The operator hypothesis is a refutable theory
The operator hierarchy is not simply a description of an accidental sequence of transitions. The strict use of first-next closure for ranking system types makes it a testable theory.
- A. It can be tested step-by-step whether the operator hierarchy is based on existing system types and realistic pathways for their creation.
- This demand focuses on proofs for the physical existence of the operators and the transitions via which they have been formed. There is little scientific doubt about the measurability of entities such as atoms, molecules, cells, etc. The fact that 'there really is something out there' corresponding with our mental models is supported by two trends:
1. Increasing accuracy of measurements of individual and interactive properties of the systems
2. The fact that different ways of observation yield identical results (Kragh 1999).
Particle accellerators have demonstrated the formation of hadrons from quarks, and nuclei from hadrons. All chemists accept the formation of molecules from atoms. The cell has not yet been created artificially from a chemical environment. This is merely a matter of time. Endosymbiontic cells and multicellulars ar, however, intrinsically difficult.
- B. It can be tested whether all minor transitions in the operator hierarchy are the result of first-next closure.
- All minor transitions in the operator hierarchy must comply with the definition of first-next closure. The testing of this requirement is simple. If a single system can be added or taken out, the structure of the operator hierarchy must be considered invalid and be improved or rejected.
- C. The rules for recognising subsets of operators can be tested.
- This point refers to the similarities in transitions that define the system types in the operator hierarchy. For example, the interface should selectively apply to the superstring, the quark confinement, the electron shell, the cell membrane and the sensory interface.
- D. The validity of the hierarchy can be tested on the basis of its extrapolation and predictions of system types.
- This point refers to predictions of the emergent properties of several not yet existing system types with a higher complexity than the hardwired memon, and to the prediction that superstrings are the lowest level of (finite) structure.
It is difficult to falsify the prediction of a not yet existing system type. Soon, however, complex memic systems will be constructed. At that moment, it will become possible to show that, for example, hypercyclic (technical) neural circuitry indeed must form the basis for computer intelligence. Similarly, it can be shown that these future memons use structural autocopying (the copying of the structure of the neural networks) as a simple means to provide their offspring with the knowledge they need to live and survive.
The prediction that superstrings form the least complex, closed system type, will become testable with increasing insights in fundamental physics. If by any means it could be proven that a still lower level of organisation of matter exists based on finite units, this would form a serious problem for the structure of the operator hypothesis in its present form.
In conclusion, the operator hypothesis offers a whole range of statements that are fundamental to it and can be refuted in some way or another. Consequently, the operator hypothesis is a refutable hypothesis.