Thursday, January 18, 2007


Alien Spotting

Another interesting quote from recent new Scientist book Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze?

'I guess the same would go for any alien life form we might encounter. We spend considerable time searching the electromagnetic spectrum to detect their signals, and we receive a lot of signals. But how will we know if any of them are life? Only, I suppose, if they show the characteristic of life: I'm in control, and I'm not solely a bottom-up deterministic chemical process.' - John Walter Haworth (p. 27.)

In other words, intelligence can be reliably infered from empirical evidence exhibiting patterns that cannot be explained in terms of bottom-up, physical processes. Sounds like the search for aliens is the search for Specified Complexity, and that, nevertheless, no one is accusing this search of depending upon an 'argument from gaps'...

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