Notation as a basis for societal evolution
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Notation as a basis for societal evolution



May 12, 1993: "Notation as a Basis for Societal Evolution". Presented at monthly dinner meeting of the Washington Evolutionary Systems Society.

May 12, 1993: "Notation as a Basis for Societal Evolution". Presented at monthly dinner meeting of the Washington Evolutionary Systems Society.



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Notation as a basis for societal evolution Notation as a basis for societal evolution Document Transcript

  • Cover Page   Notation as a Basis for  Societal Evolution  Author: Jeffrey G. Long ( Date: May 12, 1993 Forum: Talk presented at the monthly dinner meeting of the Washington Evolutionary Systems Society.  Contents Pages 1‐2: Proposal and Bio Pages 3‐41: Slides intermixed with text for presentation   License This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit‐nc/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.  Uploaded June 19, 2011 
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Notation as a Basis for Societal Evolution Jeffrey G. Long WESS Meeting, May 12, 1993People tend to dismiss notation as a trivial afterthought, believing that notation is mere abbreviation ofideas that could be expressed in a variety of ways. My research over the last 20 years on newapproaches to understanding complex systems has led me to conclude that rather than being mereabbreviation, notation is in fact the primary limitation on our ability to comprehend, create and controlany complicated situation. There is a major difference between the incremental evolution of notations(such as we have seen in the past 300 years), and the invention of a truly revolutionary new notation(such as the alphabet or mathematics).Key questions the listener might consider in advance include: what do I think of the importance of notation? why is it that science cannot yet comprehend, predict and/or control the behavior of complex systems such as weather, economics, medicine, and organizations? what are the limitations, if any, to mathematics as the "language of science"? in what sense do number, note, time, and money "exist"? what is the essence of complex behaviors?This presentation will briefly discuss the nature of notational evolution and revolution throughanalysis of several notational revolutions. From historical data the presentation will offer severalhypotheses regarding the nature of notational systems and their evolution in general, including: the philosophical basis of revolutionary notations the limitations of a notation that eventually force creation of new notationsThe presentation will continue with a brief discussion of: the need for a new notation based on the limitations of existing notations desirable features of a new notation. several key distinctions of a proposed new notation for complex rules, dubbed "Ultra-Structure"Key conclusions of the talk will include the following: notational systems do not merely represent certain abstractions, they invent them; notational systems are intellectual toolsets that society creates to empower it in dealing with a complex world we declare the existence of number, note, time, and money as a result of notational revolutions that are really intellectual revolutions with broad social consequences. our society must develop a revolutionary new notational system focused on representing complex "rules" if it is ever to understand complex systems.Jeff Long graduated with an honors A.B. degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1973 after 1 year. Whilewriting his honors thesis on neural networks he concluded that no available analytical tools wereadequate to represent truly complex systems such as the brain. In 1975 he started the Institute forAdvanced Systems Research, a non-profit organization, but was unable to secure adequate funding. Page 1 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  He then worked for several large firms as a systems design consultant, ending up with Booz, Allen &Hamilton consulting for the Air Force and Department of Energy.In 1980 he started his own firm, Intellinomics Corporation, to pursue the development andcommercial application of complex systems research. In 1992 he wound up that business in order tospend full time at the Library of Congress, where he is finishing a book describing the history andphilosophy of notation; describing his proposed notation for complex rules ("Ultra-Structure"), whichhe was able to apply to business organizations as systems; and demonstrating how to use that notationto represent a wide variety of other kinds of complex system. He is currently working to apply Ultra-Structure to systems ranging from Coast Guard navigation rules to games to physics and biology.His motto is "The notation is the limitation". Page 2 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Notation as a Basis for Societal Evolution A Brief Overview Jeffrey G. Long voice: (202) 547-0268 e-mail: JeffLong@AOL.COM letter: 133-1/2 11th Street, S.E., Washington, DC 20003 Presented at the WESS Monthly Meeting May 12, 1993 Page 3 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 1: Cover PageI really appreciate this chance to share some partially-baked ideas with you.Twenty years ago I got interested in complex systems analysis when I did simple neural netsimulations as an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley. Since then Ive been looking at a wide range ofissues in order to understand why our society doesnt seem able to comprehend, create or control largecomplex systems, whether natural or manmade.Ive concluded so far that mathematics and our other primary notational