Home » Intelligent Design » Can the Mind Be Modeled by Mathematics? Classic ID-related Paper Now Available Online

Can the Mind Be Modeled by Mathematics? Classic ID-related Paper Now Available Online

I don’t know how long this has been available (I have looked before, but was unable to find it), but I just noticed that Douglas Robertson’s “Algorithmic information theory, free will, and the Turing test” is available online. This paper has been highly influential in ID circles, as can be attested by its citation list.

The main thrust of the paper is that, solely on the basis of mathematics, any mathematical physical theory is incapable of producing consciousness as we know it. The reason for this is that mathematics are incapable of producing mathematical axioms. Therefore, a mathematical physical theory is incapable of producing the mathematical axioms on which it is based.

The paper is a fantastic read, and anyone who is interested in ID or in the relationship of mind to matter should give it a read. It is definitely both readable and worthwhile.

Robertson’s conclusion is this:

The existence of free will and the associated ability of mathematicians to devise new axioms strongly suggest that the ability of both physics and mathematics to model the physical universe may be more sharply limited than anyone has believed since the time of Newton.

Now, I actually disagree with this, at least in a way. I think we will continue to advance in our models of the universe, but I think we will have to rethink the *types* of models we come up with. The models we have looked at so far are deterministic, past-determines-future models. I think we will need to be looking at non-deterministic, future-influences-present models in order to accurately model the universe as we find it.

For those interested in these kinds of topics, remember that there is a conference this summer covering these things and their practical applications – The Engineering and Metaphysics 2012 Conference. I hope to see you there!

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73 Responses to Can the Mind Be Modeled by Mathematics? Classic ID-related Paper Now Available Online

  1. I have downloaded the paper, and have read the first two pages. I’ll try to read more over the next few days.

    I am already underwhelmed by those first two pages.

  2. Anything specific or just poisoning the well?

  3. Out of curiosity, are you the same Neil Rickert that wrote the Sendmail book?

  4. Anything specific or just poisoning the well?

    I’ll go through some details tomorrow.

  5. Out of curiosity, are you the same Neil Rickert that wrote the Sendmail book?

    Yes. However, to be clear, I did not write the book. I am listed as a co-author, because I made many contributions. The primary author was Bryan Costales.

  6. It seems to be a circular argument in which “free will” is defined in such a way as the argument must hold.

    Namely, that “free will” means that there is a disembodied “mind” or “will” that can act on matter, but is is uncaused by it.

    He says that all other kinds of free will are “illusions”.

    If that’s where you start, clearly that is where you will finish.

    You don’t really need the math in between.

  7. Elizabeth –

    I think you are misreading it. The purpose of the definition of free will is to be sure of what he is arguing for, since there are so many disagreements over what free will is. There are people (such as Nancey Murphy) who include in “free will” entirely deterministic processes. As such, Nancey Murphy argues *for* free will, but it is nothing like the free will most philosophers have discussed for centuries.

    The point of the math is the evidence for the free will. Namely, showing that, for any mathematical physics, that physics is not sufficient to create the axioms from which mathematics derives. In other words, physics can’t be introspective. Thus, the ability of humans to derive mathematical axioms places human action beyond any purely mathematical physics.

    Note that this is essentially the point which Kurt Godel spent his life making. It is unclear whether Turing thought the same thing – I think he was an atheist, but he was not a materialist – at least when he wrote “Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals”.

    A good lecture on this subject, and the relative contributions of Turing, Penrose, and Godel, is available here

  8. I said I would give some details of my disagreement with Roberson. So here they are. Honestly, Robertson’s paper should never have made it past peer review.

    Godel’s Gödel’s work put an end to a half century or more of unsuccessful attempts to build a firm theoretical foundation for mathematics.

    Many people, especially researchers in Foundations of Mathematics would disagree with that.

    Chaitin’s development of Algorithmic Information Theory (AIT) has sharpened our understanding of the meaning and significance of Gödel’s theorem to the point that the theorem that was once considered extremely difficult to understand now seems rather simple and obvious.

    Yet, in the Wikipedia entry for Chaitin we find: “Some philosophers and logicians strongly disagree with the philosophical conclusions that Chaitin has drawn from his theorems. The logician Torkel Franzén criticizes Chaitin’s interpretation of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and the alleged explanation for it that Chaitin’s work represents.” And note that Torkel Franzén was widely considered to be an expert on Gödel’s work.

    As Stewart put it [3]: “From Chaitin’s viewpoint, Gödel’s proof takes a very natural form: the theorems deducible from an axiom system cannot contain more information than the axioms themselves do.”

    This simple insight has fundamental consequences for both mathematics and philosophy, yet it is not widely known or appreciated.

    Let’s start with the quote attributed to Stewart. If we take the commonsense or intuitive meaning of “information”, then the conclusion about theorems deducible from an axiom system was well known before Chaitin’s time. It was probably already familiar to Hume, and perhaps even to Aristotle.

    That’s not intended to criticize Chaitin. He introduced his Algorithmic Information Theory, which includes definitions of the quantity of information. So what Chaitin showed (or claimed to show) is that Gödel’s work can be used to make that informal commonsense view of the limitations of logic quite formal and precise in terms of how Chaitin formalized algorithmic information.

