– extract from the article – The second law of thermodynamics—the one that says entropy can only increase—dictates that a complex system always evolves toward greater disorderliness in the way internal components arrange themselves. In Physical Review Letters, two researchers explore a mathematical extension of this principle that focuses not on the arrangements that the system can reach now, but on those that will become accessible in the future. They argue that simple mechanical systems that are postulated to follow this rule show features of “intelligence,” hinting at a connection between this most-human attribute and fundamental physical laws.
Wissner-Gross teamed up with Cameron Freer of the University of Hawaii at Manoa to propose a “causal path entropy.” This entropy is based not on the internal arrangements accessible to a system at any moment, but on the number of arrangements it could pass through on the way to possible future states. They then calculated a “causal entropic force” that pushes the system to evolve so as to increase this modified entropy.
The researchers interpreted this and other behaviors as indications of a rudimentary adaptive intelligence, in that the systems moved toward configurations that maximized their ability to respond to further changes.