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Upright Biped’s summary on information systems in cell based life

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UD participant Upright Biped (of Complexity Cafe U/D: Biosemiosis) has commented recently in the what is knowledge thread, replying to frequent objector CR by summarising key aspects of the role of information systems in observed cell based life. His remarks are well worth headlining:

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UB, 195: >>We can start by summarizing the core physical requirements of the system we are trying to explain: an autonomous self-replicator with open-ended potential (i.e. it can describe itself or any variation of itself).

The system requires:

1) a sequence of representations in a medium of information.

2) a set of physical constraints to establish what is being represented.

3) a system of discontinuous association between representations and referents, based on spatial orientation (i.e. a reading-frame code)

4) functional coordination (semantic closure) between two sets of sequences; the first set establishes the constraints that are necessary to interpret the representations, and the second set establishes a system whereby the representations and their constraints are brought together in the specify way required to produce a functioning end product – an autonomous self-replicator. Coordination is required because changes to the first set affect the second set.

Did you follow all that? You have to have a medium of information, representations, constraints, discontinuous association, a reading-frame code, and semantic closure in order to create a material system capable of Darwinian evolution. Each interdependent piece has a physical manifestation, and each brings a critical capacity to the system.

So … when you remove the translation machinery in order to simplify the system (to meet your ideological requirements), you remove the capacity of the system to specify objects among alternatives. You remove the physical capacities that are enabled only by having a medium of information organized within a system (i.e. RNA, for instance, is only a medium of information when it is organized as such, otherwise it’s just another molecule with its particular characteristics, determined by energy). In other words, you remove the very system that enables Darwinian evolution to exist, not to mention removing the very thing that enables biological organization in the first place.

Thus, what are you then left with? You are left with a system that can only organize itself based upon the energy of the individual and collective components in the system (i.e. your “no-design laws”). But, magnetism does not establish a medium of information. Thermodynamics does not create a reading-frame code. Dissipative processes do not coordinate semantic closure among unrelated sequences of symbols. In other words, you have nothing but your prior assumptions.

So now that we have a lay of the land, we can take a look at your claims:

Claim #1: Darwinian evolution is the source of the translation apparatus.

This claim is dead on arrival. The only way to resuscitate this claim is through a) massive equivocation of terms, and b) abject denial of molecular science. In other words, it’s right up your alley.

Claim #2: Only high fidelity replication requires translation.

You need to get your head straight. The simpler system you are talking about is not a semiotic system that merely operates with poor fidelity, it is a non-semiotic system that operates by pure dynamics. It doesn’t establish a medium of information; it cannot specify objects among alternatives, and it obviously cannot achieve semantic closure. In an effort to save your theory, you can certainly start to equivocate on terms like “specify” and “medium of information”, but at the end of the day, the only thing that such an entity can lead to (be the source of) will be determined solely by dynamics. Thus, I asked you the clarifying question: Does the non-semiotic system you assume preceded and created the semiotic system have to specify the semiotic system that follows it? If so, then how does it do that?

You have no response to that question that doesn’t also include repeating your claim and assuming its true.

The bottom line is that there is no conceivable environment at the origin of life on Earth that inanimate matter operating under physical law (your “no-design laws” for crying out loud) where purely dynamic properties such as electromagnetism, hydrophobicity, etc., will push and pull and cajole molecules and constituents into simultaneously creating a sequence of symbolic representations, interpretive constraints, a system of discontinuous association, a reading frame code, and semantic closure. In short, the issues surrounding the origin of a semiosis in the cell are not about “fidelity”, they are about organization instead.>>

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Again, food for thought. END

PS: As debate points have been raised, here is a summary of protein synthesis, from Wiki:

Protein Synthesis (HT: Wiki Media)

This should be seen i/l/o this more complete overview of the whole synthesis:

 

Here is Yockey’s info-system view:

Yockey’s analysis of protein synthesis as a code-based communication process

And, here is a summary of the wider metabolism set:

 

163 Replies to “Upright Biped’s summary on information systems in cell based life

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    UB’s short summary of informatics and cell based life.

  2. 2

    Great stuff, UB! It is only by a deliberate effort that any reasonable person can fail to see the glaring fatal error in the idea that chance and physical law can generate the necessary integrated system components at the heart of Darwinian evolution. Saying that Darwinian evolution produced a system component necessary for Darwinian evolution in the first place, using confusing or misleading semantics, is the height of equivocation and obscurantism.

  3. 3

    Thanks KF and Thanks WJM.

    CR says the origin of the translation apparatus was “crude enough that it could have arisen by chance and requires no explanation.” It’s certainly striking to find out that, upon analysis, the most complex problem in science turns out to not need an explanation after all. Good grief.

    I gave CR four brief requirements of an autonomous self-replicator capable of Darwinian evolution. He responded with a 3,000+ word punt. Not in one word of it did he actually refute anything I said. At this point, it is not obvious that he is even aware of this fact, or that he would allow himself to be.

    He appears to be desperate to force his (mis)conceptions about quantum memory into the genetic translation system. Unfortunately for him, he is just an observer, and doesn’t get to decide how the cell describes itself. For someone who calls themselves critical rationalist, you’d think he’d be able to figure that out.

    EDIT: By the way, I mothballed ComplexityCafe. (currently not even time to do it right). Biosemiosis.org is the only website I have up (and it is about to be revamped).

    ED: Okay, I will adjust OP. KF

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    UB,
    Very good stuff, as usual from you. Thanks.
    However, I doubt your politely dissenting interlocutor will understand your interesting explanation well.
    The will to understand is highly required.
    Does s/he have it?
    Wait and see.

    KF,
    thanks for highlighting UB’s interesting commentary.
    BTW, your post on ‘knowledge’ has been catapulted up to the top position in the popularity ranking.
    Well done!

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    It’s certainly striking to find out that, upon analysis, the most complex problem in science turns out to not need an explanation after all.

    It just happened, that’s all. poof!

    The theory of happy accidents. Accidental Evolution.

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    Mung,

    “The theory of happy accidents. Accidental Evolution.”

    Well, why not? Things happen, don’t they?

    Besides, in the particular case of biology, there is a huge pile of solid evidences described with many details in gazillion research papers all over, strongly supporting the theory that you have precisely named “accidental evolution’.

    🙂

  7. 7

    Excellent post. Thank you!

  8. 8
    Axel says:

    Myrmidons of materialism are not paid to think, but to keep the vehicle of hegemonic corporate-driven materialism on the road, aren’t they ?

    Never mind that it’s a cul de sac, and they’ve reached the closed-end of the road; kind of at cross-purposes with research scientists and theoretical scientists.

  9. 9

    Axel,

    Unfortunately, the institution of science in the west has become just another conduit for a post-truth cultural and political narrative. IMO, this systematic assault on the very idea of truth and the undermining of fundamental values, principles and premises required for critical thinking/proper living is serving a far, far more sinister purpose than a simple promotion of “materialism” or “naturalism”.

  10. 10

    Not understanding the full impact of UB’s argument can only be achieved by either being a complete fool or by being a willing participant in the undermining of what evidence, fact and rational thinking obviously indicates here.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Axel says:

    William J Murray

    Are you thinking in terms of the New World Order?

    In my school days in the fifties, I thought the worldly intellect over-rated, and still do, to an extent. However, I understand its role now in the scheme of things.

    When Christ described the Pharisees as blind, wilfully blind, it was hardly an exaggeration

    However, I could never have imagined our degeneration to a POST-TRUTH culture!!! Just seeing it in writing kind of blows my mind, and makes me half-smile inwardly and half-weep! What could it be? What could it not be, alas?

    Myopia would not begin to describe it, would it? As some posters here have described it, in relation to the multiworlds conjecture, etc, it means nihilism reigns – the most primordial nihilism imaginable.

  13. 13

    Axel,

    This is the result of communists/marxists/nihilists having been largely in control of academia and government bodies that push various curriculum. You can see how primed college students and graduates are to take emotional virtue-signal “commands” from various authorities without any critical thought whatsoever, without any regard to facts or evidence.

    Characterize a certain agenda as being about “social justice”, or about “tolerance” or “diversity, and masses of people do not even blink an eye to go to war on the street over nebulous ideas that have zero factual support. Speaking the truth becomes a hate crime; presenting facts and evidence is considered bigotry and prejudice. Logic and math are tools of the white nationalist patriarchy.

    You cannot reason with people that have been deliberately taught to abandon reason in favor of over-wrought sensitivity triggered by any difference of opinion or offhand remark. Fortunately, it has created its own counter-culture backlash mocking political correctness and leftist group-think, which has create a huge underground army working tirelessly to bring an end to this NWO madness.

    When people see their culture devolve into thuggery and madness on a large enough scale that cannot be ignored or swept aside by a complicit media, they tend to being their own revolt.

    UP eloquently stating what is obvious even without his precise description triggers irrational responses precisely because it punches a gaping hole of truth the preferred narrative of nihilists. Apparently, as long as a person “self-identifies” as a “critical rationalist”, it doesn’t matter that what they are is a big bag of rhetoric and equivocation, and it doesn’t matter that their arguments have no foundation upon which to draw rational conclusions.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM & Axel, this is the crooked yardstick standard for straightness and accuracy in action. If you are induced to make a crooked yardstick your standard, then what is actually straight (“true”) or upright or accurate will never conform to the crooked standard. Thus, we come to the agit-prop strategist’s dream: people are induced to “instinctively” reject and lock out what would ordinarily correct crookedness because crookedness is their standard. And if they identify with crookedness at deep worldview level, being passionately caught up in its world-narrative, they will put good for evil and evil for good, light for darkness and darkness for light. This will lead to marches of angry, ruinous folly. Only what is patently naturally straight and upright: plumbline, self-evident truths and similarly patent realities or facts, will suffice to correct. Sadly, some will not even be corrected by such, until it is too late, the cliff’s edge has crumbled underfoot and we have broken our backs. Mass folly has serious consequences. KF

    PS: Jesus’ words (seen as a response to ideas like the Parable of Plato’s Cave [which would have been current in the Dekapolis town of Sepphoris, 5 mi from Nazareth and where the construction jobs were]) in the Sermon on the Mount are apt:

    Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so if your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive], your whole body will be full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. 23 But if your eye is bad [spiritually blind], your whole body will be full of darkness [devoid of God’s precepts]. So if the [very] light inside you [your inner self, your heart, your conscience] is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness! [AMP]

  15. 15
    critical rationalist says:

    Reposting from the same thread….

    UB: We can start by summarizing the core physical requirements of the system we are trying to explain: an autonomous self-replicator with open-ended potential (i.e. it can describe itself or any variation of itself).

    The system we are trying to explain is the relatively recent, cell, which is capable of high-fidelity replication. Namely, when a cell replicates it first makes a copy of the recipe of which transformations of raw materials (matter) are required to make copy of itself. Then it performs those transformations to make a copy of the vehicle from that same recipe. This is contrast to replication in the form of making an atom by atom copy of an entire, previously existing cell, already constructed. This is a key point as if the cell performed a copy of itself in its entity, any damage it incurred during its lifetime would be coped as well. Nor is there is no way to perform error correction by on a vehicle only cell as that requires a recipe for which to compare and correct the entire end result, which would be exponentially more difficult at that stage anyway. To allow for error correction, the recipe must also contain which transformations to perform to correct errors that occur. And the recipe must be stored in such a way that the information it contains is in digital form. This is in contrast to analog information storage (or analog computers), which is not self correcting and fidelity is subject to even slight amounts of drift. All of these things are required for high-fidelity replication.
    Now, on to the question of “what are the core physical requirements” for this system we are trying to explain. If only there was some problem or criticism that motivated people to actually work on this very question in detail?
    What about Von Neumann? While he pioneered the key concept of replicator-vehicle logic described above, his attempt to provide the design of an actual self-reproducer, in the terms of atoms and microscopic interaction was unsuccessful.
    However, fortunately for us there is indeed such a problem. Just as it had brought challenges to our most fundamental theories of information, some members of the scientific community suggested specific aspects of quantum mechanics brought a challenge to our theory of life in that it was incompatible with self-replication. Specifically, they posited some “biotonic” laws, containing the design of organisms or some key aspect of self-replicators, must supplement quantum mechanics. Why?
    From section 1 of this paper

    But even more striking is that living cells can self-reproduce to high accuracy in a variety of environments, reconstructing the vehicle afresh, under the control of the genes, in all the intricate details necessary for gene replication. This is prima facie problematic under no-design laws: how can those processes be so accurate, without their design being encoded in the laws of physics? This is why some physicists – notably, Wigner and Bohm, [12], [13] – have even claimed that accurate self-reproduction of an organism with the appearance of design requires the laws of motion to be “tailored” for the purpose – i.e., they must contain its design [12].
    These claims, stemming from the tradition of incredulity that living entities can be scientifically explained, [14], highlight a problem. The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics. No such theory has been proposed; and those claims have not been properly refuted.

    Note that the term “no-design laws” refers a set of “core physical requirements” (our current laws of physics, including quantum mechanics). It’s not a new set of laws. Rather, it’s referring to existing, general purpose laws and resources, that are not design-specific. In fact it’s the absence of a new set of yet to be proposed laws that somehow contain the design of self replicating cells, already present.
    While this was not specifically directed at ID or UB’s claims (there are no alternative theories to Neo-darwinism, including ID, because there has yet to be proposed a critical test for which ID can explain the same phenomena at least as well, let alone any critical difference indicated in any yet to be proposed critical test. Nor does merely pointing out a problem in Neo-darwinism result in creating a new theory. [see #175]), it is still relevant to the question at hand. This because this criticism results in asking the question: which physical laws (“core physical requirements”) are compatible with high-fidelity replication.
    (This more fundamental question is key because, even if we could go back in time and watch life appear and evolve into the biosphere we see today, one could always retreat to the claim that the design of critical aspects of self replicating cells, or even all organisms, was already preset in the laws of physics, at the outset. This would be like the claim of “front loading” but at the laws of physics, rather than the genome.)
    So, why had no theory yet to have been presented to supplement neo-Darwinism, properly refuting those claims?

    Indeed, the central problem here – i.e., whether and under what circumstances accurate self-reproduction and replication are compatible with no-design laws – is awkward to formulate in the prevailing conception of fundamental physics, which expresses everything in terms of predictions given some initial conditions and laws of motion.
    This mode of explanation can only approximately express emergent notions such as the appearance of design, no-design laws, etc.

    This is why Von Neumann was unsuccessful and is yet another reason why the paper doesn’t merely attempt to predict anything specific, such as the appearance of a goat, is true or probably true, given some initial conditions and the laws of motion.
    ?What we need is a way to express the “core physical requirements” of the system, along with concepts such as the appearance of design, information, no-design laws, etc, in exact terms, as apposed to approximations.

    The prevailing conception also forces a misleading formulation of the problem, as: what initial conditions and laws of motion must (or must probably) produce accurate replicators and self-reproducers (with some probability)? But what is disputed is whether such entities are possible under no-design laws.
    More generally, it cannot express the very explanation provided by evolutionary theory – that living organisms can have come about without intentionally being designed. It would have aimed at proving that they must occur, given certain initial conditions and dynamical laws.
    To overcome these problems I resort to a newly proposed theory of physics, constructor theory. [16, 17, 18]. It provides a new mode of explanation, expressing all laws as statements about which transformations are possible, which are impossible and why.
    This brings counterfactual statements into fundamental physics, which is key to the solution. The explanation provided by the theory of evolution is already constructor-theoretic: it is possible that the appearance of design has been brought about without intentionally being designed; so is our problem: are the physical processes essential to the theory of evolution – i.e., self- reproduction, replication and natural selection – possible under no-design laws?

    Our motivation to answer the very question UB asked, which “core physical requirements are necessary”, is where constructor theory comes into play.

    Constructor Theory’s mode of explanation also delivers an exact physical expression of the notions of the appearance of design, no-design laws, and of the logic of self-reproduction and natural selection.(5)?

    However, it seems that UB isn’t really serious about finding out what those “core physical requirements” are as he appears to be willing to settle for incomplete approximations. This would be like settling for Newton’s laws of motion with is much more of an approximation than Einstein’s more fundamental general relativity.
    Example? UB wrote….

    1) a sequence of representations in a medium of information.
    2) a set of physical constraints to establish what is being represented.
    3) a system of discontinuous association between representations and referents, based on spatial orientation (i.e. a reading-frame code)
    4) functional coordination (semantic closure) between two sets of sequences; the first set establishes the constraints that are necessary to interpret the representations, and the second set establishes a system whereby the representations and their constraints are brought together in the specify way required to produce a functioning end product – an autonomous self-replicator. Coordination is required because changes to the first set affect the second set.

    The first problem is that UB’s theory of information, if we can call it that, is an approximation. We cannot use it at the level of quantum physics any more than you can use Newton’s laws to build a GPS satellite. It simply doesn’t scale. Furthermore, he appeals to these approximations as if they somehow support “his theory”, as someone might might try to appeal to the ability to launch rockets into space somehow presets a problem to Einstein’s general relativity. It doesn’t. Again, this was addressed in #175.
    Second, UB’s theory does not address key aspects of the system, such as copying information, error correction, distinguishability, digital information, as opposed to analog, etc. These key aspects are what make high-fidelity replication possible. Furthermore, if some designer put the information of which genes will result in the right proteins which will result in the right features, into the cell as ID claims that too would reflect the same process that occurs when the same information is copied during replication. Right? Or does ID suggest that information spontaneously appeared there because the designer wanted it to?
    None of UB’s “information theory” addresses “the core physical requirements” for these key aspects of the system. So, it’s not that I “do not follow” what UB presented. It’s very much the opposite. I follow them well enough to recognize what he presented is expressible as more fundamental, exact statements in constructor theoretic terms. Specifically, a network of tasks with subtasks of subtasks, etc. which eventually reaches a subtask that is not specific to replication. IOW, we can exactly model cells as constructors in constructor theory. This is outlined in detail in section 3.1 of the referenced paper.
    IOW, the paper answers the question of what these “the core physical requirements” are. Yet, apparently, he has some yet to be disclosed objection. This is like UB objecting to pointing out launching rockets into space can be explained more accurately and at a more fundamental level by using Einstein’s GR, than by using Newton’s laws.
    The very aspects of the physical objects that play the roles UB describes in the translation system themselves represents information. Example? Some one in a lab could apply transformations to move stop codons from their naturally occurring locations to test a theory of protein expression. Those transformations represent information need to setup up a repeatable experiment. If all information needs to be interpreted, then you either have a circular definition of distinguishability or an infinite regress. Again, this is outlined in the constructor theory of information which defines information based on a set of physically possible tasks. This includes what tasks must be possible to copy information, which is a key aspect of replication. Again, UB’s theory says nothing about this.

    So … when you remove the translation machinery in order to simplify the system (to meet your ideological requirements), you remove the capacity of the system to specify objects among alternatives.

    First, no one suggests any point in cellular development consisted of cells with the current level of high-fidelity replication (and necessary aspects described above to enable them) but with the translation machinery removed. That’s simply false. Is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?
    Second, you have confused the universal theory that knowledge grows via some form of variation and criticism with an “ideological requirement”. Theories are tested by observations, not derived from them. As such, so would any theory that suggests cells were always capable of high-fidelity replication. That idea isn’t out there for anyone to observe any more than any other.
    Third, as the paper points out, we can model replication via constructor theory as constructors with a spectrum of various degrees of accuracy – with replication being performed initially by the environment and then transitioning to both the environment and self replication. Again, this represents the very question UB asked: “what are the core physical requirements” for this system.

