Search FQXi


If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at forums@fqxi.org with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home

Current Essay Contest


Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fnd.

Previous Contests

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American

read/discusswinners

How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
read/discusswinners

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
read/discusswinners

Forum Home
Introduction
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help
RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Miles Mutka: on 3/19/17 at 12:31pm UTC, wrote Miles Mutka, not anonymous

Anonymous: on 3/19/17 at 12:26pm UTC, wrote Thank you for this well written and referenced essay. From the comments...

Simon DeDeo: on 3/15/17 at 14:51pm UTC, wrote Dear Robin, It is fun to see a number of essays (Larissa's as well, on the...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 3/13/17 at 12:22pm UTC, wrote This is my post only, I was logged out Best Regards =snp. gupta

Anonymous: on 3/13/17 at 12:19pm UTC, wrote Nice essay Berjon, Your ideas and thinking are excellent on the definition...

Ines Samengo: on 3/13/17 at 2:01am UTC, wrote Hi, Robin, thanks for the good writing. I resonate with the minimal...

Joe Fisher: on 3/11/17 at 16:09pm UTC, wrote Dear President Robin Berjon, Please excuse me for I have no intention of...

Anonymous: on 3/10/17 at 11:43am UTC, wrote Dear Robin Thanks for inviting me to elaborate further. My view is that...


RECENT FORUM POSTS

Eckard Blumschein: "Gary Simpson, While PHALLUS is an abreviantion, a phallus is a Willy, a..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

jay grey: "Thanks for the link, I believe it will be very useful for personal..." in Santa Barbara Gravity...

Lorraine Ford: "Good one Gary! Regards, Lorraine" in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

Joe Fisher: "Attempting to account for complex finite invisible particles will not help..." in Bohemian Reality:...

jany watson: "At we have a long list of similar http://www.essayhelperuk.co.uk/law-essay..." in Koalas, Quantum Mechanics...

James Putnam: ""The math time = 1/nu defines time ... " Nu is cycles/second. 1/nu is..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Agnew: "Your work has shown how normal physics like S&Z mass, length, and time have..." in Alternative Models of...

kab: "The word is enternal magic. Hope all secret never has answer will be out..." in Does Quantum Weirdness...


RECENT ARTICLES
click titles to read articles

Bohemian Reality: Searching for a Quantum Connection to Consciousness
Is there are sweet spot where artificial intelligence systems could have the maximum amount of consciousness while retaining powerful quantum properties?

Quantum Replicants: Should future androids dream of quantum sheep?
To build the ultimate artificial mimics of real life systems, we may need to use quantum memory.

Painting a QBist Picture of Reality
A radical interpretation of physics makes quantum theory more personal.

The Spacetime Revolutionary
Carlo Rovelli describes how black holes may transition to "white holes," according to loop quantum gravity, a radical rewrite of fundamental physics.

Riding the Rogue Quantum Waves
Could giant sea swells help explain how the macroscopic world emerges from the quantum microworld? (Image credit: MIT News)


FQXi FORUM
March 28, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: The Necessary Agency by Robin Berjon [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

This essay's rating: Community = 4.5; Public = 5.7


Author Robin Berjon wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 16:52 GMT
Essay Abstract

We start from issues with teleogical accounts of nature. From there we proceed to simplify the notion of purpose and intersect it with the information theory of individuality to obtain agency. We observe how such a grounded notion of agency relates to other aspects of biology and philosophy.

Author Bio

Robin Berjon is CTO of science.ai, a science publisher. He has worked extensively on defining the technological standards that collectively make up the Web. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two daughters, and a vicious cat.

Download Essay PDF File




Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 21:50 GMT
Hi Robin,

Re the "vicious cat":

The article How to make your cat happy at http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/how-make-your-cat
-happy.html might help.

report post as inappropriate

Author Robin Berjon replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 21:56 GMT
Thanks, but she's not unhappy — she's just vicious :)




Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 07:14 GMT
Dear Robin

Apologies for the criticism, but this one fell away for me. Starting nicely (I wish I had your writer's toolbox!) you followed a well-trodden path of emphasising the teleological aspects of objectively observable systems, and then just touching on conscious intention. At that stage "poof!" the magic happens...or is supposed to. It doesn't really work for the core problems of consciousness. More exploration of the subjective would be nice.

Of course, others may disagree.

