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Current Essay Contest

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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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Willy K: on 4/9/17 at 7:11am UTC, wrote Hi Yafet I have not read Hegel or indeed, any of the later derivative...

Willy K: on 4/9/17 at 6:34am UTC, wrote Dear Alfredo Yes. It is hard to know where exactly to draw the line when...

Aron Barco: on 4/7/17 at 21:23pm UTC, wrote Dear Willy, I find your essay intriguing. I enjoyed that you focused on...

Alfredo Oliveira: on 4/7/17 at 12:50pm UTC, wrote Dear Willy I think I failed to understand the potential of your...

Willy K: on 4/7/17 at 6:29am UTC, wrote Oops! The message below was actually meant only as a response to your...

Willy K: on 4/7/17 at 6:25am UTC, wrote Am happy that you found my essay to be interesting and enjoyable. I agree...

Willy K: on 4/7/17 at 6:04am UTC, wrote Glad to be of help, if my suggestion was indeed helpful to you. You can be...

Bradly Alicea: on 4/2/17 at 6:14am UTC, wrote Enjoyed the essay -- I am following up on our discussion on the Law of...


PRASAD DIVATE: "Respected sir, I have suggestions for next essay topic 1: consciousness..." in Undecidability,...

Steve Dufourny: "What I find relevant in all humility is that in my model of Spherisation..." in AI, Consciousness,...

PRASAD DIVATE: "Respected Professor Penrose sir, I always read your works and am greatly..." in AI, Consciousness,...

Steve Agnew: "A new model will be useful if and only if it can explain something that the..." in Is Causality Fundamental?

Steve Dufourny: "Hello , dear Jason, your general analysis is interesting, that implies a..." in Is Causality Fundamental?

Steve Dufourny: "I have remarked in all humility that if we want to unify this GR and this..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Dufourny: "here is my intuitive equation about this matter non baryonic encoded also..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Dufourny: "Hello Mr Snowdon, it is well said what you tell, I agree that this time is..." in The Nature of Time

click titles to read articles

Lockdown Lab Life
Grounded physicists are exploring the use of online and virtual-reality conferencing, and AI-controlled experiments, to maintain social distancing. Post-pandemic, these positive innovations could make science more accessible and environmentally-friendly.

Is Causality Fundamental?
Untangling how the human perception of cause-and-effect might arise from quantum physics, may help us understand the limits and the potential of AI.

Building Agency in the Biology Lab
Physicists are using optogenetics techniques to make a rudimentary agent, from cellular components, which can convert measurements into actions using light.

Think Quantum to Build Better AI
Investigating how quantum memory storage could aid machine learning and how quantum interactions with the environment may have played a role in evolution.

Outside the Box
A proposed quantum set-up that could predict your game-playing strategy resurrects Newcomb’s classic quiz show paradox.

August 12, 2020

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Mathematical Structures can create a Capacity to 'Nurture' Life by Willy K [refresh]
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Author Willy K wrote on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 17:21 GMT
Essay Abstract

The essay attempts to model the intelligence of systems by focusing on social systems. This scope is identified after five eliminations from the theme. Modeling the social system starts with life as its root element, builds up with nine complementary elements, and ends by showing an inherent balance. The second half of the model shows a capacity to ‘nurture’ both life and the complementary elements, which may be useful as an objective measure for identifying intelligent systems.

Author Bio

The author has completed his MBA from an elite institution. For the decade since then he has both worked in and consulted with multiple blue chip companies, typically with market capitalization well in excess of the Billion Dollar level. This work, done mostly to aid people at the CXO level, has produced some unique insights over the years. The most valuable of those insights are being brought together, for the first time, onto a platform in this essay. He hopes to expand this work later on, so that it can be published in the form of a book.

Download Essay PDF File

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Karoly Kehrer wrote on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 22:57 GMT
FQXi essay contest 2017 Wandering Towards a Goal; has the Universe any purpose ? 02/172017 Karoly Kehrer Is goal-oriented behavior a physical or cosmic trend, an accident or an imperative? Abstract. The development of the world-view with the help of physicist is discussed. An investigation to try to find answer of how causality, witnessing biological creation and theological influence ...

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Feb. 23, 2017 @ 15:23 GMT
Do not despair Willy,

You can expect at least some lively debate, once people discover your paper. I read your comment on Garrett's page, and thought it would be nice to chime in here. As it turns out; I am part of the viXra team, and it's certainly an option to post your work there too. Any restriction applies only to those chosen as prize winners, who must sign a release form giving exclusive rights to FQXi and its chosen publishers.

I got lucky once, and got published in an FQXi/Springer volume with the experts. But I was a finalist on other occasions, and later got my essay published in Prespacetime journal. But you will find that if you engage the other authors on their terms, and relate this insight back to what you have written, many knowledgeable people will respond and give you feedback. Some will also read your essay and comment. So don't lose hope yet.

All the Best,


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Author Willy K replied on Feb. 26, 2017 @ 04:45 GMT
Thanks so much for the supportive words. Really appreciate it. I think I will publish this work eventually. I just haven't decided the mode for it yet. Also, there are sure to be easy improvements (or mistakes) that I have overlooked. So FQXi is a great forum for getting early feedback on those fronts.