systems have fundamentallimitations in what they can represent. In other words, the NOTATION we use is a critical limitationon our ability to understand the world around us. Conversely, a new notation can resolve a largeCLASS of problems all at once.This evening Ill talk for an hour and 15 minutes about notation as "A" basis for societal evolution. Inthe first 45 minutes, Id like to discuss the NATURE of notation. Ill show a PATTERN in notationaland societal co-evolution, and then show four examples of notational EVOLUTION andREVOLUTION. In the last 30 minutes, Id like to describe a NEW notation Ive been working on forcomplex systems, based on representing complex RULES. I call this notation ULTRA-STRUCTURE. Well then have about 30 minutes for any questions or comments you may have.Please hold your questions until the end, or Ill never get through this! Page 4 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  1. Notation Unique to Modern Humans2. Notational Fulfillment & Societal Evolution3. Evolutionary vs Revolutionary Notations4. Complexity Barrier5. Ontological Invention6. Ruleform Hypothesis7. CORE ConjectureSeven Critical Concepts Page 5 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 2: Seven Critical ConceptsThis talk will be difficult for several reasons.(1) One is that Im still learning how to speak about these ideas so others can relate to them. Thelogician George Spencer-Brown commented that, "The fact that...we have to use words and othersymbols in an attempt to express what the use of words and other symbols has hitherto obscured, tendsto make demands of an extraordinary nature on both writer and reader, and I am conscious, on myside, of how imperfectly I succeed in rising to them" [Spencer-Brown, Laws of Form].(2) A second is that I am basically questioning a number of unconscious assumptions that people haveabout the nature of things. If successful, this would constitute a "paradigm shift", something which itis notoriously difficult to accomplish.(3) Thirdly, were going to cover a lot of ground. I hope to at least INTRODUCE you to SEVENcritical concepts that form the basis of my work, and any ONE of these could easily take quite a whileto discuss.The first part of my talk will partially repeat and extend what I said at the January WESS conference,but for those of you who were there hopefully it will make even MORE sense the second time.Id like to EMPHASIZE that this is work-in-progress, not final conclusions. When I started comingto the Library of Congress a number of years ago to do this work, I found about 50,000 book titles onrelated topics. Ive narrowed that down to several thousand, but I still have a long way to go. Anyarea I venture into, however, is looked at from a NOTATIONAL perspective: that is the commondenominator, lest you think Im simply trying to understand every subject in the world!If youd like to talk more, Ive put business cards around the tables; please feel free to contact me atany time. Constructive criticism and general thoughts are ALWAYS appreciated. Page 6 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Solving Complex Problems Use of Verbal or Sign Language Complex Symbolic Behaviors Use of Tools Providing Assistance to Each Other Killing Each Other Brain:Body Weight Ratio Planning Self-AwarenessNotation & Other Species Page 7 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Standard Definition of Notation the use of a system of signs or symbols to represent words, phrases, numbers, quantities, etc. (Websters New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1984)"For the purpose of determining logical structure it is, for instance, a matter ofcomplete indifference whether we represent certain features of states of affairsby spatial arrangement rather than by sounds or shapes. Hence the unimportancein theory of attempts to improve symbolism: tokens of any propertieswhatsoever can be used as the material for a complete language." -- Max Black, Language and Philosophy, 1949, page 160 Page 8 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 3: Standard DefinitionI understand that most people think notation is unimportant. Looking at the dictionary definition, itseasy to see why they feel this way.WEBSTERS defines notation as "The use of a system of signs or symbols to represent words,phrases, numbers, quantities, etc."Notation is thus mere ABBREVIATION; key concepts exist OUTSIDE the notation, in LANGUAGE.This premise is widely held, and is stated fairly clearly by the philosopher of mathematics Max Black.Because our primary notation, the alphabet, is primarily concerned with representing the sounds of ourlanguage, it is easy to get the two mixed up. Although many complicated things CAN be done withlanguage, the ORAL TRADITION is simply the starting point for REAL progress in any field. I hopeto persuade you that notation is very DIFFERENT than language, and that it can express concepts thatare INEFFABLE in ordinary language. Page 9 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Solving Complex Problems Use of Verbal or Sign Language Complex Symbolic Behaviors Use of Tools Providing Assistance to Each Other Killing Each Other Brain: Body Weight Ratio Planning Self-AwarenessNotation & Other Species Page 10 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 4: Notation & Other SpeciesOn the contrary to being trivial and uninteresting, I think there is something very BASIC andSPECIAL about notation that can shed light both on the nature of human COGNITION and on thenature of the UNIVERSE we live in.In partial support of this belief, if you look at all the things that other species can do, it seems to methat NOTATION is the only thing unique to HUMANS. Other animals can match us