change in a quantity X results in a reliable demonstrable change in a quantity Y in a given context, then X has a causal effect on Y.
    Example: I press the key labelled “A” on my computer keyboard; the letter “A” appears on my computer screen.,,,
    Definition 2: Existence
    If Y is a physical entity made up of ordinary matter, and X is some kind of entity that has a demonstrable causal effect on Y as per Definition 1, then we must acknowledge that X also exists (even if it is not made up of such matter).
    This is clearly a sensible and testable criterion; in the example above, it leads to the conclusion that both the data and the relevant software exist. If we do not adopt this definition, we will have instances of uncaused changes in the world; I presume we wish to avoid that situation.,,,
    Excerpt: page 5: A:
    Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.
    The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.,,,
    The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.
    http://fqxi.org/data/essay-con.....s_2012.pdf

  3. 3
    doubter says:

    I think Specified Complexity is basic to the current search for intelligent extraterrestrial signals, but of course the SETI researchers wouldn’t be caught dead using that specific term with its connotations of ID.

    For example, what else is a sequence of binary bits counting out the beginning of the series of prime numbers, than looking for an organized pattern of information that is both complex and specified (in this case specified by basic mathematical principles), but that no known naturalistic process produces – only intelligence?

    This does put the SETI researchers in a difficult position relating to their Darwinist “colleagues”. So far probably they have escaped the Darwinist police.

  4. 4
    LoneCycler says:

    The Proxima Centauri signal BLC1 is almost certainly of man-made origin. The Fermi Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) has a Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS) control step at 982 MHz. Used to conserve battery power in portable notebook computers these components are found everywhere computers are found. Intel also has an FPGA that operates at this frequency.

  5. 5
    groovamos says:

    But here’s a thought:

    Here’s another way of looking at it, from information theory: The artifact or signal of an intelligent being should show “specified complexity. That is,

    “Specified complexity: A long sequence of random letters is complex without being specified [it is hard to duplicate but it also doesn’t mean anything]. A short sequence of letters like “so,” is specified without being complex. [It means something but what it means is not very significant by itself]. A Shakespearean sonnet is both complex and specified. [It is both complex and hard to duplicate and it means a lot in a few words]”

    That’s what we should be looking for in signals from intelligent beings — orderly patterns that hold meanings not found in inanimate nature.

    This is being said by people who are misinformed about statistical communications theory (i.e. information theory). Modern coding techniques applied to QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) achieved maximum information transmission closely approaching the Shannon limit according to the Shannon-Hartley theorem, in the ’90’s. You could safely assume any advanced beings ‘out there’ would employ these techniques. I have said this on this board before: such signals appear, to a receiver without the decoding ability, as identical to random noise. You can take this literally — the statistical properties of such signals even in the absence of corrupting noise render them as identifiable only as stochastic processes, there is no way to identify them as bearing information without applying the requisite decoding. Apply them to a spectrum analyzer, and their spectra appear flat over the bandwidth they occupy, in fact, that flatness is a requirement for them to achieve the Shannon maximum limit to information transmission over a noisy channel. You can take it as a paradox, that for a signal to achieve the maximum data rate in the presence of Gaussian noise, it must take on the properties of Gaussian noise.

    This is not something that most physicists have encountered in their work, Claude Shannon was an electrical engineer that acquired a Ph.D. in math during his employment at Bell Labs.

  6. 6
    Fasteddious says:

    Groovamos is correct for advanced communication protocols, but I doubt if any advanced civilization TRYING to communicate would use such signalling, coding and modulation techniques. They would be aware that very specific demodulation, decoding and conversion would be needed to receive their messages. Thus, they would use the simplest possible techniques; ones that any other advanced race could figure out, and exactly as used in the movie “contact”. Most advanced civilizations would not normally send out repeating lists of prime numbers in their internal communications.
    If we are searching for radio frequency signals unintended for us from other start systems, then Groovamos is correct: we may not be able to distinguish their signals from noise, even if the “noise” seems to be a bit higher in that direction. Even so, that civilization might have the equivalent of the FCC that regulates which frequency bands are used for which purposes. Radio telescopes on Earth might then be able to notice that the RF spectrum from that start system is peculiarly divided into noisy bands, quiet bands, clean bands and variable bands. From that information, we might then be able to discern that complex communications are occurring, even if we cannot tell what they are saying.

  7. 7
    Seversky says:

    I remember a TV show made around 1960 called (I think) Men Into Space set in what was then the near future. In one episode a radio telescope on a small Moon base picks up a signal clearly of extraterrestrial origin. They transmit a reply but the source is pinpointed as being a star something like 500 light-years away. What impressed me was when it was pointed out that the message started out long before the people receiving it were born and, if the senders were anything like us, they were now long dead. Also, if the reply got through, it wouldn’t be until, again, the senders were long dead.

    The problem is that EM radiation is way too slow to be a practical from of interstellar communication. We have to hope that there is actually something like the “subspace” or “hyperspace” domains of science-fiction for star-to-star chats to become a practical reality.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    And Seversky, why can’t you be as reasonable in your scientific reasoning, as you clearly were being reasonable above, when it comes to weighing the merits of the claims of Darwinian evolution and Intelligent Design?

    For instance of a rough comparison to radio transmitters and receivers, “The bat’s echometer has more accuracy, more efficiency, less power consumption and less size than any artificial sonar constructed by engineers.”

