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 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

Previous Contests

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

Forum Home
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

Dizhechko Semyonovich: on 4/7/17 at 11:08am UTC, wrote Dear Sirs! Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of...

Peter Jackson: on 3/30/17 at 11:55am UTC, wrote Bruce, That was a very interesting read and viewpoit. I agree there are...

Willy K: on 3/12/17 at 6:25am UTC, wrote Hi Yanofsky I address the question of ant colonies having some form of...

Bruce Amberden: on 3/8/17 at 15:39pm UTC, wrote Hello Mr. Gupta, Thank you for your kind words about my essay. I think...

Bruce Amberden: on 3/7/17 at 16:15pm UTC, wrote Hello Georgina, Some further thoughts on implicit vs....

Bruce Amberden: on 3/7/17 at 15:58pm UTC, wrote Hello Hodge, Thanks for your comments. I did sidestep the definition of...

Anonymous: on 3/7/17 at 15:55pm UTC, wrote Hello Georgina, Thank you for your kind comments and questions about...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 3/5/17 at 5:12am UTC, wrote You have nicely discussed about the FQXi question. I forgot to add... Best...


Steve Dufourny: "Hi Georgina and Mr Sturm, Mr Sturm , sad that you have a problem with..." in The Present State of...

Deserdi Chapas: "Hi FQXI Members: We found the courage to asymptotically take one step..." in Alternative Models of...

Georgina Woodward: "I'd like to share with you a thoroughly revised version of the shorter..." in The Present State of...

Steve Dufourny: "I have improved a lot this theory of spherisation withe quantum and..." in Alternative Models of...

David Vognar: "Quantum physics isn't the end of reality; we just need better rulers that..." in Quantum Physics and the...

algo rrithm: "A digital marketing agency in India is showcasing that happens through Web..." in Dark matter effect on the...

algo rrithm: "A branding agency in delhi is a firm having some expertise in the key and..." in The secret of planets’...

algo rrithm: "Advanced advertising assists brands with arriving at their interest group..." in Dark matter effect on the...

click titles to read articles

The Entropic Price of Building the Perfect Clock: Q&A with Natalia Ares
Experiments investigating the thermodynamics of clocks can teach us about the origin of time's arrow.

Schrödinger’s A.I. Could Test the Foundations of Reality
Physicists lay out blueprints for running a 'Wigner's Friend' experiment using an artificial intelligence, built on a quantum computer, as an 'observer.'

Expanding the Mind (Literally): Q&A with Karim Jerbi and Jordan O'Byrne
Using a brain-computer interface to create a consciousness 'add-on' to help test Integrated Information Theory.

Quanthoven's Fifth
A quantum computer composes chart-topping music, programmed by physicists striving to understand consciousness.

The Math of Consciousness: Q&A with Kobi Kremnitzer
A meditating mathematician is developing a theory of conscious experience to help understand the boundary between the quantum and classical world.

January 29, 2023

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Wandering Towards a Goal by Bruce M Amberden [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author Bruce M Amberden wrote on Feb. 28, 2017 @ 20:21 GMT
Essay Abstract

A mindless universal swarm of interlaced deterministic physical Turing Machines, driving billions of years of mindless physical evolution, can, and has given rise to living cells, that, in turn, have evolved to give rise to minds that can explicitly express aims and intention. Before the advent of life, the universe is mindless, devoid of semantics, devoid of aims and intention; nothing more than a deterministic machine following mindless mathematical laws in a physical form. The universe has a dual nature – an informational universe is layered on top of the physical universe. Every physical object in the universe has a physical side and an informational side. The information side is the configuration of physical particles that make up physical objects. Informational evolution drives the physical to implement ever-higher levels of informational complexity. Informational evolution drives the emergence and evolution of life. Living things evolve faster by learning from experience. Learned experience is semantics. Organisms with brains learn rapidly and gain tremendous advantage from complex semantics, including the semantic of aims and intention. Aims and intention give awareness, planning, behavioral purpose, and options for rapid response. Aims and intention arise to not only enhance survival, but also provide the means to get better at survival.