    For what Robertson is using, it is the informal commonsense view of “information” that is needed. Robertson does not make any essential use of Chaitin’s formalization. So when he says that this “is not widely known or appreciated” he is spouting nonsense.

    Indeed, the failure to anticipate this idea has lead to a number of fundamental and even embarrassing conceptual errors, not the least by Hilbert and his distinguished colleagues in the early part of this century in their brilliant but ultimately futile effort to finish all of mathematics.

    Really! Robertson accuses Hilbert of embarrassing conceptual errors? It is Robertson who should be embarrassed about having written that.

    AIT and free will are deeply interrelated for a very simple reason: Information is itself central to the problem of free will.

    Yes, information is central to free will. But Chaitin’s AIT is an abstract theory of a highly idealized notion of “information.” I’m doubtful that it has any relevance at all to the problem of free will, or to any other practical real world use of information.

    Since the theorems of mathematics cannot contain more information than is contained in the axioms used to derive those theorems, it follows that no formal operation in mathematics (and equivalently, no operation performed by a computer) can create new information.

    This is true.

    In other words, the quantity of information output from any formal mathematical operation or from any computer operation is always less than or equal to the quantity of information that was put in at the beginning.

    But this is false.

    If you are using a computer, then anything new that you type in at the keyboard, or any motion of your computer mouse, provides information that was not there at the beginning.

    Robertson’s analysis of free will completely fails at that point.

    I could go on, criticizing the rest of the paper. But that seems pointless. It is already quite clear that Robertson is in way over his depth.

  9. Neil:

    I have not the time at present to go into detail on this subject (busy on a couple of other fronts), but I just ask you: isn’t my typing on the keyboard and my moving the mouse an input coming from an agent who is supposed to have free will?

    Just curious…

  10. Or input from an random number generator?

  11. Yes, but that’s beside the point.

    Any input from outside is information that was not there from the beginning. It makes no difference whether it comes from a free will agent, or from a sensor connected to the computer.

  12. Neil:

    So, would you accept this form of the statement?

    “In other words, the quantity of information output from any formal mathematical operation or from any computer operation is always less than or equal to the quantity of information that was put in at the beginning or added at some other moment.”

    I would accept it that way, and still argue that our mind does much more than that.

  13. Neil and Elizabeth:

    Just to be clear:

    A human mind created Hamlet.

    Human minds have generate new and unexpected scientific models of reality.

    Formal mathemathical systems cannot do that.

  14. That looks fine to me.

    It is hard to come up with implication for free will from such a statement.

  15. Neil:

    I don’t think it is too hard, but I really have not the time now. I apologize…

  16. To be clear myself, I have been and still am a critic of AI. I doubt that it can work, though I don’t claim to be able to prove that it cannot work.

    The available evidence strongly suggests that biological systems are more creative than silicon systems.

  17. Neil -

    I think you will understand a lot more of Robertson’s arguments if you familiarize yourself better with the state of Mathematics at the time of Hilbert, and specifically his plan to make a universal formal axiomatic system. Indeed Godel did put an end to formalization in the Hilbert sense. And, indeed, as this was known as “Hilbert’s Program”, is falsification is indeed a fundamental and embarrassing error for Hilbert.

    And, as gpuccio noted, your criticism that “typing on the keyboard” is new information completely ignores the point – if mathematical physics is true, then one can construct an equation for which there is no new information possible – it is all just axioms and initial conditions. It is only if mathematical physics is not true that things such as “typing on a keyboard” become additional information. So, your point actually proves Robertson’s, rather than detracting from it.

  18. if mathematical physics is true …

    My personal view is that scientific laws, such as the laws of physics, are neither true nor false. Their role in science is methodological, not descriptive.

    … then one can construct an equation for which there is no new information possible – it is all just axioms and initial conditions.

    No, this does not follow. It requires mathematically modeling the entire universe. And that requires that the entire universe be finitely specifiable. This is very unlikely.

  19. Well, I applaud anyone who digs deep into the internals of sendmail. It was an amazing system especially for the days when mail was not so standardized. I use Postfix myself, but the long tradition started by sendmail and its administrators can still be seen by the fact that the standard command to invoke the mail system, even in the most feverishly anti-sendmail mail systems, is still /usr/sbin/sendmail.

  20. If you don’t regard mathematical physics as true, then I don’t see where you would have any real problem with Robertson. In fact, his conclusion is precisely yours, with a slight philosophical twist. He states,

    The possibility that phenomena exist that cannot be modeled with mathematics may throw an interesting light on Weinberg’s famous comment: “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.” It might turn out that only that portion of the universe that happens to be comprehensible is also pointless.

    I don’t see how that differs dramatically from your stance. If mathematical physics is simply a methodological point, and not a metaphysical one, then what follows is that there shouldn’t be any requirement for nature to behave in a mathematically-specifiable way. Robertson’s (and mine) only objection is to the people who think that mathematical-physics-like phenomena is descriptive of total reality. However, I (and not Robertson as far as I am aware), think that we can extend modeling to include other types of phenomena, if we remove some of the historically-assumed requirements. On an similar note, I have argued elsewhere that physics has progressed not by squeezing out theological notions, but by incorporating more and more of them.

