Chapter 3: Systems Theory & Emergence (& Alife)

III. Systems Theory & Emergence (& Alife)

  1. But where does evolution (variation, adaption, selection) enter into all this?
  2. Back to computers and cybernetics/systems theory, John von Neumann created something called game theory, in which programs compete along a certain set of rules with a certain degree of chance "play games". Ostensibly so, but in fact the history of their actions mapped out the set of spaces the system might ultimately resolve ("evolve") to. A graph of all the possible ways the game might resolve itself would be a "phase-space" map.
  3. John Holland's genetic algorithms refined this basic idea, to the point where allowing players memory of previous rounds, certain games would attract towards the most stable strategy, tit-for-tat (Echo simulation of Prisonner's Dilemma, Waldrop 1992, pp. 263-66). This echoes John Maynard Smith's concept of evolutionarily stable strategies (ess s) surviving in species.
  4. from genetic algorithms to alife (Chris Langton)
  5. class-4 cellular automata at level of critical connectivity
  6. Per Bak's self-organized criticality
  7. Stuart Kauffman's order for free
  8. Ilya Prigogine's far-from-equilibrium systems ("Let us take a closer look at the emergence of self-organization and the processes that occur when we go beyond this threshold." . . . "The important point is that, depending on the chemical process responsible for the bifurcation, this mechanism expresses an extraordinary sensitivity. Matter, as we mentioned earlier in this chapter, perceives differences that would insignificant at equilibrium. Such possibilities lead us to think of the simplest organisms, such as bacteria, which we know are able to react to electric or magnietic fields. More generally they show that far-from-equilibrium chemistry leads to possible 'adaption' of chemical processesx to outside conditions." (Prigogine 1984)
    1. far-from-equilibrium relation of potassium to sodium in the neuron (Asimov 1994)
  9. studies of hydrogen and oxygen will not reveal the wetness of water
  10. studies of amino acids will not reveal the behaviors of animals or plants
  11. studies of neurons, electricity, chemistry will not reveal mind