in all these areasshown, but I have yet to see or hear about:o a migrating whale consulting a nautical charto a lion trying to BUY a fresh carcass from another liono a bird writing down his SONGS to revise, improve, and teach them to otherso a dog consult a clock to decide if its time to EAT.Yet people do these things all the time, and in fact our society is heavily dependent upon these andother notational TOOLS.Even earlier versions of our OWN species, homo sapiens, did not seem to use notation. In spite of thefirst appearance of hominids some 3 to 4 million years ago, the first KNOWN examples ofNOTATION date from 30- to 40,000 years ago, corresponding exactly with the appearance of OURspecies and the replacement of Neandertal Man. Im referring to the cave paintings and tallies foundin southern France. Other TOOLS were used by humankind long before, as long ago as 2.5 millionyears. But NOTATION is a COGNITIVE toolset, not a PHYSICAL one; and no relics of notationhave been found dating anywhere near that far back. Page 11 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   1. Notation "A" is Invented, Based on Analogy 2. Notation "A" Evolves; New Tiers Emerge 3. Notation "A" Hits "Complexity Barrier"; Progress Stops 4. Notation "B" is Invented, Based on Abstraction 5. Notation "B" Evolves; New Tiers Emerge 6. Notation "B" Hits "Complexity Barrier"; Progress StopsNotational Fulfillment & Societal Evolution Page 12 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 5: Notational Fulfillment & Societal EvolutionI believe we can get a better sense of the TRUE nature of notation by looking at how notationsprogressively change over long periods of time.Based on my study thus far of TEN notations, there seems to be a broad general PATTERN innotational and societal co-evolution. Ill describe the pattern here, then show 4 examples.1. First, a new notation is invented, and this FIRST GENERATION notation is based on ANALOGYwith what it represents2. This notation EVOLVES through improvement of PRAXIS, e.g. A. symbols are STREAMLINED for greater ease of use B. NEW symbols are introduced, e.g. lower case, punctuation C. new and better MEDIA is used [e.g. clay -> papyrus -> paper] D. theres a CONSENSUS on standards for USING the system.This process is generally what people think of when they think of notational evolution, e.g. the shapeof letters, the introduction of a new punctuation mark, etc. But this is NOT where notation gets itsenormous power.3. But in spite of all refinements, the notation hits what I call the "Complexity Barrier". No amountof effort seems to overcome the barrier, and progress comes, if at all, by random insight, notsystematic analysis. The complexity barrier by its nature is very widespread, affecting entire fields ofactivity at a time. Characteristics of this complexity barrier are that: A. there is a large class of problems that thwarts resolution B. increased money and effort produce FEW, if ANY, results C. evolution of the underlying notation provides the only examples of progressin dealing with the problems, but the progress is slight4. Next, somehow a NEW notation is created, based on a revolutionary new ABSTRACTION thatnever existed before. This often leads to, or co-exists with, a tremendous boom in cultural evolution.It is what I call a Second Generation Notation. While the first generation was based onANALOGY, the second and subsequent generations are based on ABSTRACTIONS, which are farmore powerful insights into the nature of what must be represented. A. Characteristics: 1. Solves a broad class of problems with far less effort 2. Accessible to more people Page 13 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   3. Accepted only grudgingly by elite because it changes the power distribution in society B. This new abstraction is embodied in what I call an ONTOLOGICAL INVENTION,which is the creation of something truly new in the world, that we subsequently treat as "real" 1. Numbers 2. Musical notes 3. Money 4. Time C. What we call "literacy" is tearning the existence and proper use of variousontological inventions.5. Now this notation, too, goes through the same KIND of evolutionary refinement that itspredecessor did, but eventually it hits its OWN complexity barrier. Page 14 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   (Ideogram) (Phonogram) spoken word: written word: MAN "M - A - N"New Ontological Invention: Letters Page 15 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 6: New Ontological Invention: LettersThe first example of this pattern is the development of the ALPHABET. In this and the subsequentexamples, the things that are in the "real world" are shown without boxes, while the ONTOLOGICALINVENTIONS (i.e. NOTATIONS) are in rounded-edge boxes. Also, we could spend a lot of timedebating dates, but the dates are not as important as the precedence SEQUENCE, i.e. the PATTERN.1. In writing, theres something in the "real world" that we want to represent, such as this man.2. First generation was PICTOGRAMS that represented by ANALOGY, starting in about 3400 BC.3. After about 600 years, these evolved to be able to represent IDEAS and ACTIONS through the useof IDEOGRAMS (where ideas are communicated through clever combinations of symbols) andPHONOGRAMS (where concepts are hinted at by symbols that represent something that evokes aparticular sound) (circa 2800 BC).4. This worked pretty well in ancient society, but eventually they hit the COMPLEXITY BARRIER:several thousand symbols are needed to convey the concepts of even a so-called "primitive" culture.5. Continuing on that path of adding new symbols or simplifying existing symbols would have beenfruitless: you can imagine what a Shakespeare play might