LifeOS: exploring the system that executes DNA

February 19, 2010

Directed Mutation

“In 1988, geneticist John Cairns published what has since become a revolutionary paper entitled On the Origin Of Mutants (Nature 335:142, 1988). Cairns recognized that gene mutations were not solely the result of random chemical events as is currently perceived. Cairns placed bacteria, possessing a defective gene for the enzyme lactase, in Petri dishes that contained only lactose as a food source. The mutant bacteria were not able to metabolize the substrate. After a short period, the stressed, non-replicating bacteria began to thrive and proliferate. Upon examination, it was found that the bacteria specifically mutated the unresponsive lactase gene and repaired its function. Cairn’s research revealed that, in response to environmental stresses, organisms can actively induce genetic mutations in selected genes in an effort to survive. These mutations would represent mechanical “adaptations” that are induced by the organism’s response to life experiences.”

The video is here:
Adaptive Mutation

Immediately, the bureaucracy of science went to work. Cairns called it, Directed Mutation. That terminology was unacceptable to his peers. A paper to put this new information in proper scientific context was soon published.

Copyright 1998 by the Genetics Society of America
Adaptive Mutation: Has the Unicorn Landed?
Patricia L. Foster

In the second paragraph…

“Early in the project, we established that the mutational process was not “directed” toward specific targets (i.e., there was no reverse information flow) (Foster and Cairns 1992), and we renamed the phenomenon “adaptive mutation” (Foster 1993). We then pursued the alternative hypothesis that during selection a random mutational process affecting the whole genome might occur; the process would be adaptive if the variants (or the cells bearing them) were transient unless or until a variant arose that allowed the cell to grow (Cairns et al. 1988; Stahl 1988; Boe 1990; Hall 1990). Although less efficient than a directed mechanism, “trial and error” would have equivalent implications. With such a mechanism, a population could increase its genetic variability under stress yet maintain its genes more or less intact.”

So, right from the start they had adopted Crick’s “Central Dogma”, as a given: “there was no reverse information flow”. The truth is, they never even looked at the flow of information. Just as in the laws of thermodynamics, where energy doesn’t come out of nowhere, neither does information. Information is the result of process, and follows pathways that ALWAYS loop back to their source.

Anyway, “We then pursued the alternative hypothesis…” This is how they do it in science. They fudge their results with the unlimited power of “jargonese”. But it is language that gives them away. Words like, selection and adaptation infer that choices are made. In fact, the details of these experiments show that information is being processed. Information processes(like choosing) are firmly in the domain of intelligence.

Mutations, changes in DNA sequences, follow the same pattern of information processing as would a team of scientists trying to solve the same problem. The inability to metabolize lactose would be met by several proposed solutions, with only the best one, selected. In it’s simplest form, analyzing a situation, proposing options and processing one to a successful outcome, is very intelligent action. To ignore that possibility because of preconceived bias, is not very smart.

Directed or adaptive, doesn’t make much difference; a mutation that successfully accomplished a targeted goal, certainly cannot be seen as a random process. There was no cell division, no opportunity for random errors to participate, no natural selection at play, only reorganization of process in order to adapt to an environmental situation. The attempt to “explain away” the implications with mountains of jargonese shows that they just don’t get it. They assume from the start that, “…there was no reverse information flow”, just as did Crick and Watson. This is where the information processing model exposes the blind spot of central dogma. There is no reverse flow of information, but it loops back through the system, where choices are made about what information completes the circuit. It walks and quacks like a very smart duck.

Advertisements

October 25, 2008

Instinct, Learning and Adaptation

Instinct

“Learning is often thought of as the alternative to instinct, which is the information passed genetically from one generation to the next. Most of us think the ability to learn is the hallmark of intelligence. The difference between learning and instinct is said to distinguish human beings from “lower” animals such as insects. Introspection, that deceptively convincing authority, leads one to conclude that learning, unlike instinct, usually involves conscious decisions concerning when and what to learn.

“Work done in the past few decades has shown that such a sharp distinction between instinct and learning—and between the guiding forces underlying human and animal behavior—cannot be made. For example, it has been found that many insects are prodigious learners. Conversely, we now know that the process of learning in higher animals, as well as in insects, is often innately guided, that is, guided by information inherent in the genetic makeup of the animal. In other words, the process of learning itself is often controlled by instinct.”

Source: Gould, James L. and Peter Marler. Learning by instinct. Scientific American, January 1987. Reprinted in William S.-Y. Wang, ed.. 1991. The emergence of language. Development and evolution. New York: Freeman. 88–103.

Hard Wired?

What we have here is a learning/memory process that is shared by all biological systems. Nothing is really “hard wired” in biological systems. Even DNA is a pattern for growth and not a firm design. Even after DNA is expanded during cellular growth into a “final” adult design stage, cells grow and adapt to changing conditions. Hard wired is a term from computers that really doesn’t apply to biological systems, unless maybe that “learning” itself, is hard wired into all living systems.

Learning

Learning is a process that functions at all levels of biological systems. Looking at Life as an information processing system, reveals learning as a primary function of the system. DNA is the system wide knowledge base, stored in such a way to guarantee maximum stability and robustness. Every piece of code has a built in sundown clause. It is constantly being replaced with new code that has been thoroughly tested under real life conditions.

The life cycle of all living things is a two part process that simultaneously tests its DNA in the real world and learns about how the local environment is changing. Successful species continue to build on the knowledge base, adding and adapting to their experience.

The best designer in the world would not be able to design a mobile agent that could function successfully in a new environment without some knowledge of what that required. The system that designs agents must work from inside with intimate knowledge of the outside. The outside is constantly changing, so the inside must adapt.

Design Team

Even though the design team doesn’t have to redesign the whole agent every time, it needs to be able to set the appropriate control switches, like environmental triggers for imprinting and such. Each species has a set of specific triggers it expects from the environment in order to initiate specific learning patterns. Even though many systems and subsystems arrive fully functional regardless of the species, like basic metabolism, control and sensory systems, they still must adapt to resource availability during their development. They also grow and reinforce what is successful in real life tests. The design team will need to know the available food sources, their nutritional values and such, before they can set the necessary triggers.

Of course, there is no design team as such. I use the term to personify an observed function, for ease of discussion. It is a very handy tool, if the imagination is flexible enough not to get caught up in the analogy.

