Physical History

Statistical and Evolutionary Intelligence


First published on May 17, 2019. Last updated on February 15, 2020.


Reproducing molecules are a far cry from the complex genetic machinery of the living cell. this section will explain how Fast Entropy results in the development of a form of random intelligence known as evolution.

Random Action Recalled

Random action involves a statistically significant amount of actors that are free to behave independently of each other in at least one way.

One example of random action would involve the roll of a dice. The results of a large number of rolls should be random. Another example of random action is the movement of molecules in a gas. Even though the gas may have an overall motion, such as in a gust of wind, the individual molecules may be moving in absolutely any direction. Molecules moving about in a liquid may be a reasonable representation of random movement.

Steps in the Development of Random Intelligence

  1. Random action can “figure out and solve” some problems. Recall the parallel conductor example, where the correct proportion of heat flow through each conductor was channeled through each conductor to maximize free energy degradation. The combination of the random actions of many tiny particles[1]within the conductors effectively figures out how to solve this problem and maximize entropy production.

The term “random action intelligence” may seem an oxymoron. Perhaps a more appropriate sounding term would be “dumb luck” or to refer to the proverbial monkey at a typewriter who eventually pounds out Shakespeare. Yet, the term “dumb luck” here is not accurate. In reality, random action is not quite random. There are slight asymmetries in the distribution of behavior. It is the combination of these asymmetries along with large numbers of nearly random acting actors (such as particles) that produces the intelligent result.

  1. Some of the durable complex structures (see Chapter 5) developed into RNA[2]and (most likely later) DNA[3]and represent the genetic code and operating instructions for all known living organisms.
  2. RNA and DNA mutations may themselves involve a significant component of random chance in forming mutations. (Naturally occurring radiation, itself a random phenomena, may have played a role in this).
  3. Most RNA and DNA mutations are of no known consequence, and most others will be detrimental and even fatal.

Neutral changes will be passed on but not favored.

Detrimental changes will be disfavored and less likely to be passed on.

Positive changes will be favored and be more likely to be passed on.

  1. Therefore, the mutations of RNA and DNA can be viewed as a form of random intelligence. Essentially, nature throws the dice again and again until it gets to solve problems (such as maximizing entropy production), if given enough time. This process is commonly known as evolution. Typically considerable time is required.

Fast entropy represents an asymmetry that tilts the random mutations of RNA and DNA in favor of maximizing entropy production. Therefore, the desire to maximize entropy production is essentially the driving desire of each one of our cells. Yet remember, what matters is the maximization of entropy by an entire system. Cells within multi-cellular organisms have specialized. So each such specialized individual cell will act in a manner to maximize entropy production by the organism (or some larger system), and not necessarily in a manner to maximize entropy production as an individual cell.

[1]Typically electrons, if the conductors are metals.

[2]More fully known as ribonucleic acid. RNA is involved in the synthesis of proteins, that in turn form much of the structure and processes of cells.

[3]More fully known as deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA encodes genetic information that is vital for cell and organism reproduction.


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