be like if every symbol was subject topersonal interpretation. Further, the printing press, originally invented by the Chinese long before thewestern world had it, was far less useful when thousands of symbols were required.6. A Notational Revolution occurred when, about another 1,500 years later, someone noticed thatthere were a limited number of SOUNDS we make in human speech, and they designed SYMBOLS torepresent those SOUNDS (first alphabet, circa 1500 BC).7. With this new approach, and after the invention of vowels by the Greeks about 750 years later(circa 776 BC), we were able to represent the >50,000 words known by the average adult with only 26letters.8. Thus the SCOPE of what could be represented was greatly increased, while the NUMBER ofSYMBOLS greatly decreased. This made the notation far more powerful and accessable to a fargreater proportion of society. As the result of this ontological invention, society was able to create acollective memory that superseded the fragile memory of the oral tradition that preceded it. This was,literally, the beginning of "history", and is probably the most classic notational revolution. HistorianEric Havelock said, "The Greek here introduced, when it impinges on the Greek scene,as a piece of explosive technology, revolutionary in its effects on human culture, in a way notprecisely shared by any other invention" [Havelock, 1982]. Historian James Breasted notes, "Theinvention of writing and of a convenient system of records on paper has had a greater influence inuplifting the human race than any other intellectual achievement in the career of man. It was moreimportant than all the battles ever fought and all the constitutions ever devised" [Breasted, 1926, pages53-54].9. But it required that we create a new entity in the world: LETTERS. WRITING is a notationalSYSTEM built upon LETTERS, and it defines a number of CONVENTIONS regarding the proper useof this ontological invention. Page 16 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion Lion Soldier Soldier Soldier Soldier five lions Soldier Soldier one lion Soldier one lion one soldier five soldiers seven one soldier thingsNew Ontological Invention: Number Page 17 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 7: New Ontological Invention: Numbers1. Again, theres something in the "real world" that we want to represent, such as how many lions wesaw or how many enemy soldiers we saw. Needless to say, getting the number right can be veryimportant, although many societies had no words for numbers greater than two.2. The first generation of quantitative notation, introduced over 30,000 years ago, was TALLIES thatrepresented by ANALOGY (circa 30,000 BC). These were based on the idea of a 1:1CORRESPONDENCE. Any objects -- stones, whatever-- could be used as the basis for creating a1:1 correspondence.3. About 22,000 years later (circa 8,000 BC), this notation evolved so that "accounting tokens"represented both the number of items and their nature. Each commodity, and each quantity of acommodity, could have its own clay token. Impressions of these tokens on clay envelopes, and lateron clay tablets, eventually came to be the basis of writing.4. This worked pretty well for the commercial requirements of the first cities, but eventually it hit aCOMPLEXITY BARRIER: it required too many separate and identifiable symbols. Continuing toADD new symbols or SIMPLIFY existing symbols would have been fruitless.5. Over 6,000 years later, a Notational Revolution occurred when someone noticed that there werecommonalities among certain groups of (say) seven things, if you eliminated everything about thembut the quantity of their members. This "set of all sets of seven things", although it wasnt thought ofthat way at the time, was the FIRST TIME that numerical concepts were represented BYTHEMSELVES. Examples of this are Egyptian hieroglyphic numerals (1900 BC), and ROMANNUMERALS (circa 500 BC), where (e.g.) a "V" could represent five "IIIII". This was a revolution inSPECIFICATION, that moved us from E-NUMERATION to NUMERATION.6. This worked very well in the ancient empires, where use of arithmetic was very limited andnumbers tended to be small by current standards. But eventually this too hit a COMPLEXITYBARRIER: many important concepts could not be represented (e.g. irrational numbers, largenumbers).7. Continuing to ADD new symbols or SIMPLIFY existing symbols would have been fruitless: wecould never send a man to the moon using Roman Numerals.8. So about 1,500 years later (in the West), a Second Notational Revolution occurred (circa 1202)when we borrowed an idea from the Arabs that they had borrowed from the Hindus in India.Someone in India noticed that the operations of the abacus (the computational device used up to then)could be simulated by using symbols for the counters of the abacus. This required use of zero as aplace-holder for counters with no beads on them.9. By defining the MEANING of each symbol absolutely by its LOCATION rather than by thesymbols SURROUNDING it (place-value versus relative value), the groundwork was set formathematics to move beyond simple arithmetic using the abacus. In particular, the concepts ofnumber line and more abstract operations on numbers could be contemplated. However, this was notan easily accepted idea: for 400 years (1100 AD to 1500 AD), there was a long and sometimes bitterfight between the "abacists" and the "algorists". Eventually the algorists won, so since the 18th Page 18 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  century few people in the West use an abacus for calculations. In 1525 the decimal point wasintroduced, and complex numbers were introduced in 1545.10. Thus the SCOPE of what could be represented was