Whether the process is driven by dumb luck or an intelligence of unknown origin, the results are some very fine subsystems, of which the human animal is one. We seem to be very smart, however, our very best design teams produce nothing, but crude examples showing only primitive engineering savvy, when compared to the simplest life forms. Flatworms are primitive according to evolutionary standards, yet their design is extremely efficient, even elegant. From a system viewpoint, the flatworm design, represented by its DNA, is extremely robust, stable and well dispersed in the environment. It has been a very successful design. It is part of our exploration to identify the design process, wherever we find it.

Meeting Expectations

In building the LifeOS model, i was satisfied to have a system that would monitor reality and project solutions to problems, but idea that the system is constantly projecting an intended path is much more “intelligent”. Rather than have to identify “problems”, which could be a challenge, the system attempts to maintain a status quo. It treats any deviation as suspect. Seems to me that shows that the system is dealing pro-actively with the future.

In our culture, most people simply react to what comes their way. Our most intelligent citizens are people who don’t wait to simply react to events, but take control of their own future. These people set goals and work to reach them. Biological systems in general, are not just responding as would a person of average intelligence, but in the manner of one of superior intelligence; not by simply reacting, but by forming expectations(hypotheses) and testing them in the real world. This intelligent action is going on at the cellular level.

This is not in a long drawn out process, but a rapid firing cycle of cellular metabolism. With every cycle, the present input is compared to predictions. This process becomes a flowing wave of expectations, met or not, evaluated by waves of dopamine.

Animal Behavior

Back in Free Will i described the behavior of critters like cats and that bossy fly that quit playing by my rules. This is the same pattern of behavior that we find in dopamine neurons. These neurons are firing a steady stream of expectations that cause no reaction when they are met. Any deviation causes immediate adjustment to expectations. This stream by a single neuron becomes a wave when all the neurons are firing. This wave is constantly being compared to the waves of the past.

When an agent meets a new object in the environment, these neurons fire away, sending a flood of dopamine carrying info about the mystery object. It appears that the dopamine acts like a reward for the agent, making the exploration of new objects, “feel good”. It isn’t a simple on/off reward, but contains levels of description, evaluation and judgment. It is like emotion, with a wide range of feelings about the object. The simple act of observation begins an elaborate process of carving away the mystery to reveal the reality of the novel object or event.

When the new object is “figured out”, the neurons quit firing, the dopamine stops flowing, and interest in the object fades. Novelty and boredom controlled by the flow of dopamine. When a kitten is learning a new game, the dopamine is flowing. Once they learn the game, they lose interest. Back in Free Will, i attributed that behavior to the ego. The kitten and the fly just wanted to have their way. They just like to “boss us around”. From this new information, i would say that the reason for that behavior was because they learned the trick and their neurons quit firing. The dopamine rewards them for learning new tricks. Well, human beings are the bossiest of all, and our ego seems to be fueled by the same kind of neurons.

So, who gets bored? Who gets the reward that dopamine provides? Who is giving out this reward? When the fly or kitten turns its back on me and refuses to acknowledge my play cues, the animal is communicating to me that they are no longer getting the internal reward they need to stay interested. Who is initiating that communication? I still say, even the smallest creature has an ego, a sense of self that relates to its environment with intent, expectations and strategies.

Adaptation Happens

From a system viewpoint, adaptation must be a sought after goal of some protocol or other. Adaptation is accomplished by learning at all levels of biological systems. Adaptation is a fundamental attribute of Life, part of the protocols of its operating system.

October 22, 2008

Holographic Mind

Filed under: Ch 07 Biological Holography — Tags: , , — insomniac @ 11:09 am

Dr. Karl Pribram

Back in the 60s, Dr. Karl Pribram had this to say about how the brain produces images in the mind.

“ …brain models need to take into account the type of processing performed
by optical systems. Such optical information processing is called
holography, and holograms display exactly the same sort of
imaging properties observed for brain…”

Sight, hearing and thought all involve generating an internal hologram by firing synchronized neurons. Dr. Pribram was far ahead of his time. Not only did he see the brain as using holographic principles before most even new that holography existed, but he saw how it related to motor activity.

More from Dr. Pribram:

“What the data suggest is that there exists in the cortex, a multidimensional holographic-like process serving as an attractor or set point toward which muscular contractions operate to achieve a specified environmental result.”

The actual process of thought is connected holographically to muscles, which have their own holographic memory. Both are connected to the holographic model in our mind that we project as outward reality. What we see, hear, smell and feel, along with what we do and think about, are intimately wound into memory at all levels of our existence.

An Imaginary Ferrari

When the light bounces off the hood of your Ferrari , for example, it produces a 2D image on your retina. There is no matter being transferred, only light energy, carrying information.

Some photons bounce off the surface of the clear lacquer top layer, some penetrate deeper into the layers of paint. All these photons pick up individual bits of information about the surface qualities, and scatter this information into the environment. Within this scattering, all these individual bits remain coherent; the information describing this object retains its meaning. Amazing!

Waves of Information

The eye gathers all this information and sends it to the brain. The individual data paths from retina to the brain, have been studied at length. However, the way this data is reassembled into an interactive representation of external reality, is more difficult to address. As Dr. Pribram surmised more than forty years ago, it most certainly involves holographic principles.

The waves of photons encode the information into wave lengths and other properties that the nerve endings of your retina further encode into their specialty. Some nerve endings are sensitive to wave length, distinguishing colors. Other nerve endings are sensitive to other properties, like movement or edges, and they send their encoded information to the brain. Rather than consider all data paths as individual streams, it is more helpful to consider that they all follow the same wave synchronization as does the environment. Waves of photons are translated into waves of nerve impulses that maintain their coherence as they are converted into images in the cortex.

In the brain, these waves of incoming information are re-organized into a dynamic hologram, that mimics the external one. It is so accurate that you can you can use it to drive your Ferrari successfully through extremely dynamic environmental conditions.

Total Experience

Not only does this hologram consolidate diverse visual cues into an accurate model of the environment, but it also integrates the rest of the senses into a total experience. This includes the 3D holographic model along with all the sounds of the singing exhaust, smells of aromatic oils and jerking of g-forces that accompanied the experience. This total package is saved in memory as such. It links recall to elements of the experience that are not directly observable as environmental events, like the thrill of speed and the pride of ownership. In other words, it records dopamine, adrenaline and other hormone levels as well. This information is not stored as individual bits of data, but as part of the current “state” of the organism. All of this information is accessible in ways only dreamed of by database engineers.

Add to that the fact that the word “Ferrari ”, can recreate the experience, including a rush of hormones and you have a remarkable system. Actually, it can do better than that: it can create some of the Ferrari experience in the imagination, without ever having driven one. This is information processing at a very high level. Artificial Intelligence folks would love to be able to do this kind of stuff.