Regards

Gavin

report post as inappropriate

Author Robin Berjon replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 14:51 GMT
Dear Gavin,

please do not apologise for criticism, if I didn't want any I would simply keep this to myself. And thanks for liking the writing at least!

I think that the core issue here is that based on what you say we would appear to disagree as to what the very problem at hand is. I do not believe that it is related to the problem of consciousness at all (except perhaps in the very limited sense that conscious entities we know of are purposive, but that's barely a link).

My take is that in order to be scientifically interesting, the question of teleology needs to be treated far ahead of that of consciousness. The issues might interact somewhere down the line — but not yet.

I would be curious to hear what makes you think that consciousness needs be involved in this problem.

Thanks!




Anonymous wrote on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 11:43 GMT
Dear Robin

Thanks for inviting me to elaborate further. My view is that the teleology you describe is very different to that seen in consciousness. Indeed, i think it is debatable whether biology can be seen as teleological at all. Biological systems, while very complex, are not generally seen as evolving "for" a particular purpose. They are considered merely to be the product of environmental pressures, with innumerable other failed models having fallen along the wayside. Of course, that is debatable, but the question in fact asked about "mindless mathematical laws" - I think we are talking here about the laws and constants of the universe. You did mention these briefly early on, but by the time you got to the crux of your argument it was couched in abstract or biological terms. While you tend to inflate the sense of purpose in nature, you deflate the nature of conscious free will by making statements thus:

"A similar reasoning applies to our view of agency. By establishing it atop gradual, continuous measures rooted in simpler constructs we make the case that there is no mysterious teleologic force that uniquely distinguishes purpose, intention, or will any more than there is an élan vital categorically distinguishing living from nonliving systems. Aims and intention appear naturally, necessarily, as processes aggregate"

I think the essay question is asking us to address the stark difference between the "mindless" laws of nature and the "aims and intention" and therefore volition, motivation, decision making etc of the mind. By the end of your essay i felt you had minimised the mindlessness of nature and omitted the province of mind, and had thereby dismissed the problem as inconsequential.

Glad I didn't offend :)

Regards

Gavin

report post as inappropriate


Ines Samengo wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 02:01 GMT
Hi, Robin, thanks for the good writing. I resonate with the minimal approach to goals and agency that you have proposed, and with many of your comments. I myself have focused more in the role of the observer, but I daresay that even in spite of the different focus, many of the ideas look quite similar. I will (slowly) look up some of the references you mention.

thanks for the good read!

inés.

report post as inappropriate


Anonymous wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 12:19 GMT
Nice essay Berjon,

Your ideas and thinking are excellent on the definition of life etc. Some of your good quotes...

1. That is, we tacitly assume that biological systems and structures are ‘for’ something: for example, eyes are for seeing, wings are for flying, and ribosomes are for making proteins. By contrast, in physics we would not say that an electron, or a turbulent eddy,...

view entire post


report post as inappropriate

Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 12:22 GMT
This is my post only, I was logged out

Best Regards

=snp. gupta

report post as inappropriate


Simon DeDeo wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 14:51 GMT
Dear Robin,

It is fun to see a number of essays (Larissa's as well, on the animats) wrestle with the problem of defining "information processing" in a deeper, more rigorous fashion. And it's exciting to think that OK, we may actually be getting beyond what computer scientists have done in the past, which is to define computation as something useful to a third party.

Perhaps because computer scientists had to cleave off from the engineering department, they've been very reluctant to examine the underlying "physics" of their field—the study of the causal/mechanistic structures that underlie computation, and the generic properties we expect them to have.

It would be fun to apply the paradigm from the Information Theory of Individuality paper to a few toy examples. You could give some of your functions to agents in a little interacting system and give it a shot. I'd be curious to see what would happen, and whether the results would be illuminating. It would make a fun little paper.

Yours,

Simon

report post as inappropriate


Anonymous wrote on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 12:26 GMT
Thank you for this well written and referenced essay.

From the comments here it seems that you intended to leave questions of the nature of consciousness out of your essay. The appearance of free will in the last part is therefore a bit confusing to the reader

Maybe you could have split the last chapter to two, "Conclusions" and "For Further Study"?

report post as inappropriate

Miles Mutka replied on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 12:31 GMT
Miles Mutka, not anonymous

report post as inappropriate


Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:

And select the letter between 'W' and 'Y':


Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.