Life, information, Intelligence , “the Cybernetic Cut” and the fantasies of atheism.



Professor  Hubert  P  Yockey  is  a  physicist  who  worked  on the  Manhattan  Project  to  develop  the  world’s  first  atomic  bomb.

Professor  Yockey   does  not  agree  that  abiogenesis –  the origin of  life – could  occur  in the so-called  primordial  soup  and  is  one  of  the first  scientists to  recognize  the role  of   information  in  living  organism


See  :

Professor Hubert P. Yockey (b. April 15, 1916), PhD is a physicist and information theorist. He worked under Robert Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project, and at the University of California, Berkeley.

He has studied the application of information theory to problems in biology and published his conclusions in the Journal of Theoretical Biology from 1974 onwards. He is very critical of the primordial soup theory of the origin of life, and believes that “the origin of life is unsolvable as a scientific problem.”



The  Stanford  Encylopedia  of  Philosophy  discusses  the  concept  of  information  in  biological  systems  at  :

In  the  last  paragraph  of  Section 2  of  the  article  the Encyclopedia  says :

At this point, however, it is important to note that there are two ways in which richer notions of information can be introduced. One possibility is to argue that genes and other biological structures literally carry semantic information, and their informational character explains the distinctive role of these structures in biological processes. Another possibility is to treat the appeal to meaning and information as an analogical one. Here the idea is that language, coding systems, computer programs and other paradigmatically information-exploiting systems can serve as useful models for biological systems. If we take this second route, our task then is to identify the similarities between the cases of semantic phenomena used as models and the biological systems we seek to understand, and to show how those similarities are informative. If we think of genes or cells as literally carrying semantic information, our problem changes. Paradigm cases of structures with semantic information — pictures, sentences, programs — are built by the thought and action of intelligent agents. So we need to show how genes and cells — neither intelligent systems themselves nor the products of intelligence — can carry semantic information, and how the information they carry explains their biological role. We need some kind of reductive explanation of semantic information (arguably, we need this to understand cognition, too). One place we might look for such an analysis is naturalistic philosophy of mind.




David  Abel  discusses   prescriptive information (a type  of  semantic  information) and  the  concept  of  “the  Cybernetic  Cut”  at  :


The Cybernetic Cut

Dr David L Abel
The Origin of Life Science Foundation, Inc.
Archived topic page Last updated on 23 October 2010

The Cybernetic Cut (Abel, 2008a) delineates one of the most fundamental dichotomies of reality. Physicodynamics (physicality: Jacques Monod’s “chance and necessity”) lie on one side of a great divide. On the other side lies formalism—the abstract, conceptual, non physical ability to choose with intent what aspects of ontological being will be preferred, pursued, selected, rearranged, integrated, measured, calculated, computed, and organized into pragmatic utility. Cybernetics studies mechanisms of control. But control requires purposeful choice contingency, not chance contingency. To control is to steer toward the goal of pragmatic success. Neither chance contingency nor the fixed laws of physics can participate in purposefully choosing arbitrary controls.

Decision theory, algorithmic optimization, computation, cybernetics, and engineering all originate on the formal side of The Cybernetic Cut. Language, mathematics, logic theory, symbol systems, code bijection, genetic prescription, and the scientific method itself also flow from the formal side of The Cybernetic Cut (Abel & Trevors, 2007).

Purposeful choices can be represented using physical symbol vehicles in a material symbol system (MSS) (Rocha, 2001). Physical tokens can be purposefully selected from an alphabet or phase space of physical objects. In this way non physical choices made with intent can be instantiated into physicality. Another method of instantiation of formalisms into physicality is through the deliberate selection of particular settings of physicodynamically-inert configurable switches (Rocha & Hordijk, 2005). Other terms for physicodynamically inert include “dynamically decoupled, incoherent or indeterminant.” Although the configurable switches are themselves physical, their settings are ultimately determined formally, independent of cause-and-effect physical determinism.

Thus a Configurable Switch (CS) Bridge traverses The Cybernetic Cut. The essence of The Cybernetic Cut principle is that traffic flow is unidirectional across this CS Bridge from formalism to physicality. Falsifying The Cybernetic Cut would require nothing more than demonstrating a bidirectional flow across the CS Bridge. Thus far, no one has ever observed physicality instructing, programming, or instituting non trivial formal organization and function.