    No, this does not follow. It requires mathematically modeling the entire universe. And that requires that the entire universe be finitely specifiable. This is very unlikely.

    Actually, the halting problem (which is essentially isomorphic to Godel incompleteness) uses an infinite tape, so if the universe is not finitely specifiable, as long as it is quantized (as quantum physics suggests), the same results would hold.

  21. johnnyb, this article may interest you:

    At last, a Darwinist mathematician tells the truth about evolution – November 2011
    Excerpt: 7. Chaitin looks at three kinds of evolution in his toy model: exhaustive search (which stupidly performs a search of all possibilities in its search for a mutation that would make the organism fitter, without even looking at what the organism has already accomplished), Darwinian evolution (which is random but also cumulative, building on what has been accomplished to date) and Intelligent Design (where an Intelligent Being selects the best possible mutation at each step in the evolution of life). All of these – even exhaustive search – require a Turing oracle for them to work – in other words, outside direction by an Intelligent Being. In Chaitin’s own words, “You’re allowed to ask God or someone to give you the answer to some question where you can’t compute the answer, and the oracle will immediately give you the answer, and you go on ahead.”
    8. Of the three kinds of evolution examined by Turing (Chaitin), Intelligent Design is the only one guaranteed to get the job done on time. Darwinian evolution is much better than performing an exhaustive search of all possibilities, but it still seems to take too long to come up with an improved mutation. http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    Also Per Chaitin; Oracle must possess infinite information for ‘unlimited evolution’ of a evolutionary algorithm; i.e. The Oracle must be God!
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-408176

  22. bornagain -

    Thanks for the link! I was aware of Chaitin’s paper (Chaitin had emailed me the paper when it came out). I was not aware of Vincent’s critique. It looks well-thought-out, but I’ll have to dive into it later. The one thing that I noticed in Chaitin’s paper was that it had no room for extinction – that is, all his organisms were minimally survivable no matter what the mutation.

  23. Human minds have generate new and unexpected scientific models of reality.

    Formal mathemathical systems cannot do that.

    Unexpected by whom? Support Vector Machines can generate new and unexpected (by the researchers) models of reality that turn out to be rather good.

  24. johnnyb, yeah Chaitin made some fairly huge concessions to make his program work, but when looked at objectively, free of any Darwinian bias, and even though he himself probably does not like the conclusion of his work, the fact is that his work is entirely supportive of intelligent design principles.

  25. Actually, the halting problem (which is essentially isomorphic to Godel incompleteness) uses an infinite tape, so if the universe is not finitely specifiable, as long as it is quantized (as quantum physics suggests), the same results would hold.

    That the Turing machine uses an infinite tape is not actually relevant to this particular discussion. The computation begins with only a finite amount of data on the tape. So the computation has to be finitely specifiable for that. At any time during a computation, only a finite part of the tape has ever been used. All computation is inherently finite. The point of the infinite tape is to make it clear that there is no a priori limit on how much memory is used. There’s no implication that more than a finite amount will ever be used in any computation.

    Gödel’s theorem is not about physics. It isn’t even about mathematics. It is about logic, and the limitations of logic. It has significance for mathematics if your philosophy of mathematics is logicism – the thesis that mathematics arises purely from the use of logic. Russell and Whitehead’s Principia was based on logicism. Most mathematicians are platonists, not logicists, and many of them consider Gödel’s incompleteness results to be mildly interesting but of no particular significance to their work.

    Gödel, himself, was a mathematical platonist.

  26. Elizabeth:

    I was referring more to new theoretical perspectives, such as relativity, quantum mechanics, godel theorem, and similar. Approaches that cannot come from previously programmed algorithms, and require creativity and understanding. Like Hamlet.

  27. Well, sure, but my example still rather blunts your razor, doesn’t it?

  28. Elizabeth:

    No, thank you, my razor is sharp enough anyway :)

    The point is, huamns can create algorithms that can apprently “learn” (please, note the quotation marks :) ). But those algorithms just process and compute information that is given them, according to what they have been programmed to do. There is no need of understanding meanings for that. There is no need for consciousness to do that.

    I repeat that all forms of algorithmic computing are independnt from the hardware, and can be implemented on any computing machine, starting with an abacus. The computation is an abstract form. However you perform it, the results will be the same, because computation is a necessity procedure. In essence, there is no difference between computing 2 + 2 and computing the movement of a robot. It is still computing. The movement of a robot is computed by adding 2 + 2, or similar operation, many times in some sequence. What in that should generate a subjective consciousness is really beyond my understanding. The machine computes bits, and does nothing else. Bits are all the same for the machine that computes. They mean nothing, just a long series of 2 + 2.

  29. GAs are algorithmic, but do not compute the same result on each run.

    I know you find this difficult, but a GA can construct objects that have not previously existed.

  30. Petrushka:

    You know, I understand that algorithms can compute different results, if the input is different. I am not completely stupid, you know.

    Algorithms compute the same result if the inputs are the same.

    You can well write an algorithm to compute interisting results from random seeds.

    These things are well known, and do not change a comma of what I have said.

