“Causal Entropy” Linked to Intelligence

Picture: Mattes (PD)

Picture: Mattes (PD)

Jason Palmer reports for the BBC:

The idea of entropy is fundamentally an intuitive one – that the Universe tends in general to a more disordered state.

The classic example is a dropped cup: it will smash into pieces, but those pieces will never spontaneously recombine back into a cup. Analogously, a hot cup of coffee will always cool down if left – it will never draw warmth from a room to heat back up.

But the idea of “causal entropy” goes further, suggesting that a given physical system not only maximises the entropy within its current conditions, but that it reaches a state that will allow it more entropy – in a real sense, more options – in the future.

Alex Wissner-Gross of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US and Cameron Freer from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, have now put together a mathematical model that ties this causal entropy idea – evident in a range of recent studies – into a single framework.

“In the past 10 to 15 years, there have been many hints from a variety of different disciplines that there was a deep link between entropy production and intelligence,” Dr Wissner-Gross told BBC News.

“This paper is really the first result that clarifies what that link precisely is… to the point that it’s prescriptive – it actually allows you to calculate in a sensible way answers to questions that couldn’t reasonably be answered before.”

The simplistic model considers a number of examples, such as a pendulum hanging from a moving cart. Simulations of the causal entropy idea show that the pendulum ends up pointing upward – an unstable situation, but one from which the pendulum can explore a wider variety of positions.

The researchers liken this to the development of upright walking.

Further simulations showed how the same idea could drive the development of tool use, social network formation and cooperation, and even the maximisation of profit in a simple financial market.

“While there were hints from a variety of other fields such as cosmology, it was so enormously surprising to see that one could take these principles, apply them to simple systems, and effectively for free have such behaviours pop out,” Dr Wissner-Gross said.

‘Beyond luck’

Raphael Bousso of the University of California Berkeley said: “It has always mystified me how well this principle models intelligent observers, and it would be wonderful if Alex’s work could shed some light on this.”

Prof Bousso showed in a 2007 paper in Physical Review D that models of the Universe that incorporated causal entropy were more likely to come up with a Universe that contains intelligent observers – that is, us.

However, he cautions that although the new paper bolsters the case for causal entropy, the idea still lacks explanatory power.

Read more here.

12 Comments on "“Causal Entropy” Linked to Intelligence"

  1. as an algorithm i do not foresee that such statements (cup example etc) shall never be proven wrong by intelligence. it is equally as an adage that such adages necessarily procure their demise. such is the life of a morpheme. entropy and consumption are silly bible terminology. The Book of the Dead or Amon’s Grimmore contain explicit detail necessarily superior. perhaps it was consummation that was the silly term, eh?

    “The simplistic model considers a number of examples, such as a pendulum hanging from a moving cart. Simulations of the causal entropy idea show that the pendulum ends up pointing upward – an unstable situation, but one from which the pendulum can explore a wider variety of positions.” sounds like a bad Ben Franklin pickup line for grocers, gestated after Benji met Maxwell. quite clearly there were not sufficient mathematical and computer science involvement(s). nor do i think any coo-coo clock artisans had been consulted prior to the pendulum pair of pigeon docks’ hypothesis’ writ.

    of course they’d use greedy algorithms and tie in to a failing market. sadness. everything but bare naked sensualities. merely another router in the wake of the doppelganger. thing with psychology is, as soon as you say it’s right, it’s wrong. nature always finds a way, and to count your chickens before they hatch is pretty much a psych profile on this one. “financial applications.” yeah. right. just one more pixel on the snow channel, which was already there, by the way. they’re all just looking for whom had made the wake – the mach through the biomass – the psionic wave pulse – the ping of me. epiphany. poetry. how i see, see?

    i was at first excited by the title and picture thinking this would be a excerpt concerting that which i have oft encountered regarding electronic devices and the Evil Spirits pervading them in defiance of us. for the less poetic, then, this: if quantums are, then computers are quantums. stop being silly. start being sillier. any whoot, if ye wish fer an idea with explanatory power, i recommend ye to seek out that which belies itself as k-clique. then you shall see the power of neighborhoods and parents, memories and process of elimination – and the ideal as it is that the ideal is not a singular copy. doppelgangers i say! mach inception today! sound traveling faster than sound! valid quicker than valid! minds futurerer than minds! fair thee well.