    However, one must also address the question: can accurate self-reproducers arise from generic resources only, under such laws??Note that what the prevailing conception would aim to prove is that the emergence of accurate self-reproducers follows (with some probability) given certain initial conditions and laws of motion. This approach, informing the search for viable models for the origin of life, [25], is suitable to solve scientific problems such as predicting the existence of life elsewhere in the uni- verse – e.g., by providing bounds to how probable the emergence of those self-reproducers is on an earth-like planet. Here I am addressing a differ- ent problem: whether accurate self-reproducers are possible under no-design laws. This is a theoretical (indeed, constructor-theoretic) question and can be addressed without resorting to predictions. Indeed, the theory of evolution provides a positive answer to that question, provided that two further points are established. I shall argue for them in what follows.?The first point is that the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws because – in short – selection and variation are non-specific to its end products. This can be seen by modeling the logic of natural selection as an approximate construction, whose substrates are populations of replicators and whose (highly approximate) constructor is the environment. This occurs over a much longer time-scale than that of self- reproduction, whereby replicators – constructors on the shorter scale – become now substrates.?Evolution relies upon populations being changed by variation and selection over the time-scale spanning many generations. Crucially, the mutations in the replicators, caused by the environment, are non-specific, (as in section 3.1), to the “end product” of evolution (as Dawkins put it, not “systematically directed to improvement” [27]). This constructor-theoretic characterisation of mutations replaces the less precise locution “random mutations” (as opposed to non-random selection, [5]). These mutations are all transmitted to the successfully created individuals of the next generation, by heredity – irrespective of their being harmful, neutral or beneficial in that particular environment.?Selection emerges from the interaction between the replicators and the environment with finite resources. It may lead to equilibrium, given enough time and energy. If so, the surviving replicators are near a local maximum of effectiveness at being replicated in that environment.?Thus, the environment is passive and blind in this selection process. Since it retains its ability to cause non-specific variation and passive selection again, it qualifies as a naturally-occuring approximation to a constructor. Crucially, it is a crude approximation to a constructor: crude enough that it could have arisen by chance and requires no explanation. Its actions – variations and selection – require no design in laws of physics, as they proceed by non- specific, elementary steps. So the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws of physics.

    This is a natural transition because such a transition already exists when self-replication specific recipe subtasks eventually rely on generic, elementary tasks that are not specific to replication and are found in the environment.

    Note, however, that the recipe is in one sense incomplete: as remarked in section 3.1, the recipe is not required to include instructions for the elementary tasks, which occur spontaneously in nature. These are indeed relied upon during actual cell development – they constitute epigenetics and environ- mental context. As remarked by George C. Williams, “Organisms, wherever possible, delegate jobs to useful spontaneous processes, much as a builder may temporarily let gravity hold things in place and let the wind disperse paint fumes”, [29].

    Note that constructor theory allows us to exactly define what is mean by the appearance of design, which is crucial to indicating what kinds of constructions exhibit it and therefore require different levels of accuracy, resources, storage types, etc.

    3.1.1 Appearance of design
    Something with the appearance of design is often described as “improbable” [27, 28]. This is misleading because probability measures are multiplicative; so that would mean that two independent objects with the appearance of design would have much more of that appearance than they do separately. But that is not the case when the two objects have unrelated functionalities (such as, say, internal organs of different organisms). In contrast, two organs in the context of the same organism, coordinating to the effect of gene propagation, do have a greater appearance of design than either separately. This can be expressed naturally in constructor-theoretic terms for programmable constructors.
    Consider a recipe R for a possible task T. A sub-recipe R? for the task T? is fine-tuned to perform T if almost any slight change in T? would cause T to be performed to a much lower accuracy. (For instance, changing the mechanism of insulin production in the pancreas even slightly, would impair the overall task the organism performs.) A programmable constructor V whose repertoire includes T has the appearance of design if it can execute a recipe for T with a hierarchical structure including several, different sub- recipes, fine-tuned to perform T. Each fine-tuned sub-recipe is performed by a sub-constructor contained in V : the number of fine-tuned sub-recipes performable by V is a measure of V ’s appearance of design. This constructor- theoretic definition is non-multiplicative, as desired.

    So, to summarize. Neo-Darwinism cannot explain the appearance of life under the current conception of physics. This is because the current conception doesn’t allow defining key aspects of the problem in exact terms. However this is possible though using a new mode of explanation: constructor theory, which does allow defining those key aspects in more fundamental and exact ways.

  16. 16
    critical rationalist says:

    I gave CR four brief requirements of an autonomous self-replicator capable of Darwinian evolution. He responded with a 3,000+ word punt. Not in one word of it did he actually refute anything I said. At this point, it is not obvious that he is even aware of this fact, or that he would allow himself to be.

    The thing is, I don’t need to refute those requirements.

    First, it’s unclear how those requirements actual get UB to ID, even at face value. UB would need to add something to them which has yet to be explicitly disclosed.

    After what seems like putting teeth, the best I can get is that “There are abstractions in nature”, intelligent agents use abstractions, so some intelligent agent(s) put it there. But that’s simply inductivism in that the distant past resembles the past.

    Even *if* abstraction was the only way to information could exist in a cell, what other options would there be? If knowledge was genuinely created by variation and selection, what how else would the result be stored? Observations of people exploiting the laws of physics for their own purpose doesn’t mean that the laws of physics can only be explored by people. IOW, this is like saying, since people use sprinklers, rain must be designed. What other options would nature have?

    Furthermore, none of the papers referenced actually reach that conclusion. And at least on one of them explicitly said ID is not a conclusion. So, apparently, UB has some personal theory that he has yet to disclose.

    Second, someone could give four brief requirements for launching a rocket into space. Would someone criticizing Newton’s laws need to refute those requirements? No, they just need to point out how those requirements are approximations and how we cannot use them to, say, build a GPS satellite.

    IOW, those same requirements can be expressed in more fundamental way via Einstein’s general relativity, which suggests something completely different is going on in reality, than Newton’s laws. Nor did we have to rebuild bridges or buildings after it was refuted.

    In the same sense, the same requirements UB listed are approximations can be more fundamentally explained as a series of tasks with subtasks and other subtask that eventually end up with non-replication specific subtasks in the environment. UB has no response to this other than to keep repeating the same requirements.

    This would be like someone simply repeating the fact that we can launch rocket into space as an attempt to defect criticism of Newton’s laws.

    “But, we can launch rockets into space using it! You can’t refute that!”

    So what?

    The idea that someone would need to is apparently lost on UB. To quote UB, “At this point, it is not obvious that he is even aware of this fact, or that he would allow himself to be.”

    See my above comment for details.

    Note, this isn’t the first time UB was mistaken about a theory “scaling”. Specifically, UB claimed…

    UB: There is a fundamental principle within physics sometimes referred to as the minimum total potential energy principle. This principle is related to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and simply states that any physical object (regardless of its size or composition, as big as a planet or as small as a molecule) will distort and twist, and naturally orient itself to seek its lowest potential energy state.

    But this doesn’t apply at the level of quantum physics, so it doesn’t actually scale to “any physical object”, as I pointed out here.

    Furthermore, UB’s “theory of information” does not scale to quantum mechanics, either. Nor does it actually connect to physics in a fundamental way, any more than Von Neumann’s cellular automata does.

    For example, if some designer copied that knowledge into a cell, what are ramifications of that based on the requirements of what is physically required to copy information? UB simply doesn’t say anything about that. At. All. Is’t that odd omission for a supposed physical theory of information?

    Then again, I can’t say I blame him for avoiding this, either, as it has implications that do not suit his purpose. As such, it’s no surprise that not only was it absent initially, but it continues to be absent after having pointing it out over and over again.

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    Critical Rationalist @15:

    . . . we can model replication via constructor theory as constructors with a spectrum of various degrees of accuracy – with replication being performed initially by the environment and then transitioning to both the environment and self replication.

    Allow me to translate from CR-speak into plain English: “Critical rationalists such as myself do not need a theory that is in any way connected to observations or inferences from observations, because we can pull just so stories out of our asses. Who needs evidence when you can do that?”

    Critical Rationalist @ 16:

    The thing is, I don’t need to refute those requirements.

    Again, I will translate: “I don’t need to address UB’s argument no matter how compelling it may seem to be. Why? Because critical rationalists such as myself can pull just so stories out of our asses. Who needs to address counter arguments based on logic and evidence when you can do that?”

  18. 18

    First, it’s unclear how those requirements actual get UB to ID, even at face value.

    This is dishonest rhetoric. You know exactly how this “gets me” to intelligence. Prediction, logic, experimental result, and the scientific literature demonstrate that the physics of the gene system can only be identified elsewhere in written language and mathematics – two unambiguous correlates of intelligence. You know this explicitly, yet you just wrote that you didn’t know. It’s pure rhetoric.

  19. 19

    the requirements UB listed are approximations can be more fundamentally explained as a series of tasks with subtasks and other subtask that eventually end up with non-replication specific subtasks in the environment. UB has no response to this other than to keep repeating the same requirements.

    I’ve offered no additional response to this because, to whatever extent it makes any sense at all, it is still incoherent. You have this grand conception in your head that if you can reduce the gene system down to physical “tasks” that are not specific to the gene system, then you can say that the gene system is explained by a set of generic tasks that are “possible under no-design laws” and therefore “require no explanation”.

    It truly would be hard to imagine a more useless (and illogical) explanation of origins.

  20. 20

    if some designer copied knowledge into a cell, what are ramifications of that based on the requirements of what is physically required to copy information? UB simply doesn’t say anything about that. At. All.

    This is more dishonest rhetoric. How do I know this? Because you’ve quoted me directly from an article on my website where I explain this in detail. You have yet to challenge those details. I suspect this is because none of them is even controversial.

    I have a question for you, CR. Does the non-semiotic system you assume preceded and created the semiotic system have to specify the semiotic system that follows it? If so, then how does it do that? How does it organize semantic closure?

  21. 21
    critical rationalist says:

    Allow me to translate from CR-speak into plain English: “Critical rationalists such as myself do not need a theory that is in any way connected to observations or inferences from observations, because we can pull just so stories out of our asses. Who needs evidence when you can do that?”

    Except, that’s not what I said. That’s would be like saying “General Realativistists do not need a theory that is connected to observations or inferences from those observations, because they can just put so stories out of their asses.”

    I’ll ask yet again.

    CR: …someone could give four brief requirements for launching a rocket into space. Would someone criticizing Newton’s laws [in favor of general relativity] need to refute those requirements?

    Are those observations a “problem” for general relativity? Do they have to be refuted? Yes or No?

    Does anyone criticizing Newton’s laws in favor of general relativity need to suggest the ability to launch a rocket using newton’s laws was not “connected to reality or observations”? Yes or no?

    It’s really simple question. Can’t anyone here answer it?

  22. 22

    More rhetoric. All rhetoric.

    If a critic of Newtonian mechanics suggested that it was not necessary to overcome gravity in order to launch a rocket, then yes, that would be a problem. And that is exactly what you are doing here. You need to remove barriers to Darwinian evolution (Von Neumann’s threshold of complexity) so that you can convince yourself that the system was “crude enough that it could have arisen by chance and requires no explanation”. This is the sole purpose of this utterly ridiculous line of attack. Unfortunately for you, the simultaneous requirements of a medium, representations, constraints, discontinuous association, spatial orientation and semantic closure are not subject to erasure (or any other contrivance) on the part of the observer, no more than gravity can be ignored when you launch a rocket.

    Thus, you are left with an unavoidable need to create these convoluted scenarios and then lament the fact that they don’t interest anyone — everyone keeps spitting out the hook. Apparently, that’s still better than having to address the gene system and its requirements.

  23. 23
    Origenes says:

    CR

    UB: I have a question for you, CR. Does the non-semiotic system you assume preceded and created the semiotic system have to specify the semiotic system that follows it? If so, then how does it do that? How does it organize semantic closure?

    Why don’t you answer this really simple question CR? Why not tell us what the first step is from a non-semiotic system to a semiotic system? Do we get a translation system first and then the code, or vice versa?
    You often speak of “unreliable replication”. What does that look like? Where can we find it now in nature? And why would it be on a course towards more organization instead of what the Second Law [ED: i.e. of thermodynamics] prescribes?

  24. 24
    Eugen says:

    Some people worship randomness, they should stop that

    “It appears to be a quite general principle that, whenever there is a randomized way of doing something, then there is a nonrandomized way that delivers better performance but requires more thought.”

    E. T. Jaynes

  25. 25
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    If a critic of Newtonian mechanics suggested that it was not necessary to overcome gravity in order to launch a rocket, then yes, that would be a problem. And that is exactly what you are doing here.

    No, it’s not. You still seem to be confused.

    What I’m referring to is a definition of what information is, what is physically required for it, etc. which is information theory. This is contrast to suggesting information isn’t needed. Just like my analogy, which is based on our current theory of gravity, not that gravity doesn’t need to be overcome.

    Returning to an analogy of gravity analogy. It’s as if you’re saying since our explanation for gravity is that it works like X (Newton’s laws), in reality, and since gravity is key process in Q then Q must be designed.

    But X has been superseded by a theory that explains everything that X did and even more, in a different, more fundamental way: Z (space-time of general relativity), and suggests something completely different is happening there, in reality. This is because gravity working like X, in reality, cannot also explain P (GPS). As such, the more fundamental explanation that gravity works like Z, in reality, explains both P and Q, while X does not. X is an approximation because if we assume it is true, in reality, the conclusion it implies do not hold at very high mass or velocity.

    The fact that we can pretend that gravity works like X, in reality, to launch rockets into space does not change the fact that we actually think gravity works like Z, in reality, not X. Nor does the fact that we can pose a problem for Z. We can conceive of the very same physical, empirical aspects of launching rockets into space in a more fundamental way.

    Furthermore, just like there were observations that were problematic to theory X, and caused us to create theory Z to resolve them. There are observations that are problematic to Z. Namely that we do not have a theory of quantum gravity (R). So, at least quantum mechanics, general relativity (Z) or both are actually approximations as well. This may result in us creating yet another explanation (Y) for how gravity works that suggests that completely different is happening there, in reality, instead of what was thought to be happening there, in reality, by theories X and Z.

    Should that be the case, our ability to pretend that gravity works like Z, in reality, while building GPS satellites, and that gravity works like X, in reality, while launching rockets into space, would not a problem for theory Y. It would be a more fundamental theory than X and Z, and it would also be our actual explanation for gravity in not only the case of R and P, but Q as well. Both Z and X would be approximations of Y.

    Most importantly, the argument that Q is designed because we think gravity works like X, in reality, simply no longer follows. We wouldn’t pretend gravity works like X, when evaluating arguments, because we no longer actually think that is the case, in reality.

    With that out of the way, let’s return to the theory of information you’ve presented (X), if we can call it that. You’re claiming that since information works like X, in reality, and since information is key in self replicating cells, then self replicating cells (Q) must be designed.

    However, like Newton’s laws, your theory (X) doesn’t scale. Furthermore, there is a theory that explains everything that X did and even more, in a different, more fundamental way: Z (The constructor theory of information), which suggests something completely different is happening there, in reality. This is because information working like X, in reality, cannot also explain P (quantum information). Nor does it even scale to all classical systems. As such, the more fundamental explanation that information works like Z, in reality, explains both P and Q, while X does not. X is an approximation because if we assume it is true, in reality, the conclusion it implies does not hold in quantum systems.

    The fact that we can pretend that information works like X, in reality, in some classical systems does not change the fact a far better theory indicates information works like Z, in reality, not X. Nor does the fact that we can pose a problem for Z. We can conceive of the very same physical, empirical aspects of information in a more fundamental way that does not require anthropomorphic aspects like interpretation, etc.

    This theory is outlined briefly in this paper as a primer for application in the constructor theory of life, and is expanded on in significantly more detail in this paper, in which it is the main topic.

    So the argument that cells are designed because information works like X, in reality, no longer follows. We need not pretend that information works like X, in reality, while evaluating arguments because X is no longer tenable as an explanation for it.

    Now, perhaps you’ve retreated here or merely tried to pass off a claim of irreducible complexity as some kind of theory of information. But, either way, ‘information is complex” is just another version of the same flawed argument.

  26. 26
    critical rationalist says:

    Now, it seems to me that if you still have some objection, you have two choices.

    A, You think that the ability to launch rockets into space by pretending gravity works like Newton’s laws, in reality, is somehow a problem for General relativity.

    or

    B. You do think there is some yet to be expressed problem the with constructor theory of information, in which it does not provide a more fundamental explanation for information, at both the classical and quantum physics, in the same sense that general relativity is a more fundamental explanation for gravity.

    Or perhaps, you’ve merely tried to pass off a claim of irreducible complexity as some kind of theory of information? But, ‘information is complex” is just another version of the same flawed argument.

    Of course, if I’m mistaken, then please elaborate.

  27. 27
    critical rationalist says:

    Why don’t you answer this really simple question CR? Why not tell us what the first step is from a non-semiotic system to a semiotic system? Do we get a translation system first and then the code, or vice versa?

    What was the first step in the Arabic number system? Tallies. Or how about the previous step before universal Turing machines (UTM)? Each of these things represented leaps to universality that were disproportionate to the underlying change that occurred. Nor is their explanation found at the level of atoms, etc. Furthermore, we stumbled upon them. For example, some number systems would have been universal but they had rules that actually prevented it. In each case, this universality is an emergent property of cogs, transistors, vacuum tubes, etc.

    The desire to reduce errors and make it faster to reconfigure a dedicated computer to perform different tasks resulted in UTMs that can run any algorithm that any other UTM can run. Making them universal was a unintended but extremely useful side effect. People only originally cared if they could represent numbers of the scale that they actually had to detail with on a daily basis. An attempt to bump up the capacity in the favor of reduced notation ended up making a leap to represent any possible number (universality.)

    So, as like all aspects of Neo-Darwnism, the theory is that aspects of the cell that performed some other function was up also being useful in that ended up producing that leap to universality as well. I’ve already pointed out an example of that in a previous thread, in that multiple molecules can take the place of single molecules in the translation system that were though to be always present across all cells.

    You often speak of “unreliable replication”. What does that look like? Where can we find it now in nature?

    Constructor theory is the theory that all scientific theories can be expressed as which tasks are physical possible, which tasks are physically impossible and why. This includes the theory of evolution. As such, what current cells look like, in addition to what more primitive cells would look like would “look like”, how they both replicate, etc. is described in that form in the referenced paper. Constructor theory is the ultimate generalization of the idea of catalysis.

    From the paper….

    This can be seen by modeling the logic of natural selection as an approximate construction, whose substrates are populations of replicators and whose (highly approximate) constructor is the environment. This occurs over a much longer time-scale than that of self- reproduction, whereby replicators – constructors on the shorter scale – become now substrates.

    For example, the cells in your body are modeled as approximate replicators. They heavily rely on error correction, which can be modeled separately. The appearance of design is also expressed in constructor theoretic terms as well. In addition to in what sense our current claws of physics do not contain the design of high-fidelity replicators, already present.

    Nor do we think more primitive cells are like current day cells, just with the translation system removed. That would be a straw man.

    And why would it be on a course towards more organization instead of what the Second Law [ED: i.e. of thermodynamics] prescribes?

    You’ve head of this thing called the sun, right?

  28. 28

    CR,

    I’m not confused by this situation at all CR. You need to pack on as many words as possible in order to give your participation here the gloss that you are still in the conversation, dealing with important concepts. Yet, you still haven’t actually engaged any of the requirements of the genetic translation system (as I have listed them) and shown them to be unnecessary or factually dubious in any way. You’ve merely squirreled and dissembled yourself into a ridiculous position where you hope to sell the idea that you don’t have to address the physical evidence because ‘Newton doesn’t scale to general relativity’ – which has absolutely nothing to do with the issues at hand. You need to get this through your head: you are an observer, and you do not get to decide how the cell describes itself.

  29. 29
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    It doesn’t? So, you’re basally claiming that the translation system in cells we can observe are irreducibly complex, irrespective of a working theory of information.

    Again, without a theory of information that actually scales, it’s unclear why we should pretended that information actually works like you think, in reality. As such, information has nothing to do with it. You’re just merely trying to pass of the tired claim off “irreducibly complexity” as a theory of information.

  30. 30

    We do not pretend that the translation system requires the establishment of a medium of information, and representations within that medium. The question to you: Does it?

    We do not pretend that the translation system requires the as set of physical constraints to establish what is being represented. The question to you: Does it?

    We do not pretend that the translation system requires a system of discontinuous association and a reading frame code. The question to you: Does it?

    We do not pretend that the translation system requires semantic closure. The question to you: Does it?

  31. 31
    Origenes says:

    CR [to UB]: You’re just merely trying to pass of the tired claim off “irreducibly complexity” as a theory of information.

