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# confusion!

Jan 26, '07 9:59 PM EST

The more I research subjects I initially was very interested in the more confused I get.

Back to being confoozeled (how do you spell that?)

Studio Kieran Timberlake

“Systems”
I figured I would go to the source of this whole “complexity” and “emergence” thing and jump right into “General Systems Theory” by Ludwig van Bartelanffy…so here’s my attempt to clarify it because so far in studio nothing I say even makes sense to me after I say it.

General Systems Theory (my def.) – the study of principles in a logic-mathematical way of abstract concepts or properties that describe the interactions of more than a single element of matter or a single force of energy. No “object” within a system studied alone will indicate, infer, or make apparent the possibilities of these abstract concepts or properties of systems that emerge from the interaction of these “objects”.

Example: H2O studied alone at a singular molecular level will not lead to the theory of phase changes of water at varying degrees of density and temperature. Nothing about the molecule H2O says anything about a bunch of H2O’s at certain temperatures will change from Ice or Snowflake to Liquid to Gas. (P.W. Andersen )

“Feed-Back” loop

This is a simple one right? Well, at least until I read Norbert Wiener’s “Cybernetics”. But somewhere in there around pages 80-120 he gets into this very long mathematical explanation on how to make a feed-back loop circuit, or in the terms of the day an “automata” that performs a feed-back loop (Thermostat). Another attempt at defining things here, this is the whole point of this blog, don’t care if you read it, but if I wrote it on the train might as well post it right? And if you respond, DANKE SCHOEN!(although I don’t always post what I write on the train) anyway….

Feed-back loop – an entity/formula, physical or virtual, that is a compilation of rules for action (including thought) that must in or out of sequence give the entity methods for responding to its confrontation with the environment in a cyclical manner through time, returning it continually to a stable state or state of reset. If the entity has no rule for action that can react to the confrontation with the environment, the entity will either not respond and wait for a confrontation it recognizes, end its current cyclical loop through time and change into another loop based on the rules of action that remain confronted with the environment (this in turn ultimately tends towards instability and dissipation of its organization), or reconfigure its rules for action via a rule of action that ensures adaptive change as return to the state of stability.

Biomimicry and Biomorphism….(mainly derived from Rhett Russo’s seminar discussions)

"Blackmail the Universe with the greatest of calamities
Awaken those sleeping giants in the dust of the ground
With their skin destroyed, unjust to innocence
Lawful possessor of the world's last 24 hours" - Dave Mustaine

Not sure where to start here, but what all seemed very attractive and interesting at first seems hopeless now.

“Kill yourself save the planet”.

If humans are natural and not separate from nature in a spiritual way then all that has happened up till this point in human history was only natural. The industrial revolution was merely a natural phase change (General Systems Theory). 10 leaps later, the termite mound is more analogous to the standard Seagram Building office tower copy than a building functioning like the termite mound naturally. Why? Office work naturally evolved. The economy and social structure dictated the natural selection process of steel and elevators to build these office towers for the equally natural function of office work….

Then you say, well humans have culture, which termites do not have right, and that has dictated these changes that are ultimately damaging to the environment? And office work natural, ridiculous!!

By saying this you admit one or all of the falling:

1) humans are separate from nature (and matter) because we essentially are spiritual creatures not just natural…God or something other must exist
2) you are sure termites don’t have culture, how do you really know?
3) human’s are outside of nature
a. If human’s are outside of nature, then they either are better or worse than nature, and you would probably choose better
b. Ok, maybe not better or worse, but you have two things now which you must compare and contrast, so where you going to be positive and where you going to be negative.

4) Balance between us and nature can be achieved, because we are separate (no need for balance if we are part of the whole damn thing)

Ok, what the hell does Balance mean?

Balance - Humans can continue to grow and live our lives without destroying nature. But if nature is destroyed it will destroy us.

Here’s an idea – a nihilistic 100% naturalist perspective….