In fact, I have already expanded on the work and since it probably can't be published on FQXi (since I have already submitted here), I think I will submit to vixra once the additions have stabilized to some extent. I am in the process of digesting the other essays here. I will start commenting on them in a few days or so. Thanks again for suggesting a good approach for doing that.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Feb. 23, 2017 @ 16:26 GMT
Hello again,

It appears that what you have here is not yet a working model, but the sketch of a model with descriptions about what it must contain. Social systems are not my forte, but my departed friend Pete Seeger would have had a lot to say. Let me start by mentioning that the set theoretic structure you propose early on has a fairly direct analogy to dialectic reasoning. Your two elements can be two alternate viewpoints, typically called thesis and antithesis, which produce a third point - a synthesis. You rightly state that there can be varying degrees of opposition at any particular level of organization - so it doesn't have to be seen as pro and anti. But you leave a lot unsaid.

The ancient Greeks talked about the virtues as a pediment resting between two vices; courage is the mid-point between timidity and foolhardiness, on a bridge between them - so courage is an emergent quality in this schema. Your essay leaves out any such rationale entirely, so I can only give you partial credit for addressing the question. On "At 89" Pete talks about the progression of ages. "The agricultural revolution took thousands of years, the industrial revolution took hundreds, the information revolution took decades." And he spoke of a revolution to come, where we must learn to communicate to preserve our humanity and survive today's challenges.

How does your proposed structure address this need?

All the Best,


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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Feb. 23, 2017 @ 16:44 GMT
There are other analogies...

Your separation of powers mimics the hierarchy of author, director, actor - for example. So insights from similar reframing of your concept in different settings might yield some valuable clues as to how it is done. My main question is if you address the concern Carlo Rovelli raises, of whether the information and proposed structure increases the potential for survival. If your structure has fitness, it will support survival and foster further development, and I'm wondering to what extent you feel the social structure you have created rises to that challenge. Many have tried to craft a utopia and failed; so what makes your approach different?

Leo KoGuan has commented that rule of law alone does not always encourage right action, but instead often leads to the avoidance of blame. He advocates for universal free education for life, as a remedy, because it is easy to show that well-educated people are more likely to understand the need for a longer view and this promotes right action for its own benefit. How does what you set out provide for the long-term evolutionary progress of humanity, by avoiding such pitfalls?



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Author Willy K replied on Feb. 26, 2017 @ 05:29 GMT
I have heard of the dialectical reasoning, but I have not read any texts on the subject itself. I was honestly not thinking in those terms while composing this essay. Now that I do think of it, I would say it contains adversarial relationships, whereas additional elements in the essay are all supposed to be 'complementary' to the existing structure.

On the three revolutions, I agree on the...

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Natesh Ganesh wrote on Feb. 24, 2017 @ 00:02 GMT
Dear Willy,

A very interesting essay looking at the sociological aspect to this question. I am not familiar with the field so I will have to go through in detail to understand it better (I will hold off my score till then). I like the idea of using the capacity to nurture life as an objective function. We do agree on some fundamental ideas of goals and intentions as emergent properties of stable systems. I think you might like my submission 'Intention is Physical' where I show that such goals can emerge as a trade off between energy dissipation and complexity.

Good luck with the competition.


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Author Willy K replied on Feb. 26, 2017 @ 04:52 GMT
Thanks for you kind words Natesh. I will go through your essay for sure.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Feb. 24, 2017 @ 16:55 GMT
Dear Willy,

Please excuse me for I have no intention of disparaging in any way any part of your essay.

I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY. I do hope that you will read my essay and perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 26, 2017 @ 02:31 GMT
Dear Prof Willy,

Thank you for the good essay on “Brain functions describing social functions very nicely" In contrast my essay is on Dynamical n-Body problem solution on Cosmology and astrophysics. This essay contest is covering wide range and verity essays from social systems to Cosmological sciences.

You are observations are excellent, like…” None of the lower order...

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 05:49 GMT
I expect the brain to differ completely from social setup in almost every respect.

If you read my essay carefully, you will realise that my position is really not about brain functions describing social functions. Rather it is that the phenomenon of intelligence might have some common features across different domains, one of which could be the capacity to 'nurture' its root element. The model described in the essay is almost entirely meant for Constitutional nation state (with the exception of generic 'nurturing' function which could be independent of that domain). I hope that clarifies the situation.

I tried reviewing your essay, but galaxies is not my area of expertise. At the generic level, I think you have written a fine essay. All the best.

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Daniel de França Diniz Rocha wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 03:45 GMT
Dear K. Willy,

You model is really interesting and I think it can be applied to evolution, and has similarities to what I wrote in my essay.

But instead of human life, I talk about biological life. You give a definition of negative liberty and positive liberty, which seems a kind of control (really in the sense of machine control, a thermostat). It looks like the basic control which I defined as a chemical clock, in the primeval oceans. Turbulence and high UV-gave the oceans energy so that these self regulating mechanisms could evolve.

