the universe: a self-similar hierarchy of intelligent neural networks
April 16, 2010 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Is this like one of those institutes from Cronenberg movies?
posted by thelastenglishmajor at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2010

more inside?
posted by slater at 4:57 PM on April 16, 2010

I don't have enough brains to understand this.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 5:03 PM on April 16, 2010

Time Cube Homeopathy!
posted by darkstar at 5:04 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I haven't thought about perceptrons and backpropegation since I got a D in Neural Networks in college;dr.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:06 PM on April 16, 2010

I am both dazzled by seeming brilliance and baffled by.. something something.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:07 PM on April 16, 2010

posted by empath at 5:07 PM on April 16, 2010

If you point a parabolic fractal at outer space, you can hear Infinity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:09 PM on April 16, 2010

*scratches head*
posted by brundlefly at 5:09 PM on April 16, 2010


There are often just a few large things, but many smaller ones. Also: WIBBITYWIBBITYWOO
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2010

Winiwarter's laws of HTTP 500 SERVICE UNAVAILABLE
posted by GuyZero at 5:14 PM on April 16, 2010

Oh, you broke it. Poo. Go stand in the corner of shame.
posted by cytherea at 5:15 PM on April 16, 2010

posted by killdevil at 5:18 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Life and mind have a common abstract pattern or set of basic organizational properties. The functional properties characteristic of mind are an enriched version of the functional properties that are fundamental to life in general. Mind is literally life-like.
This sounds interesting to me and maybe true, but does it mean anything at all?
posted by crayz at 5:20 PM on April 16, 2010

that last earthquake link does not not talk about earthquakes unless as part of the TV brainwashing technics used in the 1970s I'm too brainwashed to see it.
posted by birdherder at 5:21 PM on April 16, 2010

I am afraid to click on any of those links in fear of finding out what an idiot I really am. My self esteem is now destroyed. I will delete this account. You will find me in the basement, sobbing.
posted by HuronBob at 5:21 PM on April 16, 2010

Oh! It's back.

And I can explain a teapot with physics.
posted by GuyZero at 5:21 PM on April 16, 2010

I'm running a few of the paragraphs right now through a 400 grit Marshall McLuhan filter and I'll see if I can clean up the results in a bit of metho.

Should come right when it's dried and oiled, fill it up with premium, open the choke and kick it over. If it still won't parse, maybe it's the CDI or the stator?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:21 PM on April 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

I tried to read this but it's all "meow meow possibly crazy meow meow"
posted by The Whelk at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2010

Ok..I clicked on the links, read a few things... Now, how about some context.. I really have a hard time believing that with three degrees and way too many years of life experience, I'm too stupid to understand the point of a metafilter post (even those I don't agree with).

But... this makes little sense to me
posted by HuronBob at 5:26 PM on April 16, 2010

Wow ~ got through the first few articles, then got a brain cramp and had to quit. I think I'm full for now.
posted by garnetgirl at 5:29 PM on April 16, 2010

out of all that I discovered that "complexions" is my new favorite word.
posted by selenized at 5:37 PM on April 16, 2010

This is something on the internet alright. We can all agree with that.
posted by oddman at 6:13 PM on April 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Really? Zipf's law? I'm all about devoting your life to an increasingly baroque and unwieldy set of grandiose delusions, but... Zipf's law? That has to be the dullest damn basis for a crackpot theory I've ever heard.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:18 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

So I guess this is the end-point of "OMG I FOUND A POWER-LAW"*

*Over .1 orders of magnitude. If you squint. And change that curvey bit into a line.
posted by PMdixon at 6:35 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have enough brains drugs in my system to understand this.


The "Bordalier Institute" doesn't exist outside this website as far as I can tell, and that Winiwarter guy pretty much doesn't either. He sure likes power laws (that's quack-speak for "the higher, the fewer").

Anyway I think he's trying to draw an analogy between the following concepts:
- Entropy increasing (the Laws of Thermodynamics say that the amount of "disorder" (sort of) in the universe always increases, and never decreases),
- Evolution (things change gradually, randomly, and poorly-built things die),
- Artificial neural networks (computer programs that try to gradually find simple patterns in a set of data), particularly those using backpropagation (a method of finding those patterns in which corrections are applied backwards through the network after every unsuccessful run), and
- Gravity and cosmology (I guess).