James Conway invented the “Game of Life” program that essentially displays visually in an animated fashion the original cellular automata world envisioned by John von Neuman. Stephen Wolfram comes along later and breaks the “Game of Life” down (which is Cellular Automata) into 4 phases. Phase IV is the “edge of chaos/origin of order” phase – ooooo! IV is the one everyone thinks is the very “exemptionist” reason for humanities existence. IV is the origin of life in the primordial soup. Things just happened and then forever kept happening. In the “Game of Life” this translates to black and white squares growing throughout the screen and never stopping, the screen never becomes too black or too white.

game of life

Nihilism at it’s finest – Humanity isn’t a phase IV, it’s on of the other phases where the whole screen becomes white, full of life, overpopulated, and then bam the whole “Game of Life” is done, boring, nothing left – overload, whole screen turns white – Game Over. Is it possible we can’t see the pattern because its taking zillions of years? Is it not wishfull thinking that all the other phases that take time to ultimately stop changing don’t appear like phase IV in our short time of observation?

So at this point I’m not sure what to study in nature. I figured space travel to the planet Titan is appropriate. They say Titan is like earth, just another planet to exploit. Woohooo, lets Americanize the damn thing, Haliburton and Cheney will be there in 10 years…Get myself a ranch and some cattle and a freakin’ 10 burner grill and a Hummer for all that offroading…

Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you are a plague, and we are the cure.

Toxic Virus Warning Label

a couple toxins for you to study

• not everything humans do is excusable because we are part of a system (nature), and it does not follow that believing so requires a god. choices have consequences. there are issues about consequentialism that i am not comfortable with, but is an idea worth considering before denying it as solution outright...

for anthropomorhism of insect life maybe read ed wilson. is useful. not sure if it will offer solution but perhaps perspective.

many of the terms you describe are in daniel dennett's book, "darwin's dangerous idea", and in his other books too. maybe you know him, a philosopher of evolution and self-consciousness, the latter being what you are ultimately struggling with, i think. he is not french esoteric, but science based, no gods evoked, and no sky-cranes, and very easy reading. i honestly believe anyone studying systems and evolutionary theory should study his work before getting started, cuz he is very good at removing all of the bullshit from the field in a direct manner....

if you want quick intro to his ideas he was on ted last year.

i ordered two of dennett's books, looks like he wrote one with Hofstadter, i'm guessing the guy who wrote "Godel, Escher, Back"

thanks...

broccolijet

Also, perhaps a bit dated, but Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control" (1994) is a solid read. Perhaps a bit too high-level for what you're doing meta, but he does a good job of essentially compiling and reporting the work of researchers in these areas. He discusses von Neuman, Wolfram, and Conway's Game of Life plays importantly in this book.

Although artificial generally means 'made by humans', the extended definition 'produced rather than natural' suggests the ant mounds pictured above (or whatever they are exactly) are more, strictly speaking, something artificial, that is, something produced rather than natural. If you asked me, it is just a human conceit to think that only humans are capable of creating things artificial.

awesome point "I'm laughing my ass off", can you reference that for me, or is your def?

The definition of 'artificial' is from dictionary.com. The notion of animals also creating artificial things came to me last night and this morning as I gave some thought to some of the stuff you wrote above. I saw the ant mound as more artificial than natural, and thus I saw a reversal/inversion of your argument'. And then I thought of bird's nests, (and I now even wonder if honey is more artificial than natural, but does that mean that wine is also more artificial than natural?) Anyway, seeing how 'artificial' more means a human product made me then wonder if there's some human conceit involved in the definition.

Otherwise, I assume there are many worthwhile studies/writings regarding natural vs. artificial, but I really couldn't say whether any of them say anything about animals too makeing artificial things. To me right now it just seems to be common sense.

You know, you could, in all honesty, simply reference the reality of the virtual interaction generated by your blog and it's responders.

legeuse

"artificial" vs "natural" has a bunch of interesting sidetracks just on the linguistic note, like the one of organic vs inorganic chemistry. the label organic comes from a time when it was believed that all that relates to life and life processes was carbon-based, which nowadays we know is not necessarily the case (high school with some freshening up at wikipedia); the "organic" part of the world(organic=pertaining to living organisms) therefore depend to a certain extent on "inorganic" chemistry, whereas for example "plastic" as a figure of speech - at least where i come from - has a quite heavy connotation with "unnatural; nonauthentic" when the reality is that the material with the same name is carbon based, derivative of organic chemistry, and therefore..

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