It's interesting how your Bridge Between the 2 halves of the model mimics the transition from the broad definition of life I gave to the machinery becoming so interlaced and organized, that the chemical reactions become life as we know, a cell. No more "doubling", the cell becomes standardized (ribosome to produce proteins, use of rna and dna as massage carriers, lipid membrane to separate outside and inside), but complexity to deal with problems grow. Like you said, there is a balance of output and input ('for the people" vs. "by the people").

It's interesting that you talk about intrinsic vs. extrinsic intelligence. I see the many steps toward adaptability as intelligence in action. The most basic is the appearance of life, to detect change of the environment. Then, cell life, then sexual life cells, then multi cellular life with a generalized body plan, then the growth of the brain. At each step, less effort was required for adaption, from the point of view of an individual. Since, in earlier life, only the ecosystems could "think", by means of selecting the most fit individuals such that it could survive. Sex, provided more variability. Multicelular life, resilience of and invidual. A brain, an individual could solve problems, instead of merely let in the hands of nature.

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 06:06 GMT
I am glad that you like my essay. The definition of negative and positive liberty given in the essay as a footnote are not my own. They are the orgininal definitins given by Berlin. You are correct in recognizing that positive liberty is a form of regulatory control. I also envisioned it in that form, but I could not mention Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety as that would have required a great deal of mathematical expertise from my side in order to develop the supporting arguments.

I would not be surprised if the model has some applicability in the biological world as well, if it is indeed based on generic Regulatory mechanisms. However, I would not push that argument myself, because I would have to back that up with the necessary biological descriptions which I am not capable of.

We are all really locked up in our own domains. It is only in rare instances like in this FQXi contest that the boundaries come down and we see the other areas of science.

All the best!

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Gary D. Simpson wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 03:53 GMT

This essay is an interesting take on Social Studies. It is very timely given the world today.

I am puzzled by your use of two elements per set. What was the basis for this?

You did not mention Adam Smith and his "Wealth of Nations" but I can see some influence of that thinking as well.

There was a fairly recent thinker/philosopher that said something like "Do not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good." I also see some of that influence here.

I am curious as to your analysis of the Sovereignty Right as it applies to the EU and Brexit and the populist movements in the world today ...

Honestly, it looks to me like you have the basis for either a pretty decent university level course or a pretty good textbook ... or perhaps a thesis.

And the use of biomass is a good measureable method of quantifying success. So, does that mean that Islam is the correct path since the Muslim population is exploding? Most of the Western societies have stagnant population growth. In fact, most of the Western nations would be in population decline if there were no immigration into them.

All in all, a very good effort with a unique perspective.

Best Regards and Good Luck,

Gary Simpson

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 07:16 GMT
>>I am puzzled by your use of two elements per set. What was the basis for this?

My work took its current form when I attempted to understand theoretical dichotomies in the Rights theory: liberty vs. claim, positive vs. negative, individual vs. group and natural vs. legal. Where did I come across that list? Wikipedia, of course. Gradually, the other three dichotomies faded away, as...

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Gary D. Simpson wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 04:13 GMT
PS - I scored your essay earlier ... I saw that Jonathan was supportive and that you had been one bombed ... so I gave you a nice little boost:-)

Best Regards,

Gary Simpson

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Edward Kneller wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 04:16 GMT

Your essay is well written and thought out. I like the way you have developed a model that links many abstract human concepts such as rights, organization, infrastructure, and governance. I strongly agree with your conclusion that, 'human social systems have the potential to achieve stability through their intention (goal-orientation), not by directly pursuing stability at the overall level, but by preserving and enhancing the stability space available to their root element.'

Regards, Ed

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 07:19 GMT
Thank you Ed for your comments. I really liked your essay as well. There are a few more essays on this forum that address the area of swarm intelligence, but none at the level of detail that you provide on the subject.

All the best!

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 09:45 GMT
Dear Willy K.

I carefully read your essay but I am not sure of having fully understood it. You present a model of the human society with the goal, I assume, of showing that we can model a society from basic mathematics structures. The problem for me is that I can only consider it a “model” if it is able to explain past occurrences and predict future ones. I think this is just a first step in your research: to show that information specific of human society can be organized in a mathematical iterative construction. Now, this structure needs (I think) to be generalized, made able to describe any society in whatever stage of development, and, from there, to be able to describe its evolution. That is a certainly a long way but anyhow you have a starting point.

On the other hand, your essay is well done, clearly explained, I read it with great interest; it even clarifies certain aspects of society on structuring them.

All the best,

Alfredo G Oliveira

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 07:35 GMT
>>I am not sure of having fully understood it

Please do let me know any specific (or even general level) issues you have with regard to the essay. I am looking forward to improve it further by eliminating any weak spots and strengthening the strong areas (if any). For instance, Klingman (commented below) thinks page 3 in the essay is weak. As a result, I am considering whether I should restructure the content.

>>I can only consider it a “model” if it is able to explain past occurrences and predict future ones.

I agree wholeheartedly. When it comes to science, I must confess that I am an old fashioned Popperazi. The model must have empirical backing. Otherwise it becomes just an interesting logical game.