    The bionic antinomy of Darwinism
    Excerpt: For example, the bats have an echometer emitting 100 kHz supersonic pulses at a frequency of 30 times per second. These waves are reflected and distorted by the surrounding objects and their echoes are intercepted and elaborated by the bat to catch its prey and also just to get around. The signal processing of these echoes is so accurate to allow bats to fly, twisting, looping and zig-zagging through the air, into a completely dark room intersected by tens pianoforte strings without grazing them. The bat’s echometer has more accuracy, more efficiency, less power consumption and less size than any artificial sonar constructed by engineers.?http://www.uncommondescent.com.....darwinism/?

    In fact, researchers are studying these transmitting and receiving systems in hope of designing “cutting-edge navigation systems and more accurate medical imaging”

    Ultrasound Technology Advanced by Dolphins and Bats – November 2011
    Advances in ultrasound technology is being inspired by a new Israeli research project that studies dolphins, bats and mole rats.
    Excerpt: Bisonar – the way animals interpret returning signals – involves superior, real-time data processing, according to Intrator, whose research was reported in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.?Bisonar animals send ultrasonic sounds called “pings” into the environment. The shape of the returning signals, or echos, determines how these animals “see” their surroundings, helping them navigate or hunt for prey. Humans, however, cannot produce such an accurate picture, Intrator noted.?“Animal ‘echolocations’ are done in fractions of milliseconds, at a resolution so high that a dolphin can see a tennis ball from approximately 260 feet away,” the scientist explained, adding that animals are able to process several pieces of information simultaneously. ?With echolocation, a bat can tell the difference between a fly in motion or at rest, or determine which of two fruits is heavier by observing their movements in the wind, Intrator said.?,,, the research could lead to cutting-edge navigation systems and more accurate medical imaging.?http://www.israelnationalnews......GzChFEsE30

    So Seversky again, since you can obviously reason well when you want to, why is so hard for you to honestly admit that such sophisticated transmitting and receiving systems in animals must have been the product of intelligent Design and not the product of the random undirected processes of Darwinian evolution?

    Echolocation and Intelligent Design
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFQqkusrhKY

  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77/8

    So Seversky again, since you can obviously reason well when you want to, why is so hard for you to honestly admit that such sophisticated transmitting and receiving systems in animals must have been the product of intelligent Design and not the product of the random undirected processes of Darwinian evolution?

    Like I said before, because you want us to believe in this Designer who creates all this amazing work and then pretty much wipes the slate clean every few hundred million years or so and starts from scratch. You tell me what kind of sense that makes.

    On the other hand, we have evidence of how living things can change over time and how resilient they can be after catastrophic events so evolution through natural selection by environmental pressures is a much more reasonable explanation for what we observe, even if it doesn’t fit your religious presuppositions.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Natural selection is nothing more than contingent serendipity. It didn’t produce the diversity of life. It just eliminates those who can’t make it. So it isn’t a reasonable explanation for how life got here nor how the diversity arose.

    There isn’t any evidence that nature can produce coed information processing systems and living organisms are ruled by them. seversky can only ignore and deny reality.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky’s ability to reason coherently apparently goes completely out the window when the subject of Darwinism and Intelligent Design comes up.

    You have ZERO evidence that Darwinian processes can create even a single protein, much less do you have any evidence that Darwinian processes can create transmitting and receiving technologies, (i.e. echolocation), that surpasses what man has thus far created.

    It ain’t rocket science Seversky.

    “It is not enough to say that design is a more likely scenario to explain a world full of well-designed things. It strikes me as urgent to insist that you not allow your mind to surrender the absolute clarity that all complex and magnificent things were made that way. Once you allow the intellect to consider that an elaborate organism with trillions of microscopic interactive components can be an accident… you have essentially “lost your mind.”
    – Jay Homnick

  12. 12
    groovamos says:

    You tell me what kind of sense that makes.

    Oh here we go again. Like “If I were the lord of reality, reality would conform to the sensibilities and prejudices harbored by, of course, ME.” Theological musings never seem to cease from this crowd.

    Thus, they would use the simplest possible techniques; ones that any other advanced race could figure out, and exactly as used in the movie “contact”. So this is the ignoring of the obvious. Random electromagnetic noise as received omnidirectionally exists over an extremely wide band of the spectrum, over the entire subset rf spectrum as employed by humans. With the high gain antennas of radio astronomy, noise sources in highly directional reception are in narrower bands, but these narrower bands are not nearly as narrow as those employed in communications. Extraterrestrial communications would then occupy unnaturally narrow bands, and would certainly use the rf spectrum for the reasons humans do. So what is the obvious? A search of the skies would have no need to look for “patterns”, a search only for unnaturally narrowband signals would suffice. And the punch line: This is what is searched for in the long running SETI project, if it is still running. Extraterrestrials wanting to be ‘discovered’ would have no reason to do anything beyond emitting narrowband noise. But I understand, narrowband signals appearing as stochastic processes don’t make for good movies. The question is, why do movies make for good bases for quasi-scientific magazine articles for the general reader? I guess because the general reader is the general movie audience.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    There’s a book titled “The Sparrow”. They heard singing, which is a type of specified complexity. Then they actually went to the planet and found its inhabitants.

Leave a Reply