The Plurality

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Presentation given at H+ 2011 Melbourne which turned out to be much about problem merging terminology from independent silo-based framings of complexity theory.

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  • The Plurality

    1. 1. The Plurality:why everything is all over the place Tony Smith Kororoit Institute Proponents and Supporters Association Inc.
    2. 2. N.N.Taleb made The Black Swan his symbol of surprise which does not quite work in Australia despite AAMI’s best efforts
    3. 3. Douglas Rumsfeld called them unknown unknowns which should really not be seen as a laughing matter
    4. 4. Local Perl trainer Paul Fenwick recently presented hisreading of findings from neuroscience that much ofwhat we do is effectively programming ourselves so wecan attend to our routines without needing to think.
    5. 5. Local Perl trainer Paul Fenwick recently presented hisreading of findings from neuroscience that much ofwhat we do is effectively programming ourselves so wecan attend to our routines without needing to think. Surprise!Yet we value surprise, even in spite of the (misattributed)“Chinese curse”: May you live in interesting times.We are entertained by unpredictable sporting contests.We gamble.Meanwhile our sporting heroes are ever programmingtheir own skills and the gambling industry does all it canto habituate our self destruction.
    6. 6. Where to today?• Some background: Samples of a long life• Emergence/Systems/Complexity theory• Emergence in the world and implications• Recent discoveries in cellular automata• Climbing Mount Improbable• Kororoit Institute Proponents
    7. 7. Early background• Family tradition of community leadership• Math, science, computer systems analyst• Strathmore cricket and football admin• Otways bushwalking and diving• Excited by the possibilities for online information• Did not know near enough about business world
    8. 8. 1 June 1982 —• First job for Computerworld met many people• Micro, networks, local computer manufacturing• Public Information Communications and Access• Macworld mag, Sydney Expo, San Francisco• LaserWriter, PostScript®, desktop publishing• Drexler’s Engines of Creation
    9. 9. Keith Henson• Conferences: HCI, Graphics, Hypertext, CsCW• PICA work on Mac port of Sun’s NeWS• Keith’s team doing likewise in SFO• Instant friends, Keith’s parties, far side of galaxy• L5 Society, Alcore, Great Mambo Chicken• Keith acquires AutoDesk’s work on Xanadu
    10. 10. Things still don’t work• Fredkin cellular automata inspires Pattern Breeder• Discard all assumptions and start afresh• Travelling for PICA opens doors and books• Complex Systems generating interest• under different names from different directions• Wolfram Mathematica®, meetings here and there
    11. 11. All over the place• History and Philosophy of Science has my books• The internet and graphical web interface 1993• Education technology policy consultancies• Building Strathmore Sports Club, the Creek• Online communities, 2 years in Sydney, Perl• Bubble bursts leaving us a hosting business
    12. 12. Complexity on all sides• Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science• Life in a Tube revisited, Trapper, Tick Tock• Dealing with elders’ decline and heritage• Bill Hall, Emergence Meetup, 2007 conferences• Publishing a stolen generation autobiography• Golly 2.0 revives interest in cellular automata• Creek, Brimbank, community consultation
    13. 13. Bryan Bishop
    14. 14. Bryan BishopDays after reconnecting with Bill Hall, I received anemail from the then 16 year old Bryan who picked up ona couple of points on my Meme Media website, and sobegan a long correspondence.Bryan is nowadays heavily involved in extending the opensource model from software development to manufact-uring and biology via Austin Hackerspace and DIY BIO.Bryan should really have been here for this H+ Summitbut we ran out of time this time. Next year no excuses.The point of the past 7 slides sampling half my life time:Those who get to internalise Emergence bringwith them a complex personal history.