Howard H. Pattee originally championed the term “epistemic cut” to describe the symbol-matter, subject-object, genotype-phenotype distinction (Hoffmeyer, 2000; Pattee, 1982, 2001, 2007a, 2007b). But the precise point of contact between formalism and physicality still needed elucidation. Mere description also needed to be differentiated from prescription. How does nonphysical mind arise from physicality to then establish formal control over that physicality (e.g., engineering feats, computer science)? How did inanimate nature give rise to an algorithmically organized, semiotic and cybernetic life? (Barbieri, 2008). Both the practice of physics and life itself require traversing not only an epistemic cut, but The Cybernetic Cut. All known life is cybernetic.

The Cybernetic Cut elucidates the difference between constraints and controls, between laws and rules, and between order and organization. Constraints consist of initial conditions and the orderliness of nature. Controls steer toward the goal of function. Laws describe fixed relationships of invariant physicodynamic orderliness. Rules suggest what voluntary behavior will produce the best formal utility. Rules are regularly broken; laws are not. When rules are voluntarily disobeyed, practical proficiency usually suffers. Rules are formal. Rules are generally made to streamline and optimize pragmatic behavior. Such behavior is choice contingent, not physicodynamically determined.

The self-ordered dissipative structures of chaos theory are technically not organized (Abel & Trevors, 2006). Organization arises only out of choice contingency via prescriptive information (PI) (Abel, 2009). PI instructs or actually produces formal utility. PI contains high numbers of bits of probabilistic uncertainty with low redundancy, order, pattern and probability. Choice contingency adds a whole new dimension invisible to chance and necessity. The physicodynamic side of The Cybernetic Cut provides no mechanism for generating PI. PI arises only on the formal side of the Cut.

Prigogine’s self-ordered dissipative structures are low informational. Bath-tub-drain vortices, hurricanes and tornadoes manifest high redundancy and pattern, high probability and low uncertainty with no imagination, creativity or engineering skills (Abel & Trevors, 2005). Self-ordered chaotic structures typically destroy organization; they do not program it.

Organization requires freedom of deliberate selection for potential function (Abel, 2007). Natural selection is merely selection of existing function. Natural selection cannot program new formal organization. Natural selection is nothing more than the differential survival and reproduction of the fittest already-existing organisms (Abel, 2008b). Organization is accomplished via decision nodes, logic gates, and configurable switch-settings. Decision nodes cannot be reduced to mere bifurcation points or bits of Shannon probabilistic combinatorial uncertainty. Chance and necessity are blind to formal function, and cannot pursue it. Computational halting arises on the formal side of The Cybernetic Cut ravine. To affect physicality, such computation must be transported across the one-way CS Bridge via formal (abstract, conceptual, mental, non physical) programming of physical logic gates.

Table 1. The difference between physicality and those aspects of reality that traverse the Cybernetic Cut into the sphere of pragmatic controls.

Physicodynamics Traversing the Cybernetic Cut
Physical Nonphysical & Formal
Incapable of making decisions Decision-node based
Constraint based Control based
Natural-process based Formal prescription based
Constraints just “happen” Constraints are deliberately chosen
Forced by laws & Brownian movement Writes and voluntarily uses formal rules
Incapable of learning Learns and instructs
Product of cause-and-effect chain Programmer produced
Determined by inflexible law Directed by choice with intent
Blind to practical function Makes functional things happen
Self-ordering physicodynamics Formally organizational
Chance and necessity Optimization of genetic algorithms
No autonomy Autonomy
Inanimacy cannot program algorithms Programs configurable switches
Oblivious to prescriptive information Writes prescriptive information
Blind to efficiency Managerially efficient
Non creative Creative
Values and pursues nothing Values and pursues utility

Keywords: Bifurcation points; Configurable switches; Decision nodes; Logic gates; Biocybernetics; Biosemiosis; Biosemiotics; Self-assembly; Self-organization; Sign Systems; Symbol systems.


What  is  the  basis  for the   atheists’   belief   that  life  arose  by a  crossing  of  the Cybernetic  Cut –  is  this  mere  fantasy ?


With respect  to  known information  theory  are  atheists  more  coherent  than  theists ?

This entry was posted in Atheism, Atheist Morality, Cybernetic Cut, David Abel, Hubert P Yockey, Information Theory, Life - its nature, Prescriptive information and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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