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Random Intentional Theory

A theory of natural intentional science emerging from statistics
  (+4, -2)
(+4, -2)
  [vote for,

This is about the science of intention and teleology.

When rain softens the ground under a rock on the side of a mountain, and it goes crashing down onto the road, we generally would not say that "the rock was intending to block the road" or that "the rain pushed the rock onto the road with a purpose". Only "believers" would look for a "reason". Physicists would dismiss any reason given for this action other than the play of powers of nature.

But just as looking at pixels you cannot see the picture, and looking at the molecules individual behavior you cannot realize the thermodynamics of a system, at the macro level, in many cases we DO see intentional behavior. The cat raises its back and hisses at the dog with the intention of scaring it and getting away. We write down ideas in HalfBakery with the intention of getting attention.

IMHO it can be shown that in any random system there is statistically a higher chance for SOME RANDOM order, than for a TOTAL CHAOS. From this we can begin studying the "path of intention" for various organized parts of the system that follow rules.

This halfbaked idea proposes to show how through statistics, intentional behavior can be studied in various aspects, for any random system following rules through time.

In particular, both nature and business can be shown to have elements with various levels of intentionality, and these intentions along with their interaction with the actual system in "real" time, may become a compelling part of study, and give strong insight into how the world "works".

The notion of intention is usually suppressed in scientific theory and especially in Reductionism which shows or explains the world as FOLLOWING rules, rather than POINTING TOWARDS AN END.

Any seeming intention found in the real world, is reduced to an explanation showing the powers preceding it, leading to this PERCEIVED end.

Thus for example evolution, a theory that has been established in almost every field in modern science, is the explanation of how "natural selection", seemingly an act of intention when done artificially by farmers for choosing the "best of the breed" can occur "naturally" with no intention in advance, and the "best of the breed", at least for the adapted behavior in the given environment, is left alive - or in other words "chosen".

The Random Intentional Theory is NOT intended (if that word can be used in this sense) to replace the ideas and science of evolving physics, biology, game theory, or business sciences, and definitely not to deny their findings.

Rather, it is a theory that looks at the same phenomena from a different perspective - Looking forward and then projecting backwards. Augmenting these sciences and giving us a better understanding of the world.

The danger of course is for non-scientists and anti- science movements common in some of the major religions as well as in major anti-religious groups to use this "against" science. At this stage of halfbakerism I leave that discussion, pointing out that my intuition (as well as intention) is that the result of this theory will show that what we call "life" can be scientifically described, as a multi-level phenomena of intention.

Perhaps, for the politics of such a theory to succeed I could get the James Randi society to discuss it.

When we vote, the polls show that it "makes no difference what YOUR decision is" its already been decided. This is frustrating to many thinking people. But then, when somebody inspiring is up for vote, or on the other hand someone who seems threatening to a group, you find that people DO decide and vote according to their decisions - many times "surprising" the poll. The poll makers will then proclaim that they did not take into consideration some factor or the other.

Random Intentional Theory will show that levels of intention can be quantified, their existence can be empirically tested for and proven, and that they may be a major factor in many systems of the world.

And now, for the details please see TheOtherHalf.com of the bakery.

pashute, Oct 30 2012

A Theory of Life, the Universe and Everything A_20Theory_20of_20L..._20and_20Everything
[sqeaketh the wheel, Oct 31 2012]

Calvin agrees that there is purpose to the Universe http://www.gocomics...ndhobbes/1988/10/27
[AusCan531, Oct 31 2012]

The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World http://www.amazon.c...mplex/dp/0140291253
This book was a real eye-opener for me - one of the ideas explored is how complex systems exhibiting "emergent" behaviours really DO steer themselves along the fine line between order and chaos - the really interesting line where exciting things happen. [zen_tom, Nov 01 2012]


       Congrats, [pash], you've discovered spirituality.   

       All snark aside, [+] for insight and an entertaining read.
Alterother, Oct 30 2012

       Not spirituality, and probably nothing to do with spirituality. That's exactly the danger I wrote about but wish to sidestep at this stage until we are closer to baking.   

       There are two things that will be of focus in this field of study: a. The statistical prominence of emerging order from a random system. Or, in other words, the proof of the theory that the chance of having an orderly world (as opposed to one which is totally random) is actually quite high. b. The investigation of "motives" at various levels of existence. In other words - IN ADDITION to checking how things evolve (there is no doubt that we evolve, at least, every one of us knows that at first we were children, and most even agree that each one of us started off as a single cell), we can check "where things are going".   

