(These are excerpts from my book "Intelligence is not Artificial")
Another Intermezzo: Disorder is Evolution, Order is Stagnation
Equilibrium is not a normal state in the universe. The universe is a vast collection of "open" systems that trade energy, matter and information with each other. Many systems thrive in a state far from equilibrium, the so-called "edge of chaos". Living beings are an example: living beings trade energy, matter and information with their ecosystem. You are constantly living at the "edge of chaos". You will reach a state of equilibrium when you die. We can view intelligent systems as systems that are particularly complex.
Ilya Prigogine, Stuart Kauffman and many others have shown an interesting property of these systems. Complex systems (technically speaking, "nonlinear" systems) that are pushed far from equilibrium by perturbations reach a point where they can either disintegrate in total chaos or spontaneously reorganize themselves at a higher level of complexity. The outcome is unpredictable, and irreversible.
A rigid society, in which rules and regulations enforce some behavior and prohibit some other behavior, leaving little to the imagination, is not a complex system. It is very predictable what happens to you if you break those rules: you go to jail, or you get fired.
"Noise" (perturbations) is important in self-organizing systems such as the human society because it allows such systems to evolve. Under the right circumstances a self-organizing system disturbed by noise will self-organize at a higher level, in some cases a level that is profoundly different from the original one. The more we remove "noise" and unpredictability from human society, the less likely that human society will evolve at all, let alone towards higher levels of organization.
Intelligent machines might rediscover this law of non-equilibrium thermodynamics after humans have forgotten it.
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