The externalization of information (an organism) results in the development of an organism at a larger scale. In this chapter we follow one cycle in this recurrent externalization process.
Externalization of information in a new environment requires experience with that environment. It takes many attempts for externalization before sufficient experience is gained to express all aspects of the information.
The development of multicellular life is inconceivable before single celled life has reached a certain stage of development. The mechanisms ongoing in a cell of a multicellular organism are the result of the evolution of single celled life.
Our society is using human beings as components. Our body is using organs as components. These organs are using the experience of elementary multicellular life. Each organ of our body uses living cells as components. These cells are using the experience resulting from the evolution of single celled life. The living cells are using very complex biochemical molecules as building blocks. The biological molecules are using stable atoms as building blocks. These atoms are using subatomic particles as building blocks. These subatomic particles are using indurated physical laws as construction element, etc.
The development of complex biological molecules is inconceivable in an environment where the atoms are still under full development (e.g. in a star).
Before an organism has sufficiently expressed itself in a larger organism, it has to go through a number of typical development stages. Because these stages can be recognized in each externalization cycle, externalization can be described as a spiral. In each cycle, a new expression of the information is developed, a new body for the organism. The stable structures resulting from one cycle are used as building blocks for the new body in the next cycle.
The evolution of an element does not stop when the next cycle starts. Even when an enormous amount of combinations of circumstances have been tried out by instantiations of the element, the circumstances in the next cycle will be different because the element will be used in a larger context which did not yet existed in the previous cycle.
This interaction of externalization cycles makes it sometimes confusing for the observer attempting to distinguish the phases of one particular cycle.
The development of the biological cell did not stop at the moment larger organisms started using these cells as building blocks. This usage was a completely new situation in which cells can gain different experience.
The development of man did not stop on the moment society developed. The new situation of man in a society is a new environment in which man can gain experiences which where not possible before.
Externalization steps through a cycle without clear beginning or end. To describe the cycle, we choose a point and follow the process until we recognize our starting point on a larger scale.
Let us take the point where the information being develops a model of the environment as described in chapter 12.
The gathering of experience and by this the development of a model of the external world contributes largely to the stabilization of the life of the information being. This results also in the ability of sensing the external world (see chapter 12). Before that, it was not aware of the dangers and opportunities in the environment. By the development of the senses, the number of surprises reduces gradually and the information being gains more control over the situation.
The development of the model of the environment and the associated senses can be considered as a first step in an evolution of growing awareness. First the awareness of the environment develops. In this model, a model of the own body (in the general sense) and its effects on the environment develops.
Once the model of the external world includes the model of the self and its interactions with the external world, the model will soon be extended by the recognition of "others" of the same kind causing the same effects in the environment.
Some effects known as joyful (when caused by the own body), are sometimes recognized in the environment but the joy is missing.
When an information being observes another one causing its favorite transformation and eating the resulting energy, the transformation is recognized but the energy is missing. This makes the "other" at first a disturbing factor in the environment which causes the failure of anticipations. For better anticipation, the model of the other is included in the model of the environment.
The discovery of others competing for the same energy starts a phase of competition. This phase of competition causes an increase of the insulation between the elements of the same kind and at the same time an increasing awareness of the others. All experience gained by the interactions involved in competing and fighting each other form a nice base to learn to anticipate the reactions of others. This experience turns out to be useful in further stages.
The recognition of others based on the internal model of the self causes a form of communication. The actions of others and their effects on the environment are followed by the model of the self. The results are memorized in the same way as experience of own actions. By this, the experience expressed in the actions of one being becomes accessible for the other. This is at the same time the base for communication between the organisms and for learning.
The point where communication (between the new kind of bodies) develops is about the point where the diversification is maximum. Before that point, the diversity was increasing because different variations where adapting their body to different circumstances. Because there was no communication of experience, the insulation was large and very different experiences could be acquired without interfering with the experiences from other instantiations.
After the development of communication, there is an increasing communication of experience and this reduces (very slowly) the diversity.
By means of communication, one individual instantiation has access to the experience of different other instantiations. The switching between mappings stimulates the internal separation of abstract experience from concrete, environment dependent experience. Only those elements of experience which remain applicable while mappings are changed acquire a more abstract status.
The deep integration of the abstract information is the base for the ability to act under different circumstances using the same abstract information, even without having experience with the specific circumstances.
Human communication allows us to access the experience of people which have gained their experience in a wide variety of circumstances. The switching of our attention (switching mappings) between these experiences allows us to abstract some common elements from these experiences. This abstraction is only possible by the contact with the different experiences. When there is only one experience, we cannot distinguish what is related to the circumstances in which the experience was gained and what is more general to all possible circumstances.
Through the increasing contacts between the different instantiation and increasing communication skills, a cooperation of instantiations develops. In a first phase, the cooperation is restricted to combine forces to accomplish a task. In a more developed form of cooperation, some members become specialized in a restricted number of tasks. The tasks which are not longer fulfilled are covered by other members of the cooperation. In a first stage, the cooperation is