  2. i disagree.
    though Benji and Maxwell met up to make that pickup line eh
    “Pendulums, Ma’am” “Pendulums”

      • i’m mostly force to book-by-cover due to so many objectives. i’ll check it out. i was about to come back here upon a second impression of the title. it reminds me of math class and some other things. when it feels like minds connect or block each other, like they all only have so much room, and then otherwise start to ‘genus out’. handles and such~ … somehow i’m certain some teachings cause this. and the system. work system i mean. niche jobbing. any whoot~ reading

      • a) reminds me of black hole feasts b) fig. 1 reminds me of graphical subset analysis for finding k-cliques (wouldn’t necessarily look so Feynman as the pic) while the description seems more attuned to the variables of the mind of the writer than to something as simple as encountering (x^2-1)/(x-1) c) capital pi notations are also indicative of omega structure of a k-clique analysis as such (thus i contend that this analysis is not polynomial, or, as is common among physicists, has the shadow assumption that P = NP; thus the contention furthermore that entropy is nothing more than gross error due to attempting to prove P = NP) d) fig. 2 further materializes my hold that in parallel to my own experience working with k-clique that the minds processes are themselves all limited in a likewise way (given initial parameters) for i see the struggle to be generically the same to mine (many engineering issues in fig. 2b) e) fig. 3 is fun, like basketball not so much as solving problems smartly, games and such e.g. fig. 4 i contend to be the author/thinkers option play to contend communication with me

        that’s from Skim Scan. might read it in more detail later.

  3. Calypso_1 | Apr 27, 2013 at 12:41 am |

    I’d love to see if this model produces it’s own biochemical ‘metabolism-first’ models of abiogenesis.

    • i believe it not to be entirely distinct from methods associated with:

      • Calypso_1 | Apr 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

        Will you expound on this some. I don’t mind if you get mathematical on me. Keep in mind my own background is less in computational theory than your own. I am thinking you are getting at pre-geometries & implicate order.

        • i like those words fit with it. pre-geometry and cataloging, perhaps. as a continuous pre-mathematical object, aether as uniform, identical, and the entire universe. as an initial notation of anything to be cataloged, whether it be seen to be biological or non-biological later on during the processment, Void. points in math don’t exist, void doesn’t exist, so might as well start there. the aether crumples up much like we who tire of analysis and feel force to carry out the remainder of our natural lives. so, from aether we then have generic space, as our pre-geometric, pre-biologic objects, stuffs, crumps and crumbs. notation for these, Affinity. no cause, no effect, no other information more or less than simply that aether crumpled onto the Void as an Affinity, like a blood congealing, coagulating, scarring, or reparing perfectly. in this case, it is to be seen that all sorts of oddities could wink in and out of existence as we experience it, just like the cat in the hat cleaning up after thing 1 and thing 2. to return to generic space, then, it was as i meant to reference genus as the graphical problem, which is related to geometries in a very particular way. this way then we could say that we may catalog that 5 voids having collective affinity are a genus 5 graph. what then may a genus 5 graph be? a carbon ion, perhaps? this is where i have not done much in the way of reverse engineering the current chemistries et cetera to my own Void-Affinity Aether. VAGES? VAGAS? it is far too beautiful and useful in my mind and life to throw away at this point, even lacking further detail~

        • this holographic idea. as affinity, as a shell, an egg shell where void is the yoke. but that’s a horrendously inaccurate metaphor. it’s more like having a particular geometry/graph/affinity/genus around void means it sucks or is pushed into in only very particular ways. like the block box with triangles and circles, squares, etc. very strategic in essence per se yet that is only a vantage point. it is also the case that it (vages) equivalates at the infinitesimal level of detail random and order. such that there is no distinction, only moreso could be said that which has not been cataloged or experimented with and that that has. thus i see potential for contention that upon crumps of sufficient size it is necessarily the case that cause/effect arises in as much as sex may lead to babies, water will overflow a cup, electricity will overcome gravity, etc. as well, from an anthropological standpoint regarding ancient egypt and what we know of the gods, in my mind, such strangeness makes more and more inevitable sense daily, though i sense i am reaching a capacity limit. and it isn’t too pleasant, but i get to use my emotions for other things than ‘omg epiphany!’ or ‘fml, another epiphany?’ etc. a place for everythign and everything in its place though. i shall trudge on when trudging shall be must needs~

  4. Ron Chandler | Apr 27, 2013 at 10:45 am |

    Anybody notice the single principle in the universe that defies entropy? It’s called life.

    • Calypso_1 | Apr 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

      You’ll need to expand the standard definition of life if want to go with that.
      Try information and it gets even closer to the core concept.

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