Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Back to Basics of ID

Origenes finds a handy “big number” calculator

In the isolated islands of function thread, Origenes cited the exact value of one of a big number. GP asked, how did you do it, as Excel and R are overwhelmed at that sort of level. Origenes answered: Origenes, 104: >> . . . I found this website: https://defuse.ca/big-number-calculator.htm >> Now, I have routinely used logs and high-capacity hardware calculators [e.g. HP 50] or software ones [X-Calc and Emu-48], but obviously these give rounded answers. I popped over to the linked page (now on speed dial, of course), and so — for reference: KF, 106: >>2^500 = 3 273 390 607 896 141 870 013 189 696 827 599 152 216 642 046 043 064 789 483 291 368 096 Read More ›

What is design and why is it relevant?

For some time now, GP has had up a post on defending intelligent design. In following its discussion off and on (it’s budget season here), I see that the definition of design is on the table for discussion. I think I can help (and while I am at it — just noticed, contribute to BA’s dissection of the Only Human Intelligence Allowed fallacy), and I think it worthwhile to headline a comment: KF, 310: >> it seems the definition of design is up again as an issue. The simplest summary I can give is: intelligently directed configuration, or if someone does not get the force of “directed,” we may amplify slightly: intelligently, intentionally directed configuration. This phenomenon is a commonplace, Read More ›

JAD on “Self-Replicating Machines and OoL”

Here at UD, we often have commenters whose remarks are well worth headlining. Here, we have JAD in action, suggesting to GP: “Here is something you might consider as a seed for a future topic for a future OP.” Yup, and even as an embryonic thought, it is well worth posting — a first, rough draft on a big topic: >>The origin of life is like the origin of the universe. It appears to be a singular, non-repeating, highly improbable event which occurred very early in earth’s history. Furthermore, all the clues of how and why it occurred have been lost. But then added to that problem are other problems: how does chemistry create code? What is required to create Read More ›

How do memristors work? [Onward implications for Strong AI.]

Memristors are in effect tunable resistors; where a resistive state can be programmed [and changed, so far a very finite number of times]. This means they can store and process information, especially by carrying out weighted-product summations and vector-based matrix array product summations. Such are very powerful physically instantiated mathematical operations. For example, here is a memristor crossbar matrix: . . . and here is one in use to recognise patterns:   They hold promise for AI, high density storage units and more. How they work turns out to be a bit of a challenge, as IEEE Spectrum reported in 2015: >>Over the last decade researchers have produced two commercially promising types of memristors: electrochemical metallization memory (ECM) cells, and Read More ›

Fun with the hyperreal numbers (and with the idea of an infinite actual past)

The hyperreals are an extension of the real number line that brings to bear a reciprocal relationship between the very large and the very small. By so introducing extensions to the real number continuum, it forms a base for an infinitesimals approach to the calculus and makes sense of a lot of the tricks used by early pioneers of Calculus from Leibniz and Newton to Euler and beyond. (Though, it is clear in retrospect that they missed a lot of the pathologies that are now part of the far more cautious approaches of today.) And yes, here is a case where Wikipedia does some good (likely, in a context where there are few basement trolls capable of making a mess): Read More ›

Why look at AI-linked themes — what is the relevance to ID as a scientific enterprise?

One of the key ideas and driving assumptions of modern evolutionary materialistic scientism is that mind can be explained on brain without residue. In an extreme form, we can see it in Crick’s the Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. Philip Johnson, of course, replied the next year, Read More ›

A note on state space search challenge

As was recently discussed, contrary to objections being made, the concept of blind search and linked search challenge in a configuration or state space is a reasonable and even recognised concept. As we explore this concept a little more, an illustration may be helpful: With this in mind, we may again look at Dembski’s arrow and target illustration from NFL, p. 11: Now, let us ponder again Wiki on state space search: >>State space search is a process used in the field of computer science, including artificial intelligence (AI), in which successive configurations or states of an instance are considered, with the intention of finding a goal state with a desired property. Problems are often modelled as a state space, Read More ›

AI, state/configuration space search and the ID search challenge

In his well-known work, No Free Lunch, p. 11, ID Researcher William A Dembski has illustrated the search challenge concept in terms of an arrow hitting a target amidst a reference class of possibilities. In so doing, he reaches back to the statistical mechanical and mathematical concept of a phase space “cut down” to address configurations only (leaving out momentum), aka state space.  He then goes on to speak in terms of probabilities, observing: >>. . . in determining whether an event is sufficiently improbable or complex to implicate design, the relevant probability is not that of the event [= E] itself. In the archery example, that probability corresponds to the size of the arrowhead point in relation to the Read More ›

Answering DiEb: Just what is “search” in a sense relevant to ID?

