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Dissipating Gradients & Sinks (Supervenience)


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Annotated image-rich presentation of material selected for Exploiting a Dissipating Gradient component of Supervenience Project, with supporting focus on flow aggregation and natural resistance to rapid equilibrating.
References Geoffery West's Scale, Donna Haraway's Chthulucene, David Graeber's structural violence, and 20 years earlier Conversation Piece.

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Dissipating Gradients & Sinks (Supervenience)

  1. 1. Dissipating Gradients & Sinks Tony Smith Melbourne Emergence Meetup 11 April 2019 SUPERVENIENCE how emergent minds and money seize power over matter
  2. 2. Cover pic is April 2011 view southwest from Mount Kororoit scoria volcano across the Werribee Plains component of Victorian Volcanic Plains grasslands, a land form produced by both the flow of volcanic lava and of water run off into Nairm, currently aka Port Phillip Bay. Pic taken preparatory to establishment of Kororoit Institute. Dissipating Gradients & Sinks At this stage of the Supervenience project, this presentation is built around a tour of selected exemplars of emergence within dissipating gradients, and of distribution and regathering of fluid flows. It also considers an essential corollary: how separations are grown and maintained in seeming conflict with the universal physical tendency towards equilibrium. This page and most picture identification were added after the presentation on the night. On this old and damp ball of rock, one source outflow dominates: solar radiation whereby we intercept one part in two billion of the sun's thermonuclear generation, parts thereof energising a range of planetary and life processes. Over billions of years, those processes have shaped the planetary crust, its continents, oceans and atmosphere; and left traces within them from which clues about the past can be revealed, and an accumulated fraction of the chemical storage of energy by photosynthesis can be drawn down. Just about everything else that has and will emerge is increasing the dissipation of those secondary flow gradients. Stan Salthe has a rule of thumb that no more than half the gradient being dissipated can be diverted to activation of an emergent process. Often it is much less. Emergence of novel dynamic forms which draw on and increase dissipation of a gradient are one of three high level kinds of emergence identified in another chapter/ presentation, the other two being bulk behaviour of large populations and synergistic partnerships between diverse components. Such dissipation has been primarily analysed in terms of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a statistical law which is often described as having more general applicability than other laws of physics, as well as being cited as a key determinant of the direction of time. While also suggesting an always now perspective on time, the Supervenience book/project is centrally about extending the understanding of dissipation into the domains of minds and money, i.e. information flow. Sufficient gradients to allow emergence of novel forms as accelerators of their dissipation arise through interception of strong source outflows, adjacency of bulk materials with a strong differential in some property, or strong aggregation of component flows towards attractor basins. The surviving diversity of life ensures that residual gradients are dissipated down to the smallest scale. To extract a living from dead wood, termites must call on the chemical processing armoury of their symbiotic gut bacteria. Concurrently, grazing and predation accumulate the energetic chemical essence of tinier forms into ever larger characters. Between the more explicitly fluid domains of oceans and atmosphere, there are unending processes which similarly distribute or regather the action, most intricately at and near their interfaces with landforms, within which most fluidity operates on incomparably longer timescales. As vital as it may be to the chemistry of life, the polarity of water molecules also facilitates a regathering into bulk liquid which does not discriminate between the prior journeys of those molecules. Our energised atmosphere is able to gather vapour droplets until it needs to let them fall, again in a diversity of bulk forms, and ultimately onto landforms with a diversity of catchment basins that gather run off from natural landscapes (or stormwater from urban imperviousness) into trickles and floods.
  3. 3. Too Funny for Words Abstractions, Category Errors, Epistemic Cuts Life on an Active Planet The Two-edged Sword Multiple Paths to Emergence Constraints and Degrees of Freedom Birds and Others Interweb to Facebook Better than Out of Control Information, Maps and Territories Urban Hydrology out of Sight Going Down with the Egg Basket Self-organising, Adaptive Codification and Communication Exploiting a Dissipating Gradient: creaming, trickle down Dystopian Utopias and Science Fiction Towards Healthy General Knowledge The Inside View: knowing when you're dreaming Verbal Blindness Accepting Cosmological Responsibility
  4. 4. On a clear day It’s all solar Photosynthesis Weather systems Gathering flows and Retention and Grazing and Harvesting and Channeling Scale invariance Flow constraints Fractal dimension Energy networks Empty containers Urban criticality and Audience and Mobility and Services and Ephemerality Conversations Legal fictions Standardisation Plumbing depths Pools of money Empty from below View from Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne, of notably clear water adjacent often pictured section of Great Ocean Road.
  5. 5. On this old and damp ball of rock, one source outflow dominates: solar radiation whereby we intercept one part in two billion of the sun’s thermonuclear generation, parts thereof energising a range of planetary and life processes.
  6. 6. Life’s invention of photosynthesis transformed the planet and now drives green plant shoots to seek sunlight.
  7. 7. Sunlight also powers the evaporation of water and differential land heating driving winds and weather.
  8. 8. Frame from short video grab recorded while waiting under platform shelter for storm to pass.
  9. 9. The smallest catchments aggregate intense rain into brief flows whose dissipation reshapes the landscape over geological time.
  10. 10. Second attempts at ford and bridge with histories of flood and access losses, Cumberland River, Great Ocean Road