    To my knowledge UB has never done such a thing, nor has anyone else. Frankly, I have no idea what it would look like to have irreducibly complexity as a theory of information.

    CR, instead of making incoherent unsupported claims about the position of others, it would help if you provide quotes in support.

  32. 32
    critical rationalist says:

    You need to get this through your head: you are an observer, and you do not get to decide how the cell describes itself.

    And, as an observer, we do not get to decide how to launch a rocket into space. That did not change one bit, despite the fact that now conclude something completely different is happening there, in reality, when Newton’s laws were superseded by general relativity.

    The ability to pretend that Newton’s laws were not refuted, in the specific case of launching rockets, doesn’t mean we actually thing gravity works like Newton’s laws, in reality, in the specific case of launching rockets into space. It’s an approximation.

    So is your ‘theory” of information in regards to how the cell describes itself.

    The ability to pretend your theory of information works like you think it does, in the specific case of how a cell describes itself, does’t mean we should actually think information works the way you think it does, in reality, when when considering your argument.

    So, at best, it’s irreducible complexity in sheeps clothing.

  33. 33

    UB: you are an observer, and you do not get to decide how the cell describes itself.

    CR: And, as an observer, we do not get to decide how to launch a rocket into space.

    Good grief. Does the system require what is listed and operate as it is described in the literature, or does it not?

  34. 34

    CR,

    “When a ribosome pairs a “CGC” tRNA with “GCG” codon, it expects to find an alanine carried by the tRNA. It has no way of checking; each tRNA is matched with its amino acid long before it reaches the ribosome. The match is made by a collection of remarkable enzymes, the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. These enzymes charge each tRNA with the proper amino acid, thus allowing each tRNA to make the proper translation from the genetic code… “ — Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics; PDB – Protein Databank

    When a specific codon is presented to the ribosome, a specific amino acid is added to the protein being constructed.

    Does the codon determine which amino acid is added?

  35. 35

    CR, when the cell synthesizes a protein, the anticodon-to-amino acid association (establishing the constraints in the system, i.e. the code) is spatially and temporally isolated from the codon-to-anticodon association (which occurs when the medium is being read).

    Is that true or false?

    This architecture establishes a physical discontinuity in the operation of the system, where the lawful process of constructing a protein includes a variable and that variable is determined outside the process of the construction. The variable is determined independently by the organization of the constraints.

    Is that true or false?

  36. 36
    critical rationalist says:

    Good grief. Does the system require what is listed and operate as it is described in the literature, or does it not?

    Do you make a habit of quote mining?

    UB: you are an observer, and you do not get to decide how the cell describes itself.

    CR: And, as an observer, we do not get to decide how to launch a rocket into space. That did not change one bit, despite the fact that [we] now conclude something completely different is happening there, in reality, when Newton’s laws were superseded by general relativity.

    Are you saying that, since Newton’s laws were refuted, we do not think something completely different is happening there in reality, and that is of completely no consequence? Of course, not.

    Specifically, we have to know under what conditions Newton’s laws would be insufficient to result in a successful rocket launch, such as the presence of objects that has a significantly larger mass or is moving at a very high velocity, etc. Needing to know when Newton’s laws will work, and when they will not, is a consequence of those laws having been refuted. We have to take that into account because we think something different is happening there, in reality. General relativity, on the other hand, doesn’t require making those specific exceptions. Our explanation for how gravity works, in reality, scales to very high velocity or a very high mass, with the exception of, say the center of a black hole, in which it breaks down.

    So, there are only specific conditions when we can pretend those laws had not been refuted. I’m suggesting the same thing with how the cell describes itself.

    Since your theory of information does not scale, the idea that it works like you think it does, in reality, is untenable. A more fundamentally theory is needed, which explains both classical and quantum information in a way that assumes something completely different is happening there, in reality. And that conflicts with information theory specific claims, such as all information needs to be interpreted, etc.

    As I understand it, this is what would separate your argument from merely claiming “how the cell describes itself” is irreducibly complex.

    Again, you seem to have two choices. Either…

    A. You think the ability to pretend a refuted theory is true, under specific conditions, is a problem for the theory that refuted it

    B. You think there is some yet to be expressed problem the with constructor theory of information, in that you think it does not provide a more fundamental explanation for information, at both the classical and quantum physics – in the same sense that general relativity is a more fundamental explanation for gravity.

    Otherwise, your argument can be boiled down to merely, the way the cell describes itself is irreducibly complex.

    Are you denying that you do not think the way the cell describes itself is irreducibly complex? if that’s not the argument your making, then what is it?

  37. 37

    UB: Does the system require what is listed and operate as it is described in the literature, or does it not?

    CR: Do you make a habit of quote mining?

    Answer the question.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I have added some diagrams of protein synthesis in context, including Yockey’s mapping to the classic communication system model. KF

  39. 39
    Dionisio says:

    UB,
    The more I read your discussion with your politely dissenting interlocutor, the more I’m convinced that you’re a strong candidate for the “most patience” award. Normally that recognition is given to KF and GP, but this time it seems like you’re the man.
    My friend, I don’t even understand what your interlocutor means in his comments, but my reading comprehension is rather poor.

  40. 40
    Dionisio says:

    KF,
    Thanks for adding graphic illustration.
    This subject discussed by UB here is fundamental.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, dumping energy into a system tends to INCREASE entropy, as the Clausius heat transfer model used to derive his 2nd law statement highlights. It requires carefully channelled coupling to partly convert input energy into shaft, constructive work, with exhaustion of waste degraded energy (typically, heat). The oh the earth is open to the sun rhetoric utterly fails to account for the rise of functionally specific complex organisation of metabolising entities joined to a von Neumann kinematic self replication facility using alphabetically coded information (which implies language . . . a strong sign of intelligence). And that is what needs to be accounted for. KF

    PS: FSCO/I is NOT a synonym for irreducible complexity. It is speaking to complex, coherent functional organisation beyond a threshold of 500 – 1,000 bits. Debates on whether removal or disabling of any one of several core parts instantly cripples function are irrelevant to this. Though, it is common that only very limited perturbation is tolerable, without functional collapse — even, allowing for redundancies and the like.

  42. 42
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB #35

    From this paper

    A common misconception is that the genome of almost every organism contains a complete set of 20 AARS, each being individually responsible for coding the enzyme that charges a cognate tRNA with one of the 20 naturally occurring aa. With the ever-increasing availability of complete genome sequences, it is becoming evident that gene duplication, horizontal gene transfer, and gene loss are much more frequent events among the AARSs than originally thought.

    The absence of an AARS-encoding gene from a genome is possible because it does not necessarily correlate with the absence of the corresponding essential biochemical function. For example, the absence of glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase (GlnRS) is rescued by a non-discriminating glutamyl-tRNA synthetase (ND-GluRS) that can mis-acylate Glu to a tRNAGln, which is then modified to Gln-tRNAGln by a tRNA-dependent amidotransferase (3). Enzymatic modification of a mischarged aminoacyl-tRNA (aa-tRNA) is documented for Asn, Gln, Cys, selenocysteine and formylmethionine (4–8). Therefore, cataloguing all those cases where classical AARS genes are missing is a necessary first step in identifying known alternative pathways that enable cognate charging of the tRNA species for which the cognate AARS is missing. Genetic code decoding is a much more variable step than originally thought and needs to be quantified (9).

    There are numerous reports of genomes with more than one gene for the same AARS enzyme or even paralogous fragments consisting of free-standing domains of AARSs (e.g. catalytic-, anticodon-binding- and editing domains). These paralogs and paralog fragments have been the focus of intense interest since their gene products exhibit diverse functions outside translation. These range from tRNA-dependent aa synthesis, tRNA posttranscriptional modification, editing of misactivated aa and antibiotic resistance in bacteria, to molecular hubs within essential signaling pathways that regulate tumorigenesis in humans (10–16). Evolutionary analyses have highlighted the importance of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in the evolution of the AARS family (17) and it has been found that this is often linked to antibiotic resistance, especially in microbes (11,18–21). The fact that bacterial AARSs do not often (22) participate in complex protein-protein interactions and that they are frequently compatible with tRNAs from phylogenetically distant organisms suggests that they are frequently functional (and hence selectable) following HGT.

  43. 43
    critical rationalist says:

    UB: Does the system require what is listed and operate as it is described in the literature, or does it not?

    Is a system required to launch a rocket into space not compatible with the literature of Newton’s laws of motion? Of course it is. However, Newton’s have become untenable as an expiation for how gravity works as it has been refuted by general relativity. It’s an approximation.

  44. 44

    CR your cite (alternate pathway) does not answer the question posed, so I’ll try again:

    When the cell synthesizes a protein, the anticodon-to-amino acid association (establishing the constraints in the system, i.e. the code) is spatially and temporally isolated from the codon-to-anticodon association (which occurs when the medium is being read).

    Is that true or false?

  45. 45
    Origenes says:

    CR

    Newton held that gravity is a force and GR informs us that it is something that arises from the curvature of space and time.
    What we see here is that both theories make an effort to explain the same thing: gravity.

    GR could not replace Newton’s theory of gravity if it were differently, because it would have no replacement to offer.

    This brings us to your discussion with UB. The question is:
    in what sense does your theory attempt to explain the same phenomena, as pointed out by UB?

  46. 46

    Is a system required to launch a rocket into space not compatible with the literature of Newton’s laws of motion? Of course it is. However, Newton’s have become untenable as an expiation for how gravity works as it has been refuted by general relativity.

    But you haven’t refuted that how semantic memory works, have you? You haven’t refuted the description of genetic memory, have you? What you’ve done (in an effort to plaster over the failure of your claims in the OP) is to claim that the observations of semantic memory in the gene system do not scale to quantum memory. But you have two problems that you fail to address: #1) the cell describes itself in a system of semantic memory, not quantum memory; and #2, this …

    Question #5

    When you avoid the genetic information system by dissembling about quantum information, you say “I am referring to quantum storage mediums”.

    Okay. If a researcher uses quantum memory to store a simulation for, say a cure for cancer, he or she will (depending on the system) use various techniques to set the superposition state of the medium (i.e. the nuclei of a particular atom, for instance), thus encoding the qubits of memory.

    Is the state of a qubit of memory a cure for cancer, or is it about a cure for cancer, and thus, has to be interpreted?

  47. 47

    CR,

    When you say you are referring to “quantum storage memory” in your comments here, why don’t you give us an example of this system? Give us a specific example.

  48. 48
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB.

    Again, what you just descried is compatible with “the literature” just as what is required to launch a rocket into space is compatible with the literature of Newtown’s laws.

    So what?

    I’m saying is that what “the literature” that you seem to be appealing to doesn’t scale. We can explain information in a more fundamental way that doesn’t require a knowing subject, etc.

    Now, If you’d like to dispute that, be my guest. However, this seems unlikely as, despite asking at least a dozen times, you have still yet to reference an actual physical theory of information. For example, when I pointed out your site links to Shannon’s theory, and that doesn’t scale, you seemed to imply it wasn’t even relevant to the problem at hand. It’s unclear how you could depute the status of a theory you refuse to disclose.

    So, where is the literature for your physical theory of information? Put your money where your mouth is.

    Here’s a hint. Merely saying parts of the genome / translation system could be interpreted as symbols isn’t a formal physical theory of information. For example, it doesn’t address, in a more fundamental way, what tasks are necessary for people to exploit the laws of physics that make symbols possible. Nor does it address what tasks must be physically possible to copy information from one medium to another.

    After all, that’s what ID claims, right? A designer copied information from one physical source medium external to the cell to a second physical destination medium internal to the cell. Or did I get it wrong?

  49. 49
    Origenes says:

    CR: We can explain information in a more fundamental way that doesn’t require a knowing subject, etc.

    “More fundamental” is incoherent when you cannot explain the semiotic system on which it depends.

  50. 50
    critical rationalist says:

    But you haven’t refuted that how semantic memory works, have you? You haven’t refuted the description of genetic memory, have you?

    I’ve referenced a theory of information that operates at a more fundamental level, which explains why symbols are possible in the first place. Constructor theory is even more fundamental than our most current fundamental physical theories: GR and QM.

    From this paper….

    Constructor theory seeks to express all fundamental scientific theories in terms of a dichotomy between possible and impossible physical transformations – those that can be caused to happen and those that cannot. This is a departure from the prevailing conception of fundamental physics which is to predict what will happen from initial conditions and laws of motion.

    […]

    However, the constructor theory that I shall propose in this paper is not primarily the theory of constructions or constructors, as the prevailing conception would require it to be. It is the theory of which transformations

    input state of substrates -> output state of substrates (2)

    can be caused and which cannot, and why. As I shall explain, the idea is that the fundamental questions of physics can all be expressed in terms of those issues, and that the answers do not depend on what the constructor is, so it can be abstracted away, leaving transformations (2) as the basic subject matter of the theory. I shall argue that we should expect such a theory to constitute a fundamental branch of physics with new, universal laws, and to provide a powerful new language for expressing other theories. I shall guess what some of those laws may be, and explore the theory’s potential for solving various problems and achieving various unifications between disparate branches of physics and beyond, and propose a notation that may be useful in developing it.

    […]

    Explanatory theories with such counterfactual implications are more fundamental than predictions of what will happen. For example, consider the difference between saying that a purported perpetual motion machine cannot be made to work as claimed ‘because that would violate a conservation law’ and that it won’t work ‘because that axle exerts too small a torque on the wheel’. Both explanations are true, but the former rules out much more, and an inventor who understood only the latter might waste much more time trying to cause the transformation in question by modifying the machine.

    [..]

    The theory of relativity is the theory of the arena (spacetime) in which all physical processes take place. Thus, by its explanatory structure, it claims to underlie all other scientific theories, known and unknown, in that requires them to be expressible in terms of tensor fields on spacetime, and constrains what they can say about the motion of those fields. For example, any theory postulating a new particle that was unaffected by gravity (i.e. by the curvature of spacetime) would contradict the general theory of relativity. Another theory that inherently claims to underlie all others is quantum theory, which requires all observable quantities to be expressible in terms of quantum-mechanical operators obeying certain commutation laws. And so, for example, no theory claiming that some physical variable and its time derivative are simultaneously measurable with arbitrary accuracy can be consistent with quantum theory. Constructor theory would, in this sense, underlie all other theories including relativity and quantum theory. The logic of the relationship would be as follows: Other theories specify what substrates and tasks exist, and provide the multiplication tables for serial and parallel composition of tasks, and state that some of the tasks are impossible, and explain why. Constructor theory provides a unifying formalism in which other theories can do this, and its principles constrain their laws, and in particular, require certain types of task to be possible. I shall call all scientific theories other than constructor theory subsidiary theories.

    In addition, in constructor theory, neither reductionist and emergent explanations are more important than another. Nor is it concerned with trying to justify theories as initial conditions are often untraceable and uninteresting in respect to solving problems, in practice.

    2.5 What is the initial state?
    The prevailing conception regards the initial state of the physical world as a fundamental part of its constitution, and we therefore hope and expect that state to be specified by some fundamental, elegant law of physics. But at present there are no exact theories of what the initial state was. Thermodynamics suggests that it was a ‘zero-entropy state’, but as I said, we have no exact theory of what that means. Cosmology suggests that it was homogeneous and isotropic, but whether the observed inhomogeneities (such as galaxies) could have evolved from quantum fluctuations in a homogeneous initial state is controversial. In the constructor-theoretic conception, the initial state is not fundamental. It is an emergent consequence of the fundamental truths that laws of physics specify, namely which tasks are or are not possible. For example, given a set of laws of motion, what exactly is implied about the initial state by the practical feasibility of building (good approximations to) a universal computer several billion years later may be inelegant and intractably complex to state explicitly, yet may follow logically from elegant constructor-theoretic laws about information and computation (see Sections 2.6 and 2.8 below).
    The intuitive appeal of the prevailing conception may be nothing more than a legacy from an earlier era of philosophy: First, the idea that the initial state is fundamental corresponds to the ancient idea of divine creation happening at the beginning of time. And second, the idea that the initial state might be a logical consequence of anything deeper raises a spectre of teleological explanation, which is anathema because it resembles explanation through divine intentions. But neither of those (somewhat contradictory) considerations could be a substantive objection to a fruitful constructor theory, if one could be developed.

    IOW, constructor theory formalizes the view that, in science, justification isn’t possible or even desirable and brings emergent phenomena, such as information, into fundamental physics, though the use of exact statements about what transformations are possible, which transformations are impossible and why.

    IOW, the idea that we need to “ground” our theories in some initial conditions is explicitly not part of constructor theory or its subsidiary theories.

  51. 51

    Does this mean you don’t have an example?

  52. 52
    Dionisio says:

    UB @51:

    Of course!

  53. 53
    Dionisio says:

    For some of us unfamiliar with the concepts and terminology used in this discussion:

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/DH5kn1aT76c

  54. 54
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    in what sense does your theory attempt to explain the same phenomena, as pointed out by UB?

    The constructor theory of information brings information into fundamental physics. Not only is this something that UB’s “theory” does not do, it is something UB is opposed to, in principle.

    As I’ve said before in other threads, we’re not going to get anywhere because we still don’t agree on a definition of information at a fundamental physical level, or if it’s even possible, in principle.

  55. 55
  56. 56
    Barry Arrington says:

    The interchange between UB and CR is one of the most astonishing things I’ve seen in years.

    CR has failed to make the slightest dent in UB’s argument; yet he continues to spill hundreds and hundreds of words into the combox, proving once again that he believes “typing” is a synonym for “arguing.”

    By now the question is no longer about the science. The really intriguing question to me is the psychology behind CR’s dissembling. No one believes his shtick, least of all him. But he persists. He is like that bunny in the battery commercial. It is truly astounding.

  57. 57

    Still no example.

    I can look one up for you.

  58. 58

    Is this the kind of “quantum storage memory” you are talking about, CR?

    http://science.sciencemag.org/...../6358/1392

    Nanophotonic rare-earth quantum memory with optically controlled retrieval – Tian Zhong1 et al

    A rare-earth quantum memory

    The development of global quantum networks will require chip-scale optically addressable quantum memories for quantum state storage, manipulation, and state swapping. Zhong et al. fabricated a nanostructured photonic crystal cavity in a rare-earth-doped material to form a high-fidelity quantum memory (see the Perspective by Waks and Goldschmidt). The cavity enhanced the light-matter interaction, allowing quantum states to be stored and retrieved from the memory on demand. The high fidelity and small footprint of the device offer a powerful building block for a quantum information platform.

  59. 59
    Dionisio says:

    UB,
    That seems like an interesting paper, at least judging by the abstract.
    Thanks.

  60. 60
    Dionisio says:

    .

  61. 61
  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    CR:

    constructor theory formalizes the view that, in science, justification isn’t possible or even desirable and brings emergent phenomena, such as information, into fundamental physics

    First, no-one has discussed justification as a component for knowledge, as post Gettier, to be justified in holding a belief that turns out to be true is understood for cause as not equal to knowledge. The matter of warrant has long since been brought to your attention repeatedly but insistently ignored. Thus, you have shamelessly played the strawman tactic.

    And, as the discussion of knowledge has played out on other threads, I simply note that scientific knowledge claims fall under a weak, fallibilist, inductively grounded sense of knowledge, warranted, credibly true (and empirically reliable) belief.

