Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sketch of experiment using Stylus and Complex Specified Information Collecting (CSIC) to falsify Intelligent Design

The central claim of Intelligent Design is that only intelligent agents can create complex specified information (CSI).  However, Intelligent Design research has not focused very much on how intelligent agents actually impart this information, choosing rather to focus on detecting information in the first place.  This makes sense, since we have to detect the information in order to then determine whether it was deposited by an intelligent agent, or some other causal agent.

In a previous post, I outlined a practical approach of discovering how intelligent agents, such as humans, impart information.  The approach is called Complex Specified Information Collection, and I describe CSIC here:

In CSIC, human interaction is incorporated into an algorithmic search process to add active information to the search process.  The amount of active information imparted can be measured during each stage of the search process to determine just how responsible the intelligent agents are for the information that is in the search.  The concept of active information is explained by Dr. Dembski's work on the No Free Lunch Theorem:
The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search

In "The Search for a Search" Dr. Dembski shows that the effectiveness of a search algorithm in finding a target is limited by the amount of active information the search has about the target, which is information that reduces the area the algorithm must search.  Thus, extremely effective search algorithms should correspondingly possess large amounts of active information.

Dr. Dembski, with the aid of Dr. Robert Marks and Mr. Winston Ewert, have shown this correspondence holds true with Avida.  Avida has been purported to generate complex specified information without the intervention of an intelligent agent.  However, Dr. Dembski et al. have shown that the active information was actually front loaded into the search algorithm by the programmer.

ID experimental researcher, Dr. Doug Axe, has been investigating the implications of ID for evolution.  He has developed a cutting edge simulation called Stylus to examine how well functional specification can be acquired through stepwise mutation:

The notion of active information also applies to Dr. Axe's stepwise mutation algorithm.  If it ends up being especially effective at creating functional specification, it is possible to take the algorithm apart and examine it piece by piece to see how the active information has been integrated into the algorithm.  With this analysis we have a baseline of active information to characterize the search process.

Now we also have the tools to go the next step and see how intelligent agents can increase the amount of active information in a search.  This is very valuable since we can learn how conditions, behaviors, techniques exhibited by the intelligent agents impact the amount of active information created, if any.  We can also falsify Intelligent design theory by detecting an increase in active information within the search with no corresponding intelligent agent interaction.

Thus, by combining Stylus and CSIC, we have a full fledged scientific experiment with which we can either falsify or confirm intelligent design, as well as gain valuable insights into how intelligent design works.

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