• TheMadFool
    4.1k
    “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. — Charles Darwin

    What I want to focus on is what I perceive is a claim that complexity evolves from simplicity. I think this idea is one that is universally accepted. It also seems to agree with science - the big bang 13.8 billion years ago was just a soup of the most elementary particles and now stars, galaxies and life even if it's just confined to earth.

    If this idea that simplicity evolves into complexity is true then what explains the quite obvious fact that humans when engaged in creative acts can never produce something more complex than humans themselves? All our inventions no matter how advanced are but cheap imitations of nature.

    How do we explain the hard-problem of consciousness or our inability to create artificial intelligence and usher in the technological singularity?

    Granted that I may be speaking too soon and we may be able to create something more complex than ourselves in the future but as of the moment our inability to do so contradicts the simplicity evolves into complexity hypothesis.
  • alcontali
    799
    What I want to focus on is what I perceive is a claim that complexity evolves from simplicity.TheMadFool

    In the physical world, you can have simple objects of which their simple, disconnected state is much more probable than when they collectively form a more improbable, complex object. This is possible because such complex object is a game-theoretical equilibrium that is surprisingly stable, no matter how improbable.

    For example, the reason why an electron prefers to orbit around the nucleus of an atom is ultimately because the electron's internal structure becomes itself more stable by doing that. The electron itself will less easily fall apart into smaller constituents, if it is itself part of that larger whole (the atom).

    In fact, this hypothesis could probably even be tested scientifically. It should be easier to (cost substantially less energy) to smash a free electron apart than one that is orbiting around an atom. The same should be true for a proton or neutron. A free particle should be easier to smash apart than one that is embedded inside the nucleus of an atom.

    If this idea that simplicity evolves into complexity is true then what explains the quite obvious fact that humans when engaged in creative acts can never produce something more complex than humans themselves?TheMadFool

    If you compare two ideas, then one could be better than the other one. In this context, we could define the term "better idea" as an idea that will live longer. Combining ideas into larger ones, however, does not necessarily create a game-theoretical equilibrium between them. For that to happen, each idea of a combination of two ideas should be able to survive longer, exactly because it is combined with the other one.

    Why would this be the case?

    For example, the nine axioms of Peano standard arithmetic theory are a combination of nine ideas. Would you improve the strength of arithmetic theory by adding new axioms? Not necessarily, because it will be possible to produce most candidate axioms as theorems of the nine existing ones. So, they would mostly be redundant. Without claiming that it will be impossible to do, it is hard to find an additional axiom that is truly independent from the existing ones, and that would meaningfully extend number theory. Another problem is that adding a new axiom would make you trust more, while increasing the amount of trust is not necessarily a good idea. Furthermore, number theory will never really die. It is not a living thing anyway.
  • OmniscientNihilist
    117
    What I want to focus on is what I perceive is a claim that complexity evolves from simplicity.TheMadFool

    forces-NATURAL-LAWS-science-invisible-god.png
  • NOS4A2
    1.5k


    If this idea that simplicity evolves into complexity is true then what explains the quite obvious fact that humans when engaged in creative acts can never produce something more complex than humans themselves? All our inventions no matter how advanced are but cheap imitations of nature.

    There are more around 37.2 trillion cells in the human body. Perhaps we just don’t have the time.
  • Banno
    6.4k
    ...what explains the quite obvious fact that humans when engaged in creative acts can never produce something more complex than humans themselves?TheMadFool

    But that's not true.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    If this idea that simplicity evolves into complexity is true then what explains the quite obvious fact that humans when engaged in creative acts can never produce something more complex than humans themselves? All our inventions no matter how advanced are but cheap imitations of nature.TheMadFool

    If human minds have X complexity, and things of greater complexity tend to emerge from things of lesser complexity, then it actually does follow (inductively) that human minds can make things more complex than themselves.

    How do we explain the hard-problem of consciousnessTheMadFool

    One explanation is that it emerges from the complex system/neural networks that our bodies initiate. A second possibility is that we're self-deluded P-zombies...

    or our inability to create artificial intelligence and usher in the technological singularity?TheMadFool

    The technological singularity is not coherent for a number of reasons (exponentially growing processing and memory requirements, for example)... Intelligence is the ability to anticipate something, and to anticipate requires observations + calculations. The more confident you want your anticipations to be, exponentially more observations and calculations are required to achieve a linear increase in intelligence. The *process* of the singularity makes sense, but it's a practical impossibility because we almost instantly hit the physical limits of any apparatus we construct. (a true techno singularity must therefore be self-assembling, and the rate of self-assembly must constantly accelerate).

