• Agent Smith
    8.9k
    The title of the thread is taken from the title of a book by a Mr. Polya (mathematician).

    I propose a radical method of solving problems, one which I simply copy-pasted (me not an original thinker) from nature. True that DNA replication is hi-fidelity i.e. errors are rare and if they do occur, mirabile dictu, there's a proof-reading mechanism. Nevertheless, errors aka mutations do occur. Most are, as geneticists like to call them, silent (damage = 0), others can be debilitating and still other lethal. That however seems to be a price worth paying if you consider how we must be adaptable to an everchanging environment. In short our weakness is our strength.

    Furthermore, there doesn't appear to be a trend in the mutation rate - it's probably constant at some value and has been for at least 2.5 million years. That is to say, our genes are selecting for errant genes, the ones that do make mistakes. The essence of nature's approach: solve problems by making mistakes.

    So, can we solve problems this way, following nature's lead?

    Problem? Go make a mistake!
  • punos
    321
    So, can we solve problems this way, following nature's lead?Agent Smith

    "“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” - Thomas Edison

    It's how the light bulb was invented. Many scientific discoveries were made by accident. These discoveries have had a major impact on the world and are often attributed to chance circumstances or serendipity. It's poking around in the dark most of the time, but with every new discovery the light of humanity becomes slightly ever so brighter.

    Observe how a new born baby learns to move it's arms and legs or use it's vocal cords effectively and in a coordinated way. First it moves randomly while little by little through a complex cybernetic feedback process the child learns to direct it's movements more purposefully. This process is called "motor babbling", and nature in her evolutionary process works in a very similar way.

    The more evolved we become the more intelligently evolution works through us. Evolution is both the subject and the object of nature, and it steps on it's own shoulders to reach higher and higher.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k


    Nice! The happy mistake, the blessing in disguise, the lion that scared away the wolves. :cool:
  • punos
    321


    Another example i forgot to mention is how DeepMind's AlphaGo AI learned to play Go by playing itself over and over. It was only given the rules of the game and used reinforcement learning to become a superhuman player. It only had the rules of the game to work with, and it had to make many mistakes before it became the best 'Go' player to ever exist, starting with random moves. Master level players are still studying it's moves, sometimes perplexed as to why it made certain counter intuitive moves.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    I wasn't exactly talking about learning. Close enough nonetheless.
  • punos
    321


    Clarify for me what you were asking exactly or talking about? It appears that i might have misunderstood.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    @180 Proof, make the correct mistake.
  • punos
    321
    make the correct mistake.Agent Smith

    If the solution to a problem takes one step then one correct mistake would suffice, but if a problem needs more than one step then it takes a series of mistakes; each correct mistake becomes the platform for the next correct mistake, which takes some kind of learning. Learning is essentially a mistake eliminating process that gets you to the right mistake.
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k

    Learning is essentially a mistake eliminating process that gets you to the right mistake.punos
    Aka intelligence. :clap: :100:
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Aka intelligence. :clap: :100:180 Proof

    Genes keep making the same mistake (mutation) over and over again ... that's life's little secret. :zip: don't tell anyone.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.6k

    It may be like the creative and experimental process in evolution itself. Amidst a backdrop of chaotic mistakes some kind of evolution and transmutation of consciousness may take place. In human consciousness the emotional experiences related to mistakes leads to different approaches. It may parallel evolution itself as a form of cosmic tuning process.

    There are probably biological aspects of this, and Rupert Sheldrake's idea of morphic resonance points to the way in which there is some inherent memory in nature itself. On the genetic level, there is some speculation that junk DNA may contain more about potential than previously thought, especially about emotional development. The psychology of making mistakes has a profound influence on wellbeing and, it may be that the experience of suffering itself involves a shift in awareness and consciousness.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Hi Jack.

    That's a lot to digest mon ami. I suppose there's method to (nature's) madness. Does that sum up your thesis?
  • Jack Cummins
    4.6k

    The philosophy question may be whether there is any 'method' beyond our meaning and understanding of it. Making mistakes is our human way of seeing it and within nature it may be just about diversity and what works as an evolutionary pathway. Perhaps, there are no mistakes ultimately and it is about human framing, although the idea of 'mistakes' is probably important in trying not to repeat that which has not achieved desired goals.
  • jgill
    2.7k
    The essence of nature's approach: solve problems by making mistakes.Agent Smith

    Mathematics in a nutshell. The cleaning lady of a famous mathematician was asked what the guy did. She replied, "He scribbles on paper, scowls at it, and wads it up and throws it away."
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k