>> to show that information specific of human society can be organized in a mathematical iterative construction

Yes. I would love to show better mathematics in my work, especially whether I can include the work of Ashby (Law of Requisite Variety) and Conant (Good Regulator Theorem). If you know of any folks who can help in this regard, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email.

>> made able to describe any society in whatever stage of development, and, from there, to be able to describe its evolution

I would like to get there as well. However, I am not hopeful of being able to describe the future evolution of society in great detail, since that level of detail might not be computationally possible from any model (at least the current model). But being able to explain past occurences might be worth working towards.

>>your essay is well done, clearly explained, I read it with great interest

Thank you so much for your kind words. It always helps when people encourages one.

Regards, Willy

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 21:52 GMT
Willie K,

Thanks for reading my essay and telling me how it triggered introspection on your own.

Your essay, as you note, did begin with the Platonic credo:

"…when these physical entities are studied down to their most fundamental constituents, all that's left will be mathematics…"

You then propose that the total biomass on earth is a measure of...

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 07:52 GMT
Hi Ed

I can tell that you have really gone through my essay. Thank you so much for taking the time to do that. We writers tend to get trapped inside our own creations, and comparatively few take the trouble to review other people's work well. You appear to be a great exception. So thank you.

On page 3, I had to introduce the theme of looking at the model as two halves. This is facilitated by Berlin's work which is very well known in the area of political philosophy. If I had introduced this in page 4 or later, it might have looked more artificial. But I understand your comment. I agree that page 3 is probably the weakest area in the whole essay.

On AI, I think we might have to develop our responses to both intrinsic AI and extrinsic AI. I think extrinsic AI is inherently dangerous (raises the possibility of conflict over physical resources) and will probably be disallowed by nation states. On intrinsic AI, I am less sure. It probably will not be disallowed by nation states as it will be considered as a nice tool for their greater development. But that doesn't make it safe! We probably need better theory and research in the area of intrinsic AI.

Thank you for your encouragement for me to develop this concept further. I will endeavour to do so.

Best Regards, Willy

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Author Willy K wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 08:10 GMT
This is to let everyone know that I would be grateful if anyone could suggest how the Law of Requisite Variety of Ashby and the Good Regulator Theorem of Conant might be applicable to this particular work.

Without that support from rigorous mathematical reasoning, I suspect this work remains slightly incomplete.

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Donald G Palmer wrote on Mar. 16, 2017 @ 21:59 GMT
Dear Willy K,

You have a number of interesting ideas and provide some great quotes.

This appears to be me to be a model of how humans could be manifesting extrinsic intelligence, but it seems build upon a single governmental structure. How would this model the government of a singular leader (eg. a King or Emperor)?

While I grasp that you are putting forth a model, I find it difficult to understand how this model is mathematical, beyond being a set of nested squares. Typically, a mathematical model involves measurements and/or quantifiable characteristics that are related in some operational (eg. arithmetic) manner. I do not see any of these defined in your essay and so do not understand how this is a mathematical model.

I wish you well in developing your model.


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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 05:51 GMT
Hi Don

Thanks for allowing the possibility that humans could be manifesting extrinsic intelligence. That is the real major point of my essay and I am glad you are positive there. Everything else can be improved given time.

Regarding dictatorial governments, my essay would simply note that such a structure does not qualify as an intelligent system. But that does not mean that the dictatorial system is not successful in carrying out some basic regulatory functions. As far as comparisons go, we could compare it to the difference between chimpanzee brain and human brain. I have actually already expanded my work to include this comparison (not yet published). You showed great insight in anticipating that expansion.

On the work not being a mathematical model, I actually agree! I have only claimed that it is a 'mathematical structure'; because it is clearly more than just a conceptual structure (conceptual structure would just imply human language). I did claim 'goal-free mathematics' and 'mathematical laws' because I thought they are inherent in all mathematical structures. I am not sure but you may disagree here. Regarding the modeling itself, it has got lot more ground to traverse before it can claim to be a formal mathematical model with all the definitions that are well laid out.

Thanks so much for taking the trouble to review my essay. I really appreciate it.

Regards, Willy

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 07:22 GMT
Dear Willy,

Your work is impressive as large informative as well as with its nice attractively narration. I think however that I understand it not so well, because statement of the goal looks to me as unsolvable in whole, by mathematical way only. I cannot see, for example, any perspective to represent some concepts and categories that you have using, in math language, such as “democracy”, “morality” etc that plays huge role in determinations of aims in the social groups. Maybe it will be more right to determine the aims of social groups (or future way) by systematization and generalization number of past facts, which actually doing historians and politicians? Then this will be a pure empirical science, where strong math methods seem not so applicable.

With all of these not so clear points, I see your judgments and references very attractive and I can rate your essay as valuable because it directed to a many important and actual for today questions. So, good wishes to you (Nelson Mandela really says nice words!)