    Granted that I may be speaking too soon and we may be able to create something more complex than ourselves in the future but as of the moment our inability to do so contradicts the simplicity evolves into complexity hypothesis.TheMadFool

    "Simplicity" is not an ingredient of complexity. Dynamism, however, is. In systems with very many "simple" fundamental elements, and where the fundamental elements are highly dynamic (can interact with other fundamental parts in numerous ways), emergence tends to happen.

    Humans in human society is a good example. One human living alone in the forest is not complex at all compared to a multi-cultural and inter-continental civilization. Humans par nature basically just wander around in forests or plains like the hominid ancestors we evolved from. But give humans enough time and enough behavioral dynamism (and a critical mass), and we figure out how to reach novel tiers of existence (tiers whose complexity did not emerge from biology alone, but from serendipity, interactions, observations, discoveries, communication, time, and space).

    In a nut shell, time and space is a serendipity generator (a generator of complexity/patterns/structure, where self-stable *lasting* "complex" phenomenon accumulate overtime and eventually form the ground floor (the basic system) for a new scale of emergent phenomenon), but like diamonds, greater magnitude in the product confers exponentially rising cost (in time, space, and energy).

    So the answer to your main point is that we simply cannot afford it. Biology is too cheap and efficient to be contended with in terms of raw complicatedness. That said, groups of humans are the basis for *things that emerge from humans* (emergent phenomenon are wholes by definition, and the human collective is probably the next scale in which we should expect to see highly complex emergence), and human civilization as a whole is debatably more complex than even our own biology.
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    cost substantially less energyalcontali

    So the answer to your main point is that we simply cannot afford it. Biology is too cheap and efficient to be contended with in terms of raw complicatednessVagabondSpectre

    So, it's about energy expense vs return vis-a-vis efficiency. Nature, and we're part of it, is the most efficient system in existence and we simply can't match up no matter how creative we get.

    I learned in biology class how living systems have in-built redundancies which take the form of multiple pathways in biochemistry that work as a fail-safe in case one chemical pathway should be obstructed, allowing life to continue. Also the fact that all life, from viruses to blue whales, is based on the four bases of DNA suggests an almost unimaginable efficiency in the system.

    In the physical world, you can have simple objects of which their simple, disconnected state is much more probable than when they collectively form a more improbable, complex object.alcontali

    Reminded me of the oft bandied about but usually misunderstood (count me in) concept of entropy. I guess the difference between a closed and an open system explains the complexity, especially life, we see on earth.


    There are more around 37.2 trillion cells in the human body. Perhaps we just don’t have the time.NOS4A2

    Agreed. Everything takes time. That's why I admitted that I may be speaking too soon.

    But that's not true.Banno

    How? Can you name one man-made object that is more complex than humans?

    :up:

    TO ALL

    How would one go about defining the terms "simplicity" and "complexity"?

    The usual interpretation of the difference between simplicity and complexity seems to be pinned down numerically or structurally or relationally. Fewer components in a system makes the system simple. Structurally, the parts are said to be simpler than the whole. The fewer the relationships between the parts the simpler the system is.

    A complex system would have many components/parts and the relations between them would also be greater in number.

    I guess I have a very basic conception of the words "simplicity" and "complexity"
  • ZhouBoTong
    535
    How? Can you name one man-made object that is more complex than humans?TheMadFool

    New York City? Civilization? Liverpool FC? Surely anything that is made up of humans is more complex than just humans?

    I get that you still have an argument, but I think you will need to provide context for words like "simple" and "complex". What is more complex, a cell or a mountain?...why? What is more complex, a human or the large hadron collider?...again, why?

    A complex system would have many components/parts and the relations between them would also be greater in number.TheMadFool

    This partially suggests that bigger is automatically more complex, so my large hadron collider example should suffice. There are far more connections between far more atoms. Although an ant would seem more complex than a large block of aluminum, so this suggests a different type of complex. Is the number of different components/parts more important to complexity or is it the total number of connections?

