Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Method for Making New Technology from ID


In a number of arguments for ID, such as Dr. Meyer, Dr. Dembski and Dr. Behe, the writers argue that there appears to be intelligent design in nature because natural entities resemble human engineered products, and human engineered products are intelligently designed.

If we look at this relationship formally, then it looks like biological/natural entity -> human engineered object -> intelligent design.  However, what if we reverse the relationship so it looks like intelligent design -> human engineered artifact -> natural entity?  This means if intelligent design theory is true, then perhaps we can use human engineering to predict the kinds of functionality we will find in the natural world.

For instance, consider a city.  To make a functional city, a wide variety of important technologies are required: communication, transportation, plumbing, power plant, fuel, waste disposal, construction, health, etc.

Where might such a system reside within the biological world?  Perhaps the human body?  A human body is composed similarly to a city, and accomplishes a similar function, providing for its own wellbeing and maintenance.  We can look at the body and then look for the components we'd expect in a city.

"But, how does this give us new forms of technology?" you may ask.  Well, for one thing we can look at how the same functionality is implemented in the body and then attempt to reverse engineer it to improve our existing technology.  There is currently a technology company doing exactly this by reverse engineering the motor in the bacterial flagellum.  Our body contains much, much more than new kinds of motors, however.  It has instantaneous communication systems, extremely effective repair and construction systems, and is amazingly effectively at extracting and utilizing energy from food.

That is not all.  Furthermore, we can learn of new kinds of technology.  While our body shares similar systems with cities, it also has systems and capabilities we have not thought of before that equally apply to a city.  And this is where the real promise lies in the technique of learning from nature.

Here are a couple examples to get things started.
- While our cities today have a very limited utility system, the body not only distributes power and water, but the body also has a system of very decentralized manufacturing.  Today, we are rapidly nearing the point where people can manufacture objects within their homes.  The innovation within the body is there is also a resource utility system, such that the basic resources for manufacturing are distributed throughout the body.  The same could be done within cities.
- All the systems in the body are autonomously run and optimized by a central processing unit, to which our cities have no existing analog, but would be very useful.
- The body is maintained by what amount to robots.  While manning our cities with robots is not possible yet, the body presents a example on how it can be done.
- The body is able to turn its fuel waste into a form that can be recycled right back into fuel again.

It has been noted by a number of scientists that biological organisms appear to be phenomenally optimized for their particular function.  The technology in nature far exceeds any technology we have ever been able to create.  If we can perfect our ability to reverse engineer natural systems, our modern technology will grow by incredible leaps and bounds, since we can see from nature that we are only beginning to touch what is technologically possible.  There is an enormous wealth of technological innovation that is ours for the taking, to which we have been blinded ever since the industrial revolution by Darwinism and methodological naturalism.

However, with the introduction of Intelligent Design, our blinders have been removed.  Forget mining for gold and diamonds.  Forget pumping oil.  We have vast untapped quantities of the most valuable resource in our universe: CSI.

Still feeling skeptical?  Well, ask yourself what the greatest technological innovation has been of the past century that has revolutionized our entire world.  It is information technology.  But where has information technology existed since the beginning of life?  Why, within the very DNA and protein production that make up all organism.  Think how much sooner we could have invented computers if we'd only known where to look.

What untold other technologies are lying out in the natural world just waiting for us to discover them?  It is time to look for Intelligent Design!

ID Implies the Supernatural

Here is a first order predicate logic proof which shows ID implies a supernatural causal agent.  The agent is properly called "supernatural" because it possess an ability that is above nature.



V x p : universal quantification - for all x proposition p holds

~p : not p

p1 ^ p2 : conjunction

p1 v p2 : disjunction

p1 -> p2 : implication

The following is how new universal propositions are introduced using temporary variables.

The | indicates that the corresponding line is part of a subproof.

The numbers on the right indicate which prior lines, and laws/identities, are used to generate the current line. 

1. | x0 ^ y0                                        x0, y0


2. | x0                                             1

3. V x, y ( x ^ y -> x )                            1-2



P(x): x is an entity that is entirely controlled by physical laws

C&N(x):  x is an entity that operates by events entirely describable by chance and necessity

C&NO(x): x is an entity whose origin can be explained by proximate chance and necessity causes

CSI(x): x contains CSI

C(x, y): x is the proximate cause of y

Goal: V x, y ( C(x, y) ^ CSI(y) -> ~P(x) )