Instant Rendering

What the holographic model does is embody all relationships at once, like the 3D environment projected by our brain. Instead of isolating parts, it looks at the whole; the experience. It is like a 3D rendering done by ray tracing, in that it collects all the coordinates within its field, but it does it instantaneously. Whereas ray tracing is a digital activity that traces every ray, one by one, the holographic system projects all the ray possibilities at once.

A coherent electromagnetic field acts as if it were a single object, no matter the spacing or distance between the physical elements that generate the field. The field represents all of the possible mathematical and geometric relationships within its structure. It is the very antithesis of a linear equation; it is holographic projection of potential. The state of the field exists as a wave pattern against that potential; a real time expression of all current relationships.

Seeing in the Dark

Another question worth asking is, where does the light that appears in our cortex come from? Light stops at the retina, yet the hologram we see in our cortex is very convincingly made of light. It would seem that the neurons that produce the images in our brain are working in total darkness, right? We are not seeing the light directly, but our neurons are mimicking the environment as reported by the senses, including the light levels. Could the fact that all cells emit biophotons, light in the visible spectrum, have anything to do with it? According to Dr. Popp, chemical reactions within the cell are initiated by biophotons. They appear to be part of the control mechanism that manages cell activity. These biophotons are the holographic bits, firing in perfect sync, cranking out neurotransmitters, essentially producing our reality.

September 10, 2008

The Computational Mind

“In philosophy, the computational theory of mind is the view that the human mind is best conceived as an information processing system and that thought is a form of computation.” –wikipedia

Computation doesn’t necessarily involve mathematics, but is defined as, “the process of taking input and following a step by step algorithm to get a specific output.” The process that takes input from the senses and produces a reasonable facsimile of an external reality, certainly involves a precise process that repeats steps. However, the computer does its job by repeating small computations in a rapid string of steps, the biocomputer has billions of cpu’s available to parallel process information. Step by step is a very linear description of something that is obviously very nonlinear and extremely dynamic. So, there has to be a better term for the process than computation, but it will do for now. Recent research into neuron function has given us some clues as to how this works.

Prophetic Neurons

Modern brain imaging applied to basic conditioning experiments, seen through the lens of computer science theory, has produced an amazing new understanding of how the subconscious mind functions. The behavior of these dopamine neurons shows some pretty sophisticated “thinking” going on at the cellular level. These neurons act as if they are predicting the future.

An article on SeedMagazine.com titled: A New State of Mind, by Jonah Lehrer, relates the discovery of very interesting attributes of “dopamine neurons”.
http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2008/08/a_new_state_of_mind.php

The conditioning experiment, much like the flatworms in the aquarium, requires the subject to learn a simple sequence of events. In this case, the stimulus was followed by a reward instead of a shock.

“His experiments observed a simple protocol: He played a loud tone, waited for a few seconds, and then squirted a few drops of apple juice into the mouth of a monkey. While the experiment was unfolding, Schultz was probing the dopamine-rich areas of the monkey brain with a needle that monitored the electrical activity inside individual cells. At first the dopamine neurons didn’t fire until the juice was delivered; they were responding to the actual reward. However, once the animal learned that the tone preceded the arrival of juice — this requires only a few trials — the same neurons began firing at the sound of the tone instead of the sweet reward. And then eventually, if the tone kept on predicting the juice, the cells went silent. They stopped firing altogether.”

Computational Behavior

This behavior had everybody stumped. It seemed like the dopamine was carrying information about the reward, but why would it stop firing? The answer came when the data from these experiments cross pollinated with a theoretical computer model called, temporal difference reinforcement learning (TDRL). From the field of artificial intelligence, this model was an attempt to program “neuron like” performance, using simple protocols for goal oriented action.

“The basic premise is straightforward: The software makes predictions about what will happen — about how a checkers game will unfold for example — and then compares these predictions with what actually happens. If the prediction is right, that series of predictions gets reinforced. However, if the prediction is wrong, the software reevaluates its representation of the game.”

These neurons were acting just like theoretical neurons would act. These cells were making predictions!

“Once the cells memorize the simple pattern — a loud tone predicts the arrival of juice — they become exquisitely sensitive to variations on the pattern. If the cellular predictions proved correct and the primates experienced a surge of dopamine, the prediction was reinforced. However, if the pattern was violated — if the tone sounded but the juice never arrived — then the monkey’s dopamine neurons abruptly decreased their firing rate.

“What’s interesting about this system is that it’s all about expectation. Dopamine neurons constantly generate patterns based upon experience: If this, then that. The cacophony of reality is distilled into models of correlation. And if these predictions ever prove incorrect, then the neurons immediately readjust their expectations. The discrepancy is internalized; the anomaly is remembered.”

This demonstrates the very core concept of LifeOS, that information processing is fundamental to cellular activity and that such activity constitutes intelligent action. To memorize, make predictions, evaluate results and readjust expectations are all intelligent actions that we would normally expect from individuals, but these same kinds of “computations” are being accomplished at the cellular level.

Representation of Meaning

“The computational theory of mind requires representation because ‘input’ into a computation comes in the form of symbols or representations of other objects. A computer cannot compute an actual object, it must interpret and represent the object in some form and then compute the representation.” –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computationalism

I think this comes from the view that these computations are done by an abstract information processing machine, like our computers. With computers, input has to be converted to numbers that can be computed. In other words, the meaning is being provided from the outside; the machine simply processes numbers. The computer was designed as a general purpose machine, not at all concerned with meaning. The biological information processing system evolved with meaning as an integrated function.

Then if you see these neurons as firing in synch, they produce a dynamic hologram that represents the “state” of the organism. In the holographic theory of mind, the hologram generated by matter is the representation, already in the proper format. This dynamic hologram is the representation, memory and computational process all rolled into one. It exists at the atomic level.

This produces a fundamental “mind” that permeates all matter. DNA amplifies this fundamental process to produce Life. The brain further refines the process to produce mobile agents capable of micro management. The frontal cortex allows complex abstract thought, and enhanced imagination, making for nearly unlimited capability for manipulation of matter and energy.

In this model, the computation is the comparison of present interference patterns with the past and the generation of expectations for future patterns.

The Difference that Makes a Difference

Remember back in Information Theory we talked about it. How do biological systems recognize this crucial information? In computers it is done mathematically by assigning values to events and the range of deviation they register. Those values will repeat over time producing a pattern that can be evaluated for unusual behavior. In our biological holographic system, those patterns are represented by the interference patterns created by the dynamic coherent electromagnetic field. As the present patterns are laid down in this holographic memory, any deviation from preceding patterns are immediately evident to the field. Errant interference patterns cause a disturbance in the field that the entire field is aware of at once.

