“Listening to the Logos rather than to me, it is wise to agree that all things are in reality one thing and one thing only”
note: update pending Sept 2017 (physics page) –Heraclitus (Greek philosopher 500BC)
On the Art of Programming an Intelligent Universe
The question "How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?" combines 2 thesis that would appear to be mutually exclusive; that a random physical universe operating according to impersonal mathematical laws somehow meshes seamlessly with a non-random intention found in the organic world. We may reconcile these 2 positions if we accept that what is observed as intention is an illusion, a monkey, given a typewriter and enough millennium could type the complete works of Shakespeare (or this article) but that the appearance of intelligence is statistical, the monkey at no time can be said to have actually considered a plot for Hamlet as it randomly hits the keyboard. Somewhat arrogantly however I claim an intelligent intention to write this article, this article then becomes evidence of that intent and I thus can reconcile the above-noted contradiction best with the argument that the separation between the organic and the physical is artificial, that the laws of physics are a subset of the laws of nature. The analogy would be of the physical laws as the operating system upon which the organic world functions as distinct programs or apps but with the laws of nature as the underlying programming language from which both OS and apps are constructed.
I describe a model of a virtual universe that was programmed according to a set of rules that were selected such that a swarm intelligence would then emerge. This model uses expansion applied to geometry to simulate a dimensioned (physical) universe. Using simple rules and formulas for circular forms, Pythagoras theorem and wave addition, I show how we might simulate electrons, dimensions, relativity and the forces within a mathematical (software) framework, yet that these would be perceived as a physical reality when observed from within the simulation.
Swarm intelligence (SI) is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems. The common example used in nature studies and by AI is the ant colony. An individual ant can achieve nothing by itself but in a colony ants can solve complex problems using swarm intelligence. There is no central control directing the colony, although there are specialized tasks (soldier ants etc.), no ant is in charge; even a colony of a million ants has no visible organization, instead each ant is presumed to be following a set of basic rules that sum together to create the complexity of the colony. If we place a barrier between a line of ants leading to some food there is a flurry of activity as the ants appear to run in random directions, yet in a short space of time they will have rerouted around the barrier. They have used swarm intelligence to solve a problem.
When ants go exploring in search of food they end up choosing collective routes that fit statistical distributions of probability, a mixture of Gaussian and Pareto distributions, that dictate how much the ant 'turns' at each step and the direction it will travel in.
Science is still puzzled by the workings of the human brain. It comprises about 100 billion neurons and we form more than 1 million new connections among these neurons each day, each neuron with an average 7,000 synaptic connections to other neurons. During early pregnancy, neurons have shown to multiply at a rate of 250,000 neurons per minute. If the same set of natural rules are common to all organic systems then we might suppose that each neuron may be akin to an ant following a simple set of rules, there is no-one (no neuron) in charge, instead there is a neuron colony and thoughts are the complex behavior of that colony. And so perhaps I am not a ‘me’, I am the collective ‘me’; I am a neuron colony, my ego comes from this neuron swarm intelligence. With 100 billion neurons working for me I can solve more complex problems than can the smaller ant colony.
The DNA information set is surprisingly simple yet very quickly results in great complexity. As cells multiply specialization occurs, we may conclude that each iteration (cell division) creates new information based on the previous information. These iterations are akin to a time dimension for the organism which may be a contributing factor for why calorie-restriction studies involving organisms ranging from microscopic yeast to humanlike rhesus monkeys have shown extended life spans of the semi-starved as much as 50%. Could these growth processes also be applying some form of mathematical algorithms or logic, each cell, like the ant, following a fixed set of rules?
Lee Smolin first popularized in his 1997 book ‘The Life of the Cosmos’ the concept that a cosmological natural selection might occur via the same rules as those which apply in biology. In context of this article, in the beginning was encoded a set of initial conditions such that after the big-bang, as the universe mass-density and temperature is of extreme proportions, there would be a plethora of sub atomic species formed… slowly however, as the universe grows, the mass density reduces and the universe cools, the most stable forms (electrons, protons etc.) would then tend to predominate… the less successful ‘species’ returning to the particle pool to be recycled.
As time progressed, the universe continued to specialize, as atoms and molecules and crystals began to form… the universe constantly growing in complexity. It would not be necessary for the laws of physics, the structure of particles; the 4 forces or other such minutiae as would be required by an engineered design. These details could all be natural outcomes of the initial condition (the DNA) of the big-bang via a cosmological natural selection acting over time. And so as we may predict eye-color from an analysis of our genetic code, so too analysis of the big-bang ‘DNA’ could perhaps show that 14 billion years later there would be a small planet capable of supporting life orbiting a mid-sized star in an obscure region of an obscure galaxy. Evolution becomes programmed evolution in the sense that life on earth may have evolved coherently from the big bang according to a precise set of mathematical rules.