1.  V x ( P(x) -> C&N(x) )

2.  V x ( CSI(x) -> ~C&NO(x) )

3.  V x, y ( C&N(x) ^ C(x, y) -> C&NO(y) )

4.  | C&N(x0) ^ C(x0, y0) ^ CSI(y0)                 x0, y0


5.  | CSI(y0)                                       4

6.  | ~C&NO(y0)                                     2, 5

7.  | C&NO(y0)                                      3, 4

8.  | _|_                                           6, 7

9. V x, y ( ~(C&N(x) ^ C(x, y) ^ CSI(y)) )          4-8

10. V x, y ( ~C&N(x) v ~C(x, y) v ~CSI(y) )         9 & De Morgan's Law

11. | C(x0, y0) ^ CSI(y0)                           x0, y0


12. | ~C&N(x0)                                      10, 11

13. | ~P(x0)                                        1 & Modus Tollens, 12

14. V x, y ( C(x, y) ^ CSI(y) -> ~P(x) )     11-13


Elsewhere, an author claims this argument shows ID is committed to substance dualism.  


While I agree substance dualism is the easiest way to make sense of this argument, it is still not a necessary conclusion.  For example, Mormon theology maintains there is a way for matter to be intelligent and possess free will.  Such a claim is not logically incoherent (as far as I know), so here we have a materialistic theory of intelligence that is compatible with my argument above.

However, a materialistic theory of intelligence would still be supernatural, since intelligent matter is beyond the physical laws of chance and necessity.

Subjective specification makes CSI non-functional

It has been claimed a number of times that the specification in complex specified information (CSI) is subjective, at least to some degree.  The claim is that even though it is possible to quantify specification, to some degree, it is still at some level dependent upon a human domain of discourse for its description.

However, if it is true that specification is always subjective this presents a problem.  To understand why, we must examine the problem CSI is attempting to solve.

In bygone days, creationists used to argue that the universe must have been designed because many parameters are so finely tuned, and the combination of so many independent finely tuned parameters is vastly improbable.  While intuitively this seems like a knock down drag out argument, there is a logical fallacy at work.

Take a jar of multicolor marbles.  It happens to be configured in such a way that the marbles spell out the word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" around the edge of the jar.  However, mathematically speaking, this particular configuration, while very improbable, is just as probable as any other configuration of marbles in the jar.  Yet, it is a necessity that one of these improbable configurations is instantiated in the jar, regardless of whether through material or intelligent causation.  As such, the mere fact that the configuration is improbable says nothing about the causal agency that brought it about.

CSI gets around this problem by placing a non-uniform probability distribution on sets of marble configurations.  So, while the particular configurations are equally probable in themselves, the probability of a configuration coming from a particular set varies.  Thus, with a the right choice of  specification, it is now possible to exclude either a material or intelligent causal agent as being responsible for the marble configuration.

But, how do we choose the correct specification?  The problem is that there are many possible specifications for the marble configurations.  In fact, there is a specification for each possible probability distribution.  The information conferred by picking one of these specifications must be averaged out over all possible choices of specifications.  Unfortunately, this brings us right back to square one, and each marble configuration again regains an equal, though very low, probability, when averaged over all choices of specifications.

This is where the problem with a subjective specification comes into play.

We might say that the selection of specification is up to the group of scientists detecting intelligent design, so even though syntactically speaking one specification is as preferable as any other, there is an external mapping of value to each specification (i.e. semantics) held by the scientists that makes one specification more valuable than another.  Furthermore, this mapping is held by the vast majority of people, and they all agree the mapping is objective.

Unfortunately, while this may well be true, such a mapping begs the question if it meant to support a scientific claim, since the mapping is no longer a strictly scientific claim.  Science, at least of the hard science variety, decides matters of qualification using quantification.  It proposes a variety of models to fit observed data, and uses model fitting (i.e. linear regression) to determine which model is best.  In this way, it is possible to make objectively true statements about the physical world, which is at the level of mathematical veracity, given the premises are true.

However, in the case of CSI, the choice of specification is what determines the answer to whether a particular object is designed.  Two choices of specification can give two completely different answers. Thus, if the choice of specification is determined by some factor completely external to the marble configurations under consideration, then this may be equivalent to fitting the data to the model, since the specification chosen is part of the data being measured.  Fitting the data to the model does not count as science.

As a result, even though it is not necessarily the case that an externally determined specification is fitting the data to the model, it remains a live possibility.  As long as there is no objective way to eliminate this possibility, then by the principle of maximum entropy both the possibility of fitting the data to the model and fitting the model to the data must be given equal weighting.  If both possibilities are given equal weighting then ultimately the CSI metric cannot give a positive reading, inherently cannot discriminate between design and non-design, and therefore does not count as a scientific claim.

The only way the CSI metric can count as science is if there is an objective way to choose a specification.