    I do not view anything I have said as a "haha, gotcha!". It is really just pointing out some confusion on my part as to what exactly you are suggesting with "complex"??

    I guess I have a very basic conception of the words "simplicity" and "complexity"TheMadFool

    I thought I did too :grimace: But as you can tell from my response above, after your OP, the definition of complex suddenly became insufficient (for me).
  • Banno
    6.4k
    How? Can you name one man-made object that is more complex than humans?TheMadFool

    Even assuming that I cannot name one man-made object that is more complex than humans, you could only achieve have not produce something more complex than humans themselves, not your desired can never produce something more complex than humans themselves.

    Your argument fails.
  • Banno
    6.4k
    New York City? Civilization? Liverpool FC? Surely anything that is made up of humans is more complex than just humans?ZhouBoTong

    I was thinking more Mandelbrot set. But yes, society counts as being man-made and more complex than any individual.
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    Even assuming that I cannot name one man-made object that is more complex than humans, you could only achieve have not produce something more complex than humans themselves, not your desired can never produce something more complex than humans themselves.Banno

    Agreed but I did mention that limitation to my thesis. The future is open-ended as far as I can see. What bears mentioning though is the way people have sorted problems in science and philosophy. Why is consciousness called a "hard" problem and why is there no genuine AI? Why is an explanation for turbulence or the theory of everything so difficult? These should be, if complexity follows naturally from simplicity, easy. Right?
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    It is really just pointing out some confusion on my part as to what exactly you are suggesting with "complex"??ZhouBoTong

    Do you consider deleting features from my understanding of complexity and simplicity or adding other features you think are necessary?

    Have a go.
  • alcontali
    799
    Reminded me of the oft bandied about but usually misunderstood (count me in) concept of entropy. I guess the difference between a closed and an open system explains the complexity, especially life, we see on earth.TheMadFool

    Entropy is also at work. Its effect is to gradually dismantle complex systems, i.e. erode them into simpler ones. Entropy is, however, a weak phenomenon, compared to the stubborn resilience of a game-theoretical equilibrium between constituent parts of an object (dead or living).

    Furthermore, the universe keeps expanding. The mainstream view is that all matter-energy that exists today was originally contained in the initial singularity. I do not believe in that view, simply because we cannot detect similar dense concentrations of matter-energy anywhere in the universe today. That kind of density of matter-energy is most likely even impossible. For example, if you try to concentrate all matter-energy of just our solar system or just our galaxy inside the volume of a tennis ball, it would not work. Therefore, I believe that matter-energy is somehow a byproduct of the expansion of the universe, and that it did not even exist in the initial singularity. This matter-generation process would then also work in the opposite direction of entropy. In my opinion, the standard Lambda-CDM cosmological model has lots of implications that cannot possibly be true and that are clearly bullshit. I don't have an alternative for it, but I don't believe it either.
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    You wrote a lot. I understood little. Let's not bring in other theories to make sense of what I want to discuss. Not because they aren't relevant but because I don't understand them and I am the audience. Be a good speaker (if you can).

    The problem is this:

    1. People believe that simplicity evolves into complexity

    2. Humans can't create anything more complex than themselves

    If 1 is true then 2 should be false.

    The problem is compounded by the fact that intelligence should lead to greater complexity by way of knowledge. There's a difference between an amateur philosopher and a trained philosopher as an example. Yet this is obviously false in man-made creations which, as I said, are poor imitations of nature.

    If you don't want to answer that then can you kindly try and provide a proof for the belief that simplicity leads to complexity or vice versa or perhaps you want to do something else.
  • alcontali
    799
    People believe that simplicity evolves into complexityTheMadFool

    That is a legitimate belief. For example, a game-theoretical equilibrium is more complex than its constituent parts. That alone explains much of why simplicity evolves into complexity.

    Humans can't create anything more complex than themselvesTheMadFool

    Human societies are conceivably more complex than individual humans.

    If 1 is true then 2 should be false.TheMadFool

    It depends on whether a group of person is more complex than a person.

    There's a difference between an amateur philosopher and a trained philosopher as an example.TheMadFool

    A trained philosopher is someone who is an expert reader of real philosophers, most of whom were not trained at expert reading other philosophers. Trained philosophers are like literary critics, who never write a book by themselves, while authors who do, are rarely or never interested in criticizing work by other authors. It is not possible to train someone into developing talent. Hence, the old adage: The ones who can, do. The ones who cannot do, teach. The ones who cannot teach, administer and become bureaucrats.

