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# Rube Goldberg Complexity Increase in Thermodynamically Closed Systems

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A thermodynamically closed system that is far from equilibrium can increase the amount of physical design provided it is either front loaded or has an intelligent agent (like a human) within it.

A simple example: A human on a large nuclear powered space ship can write software and compose music or many other designs. The space ship is closed but far from equilibrium. But complexity can still increase because of the human intelligent agent.

Consider then a robot whose sole purpose is to make other robots like it or even unlike it in a similarly thermodynamically closed system. It can do this provided the software is front loaded into the robot.

Can the robot make something more irreducibly complex than itself in such a thermodynamically closed environment? I’d say, “YES”, but in a qualified way, it can evolve it provided that it is front loaded with the goal of making robots with more IC than itself.

Simple illustration, write a piece of software that can duplicate itself, it then essentially a software robot. Make the software such that each generation of software must go through a useless Rube Goldberg ritual like processing a set of randomly generated short passwords (say 3 characters). What do I mean? The first generation would look like:

``` String password_1 = "ABC";```

``` ```

```if ( password_1.equals( "ABC" ) ) { // proceed with replication.... } ```

With each generation, the robot lineage is pre-programmed to make each offspring increase the number of passwords it must make in order to procreate. Generation 2 would have software like:

``` String password_1 = "ABC"; String password_2 = "123";```

``` if ( password_1.equals( "ABC") && password_2.equals ("123") ) { // proceed with replication.... ```

```} ```

Again this addition of useless complexity to each generation. By useless, I mean Rube Goldberg complexity.

Thus by the millionth generation, the robot must process a million passwords in order to procreate the next generation, whereas the first generation only had to process 1 password.

The irreducible complexity in the robot is substantially higher than the first generation. One can see this could be analogous to increase in IC in biology if the strategy of increasing Rube Goldberg complexity was a front loaded goal.

Do I believe this is how complexity evolved on the Earth? Not most of it, maybe some of it at best. I believe genetic entropy dominates, but I just put this idea on the table for consideration.

NOTES
I use the definition of closed systems from
http://www.bluffton.edu/~bergerd/nsc_111/thermo2.html

Can the robot make something more irreducibly complex than itself in such a thermodynamically closed environment?
Living systems are therefore in the thermodynamic sense open systems, and the metabolism - that is the turnover of free energy - found in all living organisms is a prerequisite for their existence [225]. - Information and the Origin of Life, p 131 225. The fact that living systems are open systems is in accordance with the fact that biological information can only arise in open systems.
Mung
July 28, 2014
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SalC: I have made a comment here that should be useful for onward reflections. KFkairosfocus
July 16, 2014
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If one came across a later generation robot, without seeing the part of the system that prescribes increasing the number of passwords, one might mistakenly suppose the robot password system had to appear all at once since knocking out one part would disable the whole replication system.
I don't think so. In such a case, we'd identify that the system could be simplified by removing extra passwords and wouldn't conclude that all passwords had to appear at once. (Behe requires that IC system be understood enough that we could make such a determination.)Winston Ewert
July 15, 2014
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Where did I say that the system had to be necessary for survival?
July 15, 2014
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Where did I say that the system had to be necessary for survival? I certainly didn't mean to. I don't doubt that lots of complexity is "showing off" but I fail to see the relevance.Winston Ewert
July 15, 2014
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But imho, biology has a lot of IC that is not absolutely necessary for replication, there is a lot of complexity almost just for acrobatic show. If complexity were just about replication, we'd not have any need for complex multi-cellular sexually reproducing species. I think it is possible some IC evolved from a front loaded strategy. IC is not about what is absolutely necessary for survival or whatever. A design feature is one that actually would be selected against and biology is rich with complexity that is selected against, that's why there is a lot of extinction of more complex forms. The peacock's tail is an example of complexity that doesn't have to be there, but there it is.scordova
July 15, 2014
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I don't think this is an example of an irreducibly complex system. The system is trivially reducible by removing password checks. Arguably, the system is improved by removing these pointless checks. You could argue that the collection of passwords is irreducibly complex but it doesn't seem that the passwords could be described as well-matched interacting parts. Furthermore the removal of a password doesn't cause the collection of passwords to cease functioning. It will remain a collection of passwords just one with diminished capacity. It will fail with the new robot, but that's by reference to systems external to the password collection. In general, Rube Goldberg like systems will not be irreducibly complex because they contain many unnecessary steps. To be irreducibly complex we require multiple necessary steps.Winston Ewert
July 15, 2014
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