greatly increased -- twelve basic symbols,including the decimal point and "i", could represent all possible numbers. This advance also permittedan extension of the type of OPERATIONS possible, such as taking the square root of any number.This was a classic notational revolution, both in SPECIFICATION and in CALCULATION. Thelogician Alfred North Whitehead stated, "By relieving the brain of all unnecessary work, a goodnotation sets it free to concentrate on more advanced problems, and in effect increases the mentalpower of the race" (An Introduction to Mathematics).11. So we have again created new entities in the world: NUMBERS. MATHEMATICS started as anotational SYSTEM built upon NUMBERS, and it defines a number of CONVENTIONS regardingthe proper use of this ontological invention. Mathematics has evolved to deal with OTHERENTITIES besides numbers, such as geometrical figures and vectors. In general I think it MAY besaid that mathematics deals with ANY commensurable abstractions, and is designed to determine theirequivalence or non-equivalence. Page 19 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   me di a vi ta ... 440 me di a vi ta ...New Ontological Invention: Notes Page 20 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 8: New Ontological Invention: NotesTo understand musical notation we have to realize that a note played on an instrument does not justgenerate ONE pitch or sound vibration, it generates a NUMBER of these. These are calledOVERTONES, and they form the TIMBRE or character of each different instrument. Theseovertones are very IMPORTANT to music.1. The first generation of Western musical notation that we really know about was developed only1,000 years ago. NEUMES represent the rising or lowering of the voice by an upward or downwardline. This was thus a first generation notation by ANALOGY (circa 900 AD).2. These evolved over the next 600 years to a dead-end. They were changed to represent pitch betterthrough the use of HEIGHTENED NEUMES (where relative spacing indicated pitch) andLIGATURES (where the broader part of a line indicated pitch). Later (circa 1260) MENSURALNOTATION was better able to indicate the DURATION of each note, using four symbols, each with3x duration of the previous (perfect) or 2x (imperfect).3. These were fine for simple music sung in unison, or even for the later organum music sung in fixedintervals. But they eventually hit the COMPLEXITY BARRIER: they were unable to representsimultaneous different pitches, to coordinate the timing of diverse themes, or to provide a reliablebasis for tuning multiple instruments. They were incapable of really representing the kind of complexPOLYPHONIC MUSIC we are used to.4. Continuing on that path of adding new symbols or simplifying existing symbols would have beenfruitless: no extension of that approach would have permitted polyphonic music such as Handels"Messiah".5. A Notational Revolution occurred around the year 1,000, when Guido de Arrezo, a music teachertrying to find a better way to teach music to his students, started a separate developmental pathinvolving LINES around the notation; defining separate NOTES and, equally important, RESTS; and"pinning" the notes to a particular PITCH. This essentially meant that the notation of music representthe INPUT to the instrument rather than its OUTPUT. As in the second mathematical revolution, thisalso represented a move from RELATIVE VALUE to PLACE-VALUE notation.6. When this tool settled down over the next 3 centuries to a 5-line staff, composers were able to writecomplex musical ideas down, and then EDIT and REFINE them. In 1325 an influential book waspublished that advocated new and relatively modern forms of musical expression. Composers couldcreate complex sets of instructions to a variety of musicians, without being there in person, as the oraltradition would have required.7. Thus the PRECISION and SCOPE of what could be represented was greatly increased. Musiccould be edited and COMPOSED before it was PERFORMED, unlike jazz (which is composed on thespot) or folk music (which is memorized and traditional).8. But it required that we create a new entity in the world: NOTES. Musical COMPOSITION, thenotational SYSTEM built upon NOTES, defines a number of CONVENTIONS about the proper useof this ontological invention. Page 21 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Similarities:o simple choral compositionso multiple voiceso both popular in their timesDifferences:o polyphonic (not unison) with complex harmonieso human voices AND instrumentso synchronized performer entry and exitGregorian Chant versus Modern Music Page 22 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 9: Gregorian Chant versus Modern MusicThe philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said that theres a lot that cannot be SAID, but has to beSHOWN. I agree. Much of our culture is based on the presumption that all thought IS done or CANbe done in WORDS. Yet this is clearly not true in an area like MUSIC.So I propose that we take 5 minutes now to listen to a Gregorian chant that was composed in the 10thcentury and was VERY POPULAR in its time. and then compare it to ANOTHER religiouscomposition, composed 800 years later, in the so-called Baroque period of music. Ill play 2 minutesof each composition, so you can get the FEEL of them.(Play music cut #6)As you listen to this next familiar piece, try to imagine whether it could exist WITHOUT modernmusical notation, i.e. whether it could have been created and preserved in the ORAL TRADITION, orby using earlier NEUMATIC notation. Hopefully youll be able to directly EXPERIENCE thedifference between the kinds of thought involved in medieval and baroque music.