Why would it be a good thing for us to try to get into the mindset of the technologies, the machines, that we create? That’s a terrible loss of capacity, and yet that’s what we are doing, currently, with conventional science.
So… where DOES this value for “health” come from? Do identical twin human beings have the exact same body? There are bound to be differences, even in the case of clones. So, where does each twin or each clone’s value for “health” come from? It comes from within the organization of each living system.
Non-living systems are purely reactive systems unless acted on by entailment from outside their own organization. There exists no internal, system-generated value for self or for health. Living organisms can react but can also anticipate, via model-guided control strategies to improve health and survival options Movie: “Lars And The Real Girl“
From page vii of “Anticipatory Systems (Philosophical, Mathematical, and Methodological Foundations) Second Edition”
Senses and the pathways for sensory interpretation exists in every living organism of any kind, at any level of evolutionary complexity and even within a human being-- at every level of our own systemic organization. How does immune function work? How does a macrophage “know” to surround a body cell that is about to undergo apoptosis (self-destruct process) and not do that to a body cell that isn’t? Information is involved-- information flow and processing. This is somatic anticipation. There is no “thought process” required for it, in the consciously aware human sense. Instead, I believe that the human thought process is an evolutionary concentration of this natural living capacity.
All feedback loops in an organism are components of larger feed-forwards. Monarch butterfly egg on milkweed leaf.
When the goal is not connected to health or life in any way, then the optimality scale isn’t either.
Such a definition does not add assumptions or anomalous information to the way we do science; instead, it keeps our options open and allows the context to dictate what is appropriate in research and analysis.
#ISSS2015 Berlin - Judith Rosen - Redefining Objectivity
Redefining Scientific Objectivity
By Judith Rosen
(So that it’s finally appropriate for
What’s wrong with The
Machine Metaphor of Rene
• Machines are created by human beings for human purposes, to extend
human capacities or possibilities, in some way.
• This capacity for creating technologies to serve functional needs is not
unique to human beings. It’s a high level Anticipatory behavior pattern.
• BUT… why should a hermit crab try to get itself into the empty mindset of its
shell? Where’s the value in that?
What is “Health”?
• The World Health Organization has defined it
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental
and social well-being and not merely the
absence of disease or infirmity.”
Question: Where does the value for “Health”
Anticipatory Systems Theory
• Explains the differences between living and non-living systems.
• Living organisms are examples of naturally self-organizing
• A.S. Describes the Characteristics of Life from a scientific framework.
What is an Anticipatory
• Robert Rosen wrote:
• "The present volume is intended as a contribution to the theory
of those systems which contain internal predictive models of
themselves and/or of their environments and which utilize the
predictions of their models to control their present behavior.”
• “Systems of this type have a variety of properties which are
unique to them. It is most important to understand these
properties, for many reasons. We shall argue that much, if not
most, biological behavior is model-based in this sense. This is
true at every level, from the molecular to the cellular to the
physiological to the behavioral. Moreover, model-based
behavior is the essence of social and political activity. An
understanding of the characteristics of model-based behavior is
thus central to any technology we wish to develop to control
such systems, or to modify their model-based behavior in new
Living Organisms as Anticipatory Systems
• The Rosennean definition for “INFORMATION” is: “Anything that can
be the answer to a question.” That requires the existence of a
question-asker: A living organism. There must be a need of some kind,
which pre-exists either the asking of the question or seeking of the
• What is definable as “information” depends on perspective. One
organism’s information might be another organism’s incidental and
• “Information” is, therefore, a relational label and entirely context
dependent: It is not a quality intrinsic to the thing or phenomena or
percept, on their own. The designation of information arises through
interaction between a living organism, its internal predictive models, and
aspects of its environment.
• Being a model-guided system means that information is a component of
the system, itself.
• It is part of the pattern of life that organisms seek out, ingest, and
metabolize information just as they do energy, from the environment.
Information is “digested” (processed, interpreted) and perhaps encoded
into new models or used to activate current models and generate
guidance for behavior of the system.
