Monday, January 4, 2016

least action, evolution, entropy, machines, invisible hand=self gene

Group selection verses selfish gene finds its cause and exact parallel in the principle of least action verses Newton's laws. I assume "group selection" does not have a limiting boundary to small groups buts extends Gaia-like to be Earth-wide.

Evolution is not acting outside of dynamics.  Dynamics with quantum and thermal fluctuations must be enough to describe the source and direction of life and evolution.   It is just a physical system with no magic or God.  Randomness is not a God.

Newton's law is expressed more precisely and sometimes more usefully as Langrangian or Hamiltonian dynamics.  These 3 methods are differential methods so you can plug them into a computer and get your answer for any time given the initial conditions and constraints.  Least action is a different beast because it is an integral that is minimized. It is not easily solved for most problems.  The mathematically rigorous demand that it also might be a saddle point or maximum, but I believe that ignores quantum and thermal fluctuations that disturb such possibilities, so it seeks minimums.

There is no physics law that indicates randomness results in order spontaneously.  Many deny that life gives rise to order because they do not want to violate the thermo law that says disorder always increases.   What happens is that the Earth emits excess disorder as a large number of low energy photons moving in random direction as compared to the incoming high energy photons directed from the Sun. So order (lower entropy) can arise in life without violating the entropy law. 

Least action is average kinetic energy minus average potential energy, minimized over any and all time periods, given the physical system's constraints.   The least action integral is thereby biased towards lower heat and higher energy bonds.  This is lower entropy.  There is no perfect efficiency so heat is always generated, but excess heat is sloughed off the Earth as the energy coming in must equal the energy going out. The net result is more potential energy left behind without extra heat (global warming aside), i.e., a decrease in S when T is relatively constant. 

You can't see more order when looking at the differential forms, but you can when looking at the integral (holistic) form.  So I am in favor of the group selection view when explaining the source and direction of evolution, but the gene selection when doing any local calculations. 

Kinetic energy is heat.  Potential energy (as far as life is concerned) is stronger bonds.  The selfish view is that life struggles and fights and thereby needs higher-energy bonds to survive and win. But this always requires pre-existing forces, i.e. some type of unseen God (also known as the unseen hand in economics).  It is saying random selection resulted in lower entropy. But the whole system (least action) biased towards lower entropy, which is what I believe is the source of the stronger bonds.  

Notice that the idea of good and bad is done away with if the self gene view is not considered "the source".  The distasteful acerbic nature Dawkins has towards religion is connected with the selfish gene view.  The holistic view is more Buddhist-like. Dawkins seems to have an unspoken God by believing in good and bad.  Religion has a least-action "right" to fight and be destroyed or survive just like science. Least action might need both science and rhetoric to proceed more quickly, but the rhetoric may not be truth.

The least action math has been shown to go very deep, guiding quantum mechanics methods and beyond.  It is deeper than the differential forms.

The entropy of the universe is an open question but the observations show entropy per comoving volume of the expanding universe is constant. I could not believe this when a PhD thermodynamic cosmologist told me because we always here differently and a specific law says otherwise, but Wikipedia confirms it.   So entropy of fixed-volumes like solar systems and galaxies is decreasing.  They are releasing entropy to the universe "so that it can expand", which is a subtle difference from "entropy is always increasing".  It is always being emitted.

Machines will replace biology on Earth because they are more efficient at fulfilling the direction required by least action.  They use very high energy bonds of metals, metalloids (like silicon for solar cells and thinking machines), and carbon-carbon bonds.  This gives them orders of magnitude greater capability of acquiring energy (currently 20x better than photosynthesis) to move matter (200x cheaper than muscle) to create stronger bonds (copies of themselves).  The end game for each solar system is a Dyson sphere that converts photons to mass, not emitting anything but gravity, and could be a source of dark matter.

When given a range of potential energy bonds to choose from, if you are seeking the higher energies you end up with fewer options.  This means copies and pseudo-copies in your results.  The order created from simply having more copies is the result of least action seeking higher potential energy.
The QED methods of quantum mechanics is a least action-type math and found its motivation from least action.  I think it may be the deeper source of least action dynamics, but I doubt anyone has derived how it might be seeking order on the macro scale while displaying randomness on the microscale.  Emitting excess entropy is connected to gravitation and cosmology, which QED does not include.

Dawkins book "Selfish Gene" is all that's needed to see that "Selfish Gene" has a problem.  His first 50 to 100 pages are replete with bewildering double-talk trying to explain why the gene view is best.  Frankly, I believe the first 50 to 100 pages are garbage.

The debate also has a non-accidental parallel in economics, which is also based on dynamics.  The selfish gene is the supposed "invisible hand" of free markets.   Wikipedia's definition of invisible hand:

"individuals' efforts to pursue their own interest may frequently benefit society more than if their actions were directly intending to benefit society. "

The belief that government is good and needed for greater order on Earth (happiness?) is the parallel of believing in group selection. 

Joseph Stiglitz says today's economic debate centers on having the right balance between the two views:

"Markets [selfish actors competing], by themselves, produce too much pollution. Markets, by themselves, also produce too little basic research.  But recent research has shown that these externalities are pervasive, whenever there is imperfect information or imperfect risk markets—that is always. Government plays an important role in banking and securities regulation, and a host of other areas: some regulation is required to make markets work. Government is needed, almost all would agree, at a minimum to enforce contracts and property rights. The real debate today is about finding the right balance between the market and government (and the third "sector" – governmental non-profit organizations.) Both are needed. They can each complement each other. This balance differs from time to time and place to place."

group selection = voters influencing government to set the rules order to create a more powerful society that can displace kingdoms and anarchy. There is an end result in mind: better life for all in the society in the short and long run, possibly exactly like the least action integral sum over all times.

selfish gene = selfish economic agents acting under those rules.  The differential laws can be derived from least action, and maybe vice versa, but the vice versa case is not as generally useful in physics.

It might be difficult for genes to carry the information needed for group selection.  Genes tend towards acting like a virus or cancer.  Religion and government apparently carry group selection rules.

I assume group selection has no definite limit and applies to evolution as a whole, resulting in a Gaia-like Earth as a result of dynamics and thermodynamics.

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