       Intentions begin with an evolutionary path, those are the atoms, molecules and pixels of the theory. Once an intention has evolved or "matured", we can zoom out and take a look at the macro system, and begin checking levels of intentionality.   

       Douglas Hofstadter (I tried to contact him a long time ago about a Jerusalem "Hofstadter" store off the Davidka square, owned apparently by his relatives) wrote about a type of Wasp, the "sphyx" that does something which seems intelligent, but is then discovered to be "robotic", when a disrupting pattern to the planned activity is not recognized by the wasp and is never corrected. The wasp will go into a "loop" similar to the barking of a dog at a fence, stopping it from "figuring out" other available options to reach the desired bone.   

       It is clear that the dog "wants to reach" the bone. We can scientifically deconstruct this whole series of actions into the mechanism leading to the current state of affairs, but even Daniel Dennet would agree with me that there's nothing wrong with an investigation that searches the motive behind a crime.   

       Correct, sometimes there "is no motive" but in MOST cases there is. In the same way, there should be nothing wrong with searching the motives of animals.   

       And in my opinion, we may discuss motives without having to apologize, if the phenomena can be quantified, tested, and proven to exist in variable forms and intensities.   

       Here's a starter for the first part: Emergence of order out of chaos: In Genetic Algorithms it has been found that a simple set of rules can bring about an astonishing result of shapes and movement, that preserve or evolve shape and "direction" within time. I don't think there has been a numeric study of the statistics of ANY ordered pattern to exist in ANY random system that abides a set of rules. But I suspect that HAVING rules even the simplest rules of "existence" and several forms of existence and location throughout time, are the inherent foundation of some kind of order in time and space to evolve even in a "totally random" beginning - if there is such a thing.   

       As Daniel Dennet correctly notes, there is no single set of thoughts being what an individual is thinking. There are multiple versions, some continuing on, even as the actual decisions by the brain have been taken. Thus, I may be writing something, while I "think" I wrote something else. Rather that should have been written so: ...while I think "I" wrote something else.   

       But what Prof. Dennet is missing, is that there are physical actions done, following one, or some, of the drafts. And by searching and looking at the actions we can discover patterns that DO exist.   

       The two ways of looking at this do not really contradict each other. And trying to eliminate this point of view is, IMHO, a grave mistake for science.
pashute, Oct 31 2012

       Excellent [+]. Actually there are quite a few physicists now, taking a cue from the great John Wheeler, who wonder if what the universe really "does" is to process information. That is, Information, not particles and fields, is what really makes up the world. The particles are just manifestations of the information processing. Information can be about something (semantic information) or about nothing (technical information or just bits), but when expressed in the genetics of an organism, especially a human baby, it seems to this human that such information really is about something. If evolution "wants" to advance the development of species, which is really about increasing the level of information processing (see [link]), then the universe "wants" to evolve. It has Intention. In this physicist's humble opinion.
sqeaketh the wheel, Oct 31 2012

       Interesting - but I think I prefer the counter-argument that arises from looking at the same facts - that *any* experience of intention, however close to home it may appear, is illusionary. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, just that it isn't quite what we might at first believe it to be.   

       When we look at the universe, we can't help but anthropomorphise and see it having properties and qualia that are similar to those experienced by ourselves. I prefer the opposite viewpoint which is to look at ourselves, and cosmopomorphise. Or in other words, if the universe has no intention then, very probably, nor do we - despite how it feels to the contrary.   

       And that theory holds up - much of what we perceive to be conscious intention is post-action rationalisation.   

       I do think there's something in our brains that recognises goal-based behaviour in others – it’s a good strategy to be able to self-reflect, empathise and imagine what another mind (human or otherwise) might be trying to achieve. But that doesn't mean the intention we observe is any more than a delicately balanced set of chemical and electrical signals.   

       The question of whether consciousness is an illusion might not be important – if we feel it, and can talk about it as though it exists, then why quibble? [+]
zen_tom, Oct 31 2012

RayfordSteele, Oct 31 2012

WcW, Oct 31 2012

       Unfortunately, I do not see the link between statistics and intent. If I roll a pair of dice, I'll likely roll a number other than 2. Statisicly speaking, the dice severely favor me rolling numbers > 2. It does not mean that by rolling the dice, I intend to roll a number > 2, or any number in particular. It seems like we're confusing intent with statistical likelihood.   

       On the other hand, if you were to suddenly start rolling the number 2, 750 out of 1,000 times, (some rate not supported by the governing statistics), then I would think there was some cheating going on. i.e. that someone rigged the dice, thereby implying intent to produce 2's.   