    Show me an algorithm that can output new original dFSCI, such as complex language output, and we will discuss.

  31. http://www.plosbiology.org/art.....io.1000292

    I know nothing on this topic will ever satisfy you, but this kind of computation is in it’s infancy.

  32. No, let’s not start with complex language output.

    What is wrong with my SVM output?

    It’s an algorithm.

    Its output is new (and therefore original).

    Its output digital.

    Its output is highly complex – the chances of getting that output from some comparable random data generator are tiny.

    Its output specified – it is one of a much smaller set of coherent sensible outputs.

    And its output is information. It tells me something I didn’t know before.

  33. 33

    Ever since Cicero’s De Natura Deorum ii.34., humans have been intrigued by the origin and mechanisms underlying complexity in nature. Darwin suggested that adaptation and complexity could evolve by natural selection acting successively on numerous small, heritable modifications.

    uh oh.

    Sounds like recorded information. Now you’ll need a source of symbollic representations and transfer protocols operating in a coordinated system. The rise of formalism doesn’t come cheap.

  34. That’s a nice paper!

    Of course there are two levels of evolution going on there – “between generation” evolution, and “within robot” evolution.

    Both are learning, but the second is learning by an individual, and the first is learning by a population.

  35. You know, Upright BiPed, you are absolutely right!

    Darwinian evolution doesn’t explain how replication with heritable variation in reproductive success first came into being!

  36. 36

    How many robots gave rise to their own organizational control systems by means of evolution?

  37. So you are asking about the origin of life?

  38. 38

    7.2.1.1.8

    Then it doesn’t explain the rise of the very thing that organizes inanimate matter into functioning organic systems, does it?

  39. No, it doesn’t!

    Darwinian evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life!

    You are absolutely correct.

  40. The key thing, though, Upright BiPed, is that once you have a self-replicating system (which, as you say, requires some kind of information transfer process, so that the offspring has information transferred from the parent) we have the potential for bootstrapping in further information.

    This is true whether you are talking about a neural learning system, or the evolution of robots, or brains, or organisms. The hard part is that first bit of information transfer from “parent” to “offspring” (with a little variance of course).

    That’s the part Darwinian evolution can’t explain, because the prerequisites for Darwinian evolution are not yet present.

  41. 41

    So without equivocation, which came first, information or Darwinian evolution?

  42. Well, I’m not sure what “Darwinian information” is, but clearly, no Darwinian evolution could begin to take place until something managed to copy itself with variance that reflected itself in reproductive success.

    Copying is an information transfer process, so that, clearly, preceded any information reflecting genotypes that maximise reproductive success in the current environment (which may be what you mean by “Darwinian information”. If so, then, of course, non-Darwinian information preceded Darwinian information.

    I’m not going to say “unequivocally” though, until I know what you mean by each term.

    Certainly information transfer between parent and offspring must have preceded the accumulation of information regarding optimal adaptation of the population.

  43. Oops misread your post.

    Yes, unequivocally, information transfer (from parent to offspring) must have preceded Darwinian evolution.

    Darwinian evolution cannot occur in the absence of replication, and replication necessarily involves information transfer.

  44. Without equivocation, that’s the problem being studied by Szostak and others. It’s not like the problem has been hidden away.

  45. 45

    “Darwinian Information”?

    That was an equivocation taken directly in the face of contrary evidence.

  46. Well, the interesting thing about Szostak’s work, is that he’s pushing back the boundaries for the simplest self-replicator capable of Darwinian evolution. If he can get it simple enough, then the chances of spontaneous formation go up, and then it’s Darwinian evolution all the way from there.

  47. Heh. Yeah, damn varifocals.

    Still, it made for an interesting variant :)

    But yeah, Darwinian evolution can’t get going without the minimal information transfer system required for self-replication with variance that results in differential reproductive success. Once you’ve got that, you’ve got the ability to bootstrap in lots more information (which I thought you might mean by “Darwinian” information).

  48. 48

    BIPED: Now you’ll need a source of symbollic representations and transfer protocols operating in a coordinated system.

    LIDDLE: You know, Upright BiPed, you are absolutely right!

    BIPED: Then it doesn’t explain the rise of the very thing that organizes inanimate matter into functioning organic systems, does it?

    LIDDLE: No, it doesn’t!

    Then this statement: “IDists have failed to demonstrate that what they consider the signature of intentional design is not also the signature of Darwinian evolutionary processes” is false by your own observations, and should be retracted until the rise of symbollic representations and transfer protocols has been shown to have an unguided origin (iow, in favor of the evidence as it actually is). Correct?

  49. Then this statement: “IDists have failed to demonstrate that what they consider the signature of intentional design is not also the signature of Darwinian evolutionary processes” is false by your own observations, and should be retracted until the rise of symbollic representations and transfer protocols has been shown to have an unguided origin (iow, in favor of the evidence as it actually is). Correct?

    No. What I meant by “the signature of intentional design” was CSI. I should have been specific then, but I later clarified it. I had assumed we were talking about Dembski’s position.

    As you will remember.

  50. until the rise of symbollic representations and transfer protocols has been shown to have an unguided origin

    It’s been rather rare in the history of science to find processes that have unequivocally been guided by unseen intelligences. Off the top of my head I can’t think of a single physical physical event studied by science that has been explained by non-material or non-human intelligent guidance.