    I add: note, the very name, “Science,” is derived from a Latin word denoting knowledge. Dictionaries are useful points of reference:

    sci·ence (s???ns)
    n.
    1.
    a. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena: new advances in science and technology.
    b. Such activities restricted to a class of natural phenomena: the science of astronomy.
    2. A systematic method or body of knowledge in a given area: the science of marketing.
    3. Archaic Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.
    [Middle English, knowledge, learning, from Old French, from Latin scientia, from sci?ns, scient-, present participle of sc?re, to know; see skei- in Indo-European roots.]
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
    science (?sa??ns)
    n
    1. the systematic study of the nature and behaviour of the material and physical universe, based on observation, experiment, and measurement, and the formulation of laws to describe these facts in general terms
    2. the knowledge so obtained or the practice of obtaining it
    3. any particular branch of this knowledge: the pure and applied sciences.
    4. any body of knowledge organized in a systematic manner
    5. skill or technique
    6. archaic knowledge
    [C14: via Old French from Latin scientia knowledge, from sc?re to know]
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    Thus, we need to reckon with the provisional, incremental, inductive sense of knowledge so derived. A point well understood since Newton, here, I clip Opticks, Query 31:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    Of course, our understanding of inductive reasoning has been updated to denote arguments where premises (often, empirically derived) provide support for the credible truth of conclusions, as opposed to entailing them. Where, a key aspect of this is that if something has a stable distinct identity, it can be expected to behave in a consistent, reasonably predictable pattern. Kusha bushes produce thorns reliably (so that a donkey I heard of would deliberately brush its rider against these bushes, if it was displeased with him). Manchineel trees produce sweet tasting but caustic, toxic beach or death apples. Mango trees produce thousands of varieties of that luscious fruit. Unsupported objects near earth tend to fall under a force of 9.8 N/kg or thereabouts. The earth, due to angular momentum being conserved, rotates once every 23 hrs 56 minutes relative to the “fixed” stars. And so forth.

    So, there are good common-sense grounds to expect orderly, coherent patterns in the world. But common sense can be a suspect commodity when there is a dominant ideology to the contrary.

    But, we must go on. Knowledge, itself, is from a Greek term, gnosis, so let’s use Wikipedia on that term as a handy reference:

    Gnosis

    Gnosis is a feminine Greek noun which means “knowledge”.[4] It is often used for personal knowledge compared with intellectual knowledge (?????? eídein), as with the French connaitre compared with savoir, the Spanish conocer compared with saber, or the German kennen rather than wissen.[5]

    Latin dropped the initial g (which was preserved in Greek) so gno- becomes no- as in nosc? meaning “I know”, noscentia meaning “knowledge” and notus meaning “known”. The g remains in the Latin co-gni-tio meaning “knowledge” and i-gno-tus and i-gna-rus meaning “unknown” and from which comes the word i-gno-rant, and a-gno-stic which means “not knowing” and once again this reflects the Sanskrit jna which means “to know”, “to perceive” or “to understand”.[citation needed]
    Gnostikos

    A related term is the adjective gnostikos, “cognitive”,[6] a reasonably common adjective in Classical Greek.[7] Plato uses the plural adjective ????????? – gnostikoi and the singular feminine adjective ???????? ???????? – gnostike episteme in his Politikos where Gnostike episteme was also used to indicate one’s aptitude.[citation needed] The terms do not appear to indicate any mystic, esoteric or hidden meaning in the works of Plato, but instead expressed a sort of higher intelligence and ability analogous to talent.[8]

    Plato The Statesman 258e
    —?Stranger: In this way, then, divide all science into two arts, calling the one practical (praktikos), and the other purely intellectual (gnostikos). Younger Socrates: Let us assume that all science is one and that these are its two forms.[9]

    In the Hellenistic era the term became associated with the mystery cults.

    Gnosis is used throughout Greek philosophy as a technical term for experience knowledge (see gnosiology) in contrast to theoretical knowledge or epistemology.[citation needed] The term is also related to the study of knowledge retention or memory (see also cognition), in relation to ontic or ontological, which is how something actually is rather than how something is captured (abstraction) and stored (memory) in the mind.[citation needed]
    Gnosticism
    Irenaeus used the phrase “knowledge falsely so-called” (pseudonymos gnosis, from 1 Timothy 6:20)[10] for the title of his book On the Detection and Overthrow of False Knowledge, that contains the adjective gnostikos, which is the source for the 17th-century English term “Gnosticism”.

    Such words refer to a common, important phenomenon, which we have to reckon with in philosophising about it, i.e. in epistemology.

    First, without a knowing subject willing to accept and act on a claim, we are not dealing with knowing or knowledge. Without reasonable and responsible grounds, one is not warranted to accept a claim or perception etc as credibly true (and reliable), but that warrant needs not be wholly held by a given subject; we all routinely accept warrant per credible authority and/or perhaps simplified explanation or examples.

    Likewise, warrant chains as A as B, B as C etc. Thus, there is a regress, where infinite chain is impossible, question-begging circularity is futile, so we face finitely remote first plausibles taken as a credible start-point or foundation or root of one’s worldview.

    Yes, there is a positive hatred for the suggestions that we have a finitely remote foundation involving trust in first plausibles but that is actually patent.

    And, worldviews need not be question-begging once held i/l/o comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power (elegantly simple not simplistic or an ad hoc patchwork).

    In such, key self-evident elements starting with the point that distinct identity (A vs ~ A) leads directly to the triple first principles of right reason, LOI, LNC, LEM as well as to the set of natural numbers thence the logic of structure and quantity, AKA Mathematics. Self-evident truths are examples, in turn, of strong-form knowledge, warranted as certainly true and thus accepted as undeniable on pain of absurdity on the attempted denial.

    Thus, warrant is an integral component of knowledge, which is a function of knowing subjects. And, science is a weak form, with facts of observation being far better warranted than integrative theoretical constructs, which are best understood as explanatory, abductively warranted models which are possibly true as opposed to credibly true.

    Thus, while information can and does play a role in fundamental physics — e.g. the position-momentum and energy-time versions of the Heisenberg-Einstein uncertainty principle — that is not where it is primarily founded. Information theory is an extension of physics indeed, but that in the end is about distinct identity leading to designation of entities by labels tracing to y/n chains in structured description languages, or to analogues that then face issues of storage, processing, modulation, transmission etc. Information is not knowledge but is involved in the process. And, the reality of phenomena in the world is not reducible to information without residue. That is, there is a real world.

    Now, let’s pick up and do some inline commenting on your un-sourced text gobbet. Of course on track record you will studiously ignore or find some tangent to divert, but record is needed:

    >>2.5 What is the initial state?
    The prevailing conception regards the initial state of the physical world as a fundamental part of its constitution, and we therefore hope and expect that state to be specified by some fundamental, elegant law of physics.>>

    1 –> Cosmology, and the hoping for some super-law to lock up the initial condition simply points onward to the source of such fine-tuning to set up a world habitable by C-chem, aqueous medium, cell based life.

    2 –> This materialistic focus neglects that just to do physical cosmology we need responsible, rationally free morally governed creatures accountable before truth and logic, ethics etc.

    3 –> This moves us beyond physics and shows that physics is inherently not the root of a rational understanding of our world and its inhabitants. It studies an important cross-section: matter-energy, space-time and interactions thereof, in a fundamental manner involving mathematics and logic as well as observation and measurement.

    4 –> Where Mathematics is NOT an empirical discipline but a logical one rooted in distinct identity, first principles of right reason and the endless set of the naturals, duly extended into other structures of interest and where possible axiomatised. Computing is an applied branch.

    5 –> So, we correct in brief an impoverished, factually grossly inadequate worldview.

    >> But at present there are no exact theories of what the initial state was. Thermodynamics suggests that it was a ‘zero-entropy state’, but as I said, we have no exact theory of what that means. Cosmology suggests that it was homogeneous and isotropic, but whether the observed inhomogeneities (such as galaxies) could have evolved from quantum fluctuations in a homogeneous initial state is controversial.>>

    6 –> Physics, including physical cosmology is incomplete.

    >> In the constructor-theoretic conception, the initial state is not fundamental. It is an emergent consequence of the fundamental truths that laws of physics specify, namely which tasks are or are not possible.>>

    7 –> fundamentals-phobia, or more precisely, an irrational fear of recognising worldview structures, warrant chains i/l/o our finitude and proneness to error.

    8 –> Fundamental, warranted credible truth is a way to describe knowledge in the relevant weak form without admitting that this is what one is doing.

    9 –> Fundamental, of course is precisely the much despised metaphor of foundations in another guise, as would be basics. You can run but you cannot hide.

    >> For example, given a set of laws of motion, what exactly is implied about the initial state by the practical feasibility of building (good approximations to) a universal computer several billion years later may be inelegant and intractably complex to state explicitly,>>

    10 –> Sneaking in by the back-door the idea that the cosmos is something like a Turing universal computational device.

    11 –> Computing the states of a cosmos is so far beyond the complexity of its physical instantiation as to be implausible. Indeed, as computation is envisioned on a material substrate, we have here an emerging regress of computing the computing entity that computes the physical cosmos.

    12 –> But perhaps, what is meant is, the existing cosmos is computational in the sense of obeying a coherent set of physical laws that in effect can be compressed into a description in some language and called “physics.”

    13 –> This then becomes little more than a pretentious way of saying that we live in an orderly, organised cosmos that unfolds across time per initial constituents, conditions and laws that can be empirically, inductively identified.

    14 –> What is valid, then, is not new, and what is novel is either unnecessary or plain wrong and confusing as it obfuscates what should be plainly said.

    >> yet may follow logically from elegant constructor-theoretic laws about information and computation (see Sections 2.6 and 2.8 below).>>

    15 –> More of the same mish-mash.

    >>The intuitive appeal of the prevailing conception may be nothing more than a legacy from an earlier era of philosophy: First, the idea that the initial state is fundamental corresponds to the ancient idea of divine creation happening at the beginning of time.>>

    16 –> Dismissiveness towards the concept that that which begins is contingent and has a cause.

    17 –> Similar dismissiveness towards the point that an initial framework that triggers onward unfolding is patently of fundamental character.

    >> And second, the idea that the initial state might be a logical consequence of anything deeper raises a spectre of teleological explanation, which is anathema because it resembles explanation through divine intentions.>>

    18 –> Little more than anti-theism surfacing by way of reassurance to a presumed atheistical audience.

    19 –> If a cosmos has a beginning and is shaped by coherent, fine tuned laws and circumstances conducive to C-Chem, aqueous medium, terrestrial planet, cell based life, that points to intelligent design at the hands of a designer of awesome power.

    20 –> So, we come to motive: anti-theism, leading to unwillingness to objectively examine the evidence of cosmological fine tuning and that of a cosmos that credibly had a beginning at a finitely removed time.

    21 –> Where, refusal to engage the phenomenon of physics being done by creatures who are physically embodied but responsibly and rationally free and morally governed in reasoning towards the truth about our world allows evasion of the IS-OUGHT gap and the gap between mechanical computation on blind cause-effect mechanisms and ground-consequent, consciously insightful reasoning.

    22 –> Those two gaps point beyond the world of matter, energy, space and time shaped by mechanical necessity and stochastic processes to yet deeper issues tied to world-roots.

    23 –> Post Hume, the only level where IS and OUGHT can be bridged coherently is the root of reality.

    24 –> This points to the only serious candidate, after centuries of philosophical debates, given the nature of being:

    the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and of the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    25 –> If you doubt this, simply provide a coherent alternative: _____ . Predictably, objectors will not do so, as they will find it an insuperable task.

    26 –> That mind transcends computing is also pivotal, as we have forgotten that computers of various architectures are mindless mechanical, GIGO limited products of minds, that may well mechanise aspects of reasoning to solve problems, but which are in the end not capable of insightful, responsible, reasonable inference on ground and consequent. Such machines have to be set up right to work, by those capable of reasoning.

    27 –> So, the great evasion has failed on all counts.

    >> But neither of those (somewhat contradictory) considerations>>

    28 –> Projection, not well founded. The contradictions perceived are patently little more than reflections of the inner incoherence of the scheme of thought being propounded, and likely of an underlying commitment to a priori evolutionary materialism or one of its fellow travellers that by accommodating that, pick up its incoherence.

    >> could be a substantive objection to a fruitful constructor theory, if one could be developed. >>

    29 –> In short, there is no such established theory, just a cluster of incoherent ideas as in part corrected in this note.

    For record.

    KF

  63. 63
    Dionisio says:

    “The genetic code that defines the rules of translation from the 4-letter nucleic acid alphabet to the 20-letter alphabet of proteins is arguably the single central informational invariant of all life forms […]”

    “[…] the code is universal among modern life forms because any change in codon assignment would be highly deleterious.”

    “[…] 49 years of code studies have elucidated notable features of the standard code, such as high robustness to errors, but failed to develop a compelling explanation for codon assignments.”

    “In particular, stereochemical affinity between amino acids and the cognate codons or anticodons does not seem to account for the origin and evolution of the code.”

    “The 64 triplet codons are neatly organized in sets of four or two, with the third base of a codon typically being synonymous. The assignment of codons to amino acids across the code table is clearly non-random […]”

    Frozen Accident Pushing 50: Stereochemistry, Expansion, and Chance in the Evolution of the Genetic Code
    Eugene V. Koonin
    Life (Basel). 7(2): 22.
    doi: 10.3390/life7020022

  64. 64
    Dionisio says:

    “The origin and evolution of the translation system is a forbiddingly difficult problem, and therefore, in many studies on the code evolution, it is formally treated as a separate issue and approached almost like a mathematical puzzle […]”

    Frozen Accident Pushing 50: Stereochemistry, Expansion, and Chance in the Evolution of the Genetic Code
    Eugene V. Koonin
    Life (Basel). 7(2): 22.
    doi: 10.3390/life7020022

  65. 65
    Dionisio says:

    The known -not the unknown- clearly points to complex functionally specified informational complexity.

  66. 66
    Dionisio says:

    “It is almost impossible to discuss the origin of the code without discussing the origin of the actual biochemical mechanisms of protein synthesis” – Francis Crick

  67. 67
    Dionisio says:

    “[…] none of the three major theories of the code evolution has been fully successful in providing a definitive explanation although each has highlighted important features of the code.”

    Frozen Accident Pushing 50: Stereochemistry, Expansion, and Chance in the Evolution of the Genetic Code
    Eugene V. Koonin
    Life (Basel). 7(2): 22.
    doi: 10.3390/life7020022

  68. 68
    Dionisio says:

    “The standard genetic code (SGC) is virtually universal among extant life forms.”

    “The structure of the SGC is nonrandom and ensures high robustness of the code to mutational and translational errors.”

    Origin and Evolution of the Universal Genetic Code.
    Koonin EV, Novozhilov AS
    Annu Rev Genet. 51:45-62.
    doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-120116-024713.

    Did somebody say ‘nonrandom’?

  69. 69
    Dionisio says:

    The papers referenced @63-68 were published this year.

    The below referenced paper by the same authors was published around 8 years ago:

    “Summarizing the state of the art in the study of the code evolution, we cannot escape considerable skepticism. It seems that the two-pronged fundamental question: “why is the genetic code the way it is and how did it come to be?,” that was asked over 50 years ago, at the dawn of molecular biology, might remain pertinent even in another 50 years. Our consolation is that we cannot think of a more fundamental problem in biology.”

    Origin and evolution of the genetic code: The universal enigma
    Eugene V. Koonin, Artem S. Novozhilov
    DOI: 10.1002/iub.146
    Volume 61, Issue 2 Pages 99–111

    In those 8 years much has been discovered in biology.
    However, the pseudoscientific speculative hypotheses remain imprecise and incoherent.

    The known -not the unknown- clearly points to complex functionally specified informational complexity.

  70. 70
  71. 71
    Dionisio says:

    KF @70:

    Well done. Another episode in the important discussion on fundamental concepts and associated issues.

    Thanks.

  72. 72
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    I’ve referenced just such a paper that explains this in detail. Multiple times.

    You haven’t. Does this mean you don’t have a physical theory of information?

    from the paper….

    Much of Shannon’s theory is about unreliable transmission and measurement, and inefficient representations, and how to compose them into more reliable and efficient ones. But here we are concerned with the fundamental issues that remain even in the limiting case when all error rates have been reduced to their physically possible minima and there is no redundancy in the message being transmitted. In that limit, receiving the message only means distinguishing it from all the other possible messages. And in that regard, Shannon’s theory is inadequate in two ways.

    The first is that it cannot describe information in quantum physics, because certain prohibitions that quantum theory imposes – such as the impossibility of cloning – violate the kind of interoperability that is assumed in Shannon’s theory. Consequently the type of information studied by Shannon is now called classical information.

    The second is that Shannon’s theory is about information represented in distinguishable states, but does not specify what distinguishing consists of physically. So, consider the non-perturbing measurement that distinguishes two possible messages x and y. It has the following effects in those two cases:
    message receiver message receiver

    [diagram]

    where x0 is a receptive state of some medium capable of instantiating the outcome x or y. But this does not in fact distinguish message x from message y unless the receiver states x and y are themselves distinguishable. Therefore (1), considered as a definition of distinguishability, would be circular. Indeed, no existing theory of information provides a non-circular account of what it means for a set of physical states to be mutually distinguishable. The theory that we shall present here does.

    Likewise quantum information theory, as it stands, never gets round to specifying what it is referring to as ‘quantum information’, nor its relation to classical information. It is not, despite the name, a theory of a new type of information, but only a collection of quantum phenomena that violate the laws of classical information. A new theory of information is needed, within physics but at a deeper level than both quantum theory and Shannon’s theory. In this paper we provide that, via constructor theory (Deutsch 2013).

    [Skipped details on the algebra used to describe tasks and types of networks in constructor theory, used below]

    3 Computation
    Our theory of information rests on first understanding computation in constructor-theoretic terms. This will allow us to express information in terms of computation; not vice-versa as is usually done. This is the key to avoiding the circularity at the foundations of information theory that we described in Section 1.
    A reversible computation C? (S) is the task of performing a permutation ? over some set S of at least two possible attributes of some substrate:

    [ diagram ]

    For example, swapping two pure quantum states constitutes a reversible computation, and may be a possible task even if they are not orthogonal. It is then natural to define a computation variable as a set S of two or more possible attributes for which C?? for all permutations ? over S, and a computation medium as a substrate with at least one computation variable. (Since side-effects are allowed in the performance of C? , this definition does not require physical processes to be reversible.)
    Note again that in this paper we are not taking computation to be an a priori concept and seeking necessary and sufficient conditions for a physical process to instantiate it (cf. Horseman et al. 2014). We are conjecturing laws of physics: objective regularities in nature. These happen to be conveniently expressed in terms of the tasks we have called ‘computations’ and the property that we shall call ‘information’. We think that these correspond reasonably closely to the intuitive concepts with those names, but our claims in no way depend on that being so.

    4 Information
    As we mentioned in Section 1 the intuitive concept of information is associated with that of copying. We shall express this association exactly and without circularity, in terms of computations as defined in Section 3. We first consider computations involving two instances of the same substrate S. The cloning task for a set S of possible attributes of S is the task

    [ diagram ]

    on S?S, where x0 is some attribute with which it is possible to prepare S from generic,
    naturally occurring resources (Section 6 below). This is a generalization of the usual notion of cloning, which is (3) with S as the set of all attributes of S. A set S is clonable if RS(x0)? for some such x0 .
    An information variable is a clonable computation variable. It is then natural to define an information attribute as one that is a member of an information variable, and an information medium as a substrate that has at least one information variable.
    Also, a substrate S instantiates classical information if some information variable S of S is sharp, and if giving it any of the other attributes in S was possible. And the classical information capacity of S is the logarithm of the cardinality of its largest information variable. The principle of locality II implies the convenient property that the combined classical information capacity of disjoint substrates is the sum of their capacities.
    Thus we have provided the purely constructor-theoretic notion of classical information that we promised. But we have emancipated it from its dependence on classical physics, and cured its circularity.

    Of note is that, in the process of bringing information into fundamental physics, by developing a unifying single theory that scales to both classical and quantum physics, there was no reference to observers, knowing subjects, etc.

  73. 73

    Still no specific example of a “quantum storage medium”?

    Are you about to tell me that you’re actually referring to a different “quantum storage medium” – different than the one where they encode the input and interpret the output?

  74. 74
    critical rationalist says:

    CR has failed to make the slightest dent in UB’s argument; yet he continues to spill hundreds and hundreds of words into the combox, proving once again that he believes “typing” is a synonym for “arguing.”

    Wouldn’t the degree that one can identify what is or is not relevant to a subject depend on the degree that one understands that subject?

    That is, if you or UB are mistaken on this subject, could you not just as well be mistaken as to what is or is not relevant? Or I could be mistaken about UB’s argument or some other key aspect of the subject. Repeat the same question doesn’t help in that sense.

