Abstracts for the regional meeting in Seattle. “What is Information?”

Our regional meeting in Seattle, November 13-14, is coming up soon! The cost is free to members, and $20 for non-members (though it is also allowed to sign up as an associate member at the past minute). Students with valid ID can attend for free. If you are coming, please register in advance at this page. Once you register, we can send you helpful information about getting to the site, best hotel options, etc.

Titles and abstracts:

Friday night:
Doug Axe, Biologic Institute
Intelligible Design

Although technical work in mathematics and experimental biology has been crucial for establishing the academic legitimacy of intelligent design, the downside of emphasizing technical arguments is that it promotes a perception of elitism. My impression is that the vast majority of people who favor design over Darwinism feel unqualified to offer a robust defense of design, which means everyone is looking to the experts to resolve this controversy. Contrary to this, I argue in my forthcoming book that the key insights for resolving the controversy come from common-sense reasoning and experience-based intuitions shared by all people. This makes everyone qualified to participate in the debate.

Jeff Zweerink, Reasons to Believe
Is the Multiverse an Information-Generating Machine?

The multiverse often gets used to solve all sorts of difficult problems in the sciences, so it should not be surprising that some invoke its existence to account for the information contained in living systems. This talk will briefly describe some specific scientific discoveries that identify the information content in living systems and address whether the multiverse provides an adequate explanation. Even if the multiverse exists, it appears that the only way to retain important ideas (identity, free-will, the utility of the scientific method, etc) requires an intelligent agent that transcends the multiverse.

Saturday Morning:
Winston Ewert, Evolutionary Informatics Lab
Algorithmic Specified Complexity

The talk will present a variant of specified complexity, algorithmic specified complexity, which uses algorithmic information theory as a means of measuring specification. Various examples will be demonstrated including simple regular patterns, english text, self-replicating cells, and functional machines.

Perry Marshall, business consultant and electrical engineer
Information is Real, and it’s Worth a Lot of Money

I’ll discuss 1) A black and white, unambiguous definition of information, 2) the ontology of information, 3) philosophical and theological implications of information, 4) information as a God-of-Gaps argument, 5) the problem of information creation, and 6) modeling consciousness and free will.

Casey Luskin, Discovery Institute
A Taxonomy of Information and the Design Inference

Within the technical literature of the information sciences, the concept of information has been defined in various ways. One finds discussions of Shannon information, information carrying capacity, functional information, complex and specified information, Kolmogorov information, syntactic information, and semantic information, among many other concepts. This talk will present a taxonomy of different types of information, and will define and distinguish different types of information from one-another. It will also ask what type or types of information need be present in a system in order to indicate the prior activity of a designing intelligence. In so doing, it will also examine the claim that only the presence of semantic information, rather than functional information, is necessary to justify an inference to design.

David Snoke, University of Pittsburgh Department of Physics and Astronomy
Statistical Mechanics and Information

I will review the standard view of physicists of the physical nature of information, including in quantum mechanics, and how this affects the design argument. This will include a discussion of the famous “Maxwell’s demon” thought experiment and how it is used in physics today.