I guess there is kind of an analogy there, though I think it's a pretty weak one to go all time-cubey over. The concept of things evolving toward the lowest-energy state (by some definition of the word "energy") is a pretty widely-applicable concept, as is the fact that many things come in hierarchies of scale. I don't think neurons have anything to do with nebulae, though.
posted by Xezlec at 8:06 PM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think this is actually really cool. Maybe it gets crackpotty at some point, but from my reading, it would probably take someone a lot smarter than me to be able to say so.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:25 PM on April 16, 2010

First Rule of Genesis: Phil Collins sucks.
posted by jonp72 at 8:27 PM on April 16, 2010

For a more acedemically rigorous look at similar ideas check out this FPP about Constructal Theory.
posted by afu at 9:34 PM on April 16, 2010

he complexity of a selforganized system can only increase or remain constant

I'm nearly certain that has been directly disproven. There's a class of, um, I think it's viruses that attack bacteria, but I'm not real clear on the details. I remember reading about them a few years ago. They had remnants of RNA from being able to self-replicate, but had discarded most of it in favor of hijacking their host's machinery instead.

Organisms keep only what they need to survive and replicate the most effectively, and we see evidence of at least one losing functionality over time, trading away complexity for increased reproduction rate.
posted by Malor at 11:23 PM on April 16, 2010

"The complexity of a selforganized system can only increase or remain constant"

I'm thinking that could only work if the SOS is completely isolated from the outside environment. Like tornados and gamma-ray bursts and EMPs and malicious instructions - which can distinctly lower the complexity.

I guess it could still increase in complexity in complete isolation, but 1. how would you know; 2. what kind of meaning would be left?

That 'law' needs a lot more details before it can stand up and prowl.
posted by Twang at 11:29 PM on April 16, 2010

Well, great. So the universe is organized along self-similarity and power laws. Now what? From this insight, can anything useful be derived?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:44 AM on April 17, 2010

"The complexity of a selforganized system can only increase or remain constant"

That 'law' needs a lot more details before it can stand up and prowl.

I think it's just plain nonsense. Entropy never decreases, but "complexity" is a vague term that probably doesn't mean entropy to most people (including, I think, this author). Given enough time, a universe will collapse into a point, or decay into nothing but a sea of noninteracting particles, depending on the values of certain constants. The entropy of a uniform ball of "hot stuff" may be very high, but would you really call it "complex"?

Here's a simpler example: say we have a set of masses floating around. Gradually, they all get pulled together by gravity into one clump, which gradually becomes a uniform sphere over time. Is that more "complex" to you than the original masses?

What happens to a system (be it physical, mathematical, software, etc.) left to its own devices depends on what the rules are governing that system and what its initial position is. It may just collapse into something boring, it may oscillate around in a repeating cycle, it may just sort of "blow up" and produce a lot of seemingly random crud, or, in a small number of interesting cases, it may produce an endless variety of patterns. The Mandelbrot fractal and the thin film of interesting carbon compounds on the outside of the Earth (that's us) are examples of the latter, but there are a lot of boring structures out there too that don't do anything cool.
posted by Xezlec at 11:34 AM on April 17, 2010

Entropy is basically the opposite of entropy.

And any case, a human body is a self-organizing system, and it eventually decays. This guy's argument is stupid.
posted by empath at 3:16 PM on April 17, 2010

uh, replace one of those 'entropy's with 'complexity'.
posted by empath at 3:37 PM on April 17, 2010

I looked for a while and found some interesting stuff among the madness. I wondered why this here and what it was trying to convey.

Then, just for fun, I had a look at the HTML.

<big><big><big><big><big><a name="empirical_observations_:_self-organized"></a><a name="empirical_observations_"></a>empirical observations : self-organized* systems/ &nbsp;scalefree small-world networks and power laws</big></big></big></big></big></h1>

Then, I decided that it was more exciting to imagine that, rather than being the creation of a single, purposeful mind, this page was merely the result of the beginning stages of some genetic algorithm that dynamically created web pages for each new visitor using other random images, text, and blocks of code it found around web. Maybe it was keeping or mindlessly repeating elements from pages that received a lot of hits and gathering more material when needed.

"This mess I'm seeing is merely its blind, stumbling first attempts at communication and self expression!" I thought with relief.

That made me feel better about this.
posted by Avelwood at 5:50 PM on April 17, 2010

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