(Play music cut #13)Thus more powerful notation permits the creation of symphonies and other complex musical forms.The development of polyphonic music has been called "The most important development in Westernmusic" (Elliott Schwartz, Music: Ways of Listening) Page 23 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Salt ATTRIBUTES: companionship $20 food (value) Twenty Dollars Pay to the order of:New Ontological Invention: Dollar Page 24 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 10: New Ontological Invention: the DollarId like to talk now about an UNRECOGNIZED NOTATION, namely MONEY.1. This is a little different slide, showing the PRE-NOTATIONAL situation at the top. If you want totrade your duck for my cat, we may agree on a BARTER arrangement. A duck and a cat are roughlycommensurable, partly because theyre both animals and they both have some real and obvious valuesto somebody; so it is fairly easy to make that trade. But as you offer things that are less and lesscommensurable, it gets harder to make a trade.2. The first generation of notation was COMMODITY MONEY that represented a certain REAL,PRACTICAL VALUE. Examples include cattle, salt, and tobacco. This was widely used up untilabout 4,000 years ago; tobacco was the principal medium of exchange for several centuries inMaryland and Viginia; and as recently as 1935, salt was still used in Ethiopia.3. Like all notations, commodity money evolved over time. Any item having real value could beused, preferably meeting the following criteria: A. known to many people B. recognizable in value C. scarce D. portable (at least not too bulky) E. physically stable over time (preferably imperishable) F. easily sub-divided.4. But eventually this basis for exchange hit a COMPLEXITY BARRIER: these items werelogistically inconvenient. Commerce was thus still very DIFFICULT, and the more COMPLEX aneconomy got the more problems were caused by commodity money. We can hardly imagine what theNew York Stock Exchange or our economy in general might be like if every transaction was paid forby weighing salt or some other physical commodity;continuing on that path would have been fruitless.5. A Notational Revolution occurred about 5,000 years ago (3000 B.C.) when people noticed thatVALUE could exist INDEPENDENTLY of an object, i.e. the concept of ABSTRACT VALUE.People and, later, governments, designated arbitrary objects as commonly accepted SYMBOLS of thisabstract value. The intrinsic PRACTICAL VALUE of these objects was nowhere near theirDECLARED VALUE, and was often basically zero. Examples include seashells, beads (strungtogether = "wampum"), gold, silver, and copper.6. Eventually, the precious metals (particularly silver) won this contest, especially with the help ofgovernment LAWS that regulated their availability and use. But those tokens of value were subject todilution, unfair scales, and other problems, so they evolved into other equally value-less forms. Soafter another 750 years (2250 B.C.), COINS having a declared FACE VALUE were introduced.These dominated for over 4000 years, until recently, although TRANSFERRABLE RECEIPTS wereintroduced in the Middle Ages, and then FIDUCIARY MONEY in the form of BANK NOTES wasintroduced by the government of Sweden in 1656.From 1825 through 1875 in the United States there was a major political debate between the "papermoney men" and the "gold bugs" about how abstract value should be represented in America. Page 25 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  America ended up being the birthplace of widespread use of paper money in the Western world. Thispaper money was initially backed by gold (an equally worthless commodity?)Eventually we ended up with FIAT MONEY (circa 1934), not based on the gold standard, to enablegovernments to print money as desired, independently of their actual gold reserves, and therebycontrol aspects of their economy through monetary policy. Now we use an evolutionary advance overthat, namely checks and credit cards, where actual "money" does not even change hands during atransaction, but waits until a later and more convenient time.8. Thus VALUE-IN-THE-ABSTRACT came to be REAL, and could be traded like a real duck formy cat. Since in principle anything could be traded for this symbol, the BREADTH of what could bereadily traded was greatly increased, and this EASE OF USE encouraged more commercial activity.Once governments understood the power of this notation, they regulated it and then completely took itover so THEY could control its abuse.9. Again we created a new entity in the world: DOLLARS (or their equivalent). ACCOUNTING, thenotational SYSTEM built upon DOLLARS as ontological inventions, provides rules for the proper useof this notation.10. As the result of this ontological invention, society was able to divide work more readily intospecialized categories, for there was now a common denominator that could be used in anycommercial activity. This was the beginning of "commerce" as we know it today. I wasnt able tofind a quotation about the impact of money on societal evolution, but I think youd all agree thatmoney is important in society!