Best regards

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 08:37 GMT
Hi George

Thanks for stopping by to comment. I agree that including math in this work will be challenging. The mathematical modeling that I am speaking about will only deal with showing that the work is supported by Ashby and Conant's earlier works in the area of Cybernetics. Apart from that, as of now I do not know of any way I can include mathematics in this. It is not impossible of course. Bednar's 'Robust Federation', which is in the list of references, is a highly mathematical work in an almost idential area. So it will require some talented imagination and strong math skills, I guess.

And yes, Mandela's words were really helpful when I wrote the essay!

Regards, Willy

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 12:15 GMT
Dear Willy

I have been wondering on what troubled me in your very interesting essay; and it is the following. When you present your model, I need to see some justification of it. It is a model with defined rules, probably the result of long though; it is certainly also fruit of your intuition, and intuition is the process of discovery as Poincaré said (its the result of the work of our "idea-engine" as I present it in my essay); however, intuition is personal, so when presenting it, either we have to found some justification for it or to present some clear result. Of course that this are just essays, and with a limitation of size, but yours is so well written, and stimulating, that at that point I was expected to find an enough sound reasoning leading to the model you present. Probably this is just a problem of me, and I understand that this is a "work in progress", but as you seem really interesting in perfecting your work to the point to make it publishable, I think that for that goal it would benefit - at least for my kind of mind - if you could reason a little more about the structure of the model you chose. That is just a personal suggestion, not a critic because it applies to me but probably not to many other persons. And it arises probably because your work is really good and solid.

All the best

Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 07:47 GMT
Perhaps, I should have put in a paragraph on how I arrived at the structure proposed in the essay. It is basically the result of trying to understand the theoretical distinctions that are debated upon in the Human Rights area.

As you can see in the link above, there were four key dichotomies in Rights: liberty vs. claim, positive vs. negative, individual vs. group and natural vs. legal. Gradually, it became clear to me that liberty vs. claim was the most fundamental right from which the others could be derived. Then on closer inspection it was evident that I could not claim to have modeled the other three dichotomies from the first dichotomy, because the way they are currently defined in humanities area is slightly different from what the model suggests. Therefore, rather than attempting to redefine what is already well accepted, I should try to propose a parallel model which needs to be validated at its own level.

Also, it was clear to me that the work had striking parallels with Ashby and Conant's works in Regulation theory, which meant it was better to debated it in a scientific forum. Hence, this essay.

Thanks for clarifying your concerns so that I could remedy the lacuna. Please let me know if you need more details. For instance, I can elaborate further on why the traditionally understood dichotomies are different from the model.

Warm Regards, Willy

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John C Hodge wrote on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 17:55 GMT
Willy K:

We seem to be thinking along similar lines. These three papers cover some of the area you're attempting. The "steering humanity's growth" was reduced and submitted to the FQXi contest a few years ago. Survival is the only moral goal of life Growth challenge of the...

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 08:29 GMT
Dear Hodge

Thank you so much for appreciating my essay and then sharing the work that you have done in this area in the past. I believe that creating a better system of governance is something that everyone should engage with. Incidentally, it is one of the basic rights modeled in the essay, namely the Feedback right. It is only when citizens give feedback on the changes that they want, that their national governments can act on those suggestions. I have not had the time to look at your essays. Will respond on them later.

Regarding the 'yet to be achieved' world order, I think that almost 100% of that order is already here, and hence no major changes are necessary in that sphere. The last major change was the decolonisation of the emerging world after the end of ww 2. Every region belongs to some nation state or other. Most of these states already have a Constitution by which they handle their affairs. According to the model, that means we already live in a pretty ideal world. All future changes will be incremental and is unlikely to require 'reorganization' of any nation state. Also, the model clearly does not support a layer above that of nation states, if that is what you are hinting at. Of course, Federations are considered as nation states, and an organization like the UN will always be essential for keeping the communication channels open.

On future work, I shall be looking in depth at Ashby and Conant's works in the area of cybernetics so that I can mention clearly whether they support or do not support the model.

Regards, Willy

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John C Hodge replied on Mar. 24, 2017 @ 05:58 GMT
I thought about your response and whether I should comment>

As I mention in one of my papers, Tainter ("The collapse of complex societies") in his book and video on youtube mentions at least 10 characteristics of collapse such as income inequality, diminishing returns, large debt, polarized society, more and larger coercive government organizations, and etc. These are ALL present in the US today. Jared Diamond ("Collapse") in book and youtube also shows collapse of the US within 40 years. The Mideast collapse at the end of the bronze age and he Roman Empire collapse was followed by 1000 years of dark ages.

I think the future is bleak for the US and societies associated with the US (EU, etc). That is why the reorganization is suggested. Jared Diamond ("The world until yesterday") showed that the many crises are the indicator of the next organization structure 0 from family, to tribe to chiefdom to state.

I know you disagree,


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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 26, 2017 @ 06:28 GMT
Dear Hodge

I am a great admirer of both Tainter and Diamond. And in fact, had I been requested to name two people who have written most clearly about the ill-understood dangers facing modern society and by extension all of us, it would be those two! So we are clearly reading the same material and our motivations are also similar.