    To unguided will remain the default hypothesis for people who are actually interested in the origin of life. Certainly the search continually yields new chemistry.

  51. What I will say, though (as I’ve said before): if the ID argument was that the simplest possible Darwinian-capable self-replicator is still too complicated to have arisen by chance, you’d have a point (and sometimes I see that argument made).

    However, that wouldn’t be an argument against Darwin’s theory, or Darwinian evolution, or Darwinism at all. It would be an inference of design from the unlikelihood of abiogenesis.

    And the counter argument is, simply: you cannot infer that because we do not know how simple the simplest Darwinian-capable self-replicator is that it is necessarily too complex to have arisen by chance.

    Therefore we cannot infer “design”. We can only conclude that we do not yet know the answer.

  52. Elizabeth:

    You say:

    No, let’s not start with complex language output.

    What is wrong with my SVM output?

    It’s an algorithm.

    Its output is new (and therefore original).

    Its output digital.

    Its output is highly complex – the chances of getting that output from some comparable random data generator are tiny.

    Its output specified – it is one of a much smaller set of coherent sensible outputs.

    And its output is information. It tells me something I didn’t know before.

    No. It is not dFSCI. And it is computed by an algorithm. A new output is not necessarily original.

    Take an algorithm which computes the diogits of pi, for example. Each new digit is new, because we had not it a moment before (unless we already knew those figures in other ways). But it is not new dFSCI. The function remains the same, and the new figures are computed by the same algorithm. Therefore, the output is compressible information, and therefore not complex in the Kolmogorov sense.

    The output of an algorithm is always compressible. The novelty in it can come from an input of outer information, but the algorithm is repetitive.

    Hamlet is not compressible. A new theory of reality is not compressible. Those are cognitive creations, and require consciousness.

    So, we must start with complex language output and with dFSCI, becasue those are the marks of conscious design, and not simple passive computation.

  53. 53

    I remember very well. I challenged you based on that particular comment.

    But so then, IDist have demonstrated what they consider to be the signature of intentional design, which isn’t also the signature of Darwinian processes, but it’s just not Demski’s CSI. Is that correct?

  54. 54

    sorry GP… I’ll get out of the way.

    No need to reply Liddle.

  55. I repeat that all forms of algorithmic computing are independnt from the hardware, and can be implemented on any computing machine, starting with an abacus.

    That’s one of those things that can be declared true by definition, but is not true in practice. the paper I linked describes the problem.

    Feedback driven systems cannot be modeled with precision, because the physical systems providing the feedback cannot be modeled precisely. In the case of the swarm fliers, the physical implementation of the system is not exactly equivalent to the model.

    The same is true of chemistry. Protein folding has not been precisely modeled, and it is not currently possible to have a predictive theory of sequence design. It may remain impossible.

    If you are going to posit a finite, non-theistic designer, you really need to have a theory of design.

  56. remember very well. I challenged you based on that particular comment.

    Good.

    But so then, IDist have demonstrated what they consider to be the signature of intentional design, which isn’t also the signature of Darwinian processes, but it’s just not Demski’s CSI. Is that correct?

    Well, I don’t know, UBP. I don’t think any IDist has demosntrated that the simplest possible Darwinian-capable self-replicator is still too complex to have arisen by chance.

    That’s what lots of people are working on. Nobody’s demosntrated that it isn’t, although there are promising leads, but nor has anyone demonstrated that it is (which would be harder, of course, scientific methodology being set up the way it is).

    But I certainly agree that Dembski’s CSI is not the signature of design.

  57. No. It is not dFSCI. And it is computed by an algorithm. A new output is not necessarily original.

    Well, of course it’s computed by an algorithm! Your claim was that an algorithm cannot create dFCSI! So I suggested one that could! You can’t dismiss it because it’s an algorithm! Am I misunderstanding you?

    And how are you distinguishing between “new” and “original”?

    Take an algorithm which computes the diogits of pi, for example. Each new digit is new, because we had not it a moment before (unless we already knew those figures in other ways). But it is not new dFSCI.

    Why not? I’m not saying it is, but why isn’t it, in your view?

    The function remains the same, and the new figures are computed by the same algorithm. Therefore, the output is compressible information, and therefore not complex in the Kolmogorov sense.

    So your argument is that if something is produced by an algorithm it cannot be complex because it can be compressed to that algorithm? But that is completely circular!

    The output of an algorithm is always compressible. The novelty in it can come from an input of outer information, but the algorithm is repetitive.

    Hamlet is not compressible. A new theory of reality is not compressible. Those are cognitive creations, and require consciousness.

    But this is pure assertion!

    We would normally say that Hamlet is incompressible because we have no algorithm that can produce Hamlet.

    But if we saw pi to a million decimal places, it would look just as incompressible until someone showed us the algorithm.

    And if we are, in addition, allowed to specify all the input to our algorithm, when compressing the output, including every random number, every stochastic twitch, every click from the Geiger counter that we set up as additional input so that the thing was truly unpredictable, then who is to say that the output of a GA, or for that matter, the output from Shakespeare’s pen is not thus compressible?

