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IV. Ecosmomics: An Independent Source Script of Generative, Self-Similar, Complex Network Systems

Rosnay, Joel de. The Symbiotic Man. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. The French research director employs the “third infinity” of complexity as a “macroscope” to project a directional evolution to its latest stage of a global superorganic brain and being. This emergence is facilitated and structured by a fractally organized symbiosis.

Whereas the analytic approach led to a logic of exclusion, the systemic approach opens the way to a logic of complementarity. (13) Finally, symbionomic evolution may be seen as a spiral: each turn…. corresponds to a new degree of complexity and a transition to a higher hierarchical level. (33) In my view, each time bubble created by a complex system (living organism, society or cybiont) is a fractal time bubble; it reflects the macro and the micro. Like any fractal structure, it is seen as containing the overall structure. (263)

Scheffer, Marten, et al. Early-Warning Signals for Critical Transitions. Nature. 461/53, 2009. A ten man team across the EU and USA find that when complex dynamical systems from climates and fisheries to asthma attacks and financial failures approach a “tipping point” bifurcation, certain constant signs become evident. These are: slower recovery from perturbations, increased autocorrelation (repeated patterns), and increased variance magnitude. Such phenomena are then seen to appear everywhere “…regardless of differences in the details of each system,” which would suggest an independent mathematical existence. See also Scheffer’s new book Critical Transitions in Nature and Society.

Schroeder, Manfred. Fractals, Chaos, Power Laws. New York: Freeman, 1991. A rich, dense excursion through the “paradise” of mathematical topologies in search of an intrinsic commonality.

The unifying concept underlying fractals, chaos and power laws is self-similarity. Self-similarity, or invariance against changes in scale or size, is an attribute of many laws of nature and innumerable phenomena in the world around us. Self-similarity is, in fact, one of the decisive symmetries that shape our universe and our efforts to comprehend it. (xiii)

Schuster, Peter. How Does Complexity Arise in Evolution. Complexity. 2/1, 1996. An Austrian systems biologist describes the generic sequence by which new hierarchical levels are evolved: Independent entities first compete for their own benefit. As congregations grow, mutual dependence based on reproductive success becomes more advantageous. A further coupling and division of labor leads to modular functional units. Finally, their bounded integration creates a new class of whole individuals to start the emergent cycle all over.

Schweitzer, Frank, ed. Self-Organization of Complex Structures: From Individual to Collective Dynamics. London: Gordon & Breach, 1996. Forty-seven papers inspired by synergetic thinking explore the rise of complexity in biological, ecosystem, economic, and urban areas. These studies are in search of a theoretical continuity between human civilization and the natural patterns and processes from which it has arisen.

Seely, Andrew and Peter Macklem. Fractal Variability: An Emergent Property of Complex Dissipative Systems. Chaos. 22/013108, 2012. Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and McGill University, physicians find such constant nonlinear dynamic phenomena to not only grace healthy anatomy and physiology, but to distinguish and indwell throughout nature and society. Could it then be realized that the whole developmental cosmos is, by correlation, an animate organism?

The patterns of variation of physiologic parameters, such as heart and respiratory rate, and their alteration with age and illness have long been under investigation; however, the origin and significance of scale-invariant fractal temporal structures that characterize healthy biologic variability remain unknown. Quite independently, atmospheric and planetary scientists have led breakthroughs in the science of non-equilibrium thermodynamics. In this paper, we aim to provide two novel hypotheses regarding the origin and etiology of both the degree of variability and its fractal properties. In a complex dissipative system, we hypothesize that the degree of variability reflects the adaptability of the system and is proportional to maximum work output possible divided by resting work output. Second, we hypothesize that the fractal nature of variability is a self-organizing emergent property of complex dissipative systems, precisely because it enables the system’s ability to optimally dissipate energy gradients and maximize entropy production. (013108-1)

In other words, we hypothesize that the spontaneous self-organization of fractal structures in time and space (e.g., coastlines, embryogenesis) occurs principally because those structures optimize their ability to dissipate energy gradients and thus produce entropy. (013108-4) If fractal structures in time and space offer an optimal means to dissipate energy gradients, which occur spontaneously and in a self-organized fashion to optimize entropy production, then they will develop as a spontaneous emergent property of complex dissipative systems. The spontaneous development of so many spatial (e.g., trees, river deltas, lightning, pulmonary anatomy, hurricanes) and temporal (e.g., solar flares, earthquakes, cardiopulmonary variability) fractal dissipative structures in nature may be precisely because those structures offer the most efficient means for their systems to dissipate energy gradients, consume free energy, and produce entropy. (013108-6)

Segel, Lee and Irun Cohen, eds. Design Principles for the Immune System and Other Distributed Autonomous Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. The dynamic interrelationship of many independent agents, as a ubiquitous phenomenon, leads to emergent organization and behavior in immune reactions, biochemical systems, social insects, and computer information processing.

Sherblom, Stephen. Complexity Thinking and Social Science: Self-Organization Involving Human Consciousness. New Ideas in Psychology. 47/10, 2017. A Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO, professor of education leadership begins with a good synopsis of the field of complex dynamical systems as a lead in to better understandings of human psychologies and societies. But by so doing, a unique insight can then be achieved. As our emergent human sentience comes into play, nature’s steady endeavor to organize itself can enter a new phase of intentional “self-presentation and self-cultivation.”