My problem with Tainter is that he suggests that decentralisation is the only possible solution (you may want to read Harokopos essay on this forum if you are into decentralisation). Unfortunately, that necessarily implies a sudden 'collapse' of some kind from the world we have currently. While if it does come to that we must deal with it, at this stage I would rather explore strategies that can stabilise the current system that we have. If successful, it would have the added value of preserving modernity and saving untold human suffering.

Diamond does suggest five areas that we can take action on. If I remember right, they are: climate change, resource depletion, enemy action, friendly trade and societal responses. My essay would mostly fall into the fifth action point, but it also strongly suggests that we end wars and engage in trade. It would perhaps require an expansion of the essay to emphasize the last two points.

My take is only that all the changes (even if they appear urgent) must be achieved under the Constitutional order and with popular democratic support.

Warm Regards, Willy

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James Arnold wrote on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 12:12 GMT
I suppose my most fundamental question is: what is mathematical about your model?

If "Life" is the "root element" of the model, why wouldn't a Matrix, wherein bodies are nurtured in morgue-like drawers while experiencing a maximally safe virtual reality, be the ideal?

What makes "liberty" a "proxy" for life? What is it about humans that makes liberty a value? Actually, what makes life a value? Wouldn't a mass of robots with "life" expectancies of thousands of years, and no need or desire for rights, and programmed for stable, efficient cooperation, be simpler (a value you value!)?

I'm sorry, but it seems to me the model you model is mathematical in at least this sense: It places no value in value.

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 26, 2017 @ 05:20 GMT
Thank you for your comments. It certainly got me thinking on what values I could explicitly include within the model. Of course, it raises the question of why only those values and not others. Incidentally, this was the central issue in the ratification fight surrounding the U.S. Constitution, which ultimately culminated in the drafting of the Bill of Rights as the Amendments to the Constitution. Ever since then, the approach has been to explicitly incorporate Human Rights within Constitutional structure. I think I would certainly advise all works relating to human extrinsic intelligence to align with that approach.

I think the current model (still a work in progress) also clearly requires that Human Rights be present within it. It would be really difficult for me to go against more than 200 years of political theory and suddenly suggest that we change that approach.

But your comment got me to think over this reasoning in a new light. So thank you. I appreciate your time and effort.

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Jose P. Koshy wrote on Mar. 23, 2017 @ 09:46 GMT

In your essay, you argue that mathematical structure can 'nurture' life. In fact, any structure is mathematical, whether it is a physical structure or a social structure. Such structures can be used to 'nurture' or 'rapture' life, depending upon the 'aims and intentions' of those who control the structures. It would be interesting to note that a mirror image of your essay where the proposed aim is 'rapture of life' will be equally logical.

Perhaps it may be that because you have 'right' intentions, you tend to see the 'right' side only and just wish that there is no 'wrong' side. Another point I like to point out is that from the essay itself, it is clear that the hierarchical social structure that you propose results from the proposed aim 'nurturing of life', and not vice-versa.

Jose P Koshy

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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 26, 2017 @ 06:08 GMT
Thank you for your comments. I think we may be misunderstood by others when we speak of the 'hierarchical' social structure. I should probably say at this stage that hierarchy in the social arena is not present in the system. The model is basically the typical Constitutional Democracy. However, 'hierarchy' is probably embedded within each organization implied in the Organization Right. But that is unavoidable, as it proceeds from the nature of all organizations. It is also why the space of Organization is the commercial space, wherein people participate only if they find a desirable commercial/monetary value from their actions within the organizations. Perhaps, just as for the Sovereignty and Help Rights, I should emphasize the 'voluntary' nature here as well. Thank you Koshy for triggering that improvement in the future versions of the work!

Of course, I think your use of 'hierarchical' is probably meant for the model as a whole, due to its clearly distinct levels. And in that sense, yes, you are correct in using that word for the model. Regarding the direction of causality which creates the model, you suggest that it is actually top down and not bottom up. My take would be that, while it is certainly true that there is a strong top down flow in the model, there is an even stronger bottom up causality. The top down flow is completely dependent upon the health and well being of the bottom up flow. This is essentially why the overall intention of the model is tilted so completely in favor of the root element.

We should expect there to be some top down flow in all systems that are intelligent. If you get the time, you may want to check out Torsten Asselmeyer's essay also in this regard.

Warm Regards, Willy

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Torsten Asselmeyer-Maluga wrote on Mar. 27, 2017 @ 21:39 GMT
Dear Willy,

at first I was travelling the last three days and here is my delayed answer...

Thanks for reading my essay and the comments.

I agree with you completely as top-down causation is a very important sign for intelligence

but not the only one (there are also complex systems showing top-down causation without

being alife).

With great interest I also read your essay. Before I found this model about the neural

networks I also thought about social systems (right in your spirit). As you correctly

stated hierarchical structures played a strong role in this game. (I like the Nelson Mandela cite) I miss a little bit the evolutionary elment in your discussion (my work enforced me to think in this direction).

I'm quit esure that this regulator theorem is applicable for you theory as well.