    I mean, you can assert it, but you would be assuming your consequent. You can’t argue that Hamlet doesn’t possess dFCSI because it isn’t produced by an algorithm plus a vast matrix of inputs, and then say, therefore it wasn’t produced by an algorithm plus a vast matrix of inputs.

    Perhaps it was. Perhaps that’s what consciousness is.

    So, we must start with complex language output and with dFSCI, becasue those are the marks of conscious design, and not simple passive computation.

    Do you really not see the circularity here?

  58. Elizabeth:

    a) In the definition of dFSCI it is stated explicitly that the onserved result must not be explained by a known algorithm. I know, because the definition is mine :). But in Dembski description os the explanatory filter you will find the same concept. Again, supposed or hoped possible algorithms don’t qualify as scientific arguments. They are by definition non falsifiable. Have you ever heard of Popper?

    b) New just means anything you did not know before. The result of a computation is new, because you did not know it before. “Original”, in the context of dFSCI, means “bearing a new function”, that was not available before. No algorithm can create a new function that is complex enough, and that was not implemented in some way in the algorithm. That’s also what I mean by “unexpected” (the information in the algorithm nust not be added information to get to that specific function, neither directly nor indirectly). This is my personal opinion, never contradicted by any example. Anyway, I am not using this point to define dFSCI, or to propose it as a marker of design. By definition, dFSCI must not be the result of a known algorithm, so there is no circularity in the definition. If the darwinian algorithm were shown to be capable to explain biological information, that would simply mean that biological information does not contain dFSCI, not that the concept of dFSCI is wrong.

    c) You say:

    So your argument is that if something is produced by an algorithm it cannot be complex because it can be compressed to that algorithm? But that is completely circular!

    There is no circularity at all. I am just using the concept of kolmogorov complexity. If a result can be generated by a simpler algorithm, its Kolmogorov complexity is the complexity of that algorithm. It is not circular. I am using a very specific type of complexity for the definition of dFSCI.

    d) You say;

    But this is pure assertion!

    No. The meaning is: Hamlet is not compressible by any known algorithm. A new theory of reality is not compressible by any known algorithm. In the hurry, I had just forgot to defend myself in advance from your non scientific “there could always be… ” arguments. I must be very careful with you :) .

    You say:

    We would normally say that Hamlet is incompressible because we have no algorithm that can produce Hamlet.

    That’s correct.

    But if we saw pi to a million decimal places, it would look just as incompressible until someone showed us the algorithm.

    Wrong. If we saw the series of digits, withot knowing its meaning (its function), we could just think that it is a random series of digits (indeed, it has all the formal properties of a random number). Therefore, we would not see dFSCI in it, because we would see no function.

    It could just be a false negative (as you know, there are many). Indeed, if we can recognize the function (this is the sequence of the decimal digits of pi), then we have to ask ourselves: can that sequence be computed by an algorithm? Then its complexity is the complexity of the algorithm. We would probably correctly judge that it is dFSCI, if the algorith in itself is complex enough (and it probably is). And our judgement would be correct, because an algorithm to compute the decimal digits of pi would not arise randomly, and is certainly designed (again, I am reasoning here just to make an example, without knowing the minimal complexity in bits of such an algorithm).

    So, your example is not correct. If we saw Hamlet without knowing english, we could perhaps conclude that it is a random sequence of letters (false negative). But if we know english, and can read and understand its content, we would have no doubt that it cannot be generated by any known algorithm, and that it is by far too complex to be generated in a random system. So we would correctly infer design.

    e) You say:

    And if we are, in addition, allowed to specify all the input to our algorithm, when compressing the output, including every random number, every stochastic twitch, every click from the Geiger counter that we set up as additional input so that the thing was truly unpredictable, then who is to say that the output of a GA, or for that matter, the output from Shakespeare’s pen is not thus compressible?

    Now, this is pure assertion. Non scientific. Non falsifiable. Assuming the truth of a specific theory of consciousness that cannot be proved and has no empirical support.

    And anyway, as already stated, my definition of dFSCI only requires that the observe result cannot be explained by any known algorithm. And anyway the algorithm you are proposing is certainly more complex than Hamlet itself! It would not be a good form of “compression”.

    Do you really not see the circularity here?

    There is no circularity. I am only assuming that you already know:

    1) My definition of dFSCI

    2) The empirical reasons why I consider dFSCI “a mark of conscious design”.

    I have told you those things many times, that’s why I assume you should know them.

  59. UB:

    You are always welcome! :)

  60. 60

    From 7.2.1.1.29

    Good

    In May of last year you made the open claim that ‘no IDist is able to demonstrating what he/she thinks is the signature of design, which isn’t also the signature of Darwinian processes’. I challenged you on that remark with a singular phrase; the “rise of information”. I did not couch my challenge in the language of mathematics, or probabilities, or complexity, or CSI, or FSCI, or anything other than the “rise of information’. You took that challenge and stated that you could simulate the “rise of information” using Darwinian processes. After a couple of months of discovery, I felt that it had become perfectly clear that you would not be able to demonstrate the rise of information, and you yourself were beginning to hint at that same possible conclusion. So I went back and got your original text which had begun our exchange. I quoted you directly, and asked you to retract the comment based upon the documented facts of the conversation. Disregarding that very same documentation, you immediately refused, escaping under the childish auspices that you were “talking about Dembski”, even though a) he doesn’t appear in the quote, b) I never mentioned him in any of the discovery except to remind you that I was not talking about Dembski, or Meyers, or CSI, or any of it, and c) you did neither retract nor qualify your remark when it became clear to you that I was not talking about Dembski, or Meyers, or CSI, or any other proponent or concept .