What Bateson and his cohorts created mathematically for computers exists as a fundamental process in biological information processing systems.

September 3, 2008

Free Will Power?

Free will and the power to exercise it have been thought to be the exclusive domain of human beings, but from a systems view, a measure of free will is necessary for all mobile agents. Of course, the free will of human beings is more expansive than in lower animals… or is it?

From the position of an outside observer, the agent makes the final choice. The agent navigates, selects and chooses when and how to act. From our personal point of view, we make our own choices; we exercise free will. But research has shown that the process is not what it seems.

In experiments reported in Nature Neuroscience,(01 May 2008), human subjects were tested for decision making while hooked to brain scan equipment. The experiment showed that the brain made the decision as much as ten seconds before the conscious mind was aware of it. The area of heightened brain activity just before the decision was made, was so specific and consistent that researchers could predict the choice the subject would make, several seconds in advance. The subconscious made the decision and then let the conscious mind take the credit.

“Your decisions are strongly prepared by brain activity. By the time consciousness kicks in, most of the work has already been done,” said study co-author John-Dylan Haynes, a Max Planck Institute neuroscientist. (Article)

Will Power

Ask anyone who has ever tried to lose weight or kick a habit, if will power is an effective tool. It isn’t. These experiments gives us a clue as to why changing one’s behavior can be so difficult. The ego is the last to know what is going on. I have often said that most of the human intellect is used making excuses for bad behavior, brought on by bad habits and hormones.

Our behavior is a joint effort between our conscious mind and our subconscious. In our culture, the conscious ego has a tendency to ignore the subconscious and pretend to be totally in charge. This can lead to trouble.

It isn’t that free will doesn’t exist, it just isn’t what we thought it to be. If we wait until the last second to exercise our free will, it is too late. The subconscious will have already chosen from the short list of options it has provided the conscious. If the ego wants to change behavior, it has to start before those hormones and habits take over. Changing habits or managing hormones, takes strategic planning and practice.

The subconscious can be conditioned to offer better options and make better choices, but the ego has to initiate the action. The ego has to anticipate future situations and condition the subconscious to give the desired response. Like i said, a joint effort.

For example, raised in a bad assed neighborhood, one might learn to react to potentially hostile encounters with an immediate display of aggression. If that behavior is successful, the subconscious gives it a high rating and stands ready to use it whenever threatened. No amount of will power will get the subconscious to drop that behavior from its options, especially if there are no other options sufficiently practiced and rated as successful. Aggression will remain the preferred behavior by the subconscious.

Jail time and warzones condition the subject to reactive behaviors that are inappropriate outside their context. However, changing those behaviors can’t be done with will power alone. It literally takes reprogramming one’s behaviors. It is very much like breaking an addiction.

Looking at this process of learned behaviors from a systems view, we see that there is really no difference between them and instinct. From flatworms to humans, the same system of storing experience is at work. Memory is fundamental to the system. The concept of instinct is a throwback to the days when people thought that human beings were not animals. Animals were believed to live by instinct while humans lived by free will. We are indeed animals, sharing functions, like navigation, food capture and mating with all other mobile species.

DNA delivers the same potential behaviors to all animals. The two strands of DNA contain only a vague pattern for a behavior; one bit of a holographic memory that has to be filled in as the organism develops. In animals that have these basic patterns reinforced constantly as they develop, they build very tight behavior routines that are almost never found unsuccessful, and therefore become extremely difficult to change. These “instincts” appear hard wired, but are actually habitual behaviors that have been super reinforced. Human beings are subjected to more dynamic experience which keeps their behavior patterns more flexible, but still not as easy to change as they seem.

Membership in the Holoverse

The Universe is composed of two totally integrated and inseparable aspects: the material world of atoms, molecules and other solid things, permeated by the holographic projection the material totality produces; the realm of information, consciousness and spirit. This is the holoverse. The holoverse is all of the information pertaining to the matter it represents. Within that holoverse, each physical entity, or agent, has an automatic account that gives them a bubble of consciousness, which includes a spongy block of holographic memory. This account is generated by the physical structure that comprises the entity itself. The account also represents membership in a species, possibly other evolutionary guilds and symbiotic partnerships.

This bubble of consciousness has two aspects; the conscious ego that deals with the physical side and the subconscious that deals with the informational/spiritual side. The relationship between the conscious ego and the subconscious mind is fundamental to a good life. Most people in our culture have a somewhat contentious relationship with their own subconscious. That’s too bad, because this relationship is one’s primary interface with LifeOS. Yours and my subconscious are very much a part of the system. Through our subconscious, the system presents information and options for our conscious mind to ponder and select, but then can override any decisions made by the conscious mind. Meanwhile, it saddles the ego with the responsibility for whatever behavior results. We are free to do whatever our subconscious wills us to do.

All of this control by the system serves us well. Stability is maintained while innovation can be tested thoroughly. In order to allow change in the established protocols, the system must loosen the constraints of past rules and allow for the exploration of new options. In order to live in a dynamic environment there must a balance between habitual behavior and new options developed to deal with environmental variation.

Ego Separation

In order to meet crisis on a local level, the ego is allowed to imagine itself separate from the system, giving it the ability to ignore system protocols and develop new strategies pertinent to specific local conditions. The system does this by granting you and i a little bit of free will, and the illusion of a lot more of it. This keeps us trying new behaviors while still maintaining a level of stability.

You might recognize this strategy for teaching new subjects to students. The object is to get the student to practice the desired new behavior in a meaningful, but safe context. Like a flight simulator, where mistakes aren’t terminal. However, safe simulation lacks a certain degree of motivation that only risk can provide. So, the illusion of risk is employed. Tying performance to a score or grade, usually does the trick. However, it doesn’t work on students who put little, or no, value on grades or scores.

If the students can be made to believe that their performance really matters to them personally, they do much better. Say you could put the student at the controls of a real plane, flying low over the desert; one mistake and its curtains. But you have rigged the plane with computer controls, so that the student can’t make a fatal mistake. The commands issued by the student are followed as long as they don’t put the plane in danger, but overridden when they do. Of course, you don’t tell the student. So in this manner, free will is constrained to safe limits while the student learns to function within those limits. The fear of certain death is great motivation.

Isn’t it interesting that our subconscious uses the same kind of strategy on us. The ego is told that it is in charge, but in reality the subconscious calls the shots. We have been convinced that we possess free will, but most of that is an illusion. The ego is being treated like a difficult student.

We are multifaceted beings, but we have a lot to learn. We will do better.