    15. 15. Emergence/Systems/Complexity
    16. 16. Order out of Chaos• Until two years ago I grimly defended the notion of a border of order/edge of chaos• Going back to definitions, chaos is just extreme sensitivity to initial conditions• Chaotic systems may appear homogenous, at least statistically• or they may form “strange attractors”
    17. 17. Self-organisation• I’m trying to stop talking of “order” when what I mean is emergent self-organisation• Order/organisation always involves cycles• A recognisable emergent entity is always “trying” to get back close to a previous state• Given a long enough view, such organisation is only ever transient, ultimately accelerating the spread of chaos (c.f. entropy)
    18. 18. Cantor and GödelReveal truths we don’t willingly accept
    19. 19. Exploring possibilities• Cantor tells us there are (incomparably) too many possibilities to exhaustively explore• Gödel tells us that systems for finding truth can never find all possible truths• Enough space and time, jump early, crawl late• Creative synergy between deterministic* chaos and emergent self-organisation
    20. 20. “Random” emerges too• Computational irreducibility• *Deterministic does not imply pre-determined• Emergent form does not break micro rules• Emergent form constrains micro behaviour• Mental (and computational) processes can cause change in the physical world• “Free will” is a good practical assumption
    21. 21. Emergence across levels
    22. 22. Emergence across levels• Bulk properties emerge given enough stuff • Prigogine’s convection cells are the archetype • Anything from snow flakes to cyclonic storms• Kaufmann’s autocatalytic closure origin-of-life shows potential of systems Out of Control• Rare encounters between unrelated individuals produce synergies which change history, e.g. Margulis’s origin of eukaryotic cells
    23. 23. enough Spaceenough Timeenough Energyenough Matter
    24. 24. Why the universe is big• If it wasn’t so big and so old, we could not be here to admire it• Our mammalian selves are already a product of many layers of emergence• Our techno-synergistic selves even more so• We should not be surprised ancient Abraham anthropomorphised an agent and so released the virulent meme of authoritarianism
    25. 25. Nature abhors a gradient • The second law of thermodynamics • Dissipative systems • Stan Salthe’s rule of thumb: less than half the gradient can be turned into useful work • Having fun adapting that to reprocessing patterns found in cellular automata where there is no strict energy metric
    26. 26. Selection and variation• “General evolution” was another entrée• Darwin was up front about his theory not addressing mechanisms for variation• which many lesser readers turned into “random variation”• Smarter methods of gene recombination• Self-organisation tests many combinations
    27. 27. Islets in the Ocean The fragmented vocabulary ofEmergence/Systems/Complexity
    28. 28. The social side• Coming to Emergence/Systems/Complexity from physical sciences brought one perspective• Organisation Knowledge Management another• The “elephant in the room” problem• Still few who truly appreciate the universality• It usually takes most of a lifetime to get there
    29. 29. Marcia Salner’s challengeAccelerating induction
    30. 30. Spreading the word
    31. 31. Spreading the word• Salner (1986) found that systems thinking requires overcoming two crises of belief • The first from naive belief in right and wrong to relativism • The second from relativism to seeing systemic connections• How to short circuit a learning process that otherwise can take the best part of a lifetime?• “For every complex problem, there is an answer which is short, simple and wrong.”
    32. 32. Emergence in the world
    33. 33. A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down by Robert Laughlin• One of the best popular books on physics ever• Why complexity is often irreducible• Why of the 24 different solid forms of water, none were predicted in advance, but all were readily “explained” after the event• Why the “fundamental” laws of physics are no such thing• Why there is no such thing as empty space• Will change the way you think about the world
    34. 34. Across every domain• Emergence is most familiar in geophysics, biology, cellular automata, human organisation• Laughlin found it in solid state physics• Large scale atomic alignment in crystals• Exploring the notion that space and time may emerge from a “Planck scale” network• Recursive grammar and the emergent self
    35. 35. Staying open to evidence• Hopes and expectations burdening research• Kaufmann At Home in the Universe• Beware seeming dichotomies: chaos & order• Reading the mind of God• Leaving black boxes too long unreexamined• Evidence from beyond event horizons
    36. 36. Science History lessons• Periodically it is proposed that there is a lot more in the world than we previously knew• Initial strong resistance soon found wrong• Metaverse theories and quantum bifurcation• Weak anthropic principle• Logistical counterarguments to simulation• Three body problem and limits to formalism
    37. 37. It’s all in the mind?• The seductive survival value of “I”• Can only assume our shared external reality• which our body is part of, maintaining its small slow form while exporting entropy• Mind as emergent property of brain• Unlike other animal minds, ours is trapped in its experiment with deeply recursive grammar
    38. 38. Eusocial insects One of my well defined but never really startedprojects is a book* called The Ant Road. Until the industrial revolution, humans had not exceeded the level of social organisation of ants, bees and termites, without any of which natural productivity would be decimated.
    39. 39. Dam(n) rodents made fine hats
    40. 40. Our junk can win a lyrebird heart
    41. 41. The curse of hindsight• Explain away anything• Predict nothing• Except, if you are very smart, that there are bound to be different surprises to come• You can’t “fix” the past• And you can’t ever be sure how your choices might affect the future• But might there be ways to give it a good shot?
    42. 42. The failure of futurists• Futurists envisage and expound• and become heavily invested in• extrapolations from an imagined present• which they can no longer keep under review• Back in our world, it is always the present• actively involved in making the next moment• leaving traces which our minds and our math adaptively turn into a metric we call “time”
    43. 43. Suburbia emerges
    44. 44. Marvellous Melbourne• Designation earnt 1850-1890• In 2011 there has never been anywhere more comfortable• Nor any lack of room for improvement• Helicopter view urban design• Helicopter parenting• Unpacking emergent interdependencies becomes ever more like hard work
    45. 45. Telling our stories
    46. 46. Telling our stories Paul Fenwick’s other lesson from neuroscience was about the left forebrain region found to be responsible for making up stories without regard to any basis in fact. That helps explain why parents cannot resist fabricating responses to their toddlers’ second dangerous word: Why? Google customisation lets us live within thought bubbles where complications, evidence and others can’t worry us. How to reclaim Politics from moral certitude, white collar job idealisation, a single value metric and sound bites? My default sig line:Giving thanks to the space, time, energy, matter and other lives that have allowed me to tell my lies on this old and damp ball of rock.