Complexity-thinking refers to a cluster of concepts popularized in several branches of science, primarily in the physical sciences but increasingly in the social sciences. There is reason to be cautious regarding how the concepts are used across disciplines and branches of science. This paper discusses self-organization in dynamic systems, tracing its roots in social science and critiquing current usage of the term with regard to systems involving consciousness - humans and groups of humans. A brief sketch of the levels of complexity sets the groundwork for understanding the critique of self-organization to follow. I argue that consciousness fundamentally changes the terms of discussion in self-organization by adding a self/selves that is not equivalent to the system as a whole, but which directly influences what is organized, how, and toward what end. Self-organization in complex adaptive systems involving consciousness should be distinguished as self-cultivating self-organization and self-presenting self-organization. (Abstract)

Simon, Herbert. The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996. The standard source on why the world is arranged in a modualr, hierarchical sequence as told in the much-quoted tale of the watchmakers Hora and Tempus. Hora used subassembly modules of 10 pieces each so that in a 1,000 piece watch any defect or lapse could be easily repaired. Tempus used all 1,000 pieces at once so that any error meant the whole watch had to be rebuilt.

Simons, Kai, et al, organizers. Self-Organization and Morphogenesis in Biological Systems. Ringberg Colloquia. December 3-6, 2006. An upcoming conference by the Max Planck Society and Nature Cell Biology, to be held in Schloss Ringberg, Tegernsee, Germany. We quote from its website – Google the sponsor.

The study of the emergence of forms in biology has suffered from a lack of understanding of how dynamic interactions between agents can lead to the emergence of dynamic patterns. This meeting will focus on self-organization and the emergence of form at multiple levels - molecular, organellar, cellular and multicellular levels - covering issues such as self-assembly, reaction-diffusion properties, collective behavior, robustness and modularity. It will have a non-traditional format and will aim to be a highly interactive, discussion-driven meeting with the ultimate goal of stimulating further development of the field.

Smolin, Lee. The Life of the Cosmos. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. An original hypothesis that universe generates complex structure and sentient life because in some Darwinian sense it has been selected for its ability to produce black holes and reproduce itself. Physics and biology can thus be reunited in a cosmos distinguished by nested hierarchies of self-organized systems. Smolin is at the forefront of efforts to reconceptualize a self-developing cosmos by virtue of its intrinsic parameters and his work is cited throughout the bibliography.

This means that the picture of the universe in which life, variety and structure are improbable accidents must be an outmoded relic of nineteenth-century science. Twentieth-century physics must lead instead towards the understanding that the universe is hospitable to life because, if the world is to exist at all, then it must be full of structure and variety. (16) We see that in this picture living things share in some ways, and extend in other ways, the basic properties of non-equilibrium self-organized systems that seem to characterize the universe on every scale, from the cosmos as a whole to the surface of planets….if life, order and structure are the natural state of the cosmos itself, then our existence, indeed our spirit, might finally be comprehended as created naturally, by the world, rather than unnaturally and in opposition to it. (160)

Sokol, Joshua. How Nature Solves Problems Through Computation. Quanta Magazine. July 2017, . A science writer profiles the work of evolutionary systems biologist Jessica Flack (search) who has a doctorate from Cornell University and now at the Santa Fe Institute. Her collegial group at SFI seeks to theoretically express nature’s apparent tendency to ever form viable communities composed of simpler entities engaged in communicative networks. A typical paper is Control of Finite Critical Behavior in a Small-Scale Social System in Nature Communications (8/14301, 2017). Their work seems to be closing on the universal presence of an individual/composite group reciprocity across life’s realms from microbes to a metropolis, as Geoffrey West and many others aver. One then wonders at what point might agental scientists be able to realize they/we are members of a global collective enterprise. A benefit would be to notice that our worldwide sapiensphere phase is attaining her/his own knowledge unto a revolutionary discovery.

Flack is now a professor at the Santa Fe Institute, where her “collective computation” group, C4, which she co-runs with her collaborator, David Krakauer, probes not just macaques but neurons, slime molds and the internet for the rules that underlie each model, as well as the general rules underlying them all. (2) Flack describes her work as an investigation into three interlocking questions. She wants to understand how phenomenological rules in biology, which seem to work in aggregate, emerge from microscopic ground truths. She wants to understand how groups solve problems and come to decisions. At its root, though, Flack’s focus is on information: specifically, on how groups of different, error-prone actors variously succeed and fail at processing information together. “When I look at biological systems, what I see is that they are collective,” she said. “They are all made up of interacting components with only partly overlapping interests, who are noisy information processors dealing with noisy signals.” (3)

We have this principle of collective computation that seems to involve these two phases. The neurons go out and semi-independently collect information about the noisy input, and that’s like neural crowdsourcing. Then they come together and come to some consensus about what the decision should be. And this principle of information accumulation and consensus applies to some monkey societies also. (4) We work on fundamental problems in evolutionary theory concerning collective behavior, collective computation, and collective intelligence—at all levels of biological organization—from societies of cells to societies of individuals to machine-human hybrid societies. (C4 group)

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