       I think it's when you see results that differ from the predicted random distribution that intent may be plausible.
ShawnBob, Oct 31 2012

       I would have to reread this several times to get it properly.   

       But, can I ask a question: what are the practical outputs of the theory? In other words, if your arguments are correct, what do they actually do?
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2012

       Now that I've thought about it for a while, I don't even think you can define a sufficient set of conditions for intent. Can you?   

       I can think of at least one necessary condition... "To have intent, one must have a will".   

       Other than that, I think you would be hard pressed to really define what the results of intent look like, much less what they don't look like.
ShawnBob, Oct 31 2012

       It's a notoriously slippery concept - for me though, intent is a property of consciousness - it may even be the same thing. Intention and Attention are certainly closely linked.
zen_tom, Nov 01 2012

       consciousness is an outcome of information processing. the more detailed the processing, the higher the level of consciousness. Freeman Dyson wrote that it seems as if there is an element of consciousness even in every single electron. By which I interpret that consciousness is a natural property of matter once it gets its act together. If nature embodies consciousness and nature obeys quantum statistics, then there you go. (of course this could just be an example of conflating two unknowns and saying they must be related. but I don't think so. At this stage of science, we can only speculate, but speculation is where all new ideas come from.)
sqeaketh the wheel, Nov 01 2012

       //I can think of at least one necessary condition... "To have intent, one must have a will".// Thankyou [Shawnbob], what exactly do you mean by “a will”?
pocmloc, Nov 01 2012

       What it can do? I can think of various places it will lead to. Lets talk about "Consciousness" theory and implications to computer science (and technology). There could be theories followed by experiments finding out how perhaps we store partial data with "some dots along the line" and then "fill the dots" not only backwards but also forwards. Thus a movie could be made that stores only a few scenes or even only some information about these scenes and then reconstructs it each time according to some "intentional" rules. Its like the JPG compresses video information that is (usually) unimportant, unless you want to read what it said in the fine print on the newspaper scan.   

       It could dramatically change the way we perceive psychology and statistics. For example when studying elections, past and future, perhaps there can be a way to find the "public intent", underlying the decisions of each voting group.   

       I think the best way to describe what I'm talking about is to imagine a driver who is only looking at his or her mirror, and never looking out the front window.   

       I am NOT talking about anthropomorphism. I'm talking about a definite phenomena that exists in the macro, can be shown in animals, people, organizations, and therefore at different levels can be tested and considered in ANY system.   

       To put it in other words: Perhaps, and I'm quite sure the answer is a resonating Yes, it is possible to get information about where something will reach, from information about where it seems to be going, while lacking some information about where it has been.   

       The decision making mechanism in the brain has, as Marvin Minsky and others correctly noted, competing levels of information, boiling around inside. This information is definitely influenced by changing external data, but also by "internal forces" of "intent" or decision weights. Of course those "preliminary decisions" can change in time.   

       Cantor has shown that with large enough systems, an indefinite state, can be accounted for, even within a definite (well defined) system.   

       Emergence today is the word. Lamarkism has been mostly refuted. The Giraffe doesn't pull its head up, causing the next generation to grow long necks. But plants do "direct their growth" towards light. Correct, this was an emergent evolving factor, but currently it is a given fact in the system. In the macro, plants are "pulling their necks" up. And this DOES cause trees to grow higher. Once a tree is higher off the ground, it reaches a different environment, and develops and evolves in a different manner.   

       So IT MAKES SENSE to discuss the phenomena where trees "stretch themselves" upwards, causing taller trees in the next generation, in the way Lamark described nature.   

       Perhaps, with the problem of wrong notions by so many people about evolution and emergence, this is a lost battle, because you would first half to educate people about emergence before attempting to introduce these ideas without disrupting science as it is being done. Still, I believe (so to speak) that it is important to bring it up.
pashute, Nov 01 2012

       Rayford, what was your intention in that anno?
pashute, Nov 01 2012

       [sqeak] I think we are on totally different ideas. I'll read your idea and the discussion on it carefully and get back soon.
pashute, Nov 01 2012

       ['shute], I intended to be supportive of your post, but I don't want to crowd you off your soapbox. So I will keep quiet.
sqeaketh the wheel, Nov 01 2012

       I thought it was pretty clear.   

       Trying to read this but losing consciousness again... zzzzzzzzzzzz....   

       Isn't there a moratorium on navel-gazing theories here?
RayfordSteele, Nov 01 2012

       Some's navels are more attractive than others'.
sqeaketh the wheel, Nov 02 2012


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