    So, no. Someone who trains at executing procedures, such as reading other people's philosophies, has no real talent. Otherwise, he would just use his own talent instead.

    If you don't want to answer that then can you kindly try and provide a proof for the belief that simplicity leads to complexity or vice versa or perhaps you want to do something else.TheMadFool

    Proof only exists in mathematics, i.e. in the axiomatic epistemic domain. It is not possible to prove even one single theorem about the real, physical world. That would require access to the theory of which all provable claims are true in the physical universe, i.e. the Theory of Everything (ToE). We do not have that access. Hence, the answer is that there is no proof possible that simplicity leads to complexity in the physical universe.
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    Hence, the answer is that there is no proof possible that simplicity leads to complexity in the physical universe.alcontali

    Am I then to conclude that the belief simplicity leads to complexity is baseless and ergo, logically, to be open to discussion?

    If yes could you write some more of your thoughts on it.


    Also I think equlibrium has nothing to do with the issue of simplicity and complexity. Yes equilibrium may describe a relationship between systems but it, as a concept, doesn't form part of the definition of simplicity or complexity.
  • alcontali
    799
    Am I then to conclude that the belief simplicity leads to complexity is baseless and ergo, logically, to be open to discussion?TheMadFool

    It is not provable from a mathematical theory, but it may very well be true. Statements that are not provable are not necessarily baseless. That would mean that everything we ever say about the real, physical world would be baseless, because there is nothing you can prove about it.

    The empirical epistemic domain, including science, does not require proof. It necessarily accepts substantially lowered standards of evidence.

    Furthermore, even within mathematics, there are statements that are true in one model (and false in another) but not provable. Only statements that are true in all its models could ever be provable from the mathematical theory.

    Also I think equlibrium has nothing to do with the issue of simplicity and complexity.TheMadFool

    In game theory it does. The equilibrium between individual players (=subthings) is a new thing. So, when two protons, a neutron, and two electrons form an equilibrium, you get an atom, which is a new thing. It is not just the composition of its subatomic constituents. An atom has substantially different emergent properties from its constituent parts. Iron has electrons in its equilibrium and gold has them too, but iron and gold are noticeably different things.

    es equilibrium may describe a relationship between systems but it, as a concept, doesn't form part of the definition of simplicity or complexity.TheMadFool

    For example, a water molecule, H20, consists of three atoms, i.e. two times H(ydrogen) and one time O(xygen). H20 is substantially more complex than its constituent atoms. When these water molecules get absorbed in your body, they form even more complex biochemical cocktails, which are essentially also equilibria. These cocktails are noticeably different and more complex than pure water. Composition layer after composition layer, you obtain increasingly more complex compositions that are noticeably different from their constituent parts.
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    If you insist the proposition "simplicity evolves into complexity" can't be proven then let me give it a shot. You be the judge.

    Essential features of complexity : numerically greater in parts and part-to-part relationships

    Consider a system consisting of 3 parts a, b and c and that it is possible for all possible permutations to occur between a, b and c.

    We have in the beginning, with the artificial constraint that only permutations of 3 are possible, 3 × 3 × 3 = 27 possibilities.

    Each of these 27 possibilities then have further possible combinations which we can assume to be again in threes. We now have 27 × 27 × 27 = 19683 permutations possible.

    The above calculation ignores more complex relationships that could be possible.

    Therefore, simplicity evolves into complexity. What do you think of my "proof"?
  • alcontali
    799
    Each of these 27 possibilities then have further possible combinations which we can assume to be again in threes. We now have 27 × 27 × 27 = 19683 permutations possible.TheMadFool

    Yes, but most of these permutations are useless for these parts.

    According to game theory, these parts will only pick those possibilities that substantially improve their own stability.

    So, you will end up noticing large numbers of parts picking permutation 5897 (for example). In terms of probability, this option is very unlikely (only 1 chance out of 19683), but it happens to be a combination in which the internal stability of each of the three parts improves dramatically.

    Part A is way less likely to fall apart in that option, but also part B and part C. So, none of these parts wants to leave this permutation for another one. Hence, this permutation turns out to be improbably stable.