-----So much for the past; Janus-like, we must also look to the future. The history of notation showsongoing evolution punctuated by periodic revolution. Have we reached the end of the road? Do wealready have all the notations we need? I dont think so.In the area of complex systems, for example, we have poor empirical results, and there arefundamental theoretical limitations that are not possible to overcome. The strength of mathematics isthat it can address equalities and inequalities; but much of what we need to represent about theuniverse has nothing to do with that aspect of entities. Page 26 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  o Represent a New Ontological Inventiono Far Richer Capacity to Represent or Express Ideaso Reasonable Ease of Learning & Use (years okay)o Often, Better Utilize a New Mediao Permit More Powerful Methods of "Computation"Desiderata for a New Notation Page 27 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 11: Desiderata for a New NotationIf we were to try to deliberately create a notational revolution -- lets say to issue an RFP -- whatcriteria might we use?1. The FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT of a revolutionary notation is that it represent somethingdifferent and more BASIC about the subject domain than the existing notations it is designed tosupersede.2. Obviously the new notation must represent a superset, not a subset, of the target domain of theexisting notation,3. There has to be reasonable ease of learning and using the notation, although a lengthy "literacy"curve would not be at all unreasonable.4. We might also want to re-examine the media available to us, to see whether a new notation couldutilize a new medium.5. Finally, if it is a domain where computations would be useful (such as complex systems theory),we will want a greatly extended computational ability as the result of a new notation. Page 28 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Complex System Complex Behavior d = 1/2 g t2 Rules RuleformsNew Ontological Invention: Ruleforms Page 29 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 12: New Ontological Invention: Ruleforms1. So lets look at our basic model of notational evolution. Again, theres something in the "realworld" that we want to represent, namely a complex system (e.g. an ecosystem). The pre-notationalsituation was that we could describe the structure, behavior, inputs or outputs of a complex system inNATURAL LANGUAGE.2. The first generation of notation was graphical and quantitative, e.g. E-R DIAGRAMS orMATHEMATICAL FORMULAS. These represented by ANALOGY the OUTPUT of the system.3. These evolved, but eventually hit a COMPLEXITY BARRIER: somehow, pressure/temperaturefunctions or economic elasticity curves have failed to describe the behavior of weather and economies.I suggest that this is because they focus upon and represent the wrong ASPECT of systems, primarilytheir BEHAVIOR. They are DESCRIPTIVE, not PRESCRIPTIVE, in nature.5. Continuing on that path, we could enhance our ability to describe system outputs and behaviors bygetting bigger computers and more facts. But some theorists have postulated that many systems areUNKNOWABLE due to either:o sensitive dependency on initial conditions,o the existence of free will in systems involving humans, oro intrinsic quantum randomness at the lowest levels of physical systems.6. If there is to be a revolution in this area, it will require that we represent some OTHER aspect ofcomplex systems than their input, processes and output; namely RULES. Currently we can represent"rules" as:o procedural computer codeo symbolic logic statementso English statements (e.g. law)o mathematical formulas.But that still leaves us with too much complexity to really understand the systems we are dealing with.Simply representing RULES is not ENOUGH.To abstract to a higher level, we must focus on RULES, but notice that there are COMMONALITIESin the FORMAT of the rules in complex systems. Thus many instances of rules may have the sameform but different content. Each such "set of all rules having the same form" can be represented by asimple relational table. Thus the next level of abstraction is the idea of RULEFORMS, wherein allrules having the same FORMAT are grouped together.7. With this focus on ruleFORMS rather than mere RULES, we may be able to represent seeminglycomplex systems, with tens of thousands of rules, using just a few basic relational database tables.These will be implemented on that wonderful new N-dimensional MEDIUM called the COMPUTER.8. Thus we can SPECIFY rules better (more explicitly and rigorously), and also perform sophisticatedCOMPUTATIONS easily, using a common ruleform notation for any kind of complex system. Page 30 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  9. But this will require that we deal with a new entity in the world: RULEFORMS. ULTRA-STRUCTURE is a notational SYSTEM built upon RULEFORMS, and it defines a number ofconventions regarding the proper use of this ontological invention. Page 31 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Ontological Real-World System Ultra-Structure Model Level Surface Particulars (Manifest Event Records and Rule Structure Behavior & Structure) Considerations Middle Operating Rules Rule Records Structure Deep Structure Ruleforms Relational Tables Sub-Structure Universals Attributes (Fields) Animation Energy Software ProceduresUltra-Structure Ontological Levels Page 32 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 13: Ultra-Structure Ontological LevelsIn other words, we can define the world as a PROCESS having different ontological LEVELS:First, there is the structure, appearance and behavior of a system, that we will call SURFACESTRUCTURE.Next, the essence of this complexity can be captured by RULES having an IF...THEN format.Defining phenomena in a compressed manner via RULES is the principal activity of science,developed by the Greeks.This activity will result in tens of thousands of seemingly varied rules, called the MIDDLESTRUCTURE.These can be grouped by format into ruleFORMS, the collection of which is called DEEPSTRUCTURE. Thus the DEEP STRUCTURE of any system will be a set of 10-50 ruleforms willrepresent any particular complex system.By representing these ruleforms as TABLES in a relational database, and the rules