[ExI] Evolved Complexity (was: Re: extropy-chat Digest, Vol 199, Issue 105)

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Thu Apr 30 10:09:57 UTC 2020

On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 3:29 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> But ecosystems, or at least the ecosphere as a whole, tending toward more
> complexity is an interesting idea. If true (which it seems, at first
> glance, to be), then evolution *does* produce more complexity. That's
> something I've never considered before, and I'm wondering what the
> implications of it might be.

### Complexity is built on complexity. As soon as some spots in the
universe accumulate some complexity, more complexity can develop in those

This goes beyond the living world and the ecosphere - it's a story arc that
spans infinities.

I keep coming back in my thoughts to Wolfram's new physics. He starts
with the simplest possible, irreducible entities and the simplest possible,
irreducible operations, concepts seemingly devoid of a relationship to
physics and yet he finds they are capable of generating analogues of
surprisingly high-level physical concepts. In his vision, what the naive
mind might see as simple things, such as space, vacuum, or electrons are in
fact made of a stupendous number of irreducible objects/relationships. The
humble electron has 10e35 pieces of math in it. The final, indivisible,
elementary length is 10e58 times smaller than Planck length. It takes a lot
of moving parts to create a quark, it takes millions of years to transform
a soup of quarks into galaxies made of boring hydrogen, it takes billions
of years to cook up heavier elements out of the hydrogen, it takes hundreds
of millions of years to create planets with alkaline seeps in the
primordial seas, hundreds of millions of years to create the first
self-replicating creatures, it takes about a billion years before some of
the creatures to develop nervous systems, then another 700 million years
before some of the nervous systems invent the scientific method, then
another 500 years before non-biological thinking can develop on the
substrate of biological creatures... (You notice the abrupt change in
time-scale here, from billions to hundreds of years? An
interesting tidbit).

And what next?

I don't know what's next but it's clear that complexity has created more
complexity since forever, every step of the way enabled only after
mind-bogglingly large numbers of moving parts come together in just the
right way. There is more complexity coming, if not in our neck of the
woods, then somewhere else in the infinite garden of all self-consistent
mathematical objects (yes, Jason, if you read it, I am a modal realist,

Wolfram's notion of time is much different from the concept of time in
mainstream physics, including general relativity. His measure of time as
the number of elementary operations needed to create a hypergraph is
incredibly appealing to me in an intuitive way. Time so conceived has a
beginning but not an end, since hypergraphs are not limited in the number
of elements they can contain. There is no end to complexity in general,
although not all branches of the mathematical tree go on forever.

He is not the first thinker to come up with the "It from bit" idea but to
the best of my knowledge he is the first researcher to move it from a neat
quip, or Game of Life antics to an actual research program. I hope that
more amazing things come out of it.

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