July 24, 2008

More Secret Life of Plants

Musical Fertilizer

Backster’s experiments were just some of the research written up in The Secret Life of Plants, that i was sure would lead to a better understanding of our living Earth. Another worth mentioning is the notion that plants would grow more vigorously when played music. This research was all the rage back in the ‘70s, pitting rock music against classical and such. Which music did the plants prefer? The sensationalism at least meant that magazines would report on the research from time to time.

So, through magazine articles and press releases, i followed several research projects that were set up to test the possibility that music affected plant growth. I watched in dismay as proposed experiments were gutted and/or restricted by the bureaucracy of science. It looked like the experiments were being set up to prove that it wouldn’t work. Every time positive results appeared the experiment was modified until that unfortunate anomalies were eliminated. I really felt sorry for the researchers who were trying to find answers, but were thwarted by their superiors.

After a while, the phenomenon was declared a fantasy, and science moved on, proud of another triumph over ignorance and superstition. Not everyone gave up the chase, however. There were several of us who thought there was more than enough reason to look deeper into the situation.

Instead of asking what was wrong with the method that produced positive results, a better approach would be to try identify the process that produced them. There were several folks who took up that challenge without the restrictions of agribusiness sponsored mind set. After all, setting up experiments with growing plants and a sound system doesn’t require big bucks.

One Way it works:

Music played at the right time causes the stomata(openings in the leaves that intake nutrients) to open wide. The result is that the leaves can absorb several times as much foliar feeding with the music. When is the right time? At the crack of dawn. What kind of music works the best? Just about anything within the frequency range of bird songs.

For maybe millions of years, great clouds of birds flew across the land and spent their nights roosting in the trees and bushes. At dawn they all begin to sing and take their morning dumps. Nutrient rich bird droppings would rain down on all the plants below. This was foliar feeding on a grand scale. Plants still remember those days and open their little mouths to catch the bounty. If you are there at dawn with your sprayer, humming a little tune, your plants will thank you with increased yields. Science can say what they will, but you can prove this one works for yourself.

Now that’s not such a mysterious situation that our deans of higher learning couldn’t have figured out if they had given just a little bit more effort. They just couldn’t believe there was anything to it. They still don’t.

Symbiotic Rapport

That’s not the only effect music can have on plants. Music played with no foliar feeding may even decrease growth rates. Singing songs of praise to your plants is not wasted effort. What you are doing is building a rapport with your plants.

Backster’s experiments showed that rapport was necessary for there to be communication. When you look at the behavior of prehistoric farmers in the light of Backster’s experiments, it becomes apparent that animal sacrifice was used to communicate with plants. Just as the Dracaena in Backster’s office reacted to dying brine shrimp, the crops of ancient farmers reacted to their sacrifice.

Seems to me that this as part of the process of establishing a symbiotic relationship. The plant offers food in exchange for the farmer’s assistance in growth and propagation. The deal is reinforced with sacrifice and ceremony through which the farmers display their intent to do so. This relationship has been successful for many generations of plants and farmers.

Backster’s experiments showed that plants are aware of intent. His Dracaena reacted to his thought of burning a leaf. His thought of harm were in vivid contrast to the thoughts of care he usually directed towards his plant. Rather than fear, i think the Dracaena’s reaction was a feeling of betrayal.

Plants depend on their symbiots for their survival. This relationship grows as the farmer tends his plants. From Backster’s work we can see that the plants are aware of the farmer’s intent. Looks to me like a green thumb has its roots in consciousness.

Planting by the Moon

Here’s another one that shows a shoddy approach to the search for truth. Its the old plant by the moon controversy. Farmers have long planted by the moon while science contends that to do so is superstitious nonsense. All you really need to do to see this in action is study plants that grow in climate zones where the growing season is extremely short. Survival under these conditions depends on precise timing.

One way plants have to determine the time of year is by checking the length of the night during the dark of the moon. When light strikes any leaf, it produces a hormone that acts like a timer. It lasts about eight hours. The timer hormone suppresses the hormone that signals the start of flowering.

So as long as there is no darkness lasting more than eight hours, the plant continues its vegetative growth. As soon as the darkness lasts more than eight hours, the timer hormone runs down and the hormone that signals the flowering phase is allowed to flow.

Take a plant that needs a minimum of 30 days to reach maturity and another 30 days to make ripe seed. In places where the growing season is only 90 days, there is little margin for error. A one month old plant is still very small and not capable of making seed. It really needs another 30 days of growth to build some seed making equipment. A plant needs all 90 days to be successful.

Farmers in these mountains have found that the very best chance for a good harvest is to plant strictly by the moon. The plant has to germinate soon enough so that it can test the length of night on the first new moon of its life cycle. If it misses that first test, it has to wait another moon cycle in order determine the length of the night. That amounts to one third of its growing season. It can’t wait that long to decide whether or not to flower. That means there are just a very few planting days, when a farmer can expect a successful crop. Under these conditions, planting by the moon is the only way. They have done this for a very long time.

Down in the lowlands, with hybrid seed, lacking a history in the local environment, planting by the moon produces no difference in yields. That is all within the context of the current scientific paradigm. Back up in the mountains, that paradigm is inappropriate.

Mindless Universe?

I present these examples, not to demean science or any of its practitioners, but to point out how the assumption of a mindless Universe makes it difficult to impossible to see an intelligent one. The current scientific paradigm has been constructed with faulty components. The paradigm is what scientists use as a lens through which they observe reality. This one gives a distorted view.

Science has always believed that their method would reveal something we could call reality. With so many precise instruments and such careful organization of the data, the result would certainly be reality. But their precise instruments have revealed some unexpected behavior at several levels, especially at the quantum one. The implication of that unpredictable behavior is that current scientific paradigm is fundamentally flawed. Quantum mechanics describes the behavior of subatomic particles. If the current scientific understanding of how the Universe functions was accurate, so would have been their predictions.

This is the core of the confusion bubbling up in our society these days. Our solid world of matter has turned ethereal on us and we don’t know what to think.

Just as in quantum mechanics, where the conscious observer becomes a functional part of the observation, in biology the thoughts of the observer affect the observation. Observation is a two-way street; it is communication. It is an information feedback loop cycling between the material and the ethereal, the visible and the invisible, the real and the imagined. This is especially problematical for people with no spiritual training. They really lack a conceptual framework with which to understand the invisible half of the loop. In other words, the context in which science operates excludes the very area that quantum mechanics reveals as fundamental: the non-time/space, informational/spiritual realm of uncertainty, probability and consciousness.