  11. 11. Lake Hume, River Murray, through bus window (all 4)
  12. 12. Upper Murray Valley (2) Snowy Mountains (2)
  13. 13. Flow dissipation in the Grampians (and next)
  14. 14. Horsham Weir, Wimmera River (all)
  15. 15. Irrigation canals, Kyabram (top 2) Hand operable Swing Bridge over Thompson River Sale Common Conservation Reserve ▼ Loy Yang Power Station
  16. 16. MillStream,Stellenbosch,WesternCape▲ MillRace,DightsFalls,Fairfield,Victoria▼ Pics courtesy Kevin Balaam
  17. 17. Kleiber’s Law is a statistical observation that the energy consumption of an animal is proportionate to the ¾ power of its weight which Geoffrey West shows means an animal’s metabolic rate is proportionate to the -¼ power. West identifies this being due to a need for fluidic circulation to reach all parts via a space filling network: the tentacles of the network have to extend everywhere throughout the system it is serving. (W)hatever the geometry and topology of the network is, it must service all biologically active subunits of the organism or subsystem. Space filling is simply the statement that the capillaries, which are the [invariant] terminal units or last branch of the network, have to service every cell in our body so as to efficiently supply each of them with sufficient blood and oxygen. West’s other objective in Scale is to identify analogous relationships in the data for cities and companies. The circulation of water, energy, materials, information and money have clear potential in that regard.
  18. 18. Succession at View Point bomb site three years on from Wye River fire Geotech intervention Separation Creek Dairy herds across western Otways View inland from Glenaire lookout All that milk flows to Allansford
  19. 19. Petroleum transmission Spotswood Electrical transmission NE Link Option C Eltham Petroleum storage Yarraville Electrical generation Newport
  20. 20. Freight containerisation invokes two level aggregation From the flow of containers especially in Australian conditions an empty container aggregation industry with a very different dynamic emerges Swanston Dock West Melbourne
  21. 21. Off Teddy’s Lookout, Lorne Yarraville (top 2) Webb Dock Port Melbourne
  22. 22. Urban criticality from various angles
  23. 23. Population
  24. 24. Transport
  25. 25. Rally for Elijah 6 pm 28 July 2017
  26. 26. Ephemerality of built form
  27. 27. Coastal erosion, Marengo Coastal erosion Indented Head Spring tide former Railway Coal Canal Darling Murray
  28. 28. Donna Haraway proposes the Anthropocene and even the Holocene should be considered as geological transitions rather than epochs and that an open ended period predicated on surviving human participation in the life world longer term could be called the Chthulucene with a nod to a necessary interplay of many tentacles. Conversation Piece Tony Smith, April 1997 In coming rounds, she who can converse the most effectively wins. The purpose of Conversation Piece is to “look at the totality of conversation in the novel context of the Internet so as to see what is likely to emerge.” • Introductory Summary • Conversation and Communication • Judging the Communications Decency Act • Forms of Conversation • Conversations on the Internet • On Consciousness • Production and Emergence • Most(,) Effective Conversations • Metamorphosis Conversation Piece was written in the popular expectation that our first non-human conversation partners were more likely to be digital computer software than extra terrestrials nor other extant animal species. “Forms of Conversation” concludes: Through their training and work, lawyers are inducted into a belief in the special status of the law itself. Sufficient of them follow a path into politics to ensure that legislatures keep producing laws which attempt to deal with anything and everything we might ever encounter. While the checks and balances in the system can obstruct such evils as the Communications Decency Act, they totally fail to turn the tide of legal expansionism into more and more areas of everyday human activity. Maybe we are being over optimistic or just simplistic, but there is a growing counter-tide of opinion that the speed and nature of the changes flowing from the Internet and related technologies may continue to outrun the lawyers. This may be possible if money truly speaks louder than words, as there are vast commercial interests lining up behind the technologies. It may also be assisted by some tough challenges to foundational premises of the legal system such as jurisdictions and one that is the prime suspect of this piece–personal responsibility. Santiago Castro answering a Quora question asserts “the cognitive abilities of bottlenose dolphins may exceed ours in some aspects”, especially social linguistic communication, but not in others, especially fine motor skills.
  29. 29. This* is what I had in mind when I first began using the phrase “structural violence”—structures that could only be created and maintained by the threat of violence, even if in their ordinary, day-to-day workings, no actual physical violence need take place. If one reflects on the matter, the same can be said of most phenomena that are ordinarily referred to as “structural violence” in the literature—racism, sexism, class privilege—even if their actual mode of operation is infinitely more complex. Here I was probably inspired most by my readings in feminist literature, which often does speak of structural violence in this way. —David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules *refers to his immediately preceding apocryphal story of a warrior tribe subjugating peaceful farmers. Graeber is a cultural anthropologist, anarchist activist, veteran of Occupy Wall Street, and award-winning author. The book stitches together prior essays with a strong introduction and raises the lack of distinction between “play” and “rules” in most languages and a human need for certainty and uncertainty.
  30. 30. Zig zag signature of human engineering Upper Stony Creek target for Imagine Your Creek project to create more attractive public space to complement newly expanded Sunshine/Joan Kirner Hospital
  31. 31. Stacks equilibrating don’t deter human visitors Twelve Apostles Port Campbell N P Loch Ard Gorge (above & left) Bay of Islands (this)
  32. 32. Magnificent Maryborough Station Rail junction for gold & wheat fields Welcome Stranger gold nugget Closed then reopened as end of line
  33. 33. Unlike our precious water storages, pools of money are hollow underneath.
  34. 34. Suggestions! Questions?