Author Bio

I began in astronomical research on the Viking Mars Orbiter program analyzing image data sent back from Mars. My original intent to become an astronomer was replaced with a passion for building software for astronomical image processing and understanding. I’ve built rapid prototyping systems and specialized languages for imaging, graphics, and systems simulation. More recently, I have been founding, building, and working in Internet startup companies. I have always worked on personal research projects that have led to new startups. My long-term goal is to build a digital entity with full access to natural language.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share

Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 1, 2017 @ 01:18 GMT
Hi Bruce, I like the way you precisely define the concepts you will be talking about.

You diverge from your ealy definitions when you begin to talk about evolution having aims. I am particularly bothered by the assertion that "The aim of evolution is to get better at surviving". Environmental challenges and unfortunate events have a part to play in evolution but there is no -purposeful- choosing of the progenitors of a new generation by nature. They either have survived and reproduced or they haven't. Selective breeding by people is different. That has prior aims of some kind of improvement.

A good read, thanks Georgina

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate
Anonymous replied on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 15:55 GMT
Hello Georgina,

Thank you for your kind comments and questions about evolution.

Evolution is an implicit combinatorial probabilistic process that operates on populations of organisms where random environmental challenges and unfortunate events are the selection criteria applied to distributions of genetic variability. Examining the long-term collective fossil evidence illuminates evolution’s implicit meta-intentions.

I make two observations.

One: evolution selects for survival – only those individuals in a population that survive, produce offspring and the next generation. There is no direct purposeful selection, but in aggregate, evolution’s meta-effect is a selection for survival. Evolution’s primary implicit aim is to select for survival.

Two: populations over time accumulate survival traits – populations get better at survival. A repeat of similar environmental challenges and unfortunate events are no longer survival events. This second meta-effect is that populations get better at survival. Evolution’s secondary implicit aim is to get better at surviving.

Take a look at this article on the BBC website: Life may actually be getting better at evolving:

There is an extensive literature detailing active research on these subjects. Search for learning in gene networks on google.



Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Bruce M Amberden replied on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 16:15 GMT
Hello Georgina,

Some further thoughts on implicit vs. explicit intention.

Mindless random systems can express aggregate behavior that is almost always accessible to observation and analysis (like a gas in physics). Behavioral rules derived from such analysis express implicit intentions.

Explicit intention is expressed by organisms able to perform independent action. The more advanced the organism, the more explicit their actions can be.



Bookmark and Share

John C Hodge wrote on Mar. 1, 2017 @ 17:14 GMT
A good start toward defining the terms. But what is "mind"? Your link to the functioning of a society is food for though.


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate
Author Bruce M Amberden replied on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 15:58 GMT
Hello Hodge,

Thanks for your comments. I did sidestep the definition of mind. My assumption was that since everyone has a mind, that everyone must have some rough definition of mind. I didn’t have anywhere near enough space in this essay to attempt such a definition.

I’m sure that you know that a definition of mind would fill, and already fills, multiple volumes. And that so far no one has come up with a fully satisfying definition or description of mind. As Marvin Minsky said, “Minds are what brains do!” So I will go with that definition for now. We all have brains, so we all have minds.



Bookmark and Share

Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 14:46 GMT
Dear Amberden,

Your observations are excellent, like “These computations never halt, never produce a definite final result. Computations may be infinite in sequence and require infinite time to complete, or may enter a non-terminating infinite loop. Turing proved that there is no possible algorithm that could determine, or prove, that some other algorithm would eventually...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate
Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 05:12 GMT
You have nicely discussed about the FQXi question. I forgot to add...



Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Bruce M Amberden replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 15:39 GMT
Hello Mr. Gupta,

Thank you for your kind words about my essay.