    Yet to this very day you continue to equivocate and evade an ethically-fair response.

    And so, I asked you once again to reconsider the remark you made:

    Well, I don’t know, UBP. I don’t think any IDist has demonstrated that the simplest possible Darwinian-capable self-replicator is still too complex to have arisen by chance.

    That was not the question, Dr Liddle. Do you not have any conscience at all? Are you capable of any truly genuine sense whatsoever of right and wrong in your actions regarding this matter? I don’t see it, Dr Liddle. Where is it? Are you a scientist or not?

    Allow me to show you how this is done Dr Liddle:

    “Yes, design proponents have produced some interesting evidence with regard to the rise of recorded information transfer in biological systems. I personally remain unconvinced by that evidence, but I cannot in good conscience maintain that the evidence does not exist or that it cannot be legitimately considered as evidence of design”.

    Now tell me, why is such a modest yet materially-honest response so far beyond your personal and professional capabilities Dr Liddle?

    It sure seem like a heavy price to pay.

  61. 61

    And once again, my apologies to GP.

    There is no need to sponse Dr Liddle, I am leaving the thread, and your answer is canned anyway.

    :/

  62. “Darwinian evolution doesn’t explain how replication with heritable variation in reproductive success first came into being!”

    I see. So Darwinian evolution holds that it is neither sufficient nor necessary as an explanation for the very thing it attempts to explain. If this is so then Evolution must be contingent as a consequence of some other causes. And if contingent then am I to expect that I will receive the idea/knowledge of this contingent through revelation at some future date from Evolutionary Scientists?

    It seems we have a desperate modern need for the second-coming of Spinoza.

  63. Not to belabor the point, but there are many Turing machines which do have infinite tape with infinite values preloaded. In fact, I believe that Matthew Cook’s proof that Rule 110 is Turing complete he actually utilized an infinitely-many preloaded values in his cellular automaton. Nonetheless, I think in general that if you want to argue for the infiniteness of the universe, you are going to be arguing against mathematical physics, which is precisely the point that Robertson makes (not only that, but infinity itself creates a number of paradoxes).

    “Gödel’s theorem is not about physics.”

    Exactly true, if by “physics” you mean the reality that we experience daily. That’s actually the point of all of this. The logical structure of mathematics is not equivalent with physics. I’m not sure why you keep arguing this, because that’s actually precisely the point where everyone here (you, me, and Robertson) all agree! The point – both of the paper and this post, is that Mathematical logic does not and cannot account for a lot of daily experience. Therefore, anyone who claims that mathematical physics can be entirely descriptive of reality is simply mistaken. This seems to be a point that we are agreed upon, yet you keep arguing as if you disagree.

  64. UBP: You claim that I claimed that “no IDist is able to demonstrating what he/she thinks is the signature of design, which isn’t also the signature of Darwinian processes”.

    I do not recall claiming this, and the grammatical glitch suggests that you edited the subject of my original sentence.

    I may be wrong, but I’d like you to link to where I wrote that sentence, or retract the allegation that I wrote it.

    As you are leaving the thread, I don’t expect you to do so, but I’m putting this comment here in my own defence.

    What I do recall writing, is what you quoted earlier in this thread:

    “IDists have failed to demonstrate that what they consider the signature of intentional design is not also the signature of Darwinian evolutionary processes”

    I was referring, as I explained, as you agree, had earlier explained, to Dembski’s CSI.

    The other sentence does not sound like me, and if I did write it I’d like to a) see the context and b) have the opportunity to retract it if it is indeed what I wrote. I certainly do not hold the position it seems to suggest.

    And now, UBP, I’m going to depart from my usual habit when posting, and say that I find your last post, dishonest, self-serving, unwarranted, and obtuse.

    In future I will ignore your posts unless you are specifically responding to me, or referencing me.

  65. 65

    Liz,

    The direct of yours is one I have already given in full in double quotation marks at 7.2.1.1.21:

    “IDists have failed to demonstrate that what they consider the signature of intentional design is not also the signature of Darwinian evolutionary processes”

    …in which I paraphrased again in single quotation marks at 7.2.1.1.31:

    ‘no IDist is able to demonstrating what he/she thinks is the signature of design, which isn’t also the signature of Darwinian processes’

    The fact that you seize upon the PROFOUND difference between those two only reaffirms my charaterization of you as dishonest.

  66. No, that is not a paraphrase, UBP.

    Xs have failed to….

    is not the same as

    No X is able to….

    Nor is

    what they consider the signature

    the same as

    what he/she thinks is the signature

    given that I said very clearly, once it become evident that it was not clear, that I had been referring to CSI.

