Teleology without teleology Paul Davies Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science Arizona State University - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Teleology without teleology Paul Davies Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science Arizona State University Origin of the universe c. 2 billion years c. 10 billion years c. 13.7 billion years Law of increasing (accelerating) novelty/variety/diversity/complexity

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Teleology without teleology Paul Davies Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science Arizona State University

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Teleology without teleologyPaul DaviesBeyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in ScienceArizona State University

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Origin of the universe

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c. 2 billion years

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c. 10 billion years

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c. 13.7 billion years

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Law of increasing (accelerating)


The principle of maximum diversity says that the laws of nature, and the initial

conditions at the beginning of time, are such as to make the universe

as interesting as possible.

Freeman Dyson

Biospheres and the universe create novelty and diversity as fast as they can

manage to do so without destroying the accumulated propagating organization

that is the basis and nexus from which further novelty is discovered and

incorporated into the propagating organization.

Stuart Kauffman

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The entropy gap

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Cosmic expansion itself is the prime mover for the construction

of a hierarchy of complex entities throughout the Universe…

in an expanding Universe, both the disorder and the order can

increase simultaneously--a fundamental duality, strange but true.

Eric Chaisson

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compatibility ≠ explanation

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  • What is a suitable quantification for the entity that increases, and under what physical circumstances does it in fact increase?

  • Does the putative “law” or principle of incraesing “something” emerge from existing laws of physics or does it augment them?

  • Is there a universal principle in nature or a patchwork of different principles for different sorts of systems (gravitational, biological, intelligent…)

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the key!

Initial state of matter close to thermodynamic equilibrium

Initial state of the gravitational field far from equilibrium

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Gravitational entropy

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Growth of clumpiness

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Perhaps to a black hole…

Sbh = 4πkGM2/ћc3

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Safter ≥ Sbefore

‘Gravitational entropy: beyond the black hole’

P.C.W. Davies, D.N. Page and L.H. Ford, Phys. Rev. D34, 1700 (1986).

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'Black hole versus cosmological horizon entropy,’

P.C.W. Davies, T. M. Davis and C. Lineweaver, Classical and Quantum Gravity20, 2753 (2003).

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Area theorem for cosmological horizons

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Radiation-filled universe with Λ


a(t) sinh½[2(Λ/3)½t]


Rh ~ t½ t → 0

→ (3/Λ)½t → ∞

S~Λ–¾ → Λ–1

Λ–¼ ~ (Rh/Planck length)½ >> 1


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Gravitational entropy –or complexity?



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Is there a complexity bound on the universe towards which the growth of complexity might tend?

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The universe has finite

computational resources

I ≤ 2πkER/ħc

10122 bits

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A possible experimental test!

n particles → 2n possible states

2n~ 10122 → n ~ 400 particles

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Holographic bound on algorithmic complexity

H(X) = – ln P(X) + O(1)

algorithmic information

H({α}) < Aholo/LP2

Scott Aaronson

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“No room at the bottom”

argument against strong emergence

The laws of physics at the micro-level

already completely determine the

evolution of physical states

Additional emergent laws would lead to


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Emergent laws of complexity

The problem of causal closure

Complex system

Emergent laws

of complexity

“Downward causation”



Basic laws

of physics

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Quantum post-selection and the Born rule

Pre-selection, no post-selection Born rule

Pre-selection, “weird” post-selection

“strange” departures from Born rule

Three examples:

1. Departures at high energy (“natural” regulation?)

2. Time-symmetric boundary conditions

(Gell-Man & Hartle – teleology with teleology)

3. Growth of complexity/diversity

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Exponential decay law

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The pattern hidden inside the exponential decay

law, revealed by weak measurement


This generalized law is

experimentally testable

Wheeler’s “turning of the tide”






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Pre-selection (e.g. de Sitter vacuum)

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Biological determinism

Life as a ‘cosmic imperative’


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Christian De Duve

“Life is almost bound to arise… wherever

physical conditions are similar (to Earth).”

“Life is a cosmic imperative!”

Multiple origins of life on Earth!

Seek evidence from a shadow biosphere

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Founding tenet of astrobiology

Life emerges readily under earthlike conditions

Earthlike planets are common,


Life is widespread in the universe

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3.5 billion year ago


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Search for Extra-



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Stephen Jay Gould



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  • There is no agreed universal measure of what it is “of value” that increases with time.

  • There is no general theorem proving when complexity increases with time.

  • An overarching “principle of increasing complexity” or a “cosmic imperative” could be consistent with the existing laws of physics if formulated within the freedom afforded by quantum post-selection.

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