Science Beyond Reductionism Future Salon Thursday 21st of January
- Hi Futurists,
Blog post with links: http://www.futuresalon.org/2009/12/science-beyond-reductionism-future-salon-.html
Happy New Year to all of you. We are starting 2010 with a great Future Salon. One of Future Salon's pillars is the scientific method. Artificial Intuition researcher Monica Anderson will take a closer look at the scientific process and what the latest developments are in that field. How solid is this pillar?
Join us for this interesting evening on Thursday 21st of January 2010 6pm at SAP Labs in Palo Alto. Please RSVP http://bit.ly/52OgZu. (more info further down)
Abstract: Reductionism - the idea that difficult problems should be attacked by dividing them into simpler problems - is the most fundamental principle of the hard sciences. The justification "The Whole equals the sum of its Parts" has been used for thousands of years. Physics and related sciences, and the support disciplines of mathematics and computer science are all permeated by this Reductionist stance, and for good reason: It has worked really well. We have found compact explanations for all kinds of phenomena and have solved countless problems using these strategies.
But these strategies don't always work in Life Sciences like Biology, Genomics, Psychology, and Ecology. Often "The Whole is larger than the sum of its Parts" and when taking things apart, emergent phenomena like life, quality, intelligence, and meaning simply disappear. All attempts to capture the essence of life using Reductionist models, equations, and theories of living systems have failed. The Life Sciences have for decades managed to get by using other approaches. They use methods that emphasize Whole Systems and where context is to be exploited rather than discarded as a distracting nuisance. These methods adopt a more "Holistic" stance.
What has gone largely unnoticed is that many of these alternative approaches involve using weaker and weaker models, all the way to what we will call "Model Free Methods" (following Lionel S. Penrose, 1935). We have gathered a zoo of such methods and implemented some of them in computers. Amazingly, they allow discovery of solutions to problems "without understanding the problem" in the Reductionist sense. The advent of computers able to manipulate Big Data has made these Holistic Methods possible.
We finish with the claim that Artificial Intelligence failed in the 20th century because "Intelligence is Holistic" but AI was then mostly practiced by programmers - a profession that has, by its nature, always attracted the most hard-lined Reductionists. In the 21st Century, progress in AI will require that we convert AI into a Life Science and start using Model Free Methods the way other Life Sciences do. Researchers at Syntience Inc. have been pursuing this approach to AI since 2001 using an Algorithm named Artificial Intuition.
For background information, see http://artificial-intuition.com , http://monicasmind.com , or view the videos at http://videos.syntience.com - especially the video featuring Dr. Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google.
Future Salons have the following structure: 6-7pm is networking with light refreshments proudly sponsored by SAP; 7-9+pm is the presentation followed by questions and discussion.
SAP Labs North America, Building D, COIL (Co-Innovation Lab). SAP is located at 3410 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94304[map]. Free and open to the public. Please spread the word and invite others, but be sure to RSVP http://bit.ly/52OgZu so we know how many people to expect.
We will do our best to webcast the event again via Ustream.tv on the Future Salon Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/Future-Salon
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See you all there, Mark.