Sensory Capacity as Information-
What is “food”?
• The answer depends on who is hungry.
An internal value for “Health”…
• Depends on an internal value for “Self”: Health of
what? Health of Self.
• Therefore, the value for “Health” will change if the
“Self” model changes. In reproduction of many
species, one or both parents seem to encode
offspring into their self-model and sometimes put the
health of the offspring ahead of their own as an
independent organism-- sometimes, to a lethal
degree. Death after reproducing is a common pattern.
• The internal value for Health will guide the activities of
metabolism and repair (the two functional capacities
that arise/emerge along with LIFE).
• Robert Rosen’s concept of an “M,R-System” as a
model for a living organism, where M is metabolism
and R is repair. Both are Anticipatory processes…
Life, Survival, Reproduction…
• … are all future-based activities
• With a future-based perspective
• And a future-based (Anticipatory) control
The Optimality Scale
• Co-arising with the Self-model and the definition for
Health (of-Self), there arises the means for evaluating
(predicting) the risk or benefit of any given percept.
This is the perspective of each organism.
• I call this The Optimality Scale: the full range of “good”
or “bad” that any given percept can represent.
• As such, the range of optimality is unique to the
perspective of each organism.
Descartes’ Definition of Objectivity
• “All systems in the universe can be
thought of as being like a machine.”
This is “The Machine Metaphor”.
• Therefore, the perspective of all living
organisms must be like a machine’s (as
we imagine it to be…)
• Scientific detachment from all bias or
preferences (total objectivity) became
synonymous with Science, itself.
• Any and every area of human activity
that wished to become “more scientific”
also became machine like.
The Legacy of the Machine
Metaphor in Human Systems
• All concept of intrinsic “function” was
outlawed in Science as being non-objective.
• Mechanistic concepts and techniques in
Science were applied across the board, even
to ecosystems and organisms. They were
treated like they were not significantly
different from the atoms and elements of
which they were “made”.
• Even disciplines devoted to human health
became machine-like and factory-like.
Is this “Optimal”?
• Industrial agriculture
• Giant hospitals where patients and their families
are treated like cogs in an impersonal machine
instead of the hospital’s reason for being.
• Education becomes industrialized where the
discussion centers around “standardization”-- of
our children’s minds. It’s a production line.
• Business, regardless of what product or service is
being sold, is based on a single, imposed human
goal: money. With that as “the” goal, the optimality
scale is based entirely on how well that goal is
achieved. This is true even in arenas like
education, health care, and law enforcement
Natural, complex, Anticipatory behavior
that clearly has both information and
The self organization of new life (as seen
watching a timelapse of the embryonic
development of a fruitfly larva)
• Monarch butterfly migration
• Human immune function, including model-
based error behaviors like allergies.
What should be the definition for
Scientific Objectivity, under the
• I humbly suggest something along these lines:
• "The simple fact, which every scientist should know, is that "objectivity"
in science means only that one must not let non scientific issues
intervene in scientific judgments. Not religion, not politics, not social
exigencies, must intervene, any more than personal self-interest in the
form of direct financial or academic rewards. To do otherwise is to falsify,
as surely and as reprehensibly as if one presents false data.
• “In short, scientific objectivity, the refusal to be a "social actor" while
doing science, is one of the few thin safeguards of civilization itself. The
integrity of this process, and of those who have maintained it, is one of
the few glorious things of which our species can boast. The "isms" pass;
each epoch has its own, to which it demands this integrity be sacrificed;
laughing at the "isms" which preceded it, and deploring the devastations
perpetrated in their name, while in the very process of perpetrating its
own.” ~ Robert Rosen
Science then becomes synonymous
with verifiable truth, independent
accountability, and integrity
• We need to be able to trust the
information our science generates
• We need to make sure that the process
of science as well as the practitioners of
it are unfettered by intellectual debts to
private interests or fear based on beliefs
See you all in Boulder, Colorado
at ISSS 2016!