The context of belief is arbitrary. Our perception and everything we know was learned within a contextual framework. Our reality was molded around this framework provided by our culture. We cannot escape that relationship. Even our most exacting science is only a description of reality, totally dependent on context, and not the real thing. Even though the scientific community has discovered this to be true, they have been unable to look back on their own method and make adjustments.

July 10, 2008

The Backster Effect

The Secret Life of Plants

I remember when i first read of Cleve Backster’s experiments in, The Secret Life of Plants. I was excited because his experiments were consistent with my experience. I thought that this book would spark a revolution in science and our culture in general. Science would now see that plants and animals were to be communicated with, rather than experimented on. I thought that science would be transformed. Wrong again.

Primary Perception

It all started way back in the 60s; polygraph technician Cleve Backster hooked up the leads of his lie detector to the leaves of a Dracaena cane in his office. The first thing he noticed was a rhythmic fluctuation in the response patterns. His instrument was measuring something. He surmised that the electrical resistance measured by his lie detector was because of the flow of water within the leaf. That flow could be variable according to the plant’s “state”. If the plant had a response system that controlled the tension of capillaries within the structure, let’s say, relaxed and tense, changes in the plant’s state should show on his instruments.

He thought of ways he might stress the plant to see if he could get a reaction. When he considered burning a leaf, his polygraph registered a dramatic upward sweep. He had done nothing, but think about harming the plant and his instruments registered increased tension. He decided to find out more about this strange phenomenon.

He rigged up a test that would dump live brine shrimp into boiling water at random times. His plants showed an “emotional” reaction on his instruments to the death of the shrimp. Backster hooked his wires to thousands of plants, each showing the ability to react to this type of remote stimulus. He then found ways to attach his electrodes to infusions of single cells. He tested amoeba, yeast and mold cultures, blood and even sperm. In all cases he found that there exists a primary communication system that carries the message of the dying shrimp to the plants or cells. He found this effect could be produced over distance. He called this Primary Perception.

Sounded exciting to me, so i assumed science would jump on this one. They ignored his research, accusing him of using, “some kind of ESP.” These experiments are easily repeated in the lab and i have personally experienced the phenomenon many times. There are millions of indigenous people who will tell you that plants are aware. Human history is rich with those who have tapped into this Natural system and reported successful communications. Science ignores all this, accusing them of silly superstition or using some kind of ESP.

Direct Experience

People with direct experience in communications with plants don’t apply reason or theories to the belief, they have experienced it. When you receive accurate information from plants over distance, it demands no other explanation. Theories just don’t matter anymore. Once at this stage, the technique becomes available to enhance your life. Further experience reinforces that knowledge.

However, if one comes from the point of view that such communication is not possible, the methodology employed would be designed to find the flaw in the feedback mechanism. While trying to figure out what went wrong, they miss what went right. They just can’t accept the possibility that plants are sentient beings. It goes against their most cherished beliefs: that the intellect of mankind reigns supreme. This is the source of the rift between science and Cleve Backster. Science cannot accept an intelligent universe. It just does not compute. It is in their nature to defend their position.

When you look objectively at the elaborate structure of modern scientific knowledge it becomes apparent that much of it is fabricated in an attempt to prove that there is no intelligence in the system, save ours. Terms like self-organization, mathematical bias, entropy, emergence are meant to describe laws that make universal feedback loops unnecessary. Yet when we build a system, it will not function if we don’t include appropriate feedback loops.

There is always going to be a micro process that does the actual work. It will have the instructions it needs to do its thing onboard. In the holographic model, those instructions are also part of the information available to the system at other levels. Feedback from the micro to the macro allows the system to organize itself.

You’ve heard of the law of attraction? The power of positive thinking? Prayer? Chaos magic? If you believe in them, they work to the degree you can master their technique. If you don’t believe in them, they don’t work at all. Why? Because we are interfacing with an intelligent system. The system doesn’t present you with reality, but with an intelligently constructed model, built especially for you, to the specifications of your culture.

Organic Supply System

Now this new model presents a different view of just how this system works. The system seeks to supply individual agents with their needs. This information processing system responds to queries in the language and beliefs of the user. It is done to you as you believe. Seek and ye shall find.

The system manages resources and logistics for the ongoing construction of organic material. That includes the on-time supply of all the assemblies necessary to complete all of its many projects. As with any manager, problem solving is a major function. The first step in solving any problem is to identify the source. That’s where this dynamic hologram comes in. This is an electromagnetic field generated by the fact that every cell is in laser-like sync. The slightest disturbance in any of those signals reverberates through the entire system, carrying specific information regarding the nature of the disturbance. This is real-time feedback from the smallest functioning unit to the whole. This is Cleve Backster’s “Primary Perception”, the fundamental feedback mechanism for Life.

Scientific Method

Repeatable experiments are important to science, but like so many of their methods they preclude positive interaction with sentient beings. The successful experiments carried out by Cleve Backster indicate that plants react to trauma in their local environment. Doesn’t this at least open the possibility that plants are sentient beings? If so, then to continue to threaten and torture plants until they no longer react is sheer lunacy. If this is indeed a communication between living beings, it needs to be treated as such. But the hard hearted scientists treat the communication as a malfunction in their method and revise it until no more communication is detected. Then they announce to their peers that the evil theory has been properly debunked.

Fragile Rapport

Take communication between a husband and mother-in-law for example. It doesn’t take much for that channel of communication to break down, does it? The slightest deviation from accepted protocol and it can cease immediately. Communication with plants and animals is like that, in that they don’t communicate with just anybody. There has to be a basic rapport or they just clam up. Under these circumstances, the heavy handed approach favored by contemporary science is not likely to be successful.

Attempts to duplicate the Backster effect produced intermittent results that were ignored.

“While this experiment did show a few positive correlations, they did not occur at a rate great enough to be considered statistically viable.”
Wikipedia

So, they admit it happens, but not often enough to be real. It only takes once for it to be real, if it happens to you.

Skeptics bring up all the reasons that such communication is impossible while failing to address the phenomenon itself. Backster has forty years of experiments, meticulously documented, just waiting for science to look at, but they refuse. The point is that Backster’s experiments prove that the current scientific paradigm is incomplete. Unable to explain his results, contemporary science has ignored them completely. Without including this system of perception and communication, science has built a seriously flawed model of biological reality.