For some time now, objector DiEb has been raising the question, what do we mean by speaking of “search” in the context of evolutionary search. At 311 in the parody thread, she [IIRC] remarks: >>Search is a central term in the work of Dr. Dr. William Dembski jr, Dr. Winston Ewert, and Dr. Robert Marks II (DEM): it appears in the title of a couple of papers written by at least two of the authors, and it is mentioned hundreds of times in their textbook “Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics“. Strangely – and in difference from the other central term information, it is not defined in this textbook, and neither is search problem or search algorithm. Luckily, dozens of examples of Read More ›

AI, Memristors and the future (could “conscious” machines lie ahead?)

AI — artificial intelligence — is emerging as a future-driver. For example, we have been hearing of driver-less cars, and now we have helmsman-less barges: As The Guardian reports: >>The world’s first fully electric, emission-free and potentially crewless container barges are to operate from the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam from this summer. The vessels, designed to fit beneath bridges as they transport their goods around the inland waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands, are expected to vastly reduce the use of diesel-powered trucks for moving freight. Dubbed the “Tesla of the canals”, their electric motors will be driven by 20-foot batteries, charged on shore by the carbon-free energy provider Eneco. The barges are designed to operate without any Read More ›

It is time for ID to provide real leadership in rethinking origins across the board

The opportunity is open and it is time to seize the day. So, I think a comment in a discussion with GP and Dionisio should be headlined: >>My observation is those who are closed minded, indoctrinated and hostile will simply flare up in anger at anything that threatens their favoured evolutionary materialistic scientism or their comfortable fellow-traveller views calibrated not to get them in hot water with the domineering atheists. The issue then is, how well cultured they are. The cultured play at subtle rhetorical games pivoting on evasions and how could you concern trolling which provide more or less respectable “good cop” cover. Then come the “bad cops” who try to run riot, bully, intimidate, slander and stalk. I Read More ›

Re, Seversky: “a lot of this reads like complaining because science isn’t coming up with observations and theories that you like . . . “

Sometimes, an issue comes to a head, and there is then need to deal with it. The headline inadvertently shows that we are at such a juncture and the post yesterday on time to take the lead is therefore timely. For, the underlying problem at work on ID is that there is an often implicit but sometimes quite explicit ideologically loaded redefinition of science at work. Accordingly, I think it appropriate to headline my response to Seversky, including the onward accusation of religious bias: KF, 28 (in reply to 21): >>Strawman soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the issues: a lot of this reads like complaining because science isn’t coming up with observations Read More ›

A Maxwell Demon engine in action beyond the Carnot/ “standard” Second law limit

Maxwell’s Demon (sometimes, “Max”) has long been a fictional device for discussing how if we have access to information we can manipulate molecular scale particles to extract work. Now, physics dot org is discussing a case: >>Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine’s efficiency is bounded by a recently proposed generalized second law of thermodynamics, and it is the first information engine to approach this new bound . . . . [R]ecent experimental demonstrations of information engines have raised the question of whether there is an upper bound on the efficiency with which an information engine can convert information into work. Read More ›

“Alien Megastructure Is Not The Cause Of The Dimming Of Tabby’s Star ” (Design Inference filter in action; Sci Fi Fans disappointed)

According to SciTech Daily in a January 3, 2018 article, Tabby’s star, aka KIC 8462852, has had a mysterious brightening and dimming cycle.  (Such a cycle, of course raises the interesting thought of the erection of a Dyson Sphere or a similar megastructure.) As the article reports: >>A team of more than 200 researchers, including Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Assistant Professor Jason Wright and led by Louisiana State University’s Tabetha Boyajian, is one step closer to solving the mystery behind the “most mysterious star in the universe.” KIC 8462852, or “Tabby’s Star,” nicknamed after Boyajian, is otherwise an ordinary star, about 50 percent bigger and 1,000 degrees hotter than the Sun, and about than 1,000 light years Read More ›

What is “information”?

Information, of course, is notoriously a concept that has many senses of meaning. As it is central to the design inference, let us look (again) at defining it. We can dispose of one sense right off, Shannon was not directly interested in information but in information-carrying capacity; that is why his metric will peak for a truly random signal, which has as a result minimal redundancy. And, we can also see that the bit measure commonly seen in ICT circles or in our PC memories etc, is actually this measure, 1 k bit is 1,024 = 2^10 binary digits of storage or transmission capacity. One binary digit or bit being a unit of information storing one choice between a pair Read More ›