    This is why I have suggested that UB’s argument might actually be a claim of irreducible complexity of how the call describes itself, instead of a based on physical theory of information. In fact, I’d suggest that we don’t even agree on what information is, let alone a physical theory of information would be, or if you and UB think any such theory is actually possible.

    Definitions are only useful in that they allow us to communicate ideas that they represent. The criticism of “that doesn’t fit the classic definition of X” is a fallacy.

    One could just as well argued that the ability to split an atom didn’t fit the classic definition of “atom” at the time. After all, the origin of the word is French…

    late 15th century: from Old French atome, via Latin from Greek atomos ‘indivisible,’ based on a- ‘not’ + temnein ‘to cut.’

    Yet, atoms can be split.

  75. 75

    Are you concerned that if you finally provide an example of your “quantum storage medium” we will find exactly what I told you months ago? (i.e. that using quantum effects to encode data in a medium is a semiotic system, and thus your entire set of objections are a massive misconception on your part).

  76. 76
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB,

    Let me rephares as a question…

    If, to allow us to make exact statement about information that scaled to both classical and quantum information, we had to develop a more fundamental theory of information that was so more fundamental it explained why symbols are possible in both types of media, what would be the impact of that significantly more fundamental theory of information be to your argument?

    Furthermore, why would you think a paper that explains how symbols are possible in both classical and quantum mediums would imply that symbols in quantum media are impossible?

  77. 77
    Origenes says:

    UB @75

    CR’s theories may be incoherent, they are consistent nevertheless.
    (1) Knowledge does not require a knower.
    (2) Information does not require a semiotic system.

    All that is required is for constructors to spontaneously self-organize into information/knowledge, semiotic systems and knowers, for no reason at all.

  78. 78

    CR, symbols are possible in both mediums because a system of discontinuous association has been organized and established in both mediums, i.e. a semiotic system. You are now being openly irrational and deceptive. You’ve landed in the unfortunate position where if you provide an specific example of the “quantum storage medium” you are talking about, it will immediately invalidate your argument. My advice: When the horse is dead, get off.

  79. 79

    Origenes, exactly!

  80. 80
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB #78

    No, I’m not.

    With a theory of information that is more fundamental than symbols, what you’re left with is a claim of irreducible complexity. That’s a whole different argument.

    Or was that just your argument all along?

    And it’s one that has been addressed by providing a more fundamental, description of new-darwnism. Namely, by modeling the entire spectrum of replication fidelity as variations of constructors in constructor theory.

  81. 81
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    From the paper…

    These claims, stemming from the tradition of incredulity that living entities can be scientifically explained, [14], highlight a problem. The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics. No such theory has been proposed; and those claims have not been properly refuted.

    Indeed, the central problem here – i.e., whether and under what circumstances accurate self-reproduction and replication are compatible with no-design laws – is awkward to formulate in the prevailing conception of fundamental physics, which expresses everything in terms of predictions given some initial conditions and laws of motion.

    So, no, it’s not just (1) and (2) above. Neo-darwnism is supplemented by both constructor theory of life, which includes aspects of the constructor theory of information.

    From an earlier comment….

    Now, on to the question of “what are the core physical requirements” for this system we are trying to explain. If only there was some problem or criticism that motivated people to actually work on this very question in detail?

    […]

    Note that the term “no-design laws” refers a set of “core physical requirements” (our current laws of physics, including quantum mechanics). It’s not a new set of laws. Rather, it’s referring to existing, general purpose laws and resources, that are not design-specific. In fact it’s the absence of a new set of yet to be proposed laws that somehow contain the design of self replicating cells, already present.

    While this was not specifically directed at ID or UB’s claims […] it is still relevant to the question at hand. This because this criticism results in asking the question: which physical laws (“core physical requirements”) are compatible with high-fidelity replication.

    So, I’ll ask for the umpteenth time: is there anyone here that will actually address the argument being presented? What gives?

    One strategy to attack a theory one finds objectionable is to present a false version of it, then point out how it is false. How is your comment any different?

  82. 82

    So, CR, since you don’t have the intellectual will to stop yourself, I’ll simply ask again:

    Do you have a specific example of the “quantum storage medium” that you are talking about?

    Yes, or No?

  83. 83

    Scratch my request in #82.

    Since no example of the “quantum storage medium” you are referring to is forthcoming, it is pointless for me to continue asking. Your steadfast refusal to provide one is already an admission of the issue.

  84. 84
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Since no example of the “quantum storage medium” you are referring to is forthcoming, it is pointless for me to continue asking.

    First, I have presented a paper of a fundamental theory that brings information into physics, which describes what is physically necessary for a quantum storage medium.

    Second, as I pointed out, that same paper explicitly explains how symbols are possible in both quantum and classical storage mediums.

    So, yes, it’s pointless for you to keep asking for something with the intention of “showing” symbols in classical or quantum mediums, when that is implicitly indicated in the paper and not in question. So, apparently, you’re still confused as what the problem is, and therefore, why it is relevant.

    I’l ask yet again, what would any such example of a “quantum storage medium” indicate other than a claim of irreducible complexity?

    Is it pointless to keep asking? Is your steadfast refused to provide an answer an admission of the issue?

  85. 85
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, symbols are possible in both mediums because a system of discontinuous association has been organized and established in both mediums, i.e. a semiotic system.

    That’s not an explanation for why symbols are possible. This seems to be a key point of confusion, as any explanation for why symbols are possible must be more fundamental than any theory of information in our current conception of physics or even symbols.

    We can explain why they are possible based on what physical transformations must be possible. And, to be exact (so it can scale) that same explanation must also accommodate the fact that some possible transformations in classical systems are impossible in quantum systems.

    From the constructor theory of information…

    1 Introduction
    In some respects, information is a qualitatively different sort of entity from all others in terms of which the physical sciences describe the world. It is not, for instance, a function only of tensor fields on spacetime (as general relativity requires all physical quantities to be), nor is it a quantum-mechanical observable.
    But in other respects, information does resemble some entities that appear in laws of physics: the theory of computation, and statistical mechanics, seem to refer directly to it without regard to the specific media in which it is instantiated, just as conservation laws do for the electromagnetic four-current or the energy-momentum tensor. We call that the substrate-independence of information. Information can also be moved from one type of medium to another while retaining all its properties qua information. We call this its interoperability property; it is what makes human capabilities such as language and science possible, as well as biological adaptations that use symbolic codes, such as the genetic code.

    […]

    Much of Shannon’s theory is about unreliable transmission and measurement, and inefficient representations, and how to compose them into more reliable and efficient ones. But here we are concerned with the fundamental issues that remain even in the limiting case when all error rates have been reduced to their physically possible minima and there is no redundancy in the message being transmitted. In that limit, receiving the message only means distinguishing it from all the other possible messages. And in that regard, Shannon’s theory is inadequate in two ways.

    The first is that it cannot describe information in quantum physics, because certain prohibitions that quantum theory imposes – such as the impossibility of cloning – violate the kind of interoperability that is assumed in Shannon’s theory. Consequently the type of information studied by Shannon is now called classical information.

    From the constructor theory of life….

    2.1 Information
    Replication when regarded as copying is intimately connected with information. This has inspired some information-based approaches to fundamental problems in biology, [24]. Until recently, information had no place in fundamental physics: expressions such as “information being instantiated in a physical system” were inherently approximate, or fuzzy. But the constructor theory of information has now incorporated information within fundamental physics, [17], providing an exact, physical characterisation to those expressions, as follows.
    A set of attributes ? is an information variable [17] if the task of per- forming any permutation over ? (allowing for waste), and the replication task over ?, as in (1), are all possible. The attributes of an information variables are called information attributes. An information medium is a substrate some of whose attributes constitute an information variable. Information media must obey the interoperability principle [17]: the composite system of two information media with information variables ?1 and ?2, is an information medium with information variable ?1 × ?2. This is a physical principle: it requires there to be interactions such that information is “copiable” from one information medium to any other.
    Thus, whether or not information media exist, i.e., whether or not information can be instantiated in physical systems, depends on the laws of physics. The intuition about replication being central to information is now expressed as a physical law: laws of physics permitting information media must allow information variables – i.e., replicable sets of attributes as in (1).
    A physical system M instantiates information if it is an information medium in one of its information attributes (belonging to some information variable ?) and that the task of giving it any other attribute in ? (allowing for waste) is possible. This is an exact physical requirement: for this to be possible, certain interactions must be available in nature. It is also an intrinsic, coun- terfactual, property of M.
    A constructor C for the replication task on some information variable ? 10
    C
    is called a copier of ?.
    Of its substrates, one – the target – is changed from having the attribute N to having the attribute (X,W); the other – the source, initially having one of the attributes X in ?, to be replicated – remains unchanged (but it may change temporarily during the copy process).
    Therefore (by definition of a constructor) C and the source substrate with the attribute X constitute a constructor C[X] performing the task TX = {N ? (X,W)} on the target. The information attribute X in the source acts as a constructor, instructing C to perform the task TX on N. See the figure 2.1.
    Figure 1: Two equivalent representations of a copier C (waste W omitted). On the left, C is a constructor with two substrates (represented by lines): the source, that remains unchanged; and the target, that is changed. On the right, C and the source substrate with the attributes X constitute the constructor C[X] performing thetaskTX ={N?X}onthetarget,forallX??. Thecopierisasimple example of a programmable constructor.
    In general, a programmable constructor is a constructor V that has, among its input substrates, an information medium M that can have any of the attributes P in an information variable, with the property that M with any of those information attributes is itself a constructor. The information instantiated in M is an abstract constructor – an instance of “information with causal power”, [25]. V [P ] is a constructor for the task TP , P is the program for the task TP and TP is in the repertoire of V . For example, V could be the ribosome, P the sequence that, when inserted in V , would cause V to perform the task TP of constructing a particular polypeptide chain.

    And how are things described in constructor theory?

    Constructor theory’s main elements are tasks. A task T is the abstract specification of a transformation
    T ={x1 ?y1,x2 ?y2,… ,xn ?yn}
    as a set of input/output pairs of attributes {xi}, {yi} of the substrates (the physical systems being transformed).
    Tasks form an algebra under parallel and serial composition, and are composable into networks to form other tasks [17].

    So, the translation system can be described, at a more fundamental level, as a network of transformations that must be possible under the laws of physics.

  86. 86
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Perhaps you object to the very idea behind constructor theory?

    Specifically…

    1.1 Construction tasks
    Consider an automated factory for producing goods to a particular specification. Though its purpose may only be to produce those goods, the laws of physics imply that it must transform something into them and, typically, also use other resources and produce waste products. Very few such transformations happen spontaneously; that is to say, almost all require a constructor, which I shall define as anything that can cause transformations in physical systems without undergoing any net change in its ability to do so. I shall call those physical systems the constructor’s substrates:
    constructor
    input state of substrate(s) ??????? output state of substrate(s). (1)
    A transformation, regarded as being caused by a constructor, I call a construction.
    Constructors appear under various names in physics and other fields. For instance, in thermodynamics, a heat engine is a constructor because of the condition that it be capable of ‘operating in a cycle’. But they do not currently appear in laws of physics. Indeed, there is no possible role for them in what I shall call the prevailing conception of fundamental physics, which is roughly as follows: everything physical is composed of elementary constituents such as particles, fields and spacetime; there is an initial state of those constituents; and laws of motion determine how the state evolves continuously thereafter. In contrast, a construction (1) is characterised only by its inputs and outputs, and involves subsystems (the constructor and the substrate), playing different roles, and most constructors are themselves composite objects. So, in the prevailing conception, no law of physics could possibly mention them: the whole continuous process of interaction between constructor and substrate is already determined by the universal laws governing their constituents.
    However, the constructor theory that I shall propose in this paper is not primarily the theory of constructions or constructors, as the prevailing conception would require it to be. It is the theory of which transformations
    input state of substrates ? output state of substrates (2)
    can be caused and which cannot, and why.

    Are you suggesting here is a problem the theory part of constructor theory? Specially, that…

    …. the idea is that the fundamental questions of physics can all be expressed in terms of those issues, and that the answers do not depend on what the constructor is, so it can be abstracted away, leaving transformations (2) as the basic subject matter of the theory. I shall argue that we should expect such a theory to constitute a fundamental branch of physics with new, universal laws, and to provide a powerful new language for expressing other theories. I shall guess what some of those laws may be, and explore the theory’s potential for solving various problems and achieving various unifications between disparate branches of physics and beyond, and propose a notation that may be useful in developing it.

    Is there some universal problem with this theory?

    Or perhaps you think translation system is an exception, for some reason, in that it is not possible to model the translation system, in particular, in a more fundamental, constructor theoretic terms of possible and impossible physical tasks ?

    Or, to rephrase, can we not express what’s happening there in a more fundamental way of possible transformations of matter? If not, why?

    IOW, you seem to have some objection to constructor theory, but have yet to make it explicit, beyond what appears to be some kind of incredulity.

  87. 87
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR @ 86 says to UB:

    “Perhaps you object to the very idea behind constructor theory?”

    No, I’m pretty sure he objects to your gutless refusal to answer a simple question. Here, I’ll ask it again in case you missed it:

    Do you have a specific example of the “quantum storage medium” that you are talking about?

    Yes, or No?

  88. 88
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    The question has been answered. A quantum storage medium, like all other scientific theories, is defined by what physical transformations must be possible, which transformations are not possible, and why. That’s what it means to make exact statements in constructor theory.

    If there was some unique exception regarding an specific example, then it couldn’t be exact, right?

    So, any suggestion that I haven’t answered the question must somehow be accompanied with some criticism of the very idea of constructor theory itself, or criticism of the subsidiary theory of information presented.

    Furthermore, since the theory describes what physical transformations are required for symbols to be possible in both classical and quantum systems, it would not imply that symbols are incompatible with quantum storage mediums. Right?

    So, what is left to object to?

    UD Editors: CR, the depth and breadth of your ability and willingness to lie is truly astonishing. You have plainly not answered the question by providing an example (or admitting there is none). Yet you say “the question has been answered. Staggering.

  89. 89

    So, what is left to object to?

    That you can’t provide a single real-world example of what you are talking about.

  90. 90
    DATCG says:

    UB, I applaud your patience. I feel like I’ve just read(watched) a Monty Python skit. Where the guy signs up to argue. Except he’s arguing with himself in the mirror, a Constructor Mirror.

    Or, maybe the scene of the Dead Parrot(i.e. Neo-Darwinism), dilly, dilly, silly, neo-Darwinism is not dead, it’s upheld by a Constructor nail.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vuW6tQ0218

    Or to simplify it down to task and sub-task. What is possible and not possible.

    Constructor Theory is the boat. The man is a Neo-Darwinist….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37W9lFQ783U

    LOL 🙂 will you ever get him to answer your question?

    CR’s going round in circles…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2szNtnS7Bh4

  91. 91
    critical rationalist says:

    That’s yet another vague criticism.

    Again, see #86.

    Are you saying the translation system is a real world example of something that cannot be expressed in constructor theoretic terms? If so, why?

    UD Editors: No, he is saying you have not provided a real world example. Everyone knows you can’t CR. Why don’t you just admit that.

    Or are you saying the translation system is a real world example of information that cannot be more fundamentally expressed in the subsidiary theory of information? If so, what aspect of information are you referring to?

    UD Editors: No, he is saying you have not provided a real world example. Everyone knows you can’t CR. Why don’t you just admit that.

    Wouldn’t that require presenting a rival physical theory of information that fundamentally explains just as much as the subsidiary theory of information, plus the delta of whoever problematic aspect of the translation system supposedly indicates?

  92. 92
    critical rationalist says:

    I’l ask yet again, what would any such example of a “quantum storage medium” indicate other than a claim of irreducible complexity?

    [crickets]

    Funny how that works. UB gets to demand I answer questions, but he doesn’t have to answer one himself.

    Again, if a semiotic system, classical or quantum, can be explained in physical theory of information as a network of specific possible tasks, then what is your argument other than a claim of irreducible complexity?

  93. 93
    DATCG says:

    UB, real world application examples cannot be provided by CR because the real world does not exist in Constructor Theory.

    And for readers, do not be deceived.

    An opinion of Deutsch and Marletto’s Constructor Theory
    from Lubos Motl…

    https://motls.blogspot.com/2014/05/constructor-theory-deutsch-and-marletto.html

    If you happen to forget similar factoids, Deutsch is one of the philosophical babblers who likes to say ludicrous things about the allegedly unavoidable naive many-worlds interpretations of quantum mechanics, and so on. What is this constructor theory? It’s a sequence of worthless would-be smart sentences sold as a “theory of everything” and a “unifying theory of classical and quantum physics” and “all information in them” which also “defines all forms of information” and transforms all of our knowledge to “claims that some tasks are impossible”.

    “Where is the beef?” the ladies would surely ask in this case, too. If you try to find any content inside these texts, you will inevitably fail. There is no content. It’s just a stupid game with words and a couple of mathematical symbols.

    More from Lubos…

    Their “work” is all about imposing a meaninglessly contrived language upon people. Moreover, Ms Marletto’s understanding of energy – dominated by the question whether it can be obtained for free – is exactly the same childish misunderstanding of the concept that Feynman would humiliate in his text Judging Books By Their Covers. “Energy makes it go” was written as an answer to all questions in the book. Feynman pointed out that the children wouldn’t learn a damn thing. They could have written “Wakalixes make it go” just as well. Moreover, the statements aren’t really true because energy isn’t what makes things go. It’s just being converted from one form to another etc.

    Some of the most experienced readers already know that
    a kettle may heat water.

    Fortunately, the authors allow us to formulate even such statements in a more “natural” and more “profound” way:
    For instance, a kettle with a power supply can serve as a constructor that can perform the task of heating water.

    LOL, it’s a constructor. Who would have thought? One would think that a kettle isn’t constructing anything – in the same sense as cranes do. But if you want to become so high that you confuse construction workers with cooks, it may be a great idea to unify cranes with kettles. And raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things. Engineers and cooks are the same thing, after all. They are constructors.

    OK, what is a constructor? You study the paper and you find out that it is a meaningless word that may represent anything and that may be inserted into any sentence for pompous fools to look even “smarter”. Instead of saying that X does Y, you must say that X is a constructor that is prohibited to do things different than Y. It isn’t really quite the same thing and the whole expansion of the sentence is bringing you nothing of value but you don’t care.

    I can’t resist to compare these awkward sentences to yet another quote by Feynman who was reading some “smart” texts by participants of an interdisciplinary conference.

    “The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels.”

    He(Feynman) didn’t know what the first sentence of a(the) text could have possibly meant. He must have been stupid! However, he didn’t give up and finally figured out what the sentence meant.

    “People read.”

    The Deutsch-Marletto texts are made uselessly contrived in the very same sense as the sentence involving visual, symbolic channels. There is no point of talking about a “constructor”.

    This redundant concept doesn’t help your understanding of anything in Nature or mathematics.

    But equally importantly, the comments they are making about things like quantum information are just totally wrong.

  94. 94

    CR: So, what is left to object to?

    UB: That you can’t provide a single real-world example of what you are talking about.

    CR: I’ll ask yet again, what would any such example of a “quantum storage medium” indicate other than a claim of irreducible complexity?

    That a real-world example from you argument against semiosis requires semiosis in order to function.

  95. 95

    Thank you DATCG.

    Love the parrot.

    Sir, this parrot is no more!!

  96. 96
    critical rationalist says:

    That a real-world example from you argument against semiosis requires semiosis in order to function.

    And that’s not merely a claim of irreducible complexity?

  97. 97
  98. 98

    CR: Darwinian evolution is the source of the translation apparatus.

    UB: Darwinian evolution is enabled by semiosis, and these are the material conditions.

    CR: It’s unclear to me and you must be confused. That system does not scale.

    UB: I think you have a serious misconception about this topic.

    CR: But I’m referring to a quantum storage medium.

    UB: Then give me a real-world example.

    CR: I don’t have to give you an example — my theory is more fundamental.

    UB: When you give me an example, CR, it’s going to turn out to be semiotic.

    CR: A HA! Yes! But that’s merely a claim of irreducible complexity!