Thanks for writing such a good essay

Best wishes


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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 08:03 GMT
Thank you Torsten for taking the time out to review my essay. I appreciate it a lot. I was hopeful about Conant's work being relevant for this work on the Constitutional nation state. Now, I am relatively confident about it after your comment. I have reached out to other people also on this aspect, so that I can get all possible opinions on the subject.

I need to do more work on the mathematical modeling aspect. I guess that will address the evolutionary question you are raising.

Thanks so much


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Jeffrey Michael Schmitz wrote on Mar. 29, 2017 @ 14:07 GMT

You have a lot to say. I think you made a comment about my essay being too short, I understand that now. You map out the levels of human interactions in a way that is complete and impressive. The essay hints at ways that might stop wars and other human ills. Clearly, this work needs to continue.

A few essays ago, I wrote "The Omnivore Strategy" which was very narrow compared to your work, but you still might find interesting.

Hope your essay does well.


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Author Willy K replied on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 08:14 GMT

Thanks for you favorable review. Yes, the work can be extended so that trade between nations and elimination of wars also becomes a part of it. But I guess my focus for now ought to be on getting the mathematical description done in a better manner. The work will get a lot more credibility once that is done.

I will go through your essay. I entered this contest to get feedback on my work, which I have gotten to some extent. We can only build our theories by ourselves for so long. At some stage, it needs external validation and suggestions. If it means our work was a waste of time, at least it will stop us from wasting further time on it.

I thought my work had reached that stage of feedback. That's why I entered the contest. So far the feedback has been mostly positive and I intend to do more work on refining the model in the time to come.

Regards, Willy

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Daniel de França Diniz Rocha replied on Mar. 31, 2017 @ 17:09 GMT
Dear Wilhelmus,

Yes, it looks like a Feynman diagram, but if you do that (I was imaging that also when I made my suggestion), each "reality" has a probability. Think of the possible ralities having a gaussian distribution (it could be something else, but just stick to this idea for the moment). But given that the quantity is too big, it tends to a very thin line. But notice that the lines which are not realized also contribute for your measurement, a sort of interference, just like the 2 slit experiment, but with very complicated inteerference patterns.

This agent that you say, and keeping in mind the Feynman diagram in mind, is not continuous. Just take a looke at a diagram. There will be splits in the path. So, the agent is not continous. But, the flw you discribe would be the peak in the distribution. This is where the thing about GR enters in the scene. In GR you don't have these splits. The problems with paradoxes are due geometry, you don't have information coming from the future, you have a collision with yourself coming from the future. You cannot say this is "now". GR is a classic theory.

So, you see, let's say that this Eternal Now has a weight, and that this weight (mass causes weight because it distorts sapce time, but here the reason is different) is because you are trying to make sure things do not have this crazy loop. Which doesn't mean information can come to the future, but that the "now" is respected. So, I conjecture that dark matter is this weight that doesn't allow things to close a loop (let's say it bends space time in such a way that it doesn't allow a loop). I am not sure how to implement that. But since you mention holography, there is a paper that you can draw some inspiration (and get some idea what type of mathematics you should study to formalize your thoughts)



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Daniel de França Diniz Rocha wrote on Mar. 31, 2017 @ 02:19 GMT
Thank you very much for your feedback! I was really looking for an experimental way to prove the thesis I proposed in the essay. I know of the Chomoton theory, but if there is something truly fundamental, ignored by biologists, that could be a great step!

It's a pity that I can only do theoretical proposals and this is a fundamental experimental thing. And I really don't have the personal resources or money to not even trying implementing that... This is a matter of fundamental research, it's not something that yields profit.Not even I think the best nearby universities would not be willing to do that, there is not much research in that direction (and I am an independent guy).

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Author Willy K replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 06:04 GMT
Glad to be of help, if my suggestion was indeed helpful to you. You can be confident that Ashby's and Conant's works will be treated with respect in all scientific domains, even within the field of biology.

My interpretation of Conant's Good Regulator Theorem is that it is the regulational portion of the relevant system that models the rest of the system. This more or less means that all systems that are in homeostasis can be broken down into two parts, with the regulational part of the system arising from the rest of the system (regulational part is a model of the rest of the system).

On the other hand, the system as a whole does not always adequately model the external world, as the system and the external world need not be under homeostasis all the time. If that were to happen, we would be able to make everything in the world happen according to our wishes, which isn't the case. Hope that makes sense!

Best, Willy

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Bradly John Alicea wrote on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 06:14 GMT
Enjoyed the essay -- I am following up on our discussion on the Law of Requisite Variety from another essay discussion.

This is an interesting approach to complexity, and actually proposing a measurement construct to evaluate structures resulting from complex processes. While this essay does not get us completely there, it does propose a conceptual tidiness that could contribute to a real breakthrough in modeling social systems.

One drawback to this approach, however, is reliance on a concept as complicated as intelligence. While extrinsic intelligence gives us a definable unit, it also requires a mathematical definition and/or a principled definition to be powerful.

Here is an example of how this could be developed more powerfully. In the context of extrinsic intelligence, an epistemological decision is made:

"In order to keep things simple, it might be better to restrict the focus to human social systems. This makes it possible to avoid the huge variety present among ant colonies".