    So, layer after layer, these increasingly unlikely compositions become more and more stable, and that is exactly the opposite of what you would expect.
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    Yes, but most of these permutations are useless for these parts.alcontali

    Agreed. Some permutations may be dead ends e.g. inert elements like Xenon etc.

    According to game theory, these parts will only pick those possibilities that substantially improve their own stability.alcontali

    Agreed. There must be a guiding principle to interactions e.g. celestial objects tend to be spherical.

    However equilibrium if it has anything to do with stability of possible permutations then it only determines/limits possibilities. Wouldn't that be against complexity by preventing all possible relationships?
  • alcontali
    799
    Wouldn't that be against complexity by preventing all possible relationships?TheMadFool

    All states are actually, equally probable.

    Therefore, you see the elements in all other states too, but because they have no interest in staying in these normal states, they regularly keep changing state.

    At some point, however, an element will randomly/accidentally enter the very stable state, which happens to be a game-theoretical equilibrium. The element no longer want to leave. It no longer want to change its state, because its own, internal stability benefits handsomely from being in this particular state.

    The other items -- which can be other types of elements -- that constitute the equilibrium happen to react in the same way: they do not want to leave, for the same reason. It is the entire collection of items in the equilibrium that is now very stable. This collection of sub-things thereby forms a new thing.

    Complexity grows because a thing (=the equilibrium) consists of multiple sub-things. This composition strategy of sub-things into things is able to yield increasingly complex things.
  • christian2017
    518


    Hypothetically, if simplicity evolves into complexity then humans could produce something more complicated then themselves. Thats what my logic circuits tell me.
  • ZhouBoTong
    535
    It is really just pointing out some confusion on my part as to what exactly you are suggesting with "complex"??
    — ZhouBoTong

    Do you consider deleting features from my understanding of complexity and simplicity or adding other features you think are necessary?

    Have a go.
    TheMadFool

    I thought I was making it clear that I do not understand your "understanding of complexity and simplicity"?

    That is what I was asking you to clarify.

    What is more complex, a cell or a mountain?...why? What is more complex, a human or the large hadron collider?...again, why?ZhouBoTong

    If you will answer these questions, I think that will clarify for me. If you can't answer them, then you understand my confusion.
  • TheMadFool
    4.1k
    How would one go about defining the terms "simplicity" and "complexity"?

    The usual interpretation of the difference between simplicity and complexity seems to be pinned down numerically or structurally or relationally. Fewer components in a system makes the system simple. Structurally, the parts are said to be simpler than the whole. The fewer the relationships between the parts the simpler the system is.

    A complex system would have many components/parts and the relations between them would also be greater in number.

    I guess I have a very basic conception of the words "simplicity" and "complexity"
    TheMadFool

    What is more complex, a cell or a mountain?...why? What is more complex, a human or the large hadron collider?...again, why?ZhouBoTong

    Great question.

    That we can create a mountain and a hadron collider but not a cell or a human is clear evidence in which category these four items fall.

    We can create only things we understand the mechanics of and what is beyond our understanding and therefore can't create is a sign that some stuff are just too complex.
  • ZhouBoTong
    535
    That we can create a mountain and a hadron collider but not a cell or a human is clear evidence in which category these four items fall.TheMadFool

    Ah, but I think language is inadequate to describe what you are getting at. We can easily "create" people, right? whether naturally through sexual reproduction or even by combining sexual material in a lab. So you really mean, we cannot create a human "from scratch"...right? But neither can we create most things...how long would it take humans to synthetically create all of the elements heavier than hydrogen in sufficient quantity to build a mountain or the large hadron collider?

    I think limits of our knowledge, or "known/unknown" is more accurate than "complex/simple" in the situation you are describing. Too many factors go into "complex" and anything can seem "simple" to someone who thoroughly understands it. E=MC^2 is extremely simple. But truly understanding everything that the equation entails is a different story.

    We can create only things we understand the mechanics of and what is beyond our understanding and therefore can't create is a sign that some stuff are just too complex.TheMadFool

    I would prefer to focus on the "beyond our understanding" more than "too complex" as I know exactly what the former means, but the latter would usually require clarification/explanation/context.

    As a thought experiment...is a black hole very simple or very complex?
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