Several regulars have requested that I put together a short OP and I’ve agreed to do so out of deference to them. Let me be clear from the outset that this is not my preferred course of action. I would rather discuss in a more interactive way so that I can learn from criticism and modify my thoughts as I go along. OPs are a little too final for my tastes.
I want to emphasize that everything I say here is tentative and is subject to modification or withdraw as feedback is received,
It’s important to understand that I speak for no one but myself it is likely that my understanding of particular terms and concepts will differ from others with interest in ID. I also want to apologize for the general poor quality of this piece I am terrible at detail and I did not put the effort in I should have due mainly to laziness and lack of desire.
With that out of the way:
For the purpose of this discussion I would like to expand upon the work of Phill Mcguire found here and stipulate that cognition can be seen as lossless data compression in which information is integrated in a non-algorithmic process. The output of this process is a unified coherent whole abstract concept that from here forward I will refer to as a specification/target. Mcguire’s work thus far deals with unified consciousness as a whole but I believe his incites are equally valid when dealing with integrated information as associated with individual concepts.
I am sure that there are those who will object to the understanding of cognition that I’m using for various reasons but in the interest of brevity I’m treating it an an axiomatic starting point here. If you are unwilling to accept this proviso for the sake of argument perhaps we can discuss it later in another place instead of bogging down this particular discussion.
From a practical perspective cognition works something like this: in my mind I losslessly integrate information that comprise the defining boundary attributes of a particular target; for instance,”house” has such information as “has four walls”, “waterproof roof”, “home for family”, “warm place to sleep”, as well as various other data integrated into the simple unified “target” of a house that exists in my mind. The process by which I do this can not be described algorithmically. from the outside it is a black box but it yields a specified target output: the concept of “house”.
Once I have internalize what a house is I can proceed to categorize objects I come across into two groups: those that are houses and those that are not. You might notice the similarity of this notion to the Platonic forms in that the target House is not a physical structure existing somewhere but an abstraction.
With that in mind, it seems reasonable to me to posit that the process of design would simply be the inverse of cognition.
When we design something we begin with a pre-existing specific target in mind and through various means we attempt to decompress it’s information into an approximation of that target. For instance I might start with the target of house and through various means proceed to approximate the specification I have in my mind into a physical object. I might hire a contractor nail and cut boards etc . The fruit of my labor is not a completed house until it matches the original target sufficiently to satisfy me. However, no matter how much effort I put into the approximation, it will never completely match the picture of an ideal house that I see in my mind. This is I believe because of the non-algorithmic nature of the process by which targets originate. Models can never match their specification exactly.
Another good example of the designing process would be the act of composing a message.
When I began to write this OP I had an idea of the target concept I wanted to share with the reader and I have proceeded to go about decompressing that information in a way that I hoped that could be understood. If I am successful after some contemplation a target will be present in your mind that is similar to the one that exists in mine. If the communication was perfect the two targets would be identical.
The bottom line is that each designed object is the result of a process that has at its heart an input that is the result of the non-algorithmic process of cognition (the target). The tee shirt equation would look like this
Complex Specified Information is the result of a noncomputable function. If the core of the design process (CSI) is non-computable then the process in its entirety can not be completely described algorithmically,
This insight immediately suggests a way to objectively determine if an object is the result of design. Simply put if an algorithmic process can fully explain an object then it is not designed. I think this is a very intuitive conclusion, I would argue that humans are hardwired to tentatively infer design for processes that we can’t fully explain in a step by step manner. The better we can explain an object algorithmically the weaker our design inference becomes. If we can completely explain it in this way then design is ruled out.
At some point I hope to describe some ways that we can be more objective in our determinations of whether an object/event can be fully explained algorithmically but as there is a lot of ground covered here so I will put it off for a bit. There are also several questions that will need to be addressed before this approach can be justifiably adopted generally such as how comprehensive an explanation must be to rule out design or conversely when we can be confident that no algorithmic explanation is forthcoming.
If possible I would like to explore these in the future perhaps in the comments section. It will depend on the tenor of feed back I receive.