Re: Re: Extropianism & Theology

Anders Sandberg (
01 Mar 1999 18:33:55 +0100 writes:

> Thanks Tim. Why don't you go and buy a copy of Stewart Kaufman's books (any
> will do, I recomend "At Home in the Universe," even us Fearful Neanderthals
> can understand it.)
> Then you might see how there is no way to advance an adaptive walk on a random
> (chaotic) fitness landscape. Only a correlated fitness landscape (ordered
> perhaps by as yet unknown laws of complex systems) permits adaptive walks to
> advance.

So? As Stuart Kauffmann points out organisms can actually smooth them out too. Our universe has some special properties enabling the bootstrapping of complexity, but once it bootstraps itself there isn't much need for them. Instead new metalevel properties become important, leading to bootstrapping. The interesting thing is that this seems to work well - we get level after level of complex systems (quarks into particles into atoms into molecules into cells into organisms into ecosystems into biospheres and so on). In fact, it works so well that it is possible that it isn't really the universe that possess these properties but complex systems in general.

I think Kauffman makes one very good point about self-organization being a powerful shaping factor. But he seem to undervaluate selection, especially since many of his most interesting experiments involve species subject selection - selection is a great way of achieving self-organization.

> It seems to me that biology researchers (like my son) have extrapolated the
> most gruesome meme (we are junk that luckily survived) from their seriously
> flawed (scientifically, not theologically) theory that natural selection is
> accidental.

I wonder over this view, Kauffman seems to share it with you. It is so different from my view: we are unique, contingent! If the universe was re-run again, nothing like us would ever appear. We have been selected, not randomly but with the help of randomness. There is nothing gruesome with that.

If everything was the result of self-organisation, then there would be no freedom because whatever you did, in the end things would end up the same. Self-organisation is fundamentally a property of dissipative systems.

Luckily, things seem to be a mixture. Entropy gives us self-organization and selection, but chaos and randomness gives us freedom.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y