    By mistake I refer to genotypes that cause morbidity and mortality e.g. sickle cell anemia which is a case in point because the sickle cell trait is strength in malaria zones like subsaharan Africa, but is a weakness in nonmalaria zones like Europe. For a European, the sickle cell trait is an illness, but for subsaharan Africans it's a lifeline against severe/complicated malaria.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Mathematics in a nutshell. The cleaning lady of a famous mathematician was asked what the guy did. She replied, "He scribbles on paper, scowls at it, and wads it up and throws it away."jgill

    :lol: Trial and Error?!
  • jgill
    2.7k
    :lol: Trial and Error?!Agent Smith

    Utter reality, believe me! You make a sequence of mistakes, altering things as you go along, hoping the sequence converges to the result you're after.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Trial and Error?!
    — Agent Smith

    Utter reality, believe me! You make a sequence of mistakes, altering things as you go along, hoping the sequence converges to the result you're after
    jgill

    Two wrongs make a right?

    2 + 184 + 453 - 2 = 637. I thought 2 was a 7 and I added it; I made the same mistake again (thought 2 was a 7), but this time I subtracted it and got the right answer. Some problems have a nature that mistakes cancel each other out. This is the nub of random error as opposed to systematic error.
  • jgill
    2.7k
    Two wrongs make a right?Agent Smith

    Wrong, you are not right. :brow: You keep moving in a direction, making changes as you go along, hoping for a flash of inspiration or a breakthrough. It's rare that you can see a complicated proof in its entirety at the beginning. :cool:
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Wrong, you are not right. :brow: You keep moving in a direction, making changes as you go along, hoping for a flash of inspiration or a breakthrough. It's rare that you can see a complicated proof in its entirety at the beginning. :cool:jgill

    I was hopin' for errors to lead to correct results. I believe @punos made a reference to accidental discoveries. For example, Roentgen carelessly leaves an X-ray source + a photographic plate + his wedding ring ( :wink: ) in a drawer and we now have X-ray machines, a godsend for orthopedicians around the world.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    It appears that nature's strategy is Ariadne's thread. Go down one possibility branch. If it doesn't work, go back to the node from which it originated, try the other branch and if that doesn't work, assuming there are only two branches on that node, go to the next higher node, so and so forth. Remember though that each branch is a mistake (a mutation in an otherwise stable genotype).
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    W + W = W2 [Problem]
    W + W = W2 [Mistake]
    Ergo,
    W = 2 [Correct Answer]

    :cool:
  • punos
    321
    If it doesn't work, go back to the node from which it originated, try the other branch and if that doesn't work, assuming there are only two branches on that node, go to the next higher node, so and so forth.Agent Smith

    Yep you are essentially right, but i would adjust your statement to say that nature (evolution) explores all possible branches in parallel in the available environment. Each species and even each individual it produces adaptively explores their respective niches at the same time, and if a certain niche leads to a dead end (wrong mistake) then that species or individual dies or stagnates, so no need to backtrack; even though i imagine it may still happen in some circumstances.

    Remember though that each branch is a mistake (a mutation in an otherwise stable genotype).Agent Smith

    Right, every correct mistake gets preserved in that species or individual for the next generation, and the wrong mistakes get deselected from active genetic circulation. :up:

    :smile:
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    :up:

    The retracing of the steps back as in Ariadne's thread is a feature of sequential processing. Nature's a parallel processor, like you seem to be implying. The Tree of Life sprouts many limbs simultaneously.
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    Well maybe Nature quantum computes (with an OS like "MWI" or "M-theory" or "RQM"). :nerd:
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k


    Indeed, decidely computer-like, using a brute-force search algorithm.
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    Indeed, decidely computer-like, using a brute-force search algorithm.Agent Smith
    i.e. Natural selection :up:
  • punos
    321
    Indeed, decidely computer-like, using a brute-force search algorithm.Agent Smith

    It's funny that you say that because i think about the forces of nature as akin to simple algorithms like how gravity tends to sort matter by specific density, and electro-magnetism tries to bring unlike charges together, but keep like charges apart. The strong and weak nuclear forces are a bit more mysterious, but they still seem to function as algorithms of some sort.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    If you simulate a cannonball, the computer has to perform actual calculations for the trajectory. Is our universe (also) a computer?
  • punos
    321
    If you simulate a cannonball, the computer has to perform actual calculations for the trajectory. Is our universe (also) a computer?Agent Smith

    I don't have a better way to think about it than the universe being some sort of computational system. I hesitate to call it a computer since i don't want to give the impression of an ultimate programmer with complex intentions.
  • punos
    321


    Comparing the universe to a computer:
    ----------------------------------------------------
    universe = computer
    energy = power / electricity
    time = processor
    space = memory
    instructions = logic
    information / data = matter
    ecosystems = operating systems
    organisms = programs
    forces = daemons or algorithms
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