[ExI] [Extropolis] My current take on emergence and causation. Is the universe pulled toward Life?

Giulio Prisco giulio at gmail.com
Wed Nov 17 09:15:17 UTC 2021

```On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 10:12 PM John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
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> On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 10:54 AM Giulio Prisco <giulio at gmail.com> wrote:
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>> On 2021. Nov 16., Tue at 13:08, John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
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>>> On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 2:15 AM Giulio Prisco <giulio at gmail.com> wrote:
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>>>> >>> Perhaps we don't need an "explanation" of the probabilistic nature of physical laws. Perhaps this is just how things work.
>>>
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>>> >> Maybe. We know from Gleason's theorem that if quantum probabilities are to make any sense, that is to say if all the probabilities are real numbers between 0 and 1 and all the probabilities of a predicted event add up to exactly 1, then all the probabilities must be expressible by the square of the absolute value of the wave function just as quantum mechanics says. So the real question is not why does the Born rule exist but rather why must we use probabilities at all, why can't we make exact predictions? Perhaps the answer is just as you say, that's just the way things work; after all there's no law of logic that says every event must have a cause.
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>> > Exactly. Btw I’m thinking about this. Think of a sequence of random bits, call it R(n). Now think of the same sequence as the deterministic unfolding of a random real number r given as initial condition. So the sequence becomes D(n) = nth bit in the binary expansion of r. R is random, and D is deterministic. But R and D are the same thing!!!
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> It's not really deterministic because it depends on initial conditions which are random; but then again maybe it is deterministic after all, Hugh Everett would say every possible initial condition exists (and therefore every random sequence is revealed), it's just that "you" only get to observe one of them. After all , the quantum wave function is completely deterministic but, because we can only observe a very small part of it, things seem random to us, so we must resort to probability in our predictions.
>

Everett aside, we have this problem all over mathematical physics
based on differential equations and real numbers. We insist that
things unfold deterministically from given initial conditions, but the
initial conditions are real numbers, the vast majority of which
(besides a zero measure subset) are uncomputable and random. We may as
well think that experiments reveal or perhaps *define* or even
*create* the initial conditions in the past, and everything becomes
circular. Nicolas Gisin makes similar points in his recent papers
based on analogies with intuitionist maths:
https://arxiv.org/search/physics?searchtype=author&query=Gisin%2C+N

> John K Clark
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>>> John K Clark
>>> =============
>>>
>>> On Tue, Nov 16, 2021 at 2:15 AM Giulio Prisco <giulio at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> On Mon, Nov 15, 2021 at 4:22 PM John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> >
>>>> > On Mon, Nov 15, 2021 at 3:36 AM Giulio Prisco <giulio at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> >
>>>> >> > https://www.turingchurch.com/p/my-current-take-on-emergence-and
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> >> > Is life entailed by physics? Is the emergence and growth of life a result of the kind of physics we are familiar with (known physics and incremental improvements based on the reductionist framework of known physics)? Or do we need a new framework?
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > I don't think a new physics framework would be of any use in understanding how life works.
>>>> >
>>>> >> >  or will they require an entirely new framework where other forms of causation (e.g. backward, downward, top-down, teleological) play a role alongside the efficient causation mechanisms of today’s physics?
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > I rather doubt it but there's a possibility backward causality might be important in very fundamental physics, but if it is I don't think it would only be important only to physics that eventually involves life but rather to everything and all of physics; there would be nothing special about life in that regard.
>>>>
>>>> I agree. Life "works" like the rest of physics. If new principles are
>>>> needed to explain life, those new principles apply to the rest of the
>>>> world.
>>>>
>>>> > As for teleology,  if things happen because of the purpose they serve rather than causes that produce them then that leaves open the question of whose purpose? There doesn't seem to be a universal answer to that question and if something claims to be the ultimate answer to everything then it should be true in every frame of reference, and teleology is not.
>>>> >
>>>> >>
>>>> >> > Kauffman bets on a concept due to Maël Montévil and Matteo Mossio (2015) called “Constraint Closure” as an organizational principle that builds order “faster than that order can be dissipated by the second law of thermodynamics.”
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > I don't see how that could be true. If there's one law of physics that  would hold true in every universe in the multiverse I'm convinced it would be the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, that's because it's based on logic and not on other physical laws,  it's simply true that there are more ways something can be chaotic than ways it can be well ordered.
>>>>
>>>> But you agree with "Producing physical systems that keep low entropy
>>>> locally (e.g. living systems) is the fastest way for the universe to
>>>> increase global entropy" below, which is essentially the same thing.
>>>> Pockets of local order are the fastest way to grow overall disorder
>>>> (by eating free energy from the environment and giving back high
>>>> entropy waste), and that's how thermodynamics favors life (or so these
>>>> people think).
>>>>
>>>> >
>>>> >> > the efficient causation laws of the physics we know are strictly followed, but leave the actual evolution of physical systems under-determined.
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > Yes, but if Hugh Everett's many worlds idea is correct then that would explain why at the smallest most fundamental level we can only make probabilistic predictions not exact ones.
>>>> >
>>>>
>>>> Perhaps we don't need an "explanation" of the probabilistic nature of
>>>> physical laws. Perhaps this is just how things work.
>>>>
>>>> >> > it can be argued that classical mechanics is under-determined as well, and that under-determination might follow from Gödel’s theorems.
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > If quantum mechanics is under-determined at the sub microscopic level (and it is) then things at our everyday macroscopic level must be under-determined too. Godel told us that there are true statements in arithmetic that have no proof (the Goldbach Conjecture maybe?); I hope not but perhaps in a similar way there are true things about physics that have no experimental verification.
>>>> >
>>>>
>>>> Yes.
>>>>
>>>> >> > I think definable natural laws only scratch the thin surface of a thick reality that can’t be reduced to a finite description
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > If so then it's a waste of time to even talk about an ultimate description of reality.  As Wittgenstein said "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence".
>>>> >
>>>>
>>>> There's scratching the surface, and there's scratching the surface a
>>>> bit deeper. We can't know everything at a given time, but we CAN know
>>>> (and do) more than we could before.
>>>>
>>>> >
>>>> >> > physical laws maximize overall entropy production rates. Producing physical systems that keep low entropy locally (e.g. living systems) is the fastest way for the universe to increase global entropy, and that’s it.
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > I agree with that.
>>>> >
>>>> >> > [The] universe is rationally governed in more than one way - not only through the universal quantitative laws of physics that underlie efficient causation but also through principles which imply that things happen because they are on a path that leads toward certain outcomes - notably, the existence of living, and ultimately of conscious, organisms.”
>>>> >
>>>> >
>>>> > If Hugh Everett is correct and everything that is not logically self-contradictory (such as a violation of the second law of thermodynamics) does happen, then it's not surprising that intelligence finds itself in a universe in which stable structures that can process data (Turing Machines) are possible. As for consciousness, after saying consciousness is the way data feels when it is being processed I don't think there's much more that can be said about it.
>>>> >
>>>> > John K Clark
>>>> >>
>>>> >>
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