I think that there are two sides to our universe. The first, the physical side, is governed by mindless mathematical laws operating like a mindless swarm of interlaced deterministic Turing Machines. The physical side is algorithmically driven and has no meaning or semantics.

The second, the subjective side, is the side of life, sentience, and mind. This side overlays meaning and semantics on the physical side. It is amazing that mindless evolution has brought us into being.



Bookmark and Share

Member Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 15:41 GMT
Dear Bruce,

I really like your essay. You very clearly and methodically go through all the points.

I think you slightly change the topic of the essay contest for the better. Rather than writing about goals and intentions of the universe, you write about human beings having goals and intentions. That is a better question. The universe does not seem to have goals. We do.

I appreciate your point about objects being both physical and potentially representing information. This dual notion gives one much to think about.

I like your example with the word HELP in the sand with stone. We can go further and say that someone who sees it but does not know English will not see its semantics. Information is also subjective.

I was wondering about ants. They seem to know about their environment. They are capable of complex responses to their environment. But I do not think that they have consciousness. Similarly a program that is being executed. It does not seem to be conscious even though it is following the semantics of its input.

The thing that is missing in your discussion in the concept of will. Aims, goals and intentions need will. We not only understand the semantics of our environment but we want something different about our environment. We don't just understand it, we want to change it. Evolution also must take into account will. Why should a species or a member of a species want to continue to exist? Not for a physical reason.

Thank you for much to think about.

Please take a look at my essay.

All the best,

Noson Yanofsky

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate
Willy K replied on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 06:25 GMT
Hi Yanofsky

I address the question of ant colonies having some form of intelligence in my essay, but I shouldn't pretend it is only about ants. It is basically a modeling of the Constitutional nation state.

Also, I should thank you for introducing me to the concept of quaternions and octonions. I didn't quite get it when I read Dickau's essay. But when I read your essay, it became quite clear to me. The approach seems promising.

Hi Amberdeen

While I agree that social groups may have contributed to the growth of culture all over the world, perhaps an even more consequential result created by social groups is the Constitutional nation state. This is hinted at in your essay, “We are developing the knowledge, the understanding, and cultural technical ability to replace evolution with intelligent design. What shall we design?”

Constitutional nation state appears to be the unavoidable result when we ask ourselves the questions suggested at the end of your essay, “What are our aims and intention? What is our goal?” My essay suggests that the only intention that makes sense is to protect and enhance the stability space that is available to ordinary people to lead their lives, and that premise naturally leads to the discovery of the structure of Constitutional nation state.

All the best to you both!

Regards, Willy

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Joe Fisher wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 16:46 GMT
Dear Bruce M Amberden,

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

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 11:55 GMT

That was a very interesting read and viewpoit. I agree there are good and useful reasons to distinguish the 'superposed' parts you identify. I admit I did start in disagreement with some staemens, but as I carefully read the explanations I was persuaded, or rather more realised we're in quite close agreement. Our common interest in observational cosmology may help in that.

Where we seem to diverge is that I assign 'information' more directly as the fundamental quantum states of information theory, which I identify as physical and causal in themselves. However as mathematics can describe those interactions (better than our brains have up to now!) I don't think our views really differ fundamentally. In any case your score is too low, but will causally now rise!

I hope you may read my essay and give your own view.

Well done, particularly for actually defining things properly which I think is a massive 'semantic' problem in physics!

Very best


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 11:08 GMT
Dear Sirs!

Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of Newton returned as the New Cartesian Physic and promises to be a theory of everything. To tell you this good news I use «spam».

New Cartesian Physic based on the identity of space and matter. It showed that the formula of mass-energy equivalence comes from the pressure of the Universe, the flow of force which on the corpuscle is equal to the product of Planck's constant to the speed of light.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential for understanding the world. To show it, I ventured to give "materialistic explanations of the paranormal and supernatural" is the title of my essay.

Visit my essay, you will find there the New Cartesian Physic and make a short entry: "I believe that space is a matter" I will answer you in return. Can put me 1.


Dizhechko Boris

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.