Is this a new form of panpsychism?:
In fascinating new research, cosmologists explain the history of the universe as one of self-teaching, autodidactic algorithms. The scientists, including physicists from Brown University and the Flatiron Institute, say the universe has probed all the possible physical laws before landing on the ones we observe around us today. Could this wild idea help inform scientific research to come?Caroline Delbert, “The Universe Is a Machine That Keeps Learning, Scientists Say” at Popular Mechanics
Umm… well, what do you propose to do with “this wild idea”?
Here’s how it works: Our universe observes a whole bunch of laws of physics, but the researchers say other possible laws of physics seem equally likely, given the way mathematics works in the universe. So if a group of candidate laws were equally likely, then how did we end up with the laws we really have?Caroline Delbert, “The Universe Is a Machine That Keeps Learning, Scientists Say” at Popular Mechanics
To make the idea of the universe learning work, Delbert, of course, invokes Darwin:
Evolution is already a kind of learning, so when we suggest the universe has used natural selection as part of the realization of physics, we’re invoking that specific kind of learning. (Does something have to have consciousness in order to learn? You need to carefully define learning in order to make that the case. Organisms and systems constantly show learning outcomes, like more success or a higher rate of reproduction.)Caroline Delbert, “The Universe Is a Machine That Keeps Learning, Scientists Say” at Popular Mechanics
Granted, life forms do not need consciousness in order to learn, depending on how we define learning. But a claim that inanimate matter “learns” is a much further bridge. It amounts to a radical form of panpsychism attempting to pass as cosmic Darwinism.
It sounds as though some would like to hold onto the name of Darwinism while — in reality — adopting panpsychism. That would be consistent with other trends we’ve noted.
The paper is open access. We are apprised that it is very long.