    🙂

  99. 99
    Origenes says:

    A: For the umpteenth time: seeing is the source of sense organs.
    B: Seeing is enabled by sense organs; these are the material conditions.
    A: My theory is more fundamental.
    B: Then give me a real-world example.
    A: I don’t have to give you an example, because that would prove you right — my theory is more fundamental.
    B: When you give me an example of seeing, CR, it’s going to turn out to be by a sensory organ.
    A: A HA! Yes! But, as I said already, that would show you right, which is yet another vague criticism. So, that is merely a claim of irreducible complexity, which is NOT a theory of information! IOW, you seem to have some objection to constructor theory, but have yet to make it explicit, beyond what appears to be some kind of incredulity.
    So, I’ll ask for the umpteenth time: is there anyone here that will actually address the argument being presented? What gives?

  100. 100
    critical rationalist says:

    Apparently, the author of the post assumed constructor theory was a theory of everything, based on the Scientific America article, and it all went down hill from there. What’s particularly ironic is that Deutsch doesn’t think there will ever be a theory of everything. That’s why his latest book is titled “The Beginning of Infinity”. We will always be just scratching the surface, and there will always be new, more fundamental problems to solve (think Hilbert’s infinite hotel. Guests will always have room numbers that are close to the beginning of all numbered rooms).

    The author cannot personally cannot conceive of how constructor theory could be useful at something it doesn’t actually do. Therefore, the paper must have no actual content and merely represent and attempt to make someone sound smarter?

    Fortunately, science does not consist of what the author can conceive of based on a popular science article and the first reading of a subsidiary theory.

    What is this constructor theory? It’s a sequence of worthless would-be smart sentences sold as a “theory of everything” and a “unifying theory of classical and quantum physics” and “all information in them” which also “defines all forms of information” and transforms all of our knowledge to “claims that some tasks are impossible”.

    Constructor theory is a theory about laws. Specifically, the “theory” part constructor theory is is what I described in my comment. Namely, that it’s possible to express all scientific theories through a dichotomy of which physical transformations are possible, which specific physical transformations are impossible, and why. Subsidiary theories are ways of expressing specific scientific theories in constructor theoretic terms.

    Nor does is its goal to unify classical and quantum physics. That is not in the SA article, not is it in the referred paper. So, this is yet another misconception.

    Principles of thermodynamics already are laws about laws. The Constructor theory of thermodynamics, which is a subsidiary theory, helps us make exact statements as described here. That’s not merely the vague claim that somethings are not possible. And it solves problems.

    There are aspects of information that cannot be expressed in the current conception of physics, which is addressed in the Constructor theory of thermodynamics – another subsidiary theory. This is because constructor theory isn’t about the initial conditions and laws of motion. The initial conditions are not fundamental. Again, this is apparently, completely lost on the author. It’s unclear how this has no useful content and merely an attempt to sound smarter.

    But equally importantly, the comments they are making about things like quantum information are just totally wrong.

    They want to “unify classical physics and quantum mechanics” and the concepts of information in them. But this is complete nonsense. The frameworks can’t be unified because they contradict one another. More clearly, quantum mechanics is right in Nature around us while classical physics is wrong. Classical physics is a limit of quantum mechanics – classical physics is approximately valid in some extreme enough situations accurately described by quantum mechanics – but not the other way around. One should never try to unify a thing that is right with a thing that is wrong. It’s like pouring gasoline on the fire – and I won’t even tell you which of these two elements is right and which of them is wrong.

    Strangely I can’t find the quote “They want to ‘unify classical physics and quantum mechanics” anywhere in the paper or the article. What gives?

    From the paper…

    Likewise quantum information theory, as it stands, never gets round to specifying what it is referring to as ‘quantum information’, nor its relation to classical information. It is not, despite the name, a theory of a new type of information, but only a collection of quantum phenomena that violate the laws of classical information. A new theory of information is needed, within physics but at a deeper level than both quantum theory and Shannon’s theory. In this paper we provide that, via constructor theory (Deutsch 2013).

    So, the entire idea that “the comments they are making about things like quantum information are just totally wrong.” is apparently based on a “wrong” interception of the paper or the article.

    Moreover, the information has always meant the same thing “in” classical physics or quantum mechanics. Information is independent. The concept of information exists independently of particular theories in physics. However, particular theories in physics differ in what they say about the form that information can take and how the information about the past that we already know is linked to the information about the future that we may only predict.

    This is equivocation. Informational content is not the same as a theory of what is physically required for that information that scales.

    Does it prove that the information means something completely different in quantum physics?

    Again, a reference to content, not theory, etc.

  101. 101
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    CR: Darwinian evolution is the source of the translation apparatus.

    Incorrect. Did you miss #81?

    @Origenes

    From the paper…

    These claims, stemming from the tradition of incredulity that living entities can be scientifically explained, [14], highlight a problem. The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics. No such theory has been proposed; and those claims have not been properly refuted.

    Indeed, the central problem here – i.e., whether and under what circumstances accurate self-reproduction and replication are compatible with no-design laws – is awkward to formulate in the prevailing conception of fundamental physics, which expresses everything in terms of predictions given some initial conditions and laws of motion.

    So, no, it’s not just (1) and (2) above. Neo-darwnism is supplemented by both constructor theory of life, which includes aspects of the constructor theory of information.

    Want to try again?

    For the umpteenth time, is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?

  102. 102
    Origenes says:

    According to constructor theory, the most fundamental components of reality are entities—“constructors”—that perform particular tasks, accompanied by a set of laws that define which tasks are actually possible for a constructor to carry out.

    Some questions:

    Where do these constructors come from?
    Why are they preforming tasks?
    Where do the laws come from?
    How do laws impose their instructions on constructors?

  103. 103
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Some questions:….

    Read the actual papers I’ve referenced, rather than a popular article, then ask your questions. Your example…

    According to constructor theory, the most fundamental components of reality are entities—“constructors”—that perform particular tasks, accompanied by a set of laws that define which tasks are actually possible for a constructor to carry out.

    While constructor theory is more fundamental than quantum mechanics or general relativity, this is no way suggests a claim about what the most fundamental components of reality are. IOW, this is coming from the author of the popular article, not the authors of constructor theory.

    You did read the papers, right? If not, start here.

    For example…

    1.3 Constructor theory would underlie all other scientific theories

    The theory of relativity is the theory of the arena (spacetime) in which all physical processes take place. Thus, by its explanatory structure, it claims to underlie all other scientific theories, known and unknown, in that requires them to be expressible in terms of tensor fields on spacetime, and constrains what they can say about the motion of those fields. For example, any theory postulating a new particle that was unaffected by gravity (i.e. by the curvature of spacetime) would contradict the general theory of relativity. Another theory that inherently claims to underlie all others is quantum theory, which requires all observable quantities to be expressible in terms of quantum-mechanical operators obeying certain commutation laws. And so, for example, no theory claiming that some physical variable and its time derivative are simultaneously measurable with arbitrary accuracy can be consistent with quantum theory. Constructor theory would, in this sense, underlie all other theories including relativity and quantum theory.

    Note the explicit wording here. Nowhere does the paper say constructors are most fundamental entities of all reality. Rather it describes constructor theory in relation to our existing most fundamental theories, in that it underlies them.

    Given that the author is a Poppperian, this should come as no surprise.

    The logic of the relationship would be as follows: Other theories specify what substrates and tasks exist, and provide the multiplication tables for serial and parallel composition of tasks, and state that some of the tasks are impossible, and explain why. Constructor theory provides a unifying formalism in which other theories can do this, and its principles constrain their laws, and in particular, require certain types of task to be possible. I shall call all scientific theories other than constructor theory subsidiary theories.

    As for the rest of your questions, “which laws and why” is found in subsidiary theories that uses the formalism of constructor theory to describe them.

  104. 104
    Origenes says:

    Okay, so let me repeat:

    Where do these constructors come from?
    Why are they preforming tasks?
    Where do the laws come from?
    How do laws impose their instructions on constructors?

  105. 105
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Ok, so let me repeat:

    Let me repeat…

    Read the actual papers I’ve referenced, rather than a popular article, then ask your questions.

    Did you read the paper? Did you read my comment?

    I’m asking because, you’ve come back and asked the very same questions, which indicates you don’t seem to have a better understanding of why your questions were problematic the first time round.

    For example, why are they performing tasks… “is found in subsidiary theories that uses the formalism of constructor theory to describe them.” I’ve already said this and so did the paper.

    Your question simply doesn’t make sense. I can’t reformulate every single current scientific theory from the current conception of physics into a subsidiary theory in constructor theory, let lone theories we haven’t come up with yet. Right?

    You don’t seem to see the problem, which suggests you do not understand constructor theory, and continue to be willfully ignorant of it. This is why I asked you to come back after you’ve read the paper.

    I’ll ask again, have you read the paper? If you have questions about specific parts of the paper, in particular, then reference those parts with your question.

    If anyone is being patient here, it’s me.

  106. 106
    Origenes says:

    The paper does not provide answers to my questions CR.

  107. 107
    critical rationalist says:

    Just so I have this straight, you were able to tell your questions wasn’t the paper in 19 minutes or less?

    Note: I commented at 1:56pm and you just posted at 2:15pm.

    Is that what you’re suggesting?

    Again, your previous questions suggested you didn’t understand constructor theory. Yet, you haven’t changed them. I’ve even pointed out where and why that is the case, by indicating where one of the problems was. Yet, 19 minutes later, you still seem to think they are valid questions.

    So, I’ll ask again, did you actually read the paper? Did you try to understand it?

  108. 108
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    What is your problem? Just answer my questions.

  109. 109
    critical rationalist says:

    Let me try again.

    For example, you asked “why are constructors performing tasks.”

    Constructor theory is the idea that all scientific theories can be expressed as a dichotomy between physical transformations that are possible, physical transformations that are impossible and why. It is thought that all scientific theories – existing and those that will be developed in the future – can be reformatted / expressed in this way. Constructor theory provides a formalism for describing networks of tasks, just like algebra provides a formalism for working with variables. In fact, constructor theory has its own algebra of tasks, parallel and serial networks of tasks, etc.. which is described in the paper. Constructors are not really the subject of constructor theory. Rather the transformations are what take center stage. Nor do the initial conditions play any special role in constructor theory.

    IOW, constructor theory represents a new mode of explanation which is more fundamental than our most fundamental theories in the current conception of physics: general relativity and quantum mechanics. In addition, constructor theory brings emergent explanations into fundamental physics, such as information etc. This is why, for example, a kettle can be modeled as a constructor, despite the fact that we cannot predict the motion of each water molecule or the initial conditions outside acting on the kettle, etc. We can abstract alway the kettle and just talk about which transformations of matter that are possible / impossible and why, that explains how it is possible to make tea.

    So, constructor theory is a kind or class of explanation or type of explanation, not a concrete explanation. (Just like emergent explanations are a type or class of explanation)

    If constructor theory is not an explanation in itself, but a formalism, then is it explanation-less and therefore empty? No, it is not. That would be like saying algebra is empty because it doesn’t include every possible explanatory theory that someone could possibly model with it. There will be theories modeled in algebra that do not exist today. Algebra cannot possibility contain those theories because they haven’t been developed yet. Nor can it include all existing theories modeled with it today. We don’t go around updating it every time new models are formulated with it. That’s simply a category error.

    It is in this sense that explanations are developed in constructor theoretic terms that often correlate to existing scientific theories in our current conception of physics and even future theories that haven’t been developed yet. Theories developed in constructor theory are called subsidiary theories. This is where your question of “why are constructors performing tasks.” comes into play.

    It’s these Individual theories that explain “why constructors are preforming tasks”. And only a few of the theories in our current conception of physics have been reformulated in this way. I cannot reformulate every existing theory as subsidiary theories. Nor can I reformulate theories that have ye to be conceived of yet.

    It’s in this sense that constructor theory is not a theory of everything, but a formalism that can be used to describe every scientific theory. It says that every scientific theory can be described in constructor theoretic terms, even those that have not be developed yet. But this is not a theory of everything, because it does not contain every possible subsidiary theory.

    Now do you see why expecting to get an answer for that question indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of constructor theory?

  110. 110
    Origenes says:

    CR @

    You focus on just one of my questions, yet, you have not answered it.

    It’s these Individual theories that explain “why constructors are preforming tasks”.

    So, why do constructors perform tasks, according to these theories?

  111. 111
    critical rationalist says:

    CR: Now do you see why expecting to get an answer for that question indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of constructor theory?

    O: So, why do constructors perform tasks, according to these theories?

    I’ll take that as a “No”.

    There is no one explanation for “why constructors are performing tasks” across all subsidiary theories. That’s my point. It would be specific to each subsidiary theory, including those that do not exist yet. So, how could I possibly answer that?

    From the paper….

    The definition of a constructor for a task A requires it to be a constructor for A again after performing an instance of A . Its other attributes may change, but what the user must do in order to cause it to perform the task must remain the same. (The term ‘user’ here is not intended to have any anthropomorphic connotation; the user is whatever presents the constructor with its substrates, causing it to perform its task.) If a machine stops being capable of performing a task A after its N’th run because its battery has run down, then it is not a constructor for A after the (N?1)’th run either, because the N’th run does not end with it being such a constructor – and so it follows by induction that it never was one. However, the same machine excluding the battery could still be a constructor for a related task whose substrates include a battery whose legitimate input states specify enough charge to perform A at least once.

    So, the term “constructors” can refer to anything that is capable of performing a task in that way. They are abstractions, because it’s not really about constructors. It’s about specific physical transformations. So, in that sense, the “why” is specific to each subsidiary theory.

    That would be like asking what is the sum of “numbers”, except there is no yet to be conceived of number. You cannot sum the abstract concept of numbers. You can only sum specific, concrete numbers. Right?

    Again, it would be helpful if you actually read the paper, rather than just repeating the same question. Or perhaps I’m mistaken in that you’re not genuinely interested in an answer?

    I would point out that initial conditions do not play a special role in constructor theory. Perhaps you’re confusing constructor theory with the current conception of physics?

    The prevailing conception regards the initial state of the physical world as a fundamental part of its constitution, and we therefore hope and expect that state to be specified by some fundamental, elegant law of physics. But at present there are no exact theories of what the initial state was. Thermodynamics suggests that it was a ‘zero-entropy state’, but as I said, we have no exact theory of what that means. Cosmology suggests that it was homogeneous and isotropic, but whether the observed inhomogeneities (such as galaxies) could have evolved from quantum fluctuations in a homogeneous initial state is controversial. In the constructor-theoretic conception, the initial state is not fundamental. It is an emergent consequence of the fundamental truths that laws of physics specify, namely which tasks are or are not possible. For example, given a set of laws of motion, what exactly is implied about the initial state by the practical feasibility of building (good approximations to) a universal computer several billion years later may be inelegant and intractably complex to state explicitly, yet may follow logically from elegant constructor-theoretic laws about information and computation

    Of course, you knew this already since you’ve already read the paper, right?

  112. 112
    Origenes says:

    CR@
    Why does a constructor perform any task at all? Why not, instead, perform no task?

    So, in general, why do constructors perform tasks?

  113. 113
    critical rationalist says:

    @origenes

    Why does a constructor perform any task at all? Why not, instead, perform no task?

    So, in general, why do constructors perform tasks?

    You’ve got it backwards. Constructors are constructors because they perform tasks. If something didn’t meet the definition of a constructor then, well, it’s not a constructor. So, if there were no possible physical tasks, then there could be no constructors. And the same can be said if nothing was capable of performing those tasks again as a constructor.

    Nor is constructor theory a theory of everything, as some people have mistakenly concluded.

    But this definition was described in the paper, which you read, right? And I even quoted it above. Here, I’ll quote it again….

    The definition of a constructor for a task A requires it to be a constructor for A again after performing an instance of A . Its other attributes may change, but what the user must do in order to cause it to perform the task must remain the same. (The term ‘user’ here is not intended to have any anthropomorphic connotation; the user is whatever presents the constructor with its substrates, causing it to perform its task.) If a machine stops being capable of performing a task A after its N’th run because its battery has run down, then it is not a constructor for A after the (N?1)’th run either, because the N’th run does not end with it being such a constructor – and so it follows by induction that it never was one. However, the same machine excluding the battery could still be a constructor for a related task whose substrates include a battery whose legitimate input states specify enough charge to perform A at least once.

    Is there something about the above that you do not understand?

  114. 114
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    O: So, in general, why do constructors perform tasks?

    CR: You’ve got it backwards. Constructors are constructors because they perform tasks.

    I have asked you 4 questions. You selected one of them and follow up by not answering it?

    There simply must be a reason why constructors perform tasks. Something has to drive them. So, why not answer my simple question?

    Why do constructors perform tasks?

    Hint: “I have no clue at all” is also an answer.

  115. 115
    daveS says:

    CR,

    First, I don’t know anything about constructor theory at all.

    But after skimming a little information here and there, am I on the right track with this thinking: As an analogy, there are many formulations of QM, for example formulations in terms of path integrals or matrices. Does constructor theory “simply” provide another setting in which you can formulate physical theories?

    I get the impression that your interlocutors believe constructor theory is some wacky idea, but if my understanding is at least close to correct, it doesn’t appear to be so.

  116. 116
    critical rationalist says:

    @origines

    Again, constructor theory is not a theory of everything. Yet, it is more fundamental than our most fundamental physical theories in the current conception of physics.

    Furthermore, what you’re looking for is specific to individual subsidiary theories. I cannot list and develop subsidiary theories of every current scientific theory, in addition to theories that do not yet exist.

    So, you’re question is not possible to answer. Constructor theory is the theory that we can developer subsidiary theories for all scientific theories. But we have yet to develop every scientific theory. The “why” would be in all of those theories, including those we have yet to develop.

  117. 117
    Origenes says:

    CR @

    Again, constructor theory is not a theory of everything.

    You keep repeating that over and over. I did not claim that is was. I do not care about that at all. If it is of any help to you:

    I declare that I do not believe that constructor theory is a theory of everything.

    Now can we get passed that?

    Furthermore, what you’re looking for is specific to individual subsidiary theories. … So, you’re question is not possible to answer.

    Okay, since you cannot answer why, in general, constructors perform tasks, can you at least give one example of a specific constructor and tell me why it performs it task? A kettle heating water perhaps?

  118. 118
    Origenes says:

    CR does not want to tell us that constructors and their tasks depend on matter & law. Why not? Because he, like Deutsch, wants constructors to be “more fundamental”

    From Deutsch’s paper:

    Deutsch: Constructor theory seeks to express all fundamental scientific theories in terms of a dichotomy between possible and impossible physical transformations – those that can be caused to happen and those that cannot. This is a departure from the prevailing conception of fundamental physics which is to predict what will happen from initial conditions and laws of motion.

    If physical transformations are fully determined by initial conditions & laws, then the same goes for what is possible and impossible. IOWs the initial state and laws determine what will happen and “what will happen” is the exact same thing as “what is possible” — and “all other outcomes” would be “what is impossible.”

    So, given causal determinism, there is no “departure” from the prevailing conception of
    fundamental physics at all:
    1. Possible transformations = what will happen according to physics.
    2. Impossible transformations = anything other than what will happen according to physics.

    Note that, according to CR , constructor theory is compatible with determinism.

    Deutsch: Very few such transformations happen spontaneously; that is to say, almost all require a constructor, which I shall define as anything that can cause transformations in physical systems without undergoing any net change in its ability to do so. I shall call those physical systems the constructor’s substrates:
    input state of substrate(s) —> constructor —> output state of substrate(s).

    A transformation, regarded as being caused by a constructor, I call a construction.

    What is being said here? We learn that constructors have physical substrates. So, given physical reductionism, constructors are reducible to the physical. If so, what does it mean to say that constructors cause transformations in physical systems? Constructors depend on physical substrates & laws and are physical themselves, so what is Deutsch saying beyond “physical stuff causes transformations in physical stuff”?

    Deutsch: It may be that construction tasks are the primitive entities in terms of which the laws of nature are expressed. In that case, a ‘set of ordered pairs of states’ would be only a provisional way of conceiving of tasks: ultimately substrates, states and transformations would be understood in terms of tasks, not vice versa.

    This is simply incoherent. Let’s break it down:

    Deutsch: It may be that construction tasks are the primitive entities in terms of which the laws of nature are expressed.

