Consider for a moment that life is an embedded property of the universe, just like time and space are.
Life is not a phenomenon. Biology is a phenomenon caused by life. Just like time is a property of the time-space continuum, life is a property of a larger continuum space-time-life.
Time and life are two opposing fundamental forces of the universe. Time is the global entropy increase and life is the local entropy decrease. I don’t know if they’re symmetric, but they are closely so. It is a fractal who grows the same over and over again, no surprises here.
We could call this anything else instead of “life”, but I chose to call it “‘life” because the local entropy decrease is the root cause for biological phenomenons and evolutionary processes, which together we empirically associate with the concept of life.
Both awareness and consciousness are information constructs rising in the electrochemical equilibrium in the brain, equilibrium reached in the brain’s effort for more accurate predictions. It is neither consciousness nor awareness that causes the weird measurement problem, but the fact that when we measure we are observing time-space-life instead of simply time-space which we think we’ll find. Because we may be nothing more than self sustaining processes manifesting as biological phenomenons in the physical reality, by measurement our contained hyperlocal space infused with the effects of life — the space-life, transforms time-space into time-space-life.
Life is a hyperlocal property of the universe which makes extremely low entropy in the form of functional systems, the pinnacle of which are self sustaining processes.
Because of its nature, life develops resilience just as time, because of its nature, develops decay.
The first result of low enough entropy is the appearance of structure. The easiest example of structure are crystals. Structure is the first power of resilience.
A process has far lower entropy than a structure. Because a process has steps, a start and an end, the constraints to build a process are huge, much bigger than the constraints to build a structure. A process is the natural result of lowering entropy below the threshold of a structure. Homeostasis is a process resulting from lowering the entropy of a biological structure.
A self sustaining process has even lower entropy than a process. All natural self sustaining processes feed upon themselves. Any outside feed and the entropy would increase. In general, time injects outside feeds into self sustaining processes created by life, this way increasing their entropy and hence lowering their resilience.
Life, as an embedded property of the universe, generates structures. You might wonder then what is the difference between a crystal and a virus? Protein. It is very likely that viruses simply appear randomly as part of the process of life in the local time-space-life continuum.
These two properties of the universe we call life and time are “perceived” by us in a certain way: the animus and the tenses. They both are however way beyond the scope of our perception. Time is so global it encompasses our infinite universe, life is so local that it is broken into an infinite of pieces. Both time and life act upon space.
Because life is the inverse function of time, we may say it builds on the future to create the past, while time builds on the past to create the future. From life’s perspective any high entropy space is in the future and from time’s perspective any low entropy space is in the past. Both time and life are intertwined with space.
The phenomenon of biology is the manifestation in the physical reality of life’s process creation. Evolution is a form of creating resilience by compounding on previous states and it is a process that results spontaneously given enough detail is present in the structures and processes that result in life-space.
As life acts in reverse of time and lowers entropy, it follows that its peculiarity and special requirements to grow complex self sustaining processes is quite normal. By lowering entropy levels, processes become more and more complex and this complexity is what holds advanced biologic phenomenons to be more common in the observable universe. But the catch is that the rarity of advanced biologic phenomenons is not because of the lack of water and oxygen, it is because of process complexity. There may very well be biologic phenomenons based on silicon and nitrogen but there has to be a whole other array of compatible things around for the self sustaining processes that appear in life-space to keep compounding on themselves.
The great filter is us
Minimizing entropy means lowering side effects. Inside a process, to lower disorder you guard for side effects. That is why every advanced evolutionary process is three things: self sustaining, self referential and selfish.
The great filter is the maximization of the three properties of the biological phenomenons: the self sustaining feeding, the self referential information chains and the selfish bias. If there is a great filter it is only within ourselves and it may be beyond our capacity to avoid it. If there is a great filter and other civilizations have reached it, it is very likely they have destroyed themselves. Self destruction is the last name of the great filter.
Human self destruction is caused by one or more of the following local maximums: missing sustainability by feeding too much into the process itself (e.g. ecosystems break down), misinterpretation of perception by relying exclusively on interpretation (e.g. humanity is on a pedestal and the other animals are on a lower step) and protecting your kin by limiting outside feeding into the particular facet of the process we’re into (war!).
At present we could be in a race between developing true AI (or artificial super intelligence, or artificial life as I call it), which is the next lower entropy step for a super intelligent evolutionary process, and reaching our self destruction great filter. Best of luck.