Full Circle

Just a few hundred years ago science broke off from religion, claiming the spiritual was unsupportable by facts and therefore not a part of reality. Paranormal, religious and/or shamanistic experience was discounted as fantasy and relegated to the trash bin of human behavior. Science declared their method the only proper way to understand reality. Meanwhile, science has gathered an enormous amount of information on this thing called reality and how we perceive it. Reality is not what it seems; matter is not solid. Science has discovered that our perception determines our reality. Consciousness has been recognized as a functional element in all observation. What this means is that even our most advanced science is no more than description of reality. A description that is totally dependent on a learned set of abstract criteria. A description that occurs within a strict cultural context.

Science has always thought it was being purely objective, now it discovers that objectivity is an illusion. When one considers the cultural context, descriptions of the Universe presented by ancient religions are just as valid as today’s scientific descriptions. Without knowledge of the true context of ancient beliefs, they are not likely to make sense to us. However, many ancient doctrines include important information that modern science has ignored.

As for accuracy, who knows? However, the new model we are building leaves less out than did the old one. It is being built to accommodate all descriptions, regardless of their context. How do we do that? All descriptions and their cultural context are the sole property of the user. Neither the model, nor the system it describes, assume liability. It is all up to the user, and the interface.

June 14, 2008

Free Will

Free will: the ability of the individual to make the final choice.

We have always claimed that territory for ourselves, denying that animals possess free will or the thought process necessary to use it. However, if you ask animals, they will tell you that they follow the same steps that you do to get what they want. Many do it with far simpler equipment than the hunk of gray matter we lug around, but they all make their own choices.

Freedom is so important to some animals that they cannot live in captivity. Others can adapt to some degree, but often suffer severe depression when caged. You might claim that animals are ruled by instinct and therefore have no freedom of choice, but you misunderstand free will. Animals build very rigid behavior patterns or habits that they always do the same way, but every animal has the ability to choose the appropriate behavior. Humans build their habitual routines by the very same process as do other animals. Our free will is more expansive than other animals, and we have the ability to make up routines on the fly, but the ability to choose is the heart and soul of biological systems.

Navigation, choice of food and mate selection all areas where some degree of free will is necessary.

Individual freedom has proven to be the most effective way for big business, big government and big religion to deal with day to day activities of their followers. Those organizations have discovered that total control over people depresses them like it does caged animals. However, a degree of freedom, even within a rigid structure, makes people work harder.

It has also been discovered that the the closer the decision making process is to the problem, the more likely it is that the problem will be solved. Rather than having information travel up the chain of command to a qualified decision maker, and then return back through channels to the point of action, it is better to give the authority and the necessary training to the person at the point of action. Of course, for that to work there must be strict limits to the scope of the granted authority and some sort of oversight. Besides shortening the feedback loops, a measure of free will is certainly good for moral.

Biological systems make use of this concept at every level. A measure of free will is granted to all mobile creatures. The ability to navigate demands that real time adjustments be made by the individual. Birds in a flock are following the flight pattern dictated by their peers, but each one is doing its own flying. Schools of fish perform in the same way, with the group navigating as one, but each fish is still in charge of its own fins.

In experiments where worms are put in a simple T shaped maze with one branch leading to food and the other to something unpleasant, appear to ponder their options, pointing what sensors they possess first down one tunnel and then the other, until they finally make a choice. Eventually, they can learn the clues that lead them to the right choice, and repeat successful behavior. The individual makes the choices and remembers the results.

Mating rituals are highly stylized, and certainly part of species specific inherited behavior, but the fact is that the female of even the tiniest insect species, deliberates and chooses her mate. If everything is not just right, she might not mate at all.

Cats demand their measure of free will to the point of trying to boss the rest of the household around. They like to initiate feeding, games and contact in general. They like to set the rules for each activity. If you spend enough time observing nature at play, you will see this behavior is common in animals and even insects.

Boss Fly

There was a big black and gold stripped fly that hung out just outside my trailer. One of his favorite perches was on the crank handle on the trailer hitch. The handle stuck straight up. It had a chrome tip on the handle that was just about the same diameter and this fly’s wingspan, probably 3/8 of an inch. The convex chrome surface displayed his undercarriage like mirrors under the fenders at a custom car show.

I would talk to him when and he would move around, it seemed in response. When I wasn’t talking he stayed still. So, after a few days of this, I offered him the back of my hand. He looked up at me, and climbed on. I turned my hand around and he reacted by turning his body so we stayed face to face. Then when I stopped turning my hand, he would turn in circles. After a short time, he would fly back to his chrome perch. He would only perform this trick once in each session. He would still give me his attention, but he wouldn’t get back on my hand.

We did this a few more times in the days to come. One day, I held out my hand from five feet away and called him to get on. He did! He took off and made one or two circles and landed on the back of my hand. We did this trick every day for quite a while. I even got to show it to a couple of friends. He turned to me and then turned to the audience… and I think he made a little bow.

Then one day, he wouldn’t do it at all. He just turned his back on me. I tried to coax him on by putting my hand up close like I had days before, but he just flew off to another perch. I tried for several days, but he just wouldn’t play. So, after about a week, I was standing there with my hands on my hips, talking to him and I asked him what the deal was. He immediately took off and made a couple of circles. I held out my hand and he landed on it. I was astounded. He wanted to initiate the action. We did it that way many times after that. I would stand there and talk to him, with my hands at my sides. When he was ready, he would take off, I would hold out my hand, and he would land on it. If I held out my hand too soon, he would turn his back on me until I put my hands back to my sides. He liked this trick and would do it more than once per session.

Not only does this exhibit free will, but also the desire to demonstrate it to others.

Farewell Performance

One day there were two of them and they would fly around and around in tight circles for several minutes and then fly off. They would come back in a few minutes and circle again. They were flying really fast and their buzzing was very loud. Then they disappeared. A few days later, he was back. His wings were in tatters and he was all beat up and ragged looking. He did his trick a couple more times that day, landing on my outstretched hand. That was his farewell performance; I didn’t see him again.

In this view of biological systems, memory, an understanding of time and space, a sense of self and the exercise of free will are all attributes possessed by each and every mobile species. The difference is in the scope of available choices, but the ability to choose is the same. Successful navigation, feeding and mating require that the agent have final control over the process. Free will is universal within the System.

June 13, 2008

Thinking Consciousness

Filed under: Ch 07 Biological Holography — Tags: , , , , , — insomniac @ 6:55 am

Philosophers tell us that we can’t define consciousness using consciousness, and physicists tell us we can’t have a theory of everything unless it includes consciousness. As with most of the paradoxical things in our lives, this is a problem with our perception rather than some malfunction in universal law. Our perception, of course, is part of consciousness, wherein this conundrum exists. After reading some of the proposed definitions for consciousness, it is obvious that this approach has failed, just as predicted.