    Constructors, as we already learned, depend on physical substrates & laws, so, since nothing can cause itself, it is logically impossible that any aspect of constructors (such as its task) can cause the laws of nature.

    Deutsch: … ultimately substrates, states and transformations would be understood in terms of tasks, not vice versa.

    Same thing here: constructors depend on physical substrates & laws, so they cannot be the explanation of its substrates & laws.

    Final note: if constructor tasks are emergent properties, it is equally incoherent to state that an emergent property causes the substrate & laws from which it emerges.

  119. 119
    critical rationalist says:

    Haven’t forgot about you. I have been blocked on a project by a client and they just dumped everyone in my lap.

    Furthermore, example “why”s have already presented in the three papers I referenced so, apparently, you’re still having difficulty grasping how constructor theory is a genuinely new mode of explanation, which is fundamentally different than the current conception of physics. Repeating them again will be unlikely to help, so I’m trying to figure out how to address that.

    To summarize, constructor theory isn’t about constructors. It’s about breaking down transformations into tasks with inputs and outputs. A subsidiary theory says these specific laws of nature makes this tasks possible, these laws of nature make these transformation impossible, which is why, when presented with these inputs something (an abstract constructor) can produce these outputs again and again.

    So, to use an example, it’s not about determining where an asteroid will be at some time in future, because we know its initial conditions and apply laws of motion. Constructor theory is about where an asteroid can be made to go using resources, such as rockets, fuel and even knowledge.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=8DH2xwIYuT0

  120. 120
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    So, given causal determinism, there is no “departure” from the prevailing conception of fundamental physics at all:

    The departure is from how we explain things in the prevailing conception of physics. Not that physics is somehow different in constructor theory.

    We learn that constructors have physical substrates.

    […]

    Constructors, as we already learned, depend on physical substrates….

    […]

    Same thing here: constructors depend on physical substrates & laws, so they cannot be the explanation of substrates.

    No, constructors transform physical substrates.

    They are not the explanations of substrates in some ultimate sense. Again, you’re expecting it to be a theory of everything. It’s not. It’s a new mode of explanation.

    We’re not trying to solve the same problems.

    Are you claiming the current conception of physics the only valid mode of explanation? If so, how have you justified that claim?

  121. 121
    critical rationalist says:

    @daveS

    But after skimming a little information here and there, am I on the right track with this thinking: As an analogy, there are many formulations of QM, for example formulations in terms of path integrals or matrices. Does constructor theory “simply” provide another setting in which you can formulate physical theories?

    In a sense, yes. But it is a new mode of explanation as opposed the current conception of physics. It underlies our most fundamental theories, such as quantum mechanics and general relativity. Its about principles, which are laws about laws. Somewhat like our current principles of thermodynamics in which it is thought that all laws must conform to.

  122. 122
    Origenes says:

    CR @120

    CR: No, constructors transform physical substrates.

    Yes, and given that constructors are physical themselves, that amounts to the unremarkable claim: “the physical transforms the physical”.

    CR: They [constructor tasks] are not the explanations of substrates in some ultimate sense.

    Well, Deutsch does not agree with you when he says that they are explanations of substrates — here is the relevant quote again:

    Deutsch: … ultimately substrates, states and transformations would be understood in terms of tasks, not vice versa.

    So, Deutsch doesn’t think that it is logically impossible for a constructor & task to create itself, by causing its own substrate.

    CR: Are you claiming the current conception of physics the only valid mode of explanation?

    No, my claim is that constructors & tasks cannot be foundational to the physical layer on which it sits.

  123. 123
    Origenes says:

    follow-up #122 //

    To be clear:

    If at time t, (substrate) A causes (constructor & task) B, then it is not possible for B to cause A — given that time-travel is not an option.

    Put another way:
    If A is foundational to the existence of B (if B can only exist because A exists), then B cannot be foundational to A’s existence.

  124. 124
    Origenes says:

    Deutsch’s paper is a treasure trove for students of incoherent thought:

    Deutsch: Moreover, the prevailing conception itself is not consistent about that issue, for the idea of a universal law is part of it too, and the empirical content of such a law is in what it forbids by way of testable outcomes (Popper 1959, §31 & §35) – in other words in what transformations it denies can be caused to happen, including to measuring instruments in any possible laboratories. Explanatory theories with such counterfactual implications are more fundamental than predictions of what will happen.

    Nonsense. Of course, they are not more fundamental. Given that you know what will happen, by implication you know what will not happen. It is simple : A —> B. What is not going to happen? ~B. In fact, the only way to know ~B is by knowing B.
    Besides it far more efficient to say that B is going to happen, then to provide an extensive “forbidden-list” of all things that are “~ B”.

    Deutsch: For example, consider the difference between saying that a purported perpetual motion machine cannot be made to work as claimed ‘because that would violate a conservation law’ and that it won’t work ‘because that axle exerts too small a torque on the wheel’. Both explanations are true, but the former rules out much more, and an inventor who understood only the latter might waste much more time trying to cause the transformation in question by modifying the machine.

    The same nonsense. The notion “because that would violate a conservation law” rests entirely on our understanding of what a conservation law (positively) does. By understanding that it causes B, it follows logically that any ~B is not an option. Again, there is no other way to know ~B than by knowing B.
    Amazingly, Deutsch, like many things, has it backwards: he seems to think that charges in clouds cause lightning, because teapots, ladies’ undergarments, computers, horses and junk-food are forbidden.

  125. 125
    critical rationalist says:

    Again, you still seem to be confused. It’s all about what changes we can bring about. Describing a possible deltas we can bring about, as opposed to being based on some initial conditions and laws of nature.

    Very few such transformations happen spontaneously; that is to say, almost all require a constructor, which I shall define as anything that can cause transformations in physical systems without undergoing any net change in its ability to do so. I shall call those physical systems the constructor’s substrates:

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . constructor
    input state of substrate(s) ______> output state of substrate(s). (1)

    A transformation, regarded as being caused by a constructor, I call a construction.

    IOW, parts that causes transformations and can cause that change again, since the key parts that result in those transformations do not undergo change themselves in the process, are constructors. The other parts, which actually undergoes those transformations, are substrates.

    This is significantly more than stating “the physical transforms the physical”

    Constructors appear under various names in physics and other fields. For instance, in thermodynamics, a heat engine is a constructor because of the condition that it be capable of ‘operating in a cycle’. But they do not currently appear in laws of physics.

    Indeed, there is no possible role for them in what I shall call the prevailing conception of fundamental physics, which is roughly as follows: everything physical is composed of elementary constituents such as particles, fields and spacetime; there is an initial state of those constituents; and laws of motion determine how the state evolves continuously thereafter. In contrast, a construction (1) is characterized only by its inputs and outputs, and involves subsystems (the constructor and the substrate), playing different roles, and most constructors are themselves composite objects. So, in the prevailing conception, no law of physics could possibly mention them: the whole continuous process of interaction between constructor and substrate is already determined by the universal laws governing their constituents.

    Here, it is explicitly clarified that the interactions between constructor and substrates are determined by universal laws. So, it’s more than that….

    However, the constructor theory that I shall propose in this paper is not primarily the theory of constructions or constructors, as the prevailing conception would require it to be. It is the theory of which transformations

    input state of substrates ? output state of substrates (2)

    can be caused and which cannot, and why. As I shall explain, the idea is that the fundamental questions of physics can all be expressed in terms of those issues, and that the answers do not depend on what the constructor is, so it can be abstracted away, leaving transformations (2) as the basic subject matter of the theory. I shall argue that we should expect such a theory to constitute a fundamental branch of physics with new, universal laws, and to provide a powerful new language for expressing other theories. I shall guess what some of those laws may be, and explore the theory’s potential for solving various problems and achieving various unifications between disparate branches of physics and beyond, and propose a notation that may be useful in developing it.

    The above is the “theory” part of constructor theory.

    I provisionally define a construction task (or ‘task’, for short) as a set of pairs such as (2), each designating a legitimate input state for the task and associating that with a legitimate output state for that input. (So constructor theory might be more accurately called construction task theory, but I think the shorter name is preferable.) A constructor is capable of performing a task A if, whenever it is presented with substrates in a legitimate input state of A , it transforms them to one of the output states that A associates with that input.

    Again, what is key here is the delta between inputs states and output states in regards to substrates, not some ultimate explanation of substrates.

    O: Well, Deutsch does not agree with you when he says that they are explanations of substrates — here is the relevant quote again:

    It may be that construction tasks are the primitive entities in terms of which the laws of nature are expressed. In that case, a ‘set of ordered pairs of states’ would be only a provisional way of conceiving of tasks: ultimately substrates, states and transformations would be understood in terms of tasks, not vice versa.

    Thinks can only be “understood” in an reductionist sense? And, again, as a Popperian, and author that explicitly denies this, constructor theory is not a of everything, which you apparently suddenly do not agree with anymore?

    From this video….

    Not knowing which abstraction in the computer corresponds to which object is like having a bank account and being told your balance is “some number.” Unless you know what number it is, you haven’t expressed the whole of physics.

    Expressing the whole of physics is not the same as being a theory of everything.

    There is a sense in which the top-left cell of Table 1 (computation) contains the whole table (the whole of physics), namely: for every possible motion of every object permitted by the laws of physics, there exist virtual-reality renderings in which the simulated object mimics all the observable properties of the real one with arbitrary accuracy short of perfection. Thus any physically possible process corresponds to some set of computer programs; moreover every program, when running, is a physical process. Does the theory of computation therefore coincide with physics, the study of all possible physical objects and their motions?

    It does not, because the theory of computation does not specify which physical system a particular program renders, and to what accuracy. That requires additional knowledge of the laws of physics. In particular, most programs, if regarded as virtual-reality renderings of physical objects, only render other computers running an equivalent program, and only their computational variables at that. So the theory of computation is only a branch of physics, not vice versa, and constructor theory is the ultimate generalization of the theory of computation.

  126. 126
    critical rationalist says:

    If at time t, (substrate) A causes (constructor & task) B, then it is not possible for B to cause A — given that time-travel is not an option.

    In a system, substrates are the thing that are transformed. Constructor do the transforming when the right inputs are present. They actually exist and are modified.

  127. 127
    critical rationalist says:

    We want to know what transformations we can make happen and why. One such example would be to cure cancer. That can be expressed as a network of possible transformations of substrates by constructors.

    The same can be said for high-fidelity replicating cells. We can model replication as transformations of substrates by constructors. In all cases the system in question can be segmented as constructors and substrates with inputs and outputs.

    In primitive cells, the constructor was just the environment and the cell was the substrate. In current day cells, the network of transformations includes the environment and the cell’s recipe. This transition is made visible and naturally explained in constructor theory because constructors are abstract entities which represent the things that do not change. The network of tasks still contains generic transformations performed by the environment, such as how a builder uses gravity to hold down a board while it is nailed into place.

    During the transition, the identities are not static. The roles of what is the substrate and what is the constructor changes, but replication continues to occur at different levels of accuracy.

  128. 128
    critical rationalist says:

    Correction:

    In a system, substrates are the thing that are transformed. Constructors do the transforming when the right inputs are present. They already exist and are modified.

  129. 129
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Nonsense. Of course, they are not more fundamental.

    Constructor theory underlies general relativity and quantum mechanics. It proposes laws about laws. It’s in this sense that a conception of physics can be more fundamental without being a theory of everything.

  130. 130
    critical rationalist says:

    Besides it far more efficient to say that B is going to happen, then to provide an extensive “forbidden-list” of all things that are “~ B”.

    Yet, you then go on to quote an example that is more efficient at describing what isn’t possible.

    Deutsch: For example, consider the difference between saying that a purported perpetual motion machine cannot be made to work as claimed ‘because that would violate a conservation law’ and that it won’t work ‘because that axle exerts too small a torque on the wheel’. Both explanations are true, but the former rules out much more, and an inventor who understood only the latter might waste much more time trying to cause the transformation in question by modifying the machine.

    The conservation law is a law about lows. But, since it cannot be a law in that sense, because it would make them siblings, it is a principe about laws. So, It would underly all laws in that sense.

    The same nonsense. The notion “because that would violate a conservation law” rests entirely on our understanding of what a conservation law (positively) does.

    Again, you’re assuming they are siblings, in which it case would be circular. But they are not siblings. And you seem to be referring to essences, based on some kind of identity. Something does something because of its identity. But that is essentialism.

  131. 131
    Origenes says:

    CR @

    Deutsch: … most constructors are themselves composite objects. So, in the prevailing conception, no law of physics could possibly mention them: the whole continuous process of interaction between constructor and substrate is already determined by the universal laws governing their constituents.

    CR: Here, it is explicitly clarified that the interactions between constructor and substrates are determined by universal laws. So, it’s more than that….

    Did you miss the “in the prevailing conception” part? Deutsch does not agree with the prevailing conception and proposes his alternative.

    Deutsch: … the idea is that the fundamental questions of physics can all be expressed in terms of those issues, and that the answers do not depend on what the constructor is, so it can be abstracted away, leaving transformations (2) as the basic subject matter of the theory.

    What Deutsch is saying is this: let’s ignore the fact that constructors are physical themselves by ‘abstracting them away’, and next let’s pretend that constructors are fundamental to physics (hahaha!) — instead of dependent on it — and express all fundamental questions of physics in constructor theoretical terms.

    It is simply incoherent.

  132. 132
    critical rationalist says:

    Did you miss the “in the prevailing conception” part? Deutsch does not agree with the prevailing conception and proposes his alternative.

    He doesn’t “agree”? Huh? This is yet another indication that you do not understand constructor theory.

    Saying constructor theory is more fundamental and can genuinely contribute new content doesn’t mean the current conception has not been successful. After all, the theory of quantum mechanics is the most successful theory we have.

    Constructor theory makes a significant contribution precisely because the current conception cannot mention / identify constructors in a system to abstract them – allowing us to focus on what’s left over: substrates and inputs. So, it’s more than just the current conception of physics.

    What Deutsch is saying is this: let’s ignore the fact that constructors are physical themselves by ‘abstracting them away’, and next let’s pretend that constructors are fundamental to physics (hahaha!) — instead of dependent on it — and express all fundamental questions of physics in constructor theoretical terms.

    Except, again, constructor theory isn’t a theory of everything. Constructors are abstract because multiple “things” can be a constructor for the same task.

    For the umpteen time, a theory can be the most fundamental we currently have without being a theory of everything.

  133. 133
    critical rationalist says:

    From this video….

    I used to say that the quantum theory of computation is the whole of physics because of this property. But then I realized that that isn’t quite true, and there’s an important gap in that connection. Namely, although the quantum computer can simulate any other object and can represent any other object so that you can study any object via its characteristic programs, what the quantum theory of computation can’t tell you is which program corresponds to which physical object.

    This might sound like an inessential technicality, but it’s actually of fundamental importance because not knowing which abstraction in the computer corresponds to which object is a little bit like having a bank account and the bank telling you, “Oh, your balance is some number.” Unless you know what number it is, you haven’t really expressed the whole of the physical situation of you and your bank account. Similarly, if you’re only told that your physical system corresponds to some program of the quantum computer, and you haven’t said which, then you haven’t specified to the whole of physics.

    Then I thought, what we need is a generalization of the quantum theory of computation that does say that, that assigns to each program the corresponding real object. That was an early conception of constructor theory, making it directly a generalization of the theory of computation. But then I realized that that’s not quite the way to go because that still tries to cast constructor theory within the same mold as all existing theories and, therefore, it wouldn’t solve this problem of providing an underlying framework. It still would mean that, just as a program has an initial state and then laws of motion (that is, the laws of the operation of the computer) and then a final state (which is the output of the computer), so that way of looking at constructor theory would have simply been a translation of existing physics. It wouldn’t have provided anything new.

    The new thing, which I think is the key to the fact that constructor theory delivers new content, was that the laws of constructor theory are not about an initial state, laws of motion, final state or anything like that. They are just about which transformations are possible and which are impossible. The laws of motion and that kind of thing are indirect remote consequences of just saying what’s possible and what’s impossible. Also the laws of constructor theory are not about the constructor. They’re not about how you do it, only whether you can do it, and this is analogous to the theory of computation.

    The theory of computation isn’t about transistors and wires and input/output devices and so on. It’s about which transformations of information are possible and which aren’t possible. Since we have the universal computer, we know that each possible ones corresponds to a program for a universal computer, but the universal computer can be made in lots of different ways. How you make it is inessential to the deep laws of computation.

    In the case of constructor theory, what’s important is which transformations of physical objects are possible and which are impossible. When they’re possible, you’ll be able to do them in lots of different ways usually. When they’re impossible, that will always be because some law of physics forbids them, and that is why, as Karl Popper said, the content of a physical theory, of any scientific theory, is in what it forbids and also in how it explains what it forbids.

    If you have this theory of what is possible and what is impossible, it implicitly tells you what all the laws of physics are. That basis, very simple basis, is proving very fruitful already, and I have great hopes that various niggling problems and notorious difficulties in existing formulations of physics will be solved by this single idea. It may well take a lot of work to see how, but that’s what I expect, and I think that’s what we’re beginning to see. This is often misunderstood as claiming that only the scientific theories are worth having. Now that, as Popper once remarked, is a silly interpretation. For example, Popper’s own theory is a philosophical theory. He certainly wasn’t saying that was an illegitimate theory.

    Constructors are abstract in the same sense that a universal computer can be made of cogs, transistors, vacuum tubes, etc. How you make them is inessential to the deep laws of computation. Yet there are no non-physical computers or constructors.

  134. 134
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    CR: He doesn’t “agree”? Huh?

    Yes, he doesn’t agree with the prevailing conception. Again:

    Deutsch: … most constructors are themselves composite objects. So, in the prevailing conception, no law of physics could possibly mention them …

    In the prevailing conception there is no place for his constructors. Deutsch does not like that. He does not agree with that. He wants to see that differently. Capiche?

    CR: This is yet another indication that you do not understand constructor theory.

    I am beginning to think that it is you who has a problem with understanding.

    CR: Saying constructor theory is more fundamental and can genuinely contribute new content doesn’t mean the current conception has not been successful.

    Correct. But your point misses the mark, since nobody says it is the same thing; I certainly didn’t.

    CR: Constructors are abstract in the same sense that a universal computer can be made of cogs, transistors, vacuum tubes, etc. How you make them is inessential to the deep laws of computation. Yet there are no non-physical computers or constructors.

    A universal hammer is also “abstract” in the exact same sense.

    CR: Yet there are no non-physical computers or constructors.

    Exactly. The fact that we can make hammers (or computers) from all sorts of materials means that certain specifics are irrelevant to the function, which means that a range of materials can perform that same function. However that specific range of materials is absolutely vital to the function of the hammer — that fact cannot be validly abstracted away. Not being dependent on one single specific matter, but, instead, on a range of materials, doesn’t make the hammer independent from matter, or foundational to matter or “abstract.” The fact that I can use three different types of fuel for my car doesn’t make my car “abstract” in any way.

    CR: For the umpteen time, …. without being a theory of everything.

    And for the umpteenth time: not in my wildest dreams would I hold that this incoherent nonsense is a theory of everything.

  135. 135
    critical rationalist says:

    In the prevailing conception there is no place for his constructors. Deutsch does not like that. He does not agree with that. He wants to see that differently. Capiche?

    Does not like? Does not agree? He wants to see the current conception differently? It’s the current conception, which has limitations. That’s it. What does one likes or agrees with have to do with it?

    Again, constructor theory underlies our most fundamental theories in the current conception of physics, which includes general relativity and quantum mechanics. And, in turn, our current conception of general relativity underlies other theories, etc.

    To have principles about laws implies there are laws to have principles about. it’s unclear how could “not agree” or not like something that would be obey those principles.

  136. 136
    critical rationalist says:

    However that specific range of materials is absolutely vital to the function of the hammer — that fact cannot be validly abstracted away. Not being dependent on one single specific matter, but, instead, on a range of materials, doesn’t make the hammer independent from matter, or foundational to matter or “abstract.” The fact that I can use three different types of fuel for my car doesn’t make my car “abstract” in any way.

