Re: virus: Metasystem Transition

Dan Plante (
Mon, 03 Feb 1997 00:02:57 -0800

At 09:49 PM 2/2/97 GMT, Dave Pape wrote:
>At 15:58 31/01/97 -0800, Dan Plante wrote:


>>I agree. It's quite often a matter of perspective and perception. I often
>>take the perspective, when thinking about fundamentals, of stepping back
>>and looking at the "big picture", that is, all facets of our existence.
>It's called an Objectivity Rush. Can be pretty disturbing (eg "Oh shit, at
>almost all levels of analysis, it doesn't matter whether I live or die." But
>it's usually pretty good fun.

Yeah. "Sobering" is another good term.

>>It's from this view that I've
>>come to see the process of evolution gradually producing what I initially
>>tagged an "emergent systems stack", but I think I like the term "metasystem
>>transition history" better.
>I like your concept of emergent systems stacks as well though. I'd consider
>my personality to be a stack of emergent systems of ideas/memes, and I'd
>consider the whole Earth ecosystem to be a stack of metasystems of minor
>ecologies, each of /those/ emerging from the interactions of organisms, each
>of those being in turn a stack of metasystems... eg I am a colony of cells,
>and my organism identity is an emergent of how my cells interact.

Not bad. "Stack" referring to an instance of systems, "transition history"
referring to its associated process history.

>>I also agree with your previous post about the "control" aspect within
>>the metasystem transition history table extracted from the Principia
>>Cybernetica Project site.
>Thanks. I think "control" is a word people leap for because they're into
>analysing social situations for seniority dynamics. As soon as you see a
>pyramid of systems in a diagram the deduction is that the top system's in
>>The assertion of "control", in the sense used
>>on those pages is obviously in error, especially when viewed within the
>>context of a series of emergent systems. To be fair though, they do go
>>on to refine the idea, with reference to /feedback/ and control systems
>>(one of my areas of expertise), which, /eventually/, do have validity
>>in a changing (mutation and selection) system.
>I'll take your word here until I've had another look at Principia
>Cybernetica. I just think we can let go of worrying about which system is
>senior or cleverer or more important... I think that's a very human
>(therefore subjective) worry.

Hey, sounds like you understand human nature the way I do.
But no, not a /worry/, per se, rather an acknowledgement that the dynamics
at play between adjacent levels (/all/ levels, for that matter), can tell
us something important with respect to the ongoing process as a whole.
However you /are/ right about the "/feedback/ and control" statement
above. An oversight on my part. My intent was to point out that the
"feedback" part was the only valid portion of the "feedback and control"
assertion by PCP. I should also point out that this implies feedforward
as well, creating a loop. The inter-level influence would be weak at
first, but grow stronger over time in proportion to the evolutionary
advantage afforded.

>>The pattern I percieve, in every (logically consistant) transition
>>postulated, is this:
>>Start with a system of (usually but not neccessarily) identical, self-
>>reproducible components. Observe that there are no higher levels of order
>>(there are, as yet, no emergent properties related to the interaction of
>>the components).
>I'm with you most of the way here. Trivially, I'm not sure how many real
>world situations you could find that are this clean, though (ie situations
>where you have a system of lots of units interacting with no higher-level
>order visible ANYWHERE).

Good point. Change to: "Observe any order currently displyed by the system
as a whole".

>And more basically... do you really need the
>self-reproducing condition?

I'm afraid so. Explicit in the phenomenon of emergent properties is the
prerequisite that each component of the parent system shares a set of
functionally equivalent characteristics that gives rise to it (this is
the simple case). Granted, there is a small, finite probability that a
system of this kind could spontaneously congregate, but, even at the
complexity level of a single cell, the chances are vanishingly small.
Even then, the process of entropy would guarantee that, especially for
structures larger than simple molecules, their existence would be
transitory. The process of evolution, on the other hand (with its
explicit reproduction component), both allows a system to continue,
and provides it with an avenue to change; two characteristics
necessary to manifest a metasystem transition.

>I'd argue that atomic-scale interactors don't
>self-reproduce, but interact to produce metasystems (such as molecules).

I scratched my head over that one too for awhile, then realized I wasn't
looking at the whole picture. I realized that I was picturing all these
atomic interactions producing all these various and sundry chemical
compounds in the context of only a few hundred million years, and only
in some fictitious tidal pool on primordial earth, basking only in
terrestrial energy levels. I thought "Well, hell, the system 'Terrestrial
biota', for instance, may only be planetary in scope, but the system
'atomic interaction' is /universal/ in scope. Seen in this light, the
components that give rise to self-replicating molecular structures here
on earth do, in a sense, reproduce. They're torn apart (die) in accretion
disks around massive objects and other celestial sources of fission.
They come together (are born) when pieces meet each other in gas and dust
clouds, etc, and they change/evolve in stellar fusion and super-nova.
Through this particular evolutionary process, accumulations of greater
and greater numbers of atoms of higher and higher atomic masses continues
until the components neccessary for a meta-system transition come
together, on the third planet of a third generation star, that, by now,
has enough concentrations of the right atoms, mostly hydrogen, oxygen
and nitrogen, but especially carbon, which seems to have an almost
limitless affinity for other atoms and can therefore more easily be the
backbone of very complex molecules, like precursor-RNA and, well, you get
the idea. So the "system", in this case, is a complex one, consisting of
the hydrogen atom, and the physical laws that operate on it....
....just a thought.

As for before that.....well, I seem to remember a paper reprinted in
Scientific American a couple(?) of years ago that presented a theory
whereby the quantum cosmological makup of our existence evolved out
of a finite-but-unbounded set of possible proto-laws during the
postulated "expansion" phase of the so-called big-bang....
It was all way over my head, dealing with scalar properties of 17-or-
so dimensional space and other shit, but that was the gist of it.
I wish I could remember the issue. If anyone knows, please pass it

Hmmmm. Infinite regression/progression of meta-system transitions?


>>Any thoughts?
>Well, you did ask:
>How about the whole Omniverse (including things at the Initially...? and
>And...? ends of your list) being explainable as computation of some
>algorithm? And, one of the properties of that algorithm is that, as it
>computes, it gives rise to new computational spaces for itself to be
>computed in?


>So, if you look at the Omniverse as a grid, with the colour of each point in
>the grid corresponding to how high the algorithm processing stack is at that
>point, most points will be dark, because there's just little diddy particles
>kicking around, but a few (proportionally) will be bright, because there's
>subatomic, atomic, ecological, biological, organic (ie cells into
>organisms), cognitive, and loads of layers of memetic processing going on
>Huh? Huh? How about it?
>Dave Pape

Sorry, Dave. My head hurts and I'm going to bed ;-)

Dan (yeah, RUN, ya coward!) Plante
The Metasystem Transition History of the "Dan Plante" System

initial conditions = data (conception)
control of data = information (conception to puberty)
control of information = knowledge (puberty to marriage)
control of knowledge = wisdom (marriage to divorce)