Sean obtained a PhD in physics from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and, after three years overseas, spent 20 years as a research physicist, in what was the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. During the science reforms of the 1980s, Sean returned to university to study economics on the grounds that if you can’t beat them you join them. Sean has since served as manager of the Public Good Science Fund and as Executive Director of The Association of Crown Research Institutes. He has also been a director of one technological company and later become chairperson of another, Robinson Seismic, before acting as its CEO during a global expansion phase.
In 2002 Sean returned to university research and is undertaking systems research at the Victoria University Wellington’s School of Management on innovation systems, sustainability and complexity theory while doing some postgraduate teaching. Sean has since retired. In 2011, Sean spent nearly a year as the Anglican Chaplain at Victoria University of Wellington. Sean and Carole worship at St Paul’s Church Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt.
In addition to some 30 scientific publications, Sean has recent publications in areas of science and innovation policy, economics and complex systems. These include using Martin Loef randomness approach to rebut Dembski’s test for Intelligent Design in Zygon Journal of Religion and Science at; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zygo.12059/epdf and also complex ecological systems at; https://www.witpress.com/Secure/ejournals/papers/DNE120309f.pdf and https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biosystems.2015.11.008
Description: I have previously shown how life depends on replication processes that feed off stored energy, driving and maintaining systems distant from equilibrium (at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biosystems.2015.11.008. Order, and distance from equilibrium, are measured in terms of the algorithmic entropy, the number of bits in the shortest replicating computational process that specifies the system. E.g., one bacterium in a nutrient broth will create an ordered, far-from-equilibrium system, where the number of bacteria reaches its carrying capacity. This is determined by the replication efficiency of the stored energy carrying the computational instructions that do work on the system separating order from disordered waste.
Variation and selection ensures that the replicating variety dominating the system has the highest carrying capacity, creating the greatest order, driving it further from equilibrium. Interdependent and coupled replicating systems undergoing variation and selection drive the whole system further from equilibrium over the long term. In so doing the entropy throughput is maximised, creating an ecology of dependent, replicating substructures. Like water flowing down a hill, coupled or interdependent replicating systems emerge because they are thermodynamically more efficient.
The theological focus of this presentation is that once life is seeded in a particular environment and given resource throughputs, irrespective of random variations, a very similar ecology would emerge over time, were the life process to be run again. The richness of the variation, and the drive to maximise distance from an equilibrium, sets broad directions at the whole ecology level. Something like humans may be inevitable. A simple analogy is where a fertilised human egg, which through replication processes in even an artificial womb, would produce a similar human being. Interestingly, life has shifted the earth further from equilibrium than an inert earth, and life drives the whole system more rapidly to equilibrium.