as RECORDS inthe tables, we can implement complex system models in a very concise manner.Finally, below that are the UNIVERSALS, represented by the FIELDS in a table. These constitute theSUB-STRUCTURE of the system.The rules are ANIMATED or EXECUTED by very small amounts of procedural code. Page 33 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   The perceived structures and behaviors of any system are artifacts of "animation procedures" executing "operating rules." These operating rules can be grouped into a small number of classes whose format is described by "ruleforms". While the operating rules of a system may change over time, the ruleforms are constant. Ruleforms anticipate all logically possible operating rules that might apply to a subject domain and constitute the deep structure of that domain.The Ruleform Hypothesis Page 34 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 14: The Ruleform HypothesisAnother way to state this is what I call the RULEFORM HYPOTHESIS:"The perceived STRUCTURES and BEHAVIOR of any system are ARTIFACTS of animationprocedures executing operating rules.These operating rules can be grouped into a small number of classes whose format is described byruleforms.While the operating RULES of a system may CHANGE over time, the RULEFORMS areCONSTANT. Ruleforms anticipate all logically possible operating rules that might apply to thesystem and constitute the deep structure of a system." Page 35 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   All instances of systems within a single domain (e.g. all games, all biological systems) may be defined by a common set of approximately 50 ruleforms. This definitive deep structure is permanent and unchanging. Differences in perceived structures and behaviors of instances of systems within that domain will be represented entirely as differences in rules. The animation procedures for these ruleforms will comprise less than 100,000 lines of code in a third generation language.The CORE Conjecture Page 36 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 15: The CORE ConjectureNow, theres another aspect of ruleforms that is interesting. If you group rules into ruleforms for ONEsystem, then ANOTHER system within the same general CLASS of systems, you will find that you donot REPLACE one set of ruleforms with another, rather, you BROADEN the ruleforms you have sothat they can accommodate BOTH instances of systems.I conjecture that ALL instances of systems within a single domain (e.g. all games, all rules of biology)may be defined by a COMMON SET of approximately 50 ruleforms. This definitive deep structurewill be permanent, unchanging, and robust. Differences in perceived structures and behaviors ofvarious instances of systems will be represented entirely as differences in rules. The animationprocedures for these ruleforms will comprise less than 100,000 lines of code in a third generationlanguage.For example, the middle structure (rules) of baseball and chess are DIFFERENT, and their surfacestructure (appearance) is DIFFERENT, but the deep structure of these and indeed all games is theSAME. Ive found this a useful exercise in the business world, and invite you to spend a day with mesome Saturday, if you wish, to explore this example. Page 37 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  1. Spend full-time on research and writing: test CORE Conjecture with 6-10complex systems, and finish book entitled NOTATION (Vol 1 and 2)2. Start new institute to focus on notation and complex systems; apply for smallNSF grant for next year.Current Status of Project Page 38 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 16: Current Status of ProjectSo, whats next? I realize these hypotheses need more work....1. Finish my own study of ten key existing notational systems (alphabet, math, music, chemistry,cartography, dance, software, money, and time), and finish my models of 6-10 complex systemsimplemented using Ultra-Structure (games, weather, cell biology, physics, scientific arguments,navigation rules, others?), and get a publishing commitment within the next year.2. Create a team to pursue this research in greater depth, historically, cognitively, philosophically, andin terms of applications to various complex systems. Page 39 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution   Conclusions1. There are limitations to what any notation can express, based on what domain that notation was designed to represent and consequently what abstractions it embodies. This is true even for the "Language of Science", mathematics. A key factor in the evolution of society is the introduction and fulfillment of revolutionary new notational systems such as the calendar, writing, mathematics, and money.2 Our society currently faces a "complexity barrier" in dealing with so-called "complex systems" such as medicine, ecology, economics, and public policy. But complexity is in the eye of the beholder and can be eliminated by an appropriate notation based upon a new ontological invention. Larger computers, more data, and more money will not overcome this complexity barrier.3. We need to develop at least one wholly new notation, using distinctions far beyond fractals or other fundamentally quantitative constructs. We need a new science to study rules per se, compressing them into simple common forms to permit a deeper understanding of the ontology of various complex systems domains. Page 40 of 41
  • Jeffrey G. Long [5/12/1993]Notation as a Basis of Societal Evolution  Slide 17: Conclusions1. Limitations of notations.2. Complexity barrier exists now.3. Need a new notation for rules OR some other basic new abstraction.Thank you for your attention.Are there any questions? Page 41 of 41