    Constructor theory is the generalization of the theory of quantum computation. What does the theory of quantum computation imply? Any object can simulate any other object, including a hammer.

    So it is about what is possible an why (“knowing how”.)

    It’s in this sense that saying something is possible is significant. We can bring it about if we have the “why”. And it will be possible in many different ways. Unless something is forbidden by the laws of physics, the only thing that could prevent us from achieving it is knowing how.

    So, it’s about knowledge, not the constructor.

    It’s as if you think things serve a purpose because they were created with some kind “essence” about them that has nothing to do with knowing how.

  137. 137
    Origenes says:

    Deutsch mentions it ‘in passing’: “… most constructors are themselves composite objects”. This means the glaringly obvious: constructors come from matter & law and obviously depend on the substrates that make them.
    It follows, as clear as day, that constructors cannot be fundamental to physics. This is clearly incoherent, yet it is exactly what constructor theory proposes — see #118.

    In post #102 I asked CR four questions. What followed was multiple posts CR not answering those questions.
    In post #118 I concluded that:

    CR does not want to tell us that constructors and their tasks depend on matter & law. Why not? Because he, like Deutsch, wants constructors to be “more fundamental”

    The kind reader knows that I am correct, see Deutsch’s admission above. What was CR’s response?

    CR #120: No, constructors transform physical substrates.

    So, let us get this straight: I say “constructors and their tasks depend on matter & law” and Deutsch says: “most constructors are themselves composite objects”, which means the same thing.
    But CR’s response is “No.

    Combined with not answering my questions, this tells me to stop debating with CR.

  138. 138
    critical rationalist says:

    @origenes

    The very definition of a constructor is part of a physical system that can perform a transformation without undergoing an overal net physical change itself. It’s that lack of change that, in part, allows the constructor to perform that transformation again. And if it is a composite, then the entire compositon needs to, at a minimum, phyiscally end up back in the state where it started at the end of the transformation.

    On the other hand, substrates are part of a physical system that we want to transform. The goal is to cause lasting change. A constructor cannot be a substrate because substrates change. Constructors effectively do not.

    In a task, some waste products can be part of the output. The waste is a byproduct of the construction, not the substrate, even though it would represent a change in some sense. We don’t intentonally want to bring the waste product about. But we could just as well divide the system up so that same waste product is the desired result. So, what is waste and what is the substrate can be exchanged depending on what the task is.

    I do not want to tell you that constructors are more fundamental because that would be a misrepresentation.

    That would be like saying “Constructor theory’s constructors are more fundamental.” Which isn’t what Deutsch is saying.

    Rather, constructor theory is more fundimental than any of our existing theories. It would underly all other existing theories in the current conception of physics.

    Yes, there is no room for constructors in the current conception of physics. That’s because the current conception is limited to descriptions that take the form of initial conditions and laws of motion. There is no way to divide up a physical system as constructors, substrates and inputs / outputs.

    It is in this sense that constructor theory is genuinely a new mode of explanation and is more fundamental that explantions in the current conception of physics.

  139. 139
    critical rationalist says:

    Quantum mechanics represents a more fundamental theory of physics than classical physics. This doesn’t mean that quantum physics is not a theory of physics at all. It is a more fundamental theory of physics. Classical physics cannot describe physical systems at the very small scale. So, it cannot make exact statements about information in quantum systems.

    The constructor theory of information “works” (scales) across both classical and quantum systems because constructor theory is a new mode of information that represents a more fundamental theory of physics.

  140. 140
    Dionisio says:

    No known theories -whatever their names- can seriously and coherently explain the appearance of a single bacteria or a eukaryotic multicellular system, for example.
    Other opinions are gossiping chat for pop tabloids.

  141. 141
    critical rationalist says:

    Of course. God did it and God cannot be explained. So the appearance of things that God did must remain inexplicable. Otherwise, God couldn’t have done it.

  142. 142

    Still unable to offer a single real-world example, eh CR?

    (#46, #47, #51, #57, #58, #73, #75, #78, #82, #83, #87, #89, #94, #98)

    No?

  143. 143
    Dionisio says:

    @141

    Wrong! Totally wrong!

    God, revealed to His people in the Christian scriptures, is not a “god of the gaps”, but the God of the whole show.

    If God were anything close to what atheists describe, I would be the leader of worldwide atheism. 🙂

    Thank God that’s not the case. Far from it. Completely different.

    The known -not the unknown- clearly points to complex functionally specified informational complexity, which has been empirically proven to be solely the product of an intelligent mind.

    The unknown only serves as a strong motivation to keep researching.

    Oh, well, the unknown also serves as the badly needs gaps Neo-Darwinism relies on while still hoping to someday find some kind of explanations.

    Note that the problems we see around wouldn’t have existed had we remained in Eden. But we chose not to, because we prefer to do things our ways, like in Paul Anka’s famous song, popularized by Frank Sinatra, whose rendition stayed 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record still today.
    That song, along with John Lennon’s “Imagine” made the favorite hymn in Hades.

  144. 144
    Dionisio says:

    Upright BiPed @142

    Don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, if at all.

  145. 145
    critical rationalist says:

    @Dionisio

    Some things are the way they are because “that’s just what some inexplicable mind that exists in an inexplicable realm that operates by inexplicable means and methods for reasons we cannot comprehend, wanted them to be that way” is a good explanation?

    Note that the problems we see around wouldn’t have existed had we remained in Eden.

    It’s not even clear that we were in “Eden”. Nor have you explained how you know what God is like.

    Q1: How have you infallibly identified an infallible source of what God is like?

    Q2: Assuming you somehow managed that, how have you managed to infallibly interpreted this infallible source of what God is like?

  146. 146
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    The question is irrelevant. And, unlike you, Ive pointed out what it is irrelevant, rather than just asserting it.

    It’s irrelevant because, without a theory of information that scales, all you have is a claim of irreducible complexity. A bacterial flagellum is based on an arrangement of matter. It does not “work” in the absence of that arrangement. That too is a claim of irreducible complexity.

    Unless you have a theory of information that says all information must be interpreted in the sense you’re implying, or it’s not information, then all you have is a claim of irreducible complexity. And we all know how well that turned out in the case of the bacterial flagellum.

    Not to mention that News referenced an article indicated a significant amount of previously unknown functionality in RNA. That doesn’t bode well for any irreducible complexity argument.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/viruses-hijack-junk-non-coding-rna-turns-out-many-non-coding-functions-have-not-been-identified/

    Of course, I’ve added for such a theory of information before. Far more times that you’ve asked for an example. Yet you still haven’t provided one.

    So what gives?

  147. 147
    ET says:

    Wait- all bacteria flagella are irreducibly complex AND there aren’t any stochastic processes that can produce one.

    Not to mention that News referenced an article indicated a significant amount of previously unknown functionality in RNA. That doesn’t bode well for any irreducible complexity argument.

    That doesn’t follow. Clearly you don’t have a clue as to what IC is. Not only that you don’t have an explanation for functional RNAs.

  148. 148
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR @ 146
    “The question is irrelevant.”

    I will translate from CR-speak into plain English: UB, the answer to the question destroys my argument; therefore, I will refuse to address the point you raise and write literally thousands of words on other subjects hoping no one notices.

    CR, you are a piece of work. Thank you though. With enemies like you . . .

  149. 149

    CR, your counter-argument is that the semiotic model does not scale to a “quantum storage medium”. But a quantum storage medium is part of a semiotic system (just as I told you months ago).

    You now realize this, but you are intellectually incapable of acknowledging errors in your theory, so you’ve chosen to simply refuse to give an specific example of a quantum storage medium because it would immediately invalidate your claim.

  150. 150
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    CR, your counter-argument is that the semiotic model does not scale to a “quantum storage medium”. But a quantum storage medium is part of a semiotic system (just as I told you months ago).

    That’s not my counter argument. Let me repeat it for you.

    Unless you have a theory of information that says all information must be interpreted in the sense you’re implying, or it’s not information, then all you have is a claim of irreducible complexity. And we all know how well that turned out in the case of the bacterial flagellum.

    Is there something about the above that you do not understand?

    You now realize this, but you are intellectually incapable of acknowledging errors in your theory, so you’ve chosen to simply refuse to give an specific example of a quantum storage medium because it would immediately invalidate your claim.

    This has been my argument from the start. You’re just now realizing it.

    If there is anything I’ve “just realized”, is that your argument is simply a claim of irreducible complexity.

    Let me try yet again.

    01. Based on theory C, we think information is limited to X, Y and Z.

    02. Oh look. Theory C has problems. If C refers to Shannon’s theory It has a curricular definition of distinguishability, even in classical systems.

    03. Theory C also requires a specific transformations to occur (cloning), but those specific transformations in quantum systems are impossible (violates the laws of quantum physics).

    04. There is quantum information. So, there must be a more fundamental theory information that works even when those transformations (cloning) is in impossible in quantum systems.

    03. If only we had a way to bring information into fundamental physics theories?

    04. Constructor theory of information (Q) does just this and, in doing so, solves both problems above.

    05 Based on theory Q, we no longer think information is limited to X, Y and Z. Nor do we think it needs knowing subjects, etc.

    06. Your argument becomes a claim of irreducible complexity.

    Of course, I can’t even tell if your theory of information is based on Shannon’s because you still haven’t provided one. Despite being asked to. Repeatedly.

  151. 151

    UB: CR, your counter-argument is that the semiotic model does not scale to a “quantum storage medium”. But a quantum storage medium is part of a semiotic system (just as I told you months ago).

    CR: That’s not my counter argument.

    CR, congratulations, in your quest to protect your theory from valid criticism, you’ve graduated from mere dissembling and deception, to telling outright falsehoods.

    ”Just as the scope of Newton’s laws does not scale to very high velocities required to build GPS satellites, your “theory of information” does not scale to the level of quantum storage mediums”critical rationalist, Nov 6, 2017

    The quote above was posted to me by someone commenting under the name “critical rationalist”. Are you not that “critical rationalist”? Are you a different critical rationalist? Are you asking us to believe that there is another critical rationalist posting here?

    If not, then you clearly made your claim (many many times, ad nauseam). Do you not remember harping for weeks about Newton’s law’s not scaling to general relativity, and demanding that I respond?

    Or perhaps you will want to claim that this quote is too old?

    Here is a later example:

    “your “theory of information” does not scale to quantum storage mediums”critical rationalist, Nov 8, 2017

    And yet example another (weeks) later:

    “UB’s theory of information is an approximation which does not scale”.critical rationalist, Nov 29, 2017

    And another example, later still:

    “UB’s theory of information does not scale”critical rationalist, Dec 6, 2017

    And even another example from this very thread:

    “Since your theory of information does not scale”critical rationalist, Dec 9, 2017

    Your claim has been answered CR. It is false. You’ll have to learn to accept it. Your counter example of a quantum storage medium requires semiosis to function. Just as I told you, months ago.

  152. 152
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Apparently, you still haven’t got it.

    03. Theory C also requires a specific transformations to occur (cloning), but those specific transformations in quantum systems are impossible (violates the laws of quantum physics).

    C cannot make exact statements about information in quantum systems because those transformations are not possible in quantum mechanics.. As such, it does not scale to quantum mechanics.

    I’ve used this terminology before in the case of Newton’s laws and even the laws of thermodynamics. This is nothing new.

    It’s not even clear that you’ve provided a theory of information. I keep asking one and you keep falling to provide one. “I’ve even suggested Shannon’s, which you seem to suggest has nothing to do with it. There are symbols in the genome” is not a physical theory of information.

    IOW, you seem to think by presenting an incomplete theory of information that fails to address cloning at all, this somehow makes your incomplete theory of information immune to the problem of cloning in quantum systems.

  153. 153

    you still haven’t got it.

    If by “not getting it” you mean I watched with everyone else while you publically sawed off the branch you were sitting on, then yeah, I didn’t get it.

    A quantum storage medium is a semiotic system, CR. Get over it.

    cheers 🙂

  154. 154
    critical rationalist says:

    By “not getting it” I mean what I wrote in my comment.

    IOW, you seem to think by presenting an incomplete theory of information that fails to address cloning at all, this somehow makes your incomplete theory of information immune to the problem of cloning in quantum systems.

    Perhaps you have forgotten that you asked what is physically necessary for information to exist in a storage medium. If you didn’t want the answer, then why bother asking? Apparently, you disagree with what is necessary for information to exist, yet you lack any specific criticism of the answer you were provided.

    Again, you haven’t actually presented a comprehensive physical theory of information. That is unless you think information just magically appeared in organisms, And you ignore the fact that recipe (information) must be copied when a cell self-replicates, per Von Neumann. And there is the interoperability principle that defines what tasks must be possible to for symbols to exist.

    To be clear, that entails a theory of information that is more fundamental that symbols. This is why you’re left with merely a claim of irreducible complexity, with all of it’s flaws. And that claim fails because knowledge in constructor theory is a new mode of explanation that scales to include a unification of information in both classical and quantum systems. And it does not need a knowing subject. What tasks are possible, what tasks are impossible and why is knowledge.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FarXx3IVgws

    This allows us to explain the kinds of transformations necessary for cells to replicate in various levels of fidelity. And even exactly describe transformations in current day cells as a network of tasks with subtasks that eventually reach generic transformations that are not replication specific. We don’t need to bring symbols into the mix at this level. Nor do we require knowing subjects, intention, anthropomorphic meaning, etc.

    (I’m baffled as to why you think someone presenting a theory of information that (1) explains what is necessary for symbols to exist and (2) does so across both classical and quantum systems would somehow think symbols are impossible in quantum systems. I mean, if you actually thought this, it’s right there in the theory itself. And it would be trivial to point how that assumption would conflict with the theory I was presenting. )

    The translation system doesn’t just make proteins. Specific aspects of it aspects of it It consist of information It must be copyable. And if it is copiable, that means there must be specific physical tasks that are necessary for information to be passible at all.

    Nor is constructor theory about the idea that something is merely possible in some naive sense. See this video about removing probability, incluidng the concept of credence, from science.

  155. 155

    CR, when you are able to acknowledge that storing information in a “quantum storage medium” is a semiotic system, we can continue this conversation.

  156. 156
    critical rationalist says:

    You mean like I’m able to acknowledging rockets can be launched into space by pretending Newton’s laws are true, in reality?

    Is that a problem for general relativity, which suggest that something completely different is happening there in reality?

    I can also acknowledge that you can plant a small garden pretending the flat earth theory is true. For the most part, you’ll be just fine, even though it suggests something completely different is happening there, in reality, as well. That is, until you tried to take it seriously, in that we do not need to worry about, say, the impact of astroids, etc.

    Can we continue now?

  157. 157
    Mung says:

    critical rationalist:

    Can we continue now?

    Do you know what a semiotic system is?

  158. 158
    critical rationalist says:

    @mung

    Do you know what a semiotic system is?

    Do you know what is physically necessary for symbols to be possible in both classical and quantum systems?

  159. 159
    Dionisio says:

    .

  160. 160
    Dionisio says:

    UB,

    I haven’t read any of these papers.
    Are you familiar with any of them?
    Thanks.

    The Convergence of the Philosophy and Science of Information
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joseph_Brenner2/publication/300245400_The_Convergence_of_the_Philosophy_and_Science_of_Information/links/573f346508ae9ace8413403b/The-Convergence-of-the-Philosophy-and-Science-of-Information.PDF

    Philosophy of Information: Revolution in Philosophy. Towards an Informational Metaphilosophy of Science
    http://www.mdpi.com/2409-9287/2/4/22/pdf

    Philosophy Of Information: Revolution in Philosophy
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joseph_Brenner2/publication/318581089_Philosophy_Of_Information_Revolution_in_Philosophy/links/5a3008eb458515a13d852d84/Philosophy-Of-Information-Revolution-in-Philosophy.pdf

    Cognitive Informatics: From Information Revolution to Intelligence Revolution
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yingxu_Wang/publication/283753244_Cognitive_Informatics_From_Information_Revolution_to_Intelligence_Revolution/links/564c0df608ae4ae893b82076/Cognitive-Informatics-From-Information-Revolution-to-Intelligence-Revolution.pdf
    Measures of Information
    http://www.mdpi.com/2078-2489/6/1/23/

    Information and Inference
    http://www.mdpi.com/2078-2489/8/2/61/pdf

    Information and Meaning
    http://www.mdpi.com/2078-2489/7/3/41/

    Digital Information and Value
    http://www.mdpi.com/2078-2489/6/4/733/pdf

    Information and Semiosis in Living Systems: A Semiotic Approach
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joao_Queiroz2/publication/216816466_Information_and_Semiosis_in_Living_Systems_A_Semiotic_Approach/links/0a2f01a37a4213d42dbcce4e/Information-and-Semiosis-in-Living-Systems-A-Semiotic-Approach.pdf

  161. 161
    critical rationalist says:

    @Mung

    Do you know what a semiotic system is?

    Again, since we have a more fundamental theory of information, at best, UB has a *claim* of irreducible complexity in the case of the translation system. But that has all of the hallmarks of all irreducible complexity claims. It’s based on ignorance.

    For example, News posted a story about describing all kinds of unknown functionality in RNA explored by viruses. But that’s still stuck in the current conception.

    The constructor theory of life describes the cell as a network of replication specific tasks that eventually transition to generic tasks. So the entire transition from the environment replicating primitive cells to current day cells is already right there, which we can identify by constructor theory. It’s happening right now in each of our bodies. There just was no way to segment physical systems into a constructor, substrate and input/outputs in the current conceptions of physics.

  162. 162
    critical rationalist says:

    The funny thing is, UB is referring to segmenting physical systems into a Semiotic triad (which virtually no one think leads to the conclusion of ID, anyway)

    I’m pointing out there is a more fundamental way to segment physical systems into a generic constructor, substrate and input/outputs. Someone could just as well make the claim that any such segmentation repents an irreducible complex system as well. In fact, knowledge is information that is well adapted to play a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. Constructor theory is about knowledge.

    Yet, when presented with this more fundamental mode of explanation, UB seems to have some affinity for continuing to segment the translation system, in particular, into a Semiotic triad that he has yet to argue for.

    Knowledge is a constructor because it can play that role again and again due to being retained when copied. The causal role it plays is as being a constructor.

    2.15 Knowledge
    The most important kind of abstract constructor is knowledge. Knowledge is information which, once it is physically instantiated in a suitable environment, tends to cause itself to remain so: it survives criticism, testing, random noise, and error- correction. (Here I am adopting Popper’s (1972) conception of knowledge, in which there need be no knowing subject.) For example, the knowledge encoded in an organism’s DNA consists of abstract genes that cause the environment to transform raw materials into another instance of the organism, and thereby to keep those abstract genes, and not mutations or other variants of them, physically instantiated, despite the mutation and natural selection that keep happening. Similarly, the ideas constituting the abstract constructor for preserving the ship of Theseus would have had to include not only some relatively arbitrary information about the historical shape of the ship, but also knowledge of how to cause Athenians to preserve those ideas themselves through the generations, and to reject rival ideas.

    Now consider again the set of all physically possible transformations. For almost every such transformation, the story of how it could happen is the story of how knowledge might be created and applied to cause it. Part of that story is, in almost all cases, the story of how people (intelligent beings) would create that knowledge, and of why they would retain the proposal to apply it in that way while rejecting or amending rival proposals (so a significant determinant is moral knowledge). Hence, from the constructor-theoretic perspective, physics is almost entirely the theory of the effects that knowledge (abstract constructors) can have on the physical world, via people. But again, the prevailing conception conceals this.

    So, where did that knowledge come from in the case of the genome? That’s where Neo-darwnisism comes in. The constructor theory of life supplements it. That knowledge it is genuinely created over time, rather than having always existed at the outset or having spontaneously appeared in organisms when they were created, etc.

    We can transition from the environment as constructor of a primitive cell to the genome as a constructor, and the gradation between them. This is natural in constructor theory because the cell can be described as a network of replication specific tasks with subtasks and subtasks that eventually end up in non-replication specific tasks.

  163. 163

    A truly sad sad day. Hugh Masekela passes.

    https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/23/hugh-masekela-obituary

    Absolutely one of the all-time greats, and a lovely gentle man.

    Rest in peace Bra Hugh!

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