This decision is, of course, justifiable. However, we can apply the Law of Requisite Variety to understand the variation generated by an extrinsic intelligence. This Law suggests variation, whether it be in the form of stochastic noise or structured variation, provides an advantage to the stability and evolvability of systems. In chess and other games, having access to a greater amount of variation (or information) is an advantage -- sometimes greater than the actual strategies themselves.

This fits well within the framework of the complementary rights discussed later in the paper. Perhaps there is a "right to variation" along with a "right to feedback". But this is the problem with using mathematical laws to describe social systems: sometimes the regularities of a system are not well described by a linear model. But then this variation might be lawful in and of itself, which is seeing the forest through the trees.

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Author Willy K replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 06:29 GMT
Oops! The message below was actually meant only as a response to your comments. Sorry for putting it in another thread.

Best, Willy

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Author Willy K wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 06:25 GMT
Am happy that you found my essay to be interesting and enjoyable. I agree that the essay does not propose a complete mathematical model. And there may be some inherent limits to using math in this domain, but it could still be helpful in illustrating several key points.

Law of Requisite Variety suggests "only variety can absorb variety". In other words, there must be a regulational response to every variety that a system can take up, or else the system will descend into chaotic perturbations. Good Regulator Theorem suggests that "every good regulator must be a model of the system it regulates". My interpretation of this is that all homeostatic systems will have a regulational part within it which is a model of the rest of the system.

I am unsure of whether there could be more interpretations from these theorems, but I will keep my mind open to all possible suggestions in this area.

Cheers, Willy

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 12:50 GMT
Dear Willy

I think I failed to understand the potential of your mathematical model in my first reading. You have a very interesting model of the structure of society, a structure that reveals important aspects of how the society works and what it needs in terms of organization and management to be kept "in good shape". Our society is very complex and your analysis of it is good and useful....

view entire post

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Author Willy K replied on Apr. 9, 2017 @ 06:34 GMT
Dear Alfredo

Yes. It is hard to know where exactly to draw the line when we use mathematics in the social/political area. That is one of the reasons I did not mention Ashby and Conent's works in my essay, although their works may be relevant to it. I think in hindsight that was a good decision. I am still gaining information on how to interpret their theorems.

I now think only Law of Requisite Variety (Ashby) should be invoked, but not the Good Regulator Theorem (Conant), because GRT assumes that the model is perfect, whereas LoRV only assumes that the model is necessary to avoid the tendency of the system to collapse. Also, there maybe no way to ascertain whether a model is satisfying the conditions of GRT. So I will avoid invoking that theorem from now on.

I like your suggestion of having an introduction to explain the place of mathematics in the model, so that there are no misconceptions. I may very well adopt that suggestion. Don't hesitate to write to me if something else occurs to you as well.

Best, Willy

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Aron Barco wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 21:23 GMT
Dear Willy,

I find your essay intriguing. I enjoyed that you focused on social aspects rather than the quanta or something else.

First, as mentioned in my response to your post. I like dthat you use the biomass as the objective parameter to the success of living creatures to the successful deployment of aims and intentions.

Regarding your model, I am correct in saying that you were inspired by Hegel´s phenomenology of the spirit? In the sense, that you model social evolution as a series of steps which can not be reduced to previous ones but depend heavily on the previous steps and moreover there is a form of synthesis which contains all previous ones?

Also, I would like to ask you, you mention democracy as the final step. Although democracy can not be taken for granted perhaps as Churchill said "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

I remember (maybe incorrectly) Hegel also claimed that the Prussian government was the end of history.

I am inclined to believe you give the first steps of our organisation as humans rather than the complete picture. What do you think?

I am sorry if I am misunderstanding something

Kind Regards,


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Author Willy K replied on Apr. 9, 2017 @ 07:11 GMT
Hi Yafet

I have not read Hegel or indeed, any of the later derivative works dealing with dialectics. This was raised by Jonathan Dickau as well in one of the earliest comments. Yup, that means I am unfamiliar with a rather large body of literature! The inspiration behind the mathematical structure used in the essay is the theoretical distinctions present in the Human Rights theory. I have elaborated on this in my response to Oliveira's comment on Mar 19th.

On the 'steps' that social evolution passes through, I have some ideas but I did not present them in the essay for want of space. It is important to note that these 'steps' are not aligned with the 'levels' present in the model. So, democracy is definitely not the final step. It comes earlier than that. The steps I envision is as follows:

1. Life, Claim Right, Help Right and Regulation Right of those spaces alone. These are the areas that government cannot interfere in later on, for they have been stabilized by evolution.

2. Sovereignty Right, with a stunted/retarded understanding of 'Regulation' Right.

3. Unification Right, Enactment Right, Feedback Right

4. Organization Right and Amendment Right.

So democracy comes in at the penultimate step. Of course, there could be more variation that that. I am simplifying here.

Please do write to me if you have any further questions and clarifications. For instance, I certainly need advise on interpreting Ashby's and Conant's works in the context of this essay. I may be dropping Conant's GRT (see comment to Alfredo immediately above). It will be good to have your views on that.

Best, Willy

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