Thursday, December 15, 2016

Essays: Wandering Towards a Goal

FQXi announces:
the next $40,000 FQXi essay contest,...

This year’s theme is: Wandering Towards a GoalHow can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intentions?

One way to think of physics is as a set of mathematical laws of dynamics. These laws provide predictions by carrying conditions at one moment of time inexorably into the future. But many phenomena admit another description – sometimes a vastly more useful one – in terms of long-term, large-scale goals, aims, and intentions. ...

Relevant essays might address questions such as:

* How did physical systems that pursue the goal of reproduction arise from an a-biological world?

* What general features — like information processing, computation, learning, complexity thresholds, and/or departures from equilibrium — allow (or proscribe) agency?

* How are goals (versus accomplishments) linked to “arrows of time”?

* What separates systems that are intelligent from those that are not? Can we measure this separation objectively and without requiring reference to humans?

* What is the relationship between causality – the explanation of events in terms of causes – and teleology – the explanation of events in terms of purposes?

* Is goal-oriented behavior a physical or cosmic trend, an accident or an imperative?

We are accepting entries from now until March 3, 2017, with winners announced in June.
I submitted some essays to previous contests.

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