Thanks +David Brin
for sharing this. I sense the speaker +Alex Wissner-Gross
had to condense the ideas significantly and struggled with finding suitable analogies, so there were a few clumsy and awkward moments, but I still found it thought-provoking.
My main take-away is that "maximizing future options" enhances survival (or is a requisite for it) and is one way to consider intelligence.
As I thought about it, I came to some generalities, e.g.
In the path toward randomness and entropy, there is by definition a wide, wide array of ways to go about it, and the uninteresting ways will just fizzle out and run their courses quickly, so to speak, leaving the interesting ones that delay the progress of entropy (for us to observe and marvel).
The biological natural selection is an analogy: a mutation that is detrimental to an organism will cause its earlier demise, while a beneficial mutation allows the organism to thrive for longer, producing more offspring and "delay entropy" for longer. Is this the "force" of intelligence at work? Well, yes, if we go with equating "maximizing future options" with intelligence.
There's an idea that's starting to gel in my head that I'm not sure how to convey yet. Maybe a visualization will help. Imagine a flow, a huge deluge, it's the path of everything towards entropy. Now imagine a speck in that flow that is moving slower than the rest, and as it slows, it also slows the particles around it and starts growing, crystallizing, pulling in more of its neighbors. Now imagine more of more of these specks and they all grow more and more, until it seems like the whole deluge is slowed, becoming viscous. Such is how I'm imagining the multiverse, our universe, our world. We are part of one of those specks, humanity is part of the slowed flow that is part of our biosphere, part of this Earth, solar system, galaxy, and so on.
I'm really beginning to feel
what the speaker meant by a "force" -- it's almost like a friction in the fabric of our universe, slowing down the flow of entropy.
It would never halt or reverse the process, but it sure makes the journey much more interesting.