    47. 47. Victoria Crater, Mars
    48. 48. Victoria Crater, Mars
    49. 49. Tapping the gradients• Photosynthesis taps photons produced at 5500°• Many animals graze plants or algae• Carnivores tap nutrients concentrated in others• Dung beetles tap what is left after digestion• Bankers and accountants tap money flow where the gradient is steep, lawyers tap fear• Who taps the bankers, accountants and lawyers?
    50. 50. New Cellular Automata rules
    51. 51. John Horton Conway’s Game of Life (b3/s23)
    52. 52. John Horton Conway’s Generations 345/3/6 Game of Life (b3/s23) LivingOnTheEdge (LOTE)
    53. 53. John Horton Conway’s Generations 345/3/6 Game of Life (b3/s23) LivingOnTheEdge (LOTE) Von Neumann Moore Weighted Moore neighbourhood neighbourhood plus von Neumann
    54. 54. Interlewd
    55. 55. InterlewdSwitching to Golly to show Cellular Automata
    56. 56. http://TheWildCA.com/http://www.transforum.net/m.cgi?num=2895 http://WMPVN.com/
    57. 57. Exploration Strategiesfor when everything is still all over the place
    58. 58. Shifting fitness landscapes • Some innovations open new territory • Initially it is most productive to jump about • From a base of niche fitness, incremental change becomes a better strategy • Mathematical models confirming this in Kaufmann’s At Home in the Universe • Self-organised criticality
    59. 59. Climbing Mount Improbable • Getting from nothing to physics is hardest • Lee Smolin’s theory of cosmic evolution by natural selection of black-hole universes • Combinatorial explosion • Chaotic systems test small configurations repeatedly, but large effectively never • Developmental pathways and cycles
    60. 60. Bacteria early, complex late (…) the first Hox genes were added to existing mechanisms for controlling axial polarity early in eumetazoan evolution. The entrainment of the Hox code in eumetazoan development may have contributed to an increase in morphological complexity at the origin of the Eumetazoa and a diversification of bilateral body plans during the Cambrian explosion.
    61. 61. What if there is just us?• Planet with enough iron and water• Basic life early, or was it panspermia?• Complex body structure came late• One species out of a billion since• The “right” rate of mass extinction• Industrial revolution to economic singularity• Calibrating a “fertile” type 1a supernova
    62. 62. Humanity as transitional• Aspirations not sustainable in current model• Off planet, robots go further, viable sooner• Already have an economy where the interests of cars are a determinant of value (c.f. Gehl)• A viable off-planet economy won’t burn “junk”• The next great synergies: human + robot; Earth value economy + space value economy
    63. 63. Self-fulfilling Prophecies
    64. 64. Character or actor?• Given the right instantiable objects, compression and common history cloud, the best of lives will fit comfortably on a USB stick (argue later)• Reincarnating our “soul” becomes an easy option, be it in cyberspace, a robot or some GE monster• So what will it feel like to be this entity with full call on memories from my first or 1,000 lifetimes?• And what he…perversions might we endure as our soul updates are beamed around the galaxy?
    65. 65. It doesn’t wrap neatly• Aristotle sought “final” cause, alongside material, efficient and formal causes• I find it useful to think of final cause as the uses to which something is put• A cause which resides in the future but can only be seen from deeper in the future• Utopianism is a nonsense
    66. 66. http://kororoit.org/
    67. 67. The very short story• Our plans for Kororoit Institute have had a long gestation through Melbourne Emergence Meetup, TOMOK, Putting Community Knowledge in Place• Setting up an independent research institute in Australia is non trivial, hence the Proponents Association• We seek to be an interdisciplinary bridge between Emergence/Systems/Complexity theory, Organisation Knowledge Management and regional/community planning• Why Kororoit? Melbourne’s western growth region
    68. 68. Getting on with it• Already working on first paid consultancy• Closing off establishment member and foundation sponsor lists June 30: Get in now!• Ready to confirm our Director designate• Planning a series of forums and a conference on our theme for 2011-12: Self-organisation• Adding an occasional papers repository to our rapidly evolving website• Impressive facilitating technologies capability
    69. 69. Questions?
    70. 70. Questions? ts@meme.com.au About me: http://ynotds.com/ Background: http://meme.com.au/TransForum: http://transforum.net/ I was wrong, again: @ynotds
    71. 71. Questions? ts@meme.com.au About me: http://ynotds.com/ Background: http://meme.com.au/TransForum: http://transforum.net/ I was wrong, again: @ynotds This background is from a road cutting onthe flank of a scoria volcano: Mount Kororoit
    72. 72. Thank You!

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