We can’t get rid of our consciousness. What else do we have to use to get the job done? The best we can do is to pretend. We can imagine ourselves outside of our consciousness and become an independent observer. We can call the complex mental meandering of the mind, “awareness”, and pretend it is something different from what we possess. That should be easy, we think ours is fundamentally different from the rest of the mobile species on the planet, anyway.

Agents Within a System

Once we are outside our own consciousness we can see the overall picture. From here, all those subtle interactions of the mind are hidden. From out here we can’t tell the mental states of individuals, all we can do is observe what they do. From here we can see what the ability to be aware does for the system.

A system is made up of agents that function within it using system protocols. The existence of onboard awareness allows agents to navigate within the system. It allows agents to observe the local environment, set goals and make choices in order to achieve said goals.

A system manages its homeostasis by monitoring the cyclical variation of its elements. Past cycles set a standard of behavior that the system attempts to maintain. Past patterns are projected into the future as expectations. As long as those cycles continue to fluctuate within those expectations, homeostasis is maintained.

Uncertainty

When cycles exceed those predicted limits, the system is confronted with uncertainty. Before any adjustments can be made in the system protocols, the situation must be understood and appropriate action initiated. That is no easy task when you consider that every element within the system is almost infinitely adjustable.

So, the system relies on its agents to define uncertainty. In any system worth mentioning there are a lot of agents, all feeding their observations into the holographic field generated by the system. This creates a composite image of the state of the field, constantly being updated and compared to all the images from the past.

You and i are natural cybernetic systems who are also agents within a larger system. We function according to the same system protocols as our neighbors. Our system uses the same protocols to read DNA as do all the rest. We use the same procedures to build tissue and learn behaviors as do all other living systems. We practice the same procedure for creating artifacts as do the others.

Holographic Generation

Within our neural pathways we generate a series of dynamic holograms related to an external situation. These are the thoughts that we collect on a subject. By focusing our attention on the external situation, we generate an internal virtual model of it. That virtual model is made up of interference patterns stored in holographic memory. As more attention is paid to the situation more interference patterns overlay the old, building better and better understanding of the observed situation.

The memory of this situation isn’t stored randomly, but in the part of the structure related to the situation. The memory of action is stored in the cells that will be used to perform the action. The structure determines the kinds of action the situation might require and the goal needed to deal with the situation. In the process, interference patterns develop that offer options for solving the problems presented by the situation.

So, a cybernetic system processes information about the external situation and reacts with a planned course of action, meant to achieve a goal. Before any action is taken, plans are made.

Regardless of the sophistication of the nervous system, from lowly flatworms to human beings, the basic function within the system is the same. Just as each cybernetic system must intake nutrients and expel waste, regardless of the complexity of the system or process, the nervous system of each agent processes information to make choices on how to behave. This is true for individual cells as well as organs, muscle groups, plants, animals, ecosystems and biospheres. The interference patterns they share shape their future.

In this view, tool making and social evolution are part of the content, part of the history of learned behavior, but have nothing to do with the origin of consciousness. Consciousness is fundamental to the System. Human consciousness has evolved in order to accomplish more complex tasks within the System, not because of them.

June 11, 2008

On-time Supply Systems

Filed under: Ch 07 Biological Holography — Tags: , , , , — insomniac @ 7:36 pm

What is this operating system, LifeOS, designed to accomplish? For one thing it supplies its users with nutrition. It provides the mechanisms and guidance for agents to find and devour the food they need. Moreover, the System supplies all of the food and the food for the food.

Navigation and Supply

What we see as navigation of an individual, is in the systems view a single action that is part of the next level of functionality. Individuals navigate in order to perform their job within the larger system. They navigate in order to participate in a much larger on-time supply management system. Whether we look at a giant ecosystem including many subsystems, individual bodies or even single organs, the supply of nutrients and elimination of waste involves a complex set of logistical challenges. Even under the most difficult circumstances, these challenges are met with elegance and grace. These systems show a high degree of efficiency that can only be maintained by some sort of overall management of resources. Individuals navigate while maintaining order within the system.

Within the human body a steady flow of nutrients, in the proper proportions, is delivered, on-time to trillions of cells. These cells experience an extreme range of activity, from idle to full output, depending on the organism’s reaction to highly variable environmental conditions. The biological system supplies all of its internal components with a steady stream of just what is needed, through a wide range of demands. If the demands change, the structure of the organism is modified to adapt.

Evolution of Industrial Supply Systems

We know from human controlled supply systems what it takes operate one. We have seen the evolution of supply systems from simple barter all the way up to on-time supply systems that make modern factories models of efficiency. First of all, even in relatively primitive systems, everything has paperwork with it, from mailing labels, invoices, assembly instructions, manuals and so on. The efficiency of the delivery system depends on the accuracy of the information passed as paperwork. It depends on other things like equipment and personnel that also have an information component that they depend on for their individual efficiency.

Then there is all the talking we have to do along with every transaction. Like. “How’s the wife and kids?” That is social conversation that maintains the trust and confidence needed to maintain good trade relations. The social interaction is generally what opens up the supply line in the first place, when the sales rep makes a deal. Then there is all of the communication involved in maintaining the supply lines themselves. Someone has to buy trucks, hire drivers and manage deliveries.

In our experience, even the most inefficient supply system requires a lot of information to be exchanged. The efficiency of biological systems suggests they also handle a lot of information.

On-time Supply

The difference between the old time supply system and the modern on-time system is the amount of information that is processed. The old system used paper and handshakes to handle the details. Nowadays the computer can handle a great deal more information and the supply system becomes more efficient. Besides, that information is accessible from anywhere, while in the old system much of the information was only available locally.

Even with all the paperwork, the old way required large warehouse facilities to keep enough supplies on hand to make sure the assembly lines could operate continuously. The on-time system uses computers to keep track of everything that could possibly affect the flow of supplies and materials arriving at a manufacturing facility. Shipping dates are coordinated so that each supplier sends small shipments as needed, rather than large ones at random times. By maintaining a steady flow of materials, the need for large storage areas, and their inventories, is eliminated and efficiency increased. By having an overall view of the flow of material, shortages can be identified early and corrective action taken.

It has taken years and billions of dollars to bring our manufacturing systems into the information age, however biological systems operate at this high degree of efficiency, naturally; and they always have. Not only do individual organs and bodies perform amazing feats of internal supply, but local ecosystems accomplish the same kind of on-time delivery of nutrients involving many complex species interactions through daily, tidal and seasonal fluctuations. The efficiency of this physical reality we see around us indicates a high proficiency in information processing. Something is keeping track of everything.

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.