    I took as my text this paper by Dembski:

    Specification: the pattern that signifies intelligence

    because I (erroneously, as it turns out) thought that this was the urtext for ID.

    I have fully explained this, and your continued insistence that it was somehow post hoc, and is evidence of my dishonesty, is tiresome, particularly when, having discovered the confusion, I spent time trying to find out what you considered “the signature of intentional design”.

    I stand by my original claim, with the given caveat.

    I no longer think you are honest either, so we will have to agree to differ as to which of us, if either, is lacking honesty. I’ve been charitably assuming that the problem has been communication, and I’ve taken at least partial responsibility for that. I still hope that is the case.

    Whatever. I cannot continue to converse with someone whose response to any disagreement is to assume that the other is being dishonest.

    I’ll respond to any post you address to me, or in which you reference me, but apart from that we’d better go our separate ways I think.

  67. Also, I am unfamiliar with the convention that single quotation marks indicate a paraphrase.

    Be that as it may, your paraphrase does not convey my meaning.

  68. I think perhaps you are going to spend the rest of your life watching yourself painted into a corner.

    There is only one Hamlet, and Shakespeare is a rather high bar.

    But algorithms can write original music that ordinary people cannot distinguish from that of famous composers. My own guess is that narrative writing is a couple decades away, maybe less.

    Algorithms solved the four color map problem and have defeated human chess champions. I will grant that these two involved brute force approaches, but this kind of work is in its infancy.

  69. a) In the definition of dFSCI it is stated explicitly that the onserved result must not be explained by a known algorithm. I know, because the definition is mine :) . But in Dembski description os the explanatory filter you will find the same concept. Again, supposed or hoped possible algorithms don’t qualify as scientific arguments. They are by definition non falsifiable. Have you ever heard of Popper?

    But if the definition of dFSCI includes the condition that the result must not be explained by a known algorithm, then dFSCI is useless as an explanandum. If you came across a pattern that seemed to you to have dFSCI, any claim that it really did have dFSCI would simply be an argument from ignorance. It is true that your claim would be falsifiable (by finding an algorithm that produced your pattern), but that would not make it a supported claim. The fact that a claim is falsifiable does nothing to tell you whether it is true.

    (And yes, I’ve heard of Popper. I’ve read Popper.)

    b) New just means anything you did not know before. The result of a computation is new, because you did not know it before. “Original”, in the context of dFSCI, means “bearing a new function”, that was not available before. No algorithm can create a new function that is complex enough, and that was not implemented in some way in the algorithm.

    This isn’t true AFAIK. Genetic algorithms can write new algorithms – actual, functional algorithms that did not exist before the GA was run.

    That’s also what I mean by “unexpected” (the information in the algorithm nust not be added information to get to that specific function, neither directly nor indirectly). This is my personal opinion, never contradicted by any example. Anyway, I am not using this point to define dFSCI, or to propose it as a marker of design. By definition, dFSCI must not be the result of a known algorithm, so there is no circularity in the definition. If the darwinian algorithm were shown to be capable to explain biological information, that would simply mean that biological information does not contain dFSCI, not that the concept of dFSCI is wrong.

    Exactly. It’s not your definition that is circular, and I agree that if you are not proposing it as a marker of design, then fair enough. But what use is it, then?

    There is no circularity at all. I am just using the concept of kolmogorov complexity. If a result can be generated by a simpler algorithm, its Kolmogorov complexity is the complexity of that algorithm. It is not circular. I am using a very specific type of complexity for the definition of dFSCI.

    OK. So your claim is that non-intelligent processes cannot produce patterns that are both functional and incompressible?

    So what about the output from stochastic algorithms? They would seem to me to be both.

    Which was exactly Darwin’s insight :)

  70. gpuccio,

    So, we must start with complex language output and with dFSCI, becasue those are the marks of conscious design, and not simple passive computation.

    Presumably then you can take a sample of complex language output and determine the specific amount of dFSCI that is present in that sample?

    Would it be possible for you to give some example texts and the associated value for dFSCI present in each? Such examples would go a long way to help me understand the basis of your claims regarding dFSCI and complex language output.

    I have read what I can but nowhere can I find out how to determine the specific value of dFSCI for a specific example text.

    It may be the case that I have totally misunderstood dFSCI and in fact specific values for it cannot be determined. If that’s the case then I don’t understand what “test” you can run, as you seem to be claim to be able to, to determine if a specific text has dFSCI present, never mind determining a specific value for it.

    It would be great if you could clarify with a couple of example calculations as I have a number of follow up questions, some of which may be rendered moot by whatever your answer is.

  71. 71

    Dr Liddle,

    No, that is not a paraphrase, UBP.

    Xs have failed to…

    is not the same as

    No X is able to…

    Nor is

    what they consider the signature

    the same as

    what he/she thinks is the signature

    Your protest is noted.

    May I offer some advice?

    Try limiting the number of times you double down.

  72. And here’s some from me to you:

    Read whole sentences. Preferably whole posts.

    Quotemining is ugly.

  73. 73

    Liddle at 7.2.1.1.34

    What I do recall writing, is what you quoted earlier in this thread

    Liddle at 7.2.1.1.39

    Quotemining is ugly

    :|

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