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<eyebeam><blast> Emergence or Submergence/Chaos and Emergence

Re Jon Ippolito's very interesting comment that 

"individual humans don't get together and make emergent systems--they're
emergent already!  When groups of humans set off in a single direction
or ally around a single banner, I'm not reassured, I'm worried--because
that's *submergence*, the collapse of a rich, complex system into a
simple one."

 Let's grant that individual humans are emergence systems (a proposition
I find attractive and even compelling).  That nevertheless does not
negate the possibilities that groups of humans could also demonstrate
emergent behavior.  As I understand the concept of emergence, it is very
unlikely to result in a "single direction" or a "single banner," because
it is in constant dynamic motion, like the flight of birds which heads
now in one direction, now in another (modeled by "boids" using the 
simple rule, always fly toward the middle of the flock). It could well
be that some emergent state would be dynamically robust, but again,
even  the idea of emergence goes against authoritarian rule, since ALL 
components of the system help to determine the resulting emergent

On 2/19/98, Brian Holmes wrote with regard to Eve's posting about ants
as cellular automata, 

"As I've said in my posts, I don't see how to make the leap between the
actions of 'cellular automata' and human consciousness, which is surely
more or other than automatism."

 One of the interesting people who has suggested a way to make this
bridge is Francisco Varela (co-author with Maturana of the theory of
autopoiesis).  In an article entitled "Making It Concrete:  The
Importance of Breakdown," Varela takes up Marvin Minsky's idea of
consciousness as a "society of mind," a collection of more or less
autonomous agents, each of which runs its own little program.  Varela 
points out that Minksy's model can explain certain states of 
consciousness--feeling "in love," feeling jealous, feeling hungry,
etc.--but doesn't at all explain how these agents can fit together
smoothly to create impression of continuous, uninterrrupted thought.
Varela suggests that what actually happens is that the microstates
generated by these agents comprise a nonlinear dynamical system, and
that the transition between one state and another--the "breakdown" of
the title--constitute moments when the different states interact
dynamically until one "emerges" as the resultant of these complex
dynamics.  This is effect combines the kind of discrete model embodied
in all cellular automata models (which artifically go from one set of
states to another with no transition in between, by asking the computer
to "update" all the states into a new generation) with complex
nonlinear  dynamics.  I don't know if these is experimental work to back
up this idea (maybe someone else does?) but I find it a provocative

Katherine Hyales
English Dept.
LA 90095-1530

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