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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
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
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
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
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.
A Theory of Life, the Universe and Everything
[sqeaketh the wheel, Oct 31 2012]
Calvin agrees that there is purpose to the Universe
[AusCan531, Oct 31 2012]
The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World
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.
||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
||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
||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
||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.
||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.
||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 its 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? [+]
||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.
||I would have to reread this several times to get it
||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?
||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.
||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.
||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.)
||//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?
||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
||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
||I am NOT talking about anthropomorphism. I'm
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
||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.
||Rayford, what was your intention in that anno?
||[sqeak] I think we are on totally different ideas. I'll
read your idea and the discussion on it carefully and
get back soon.
||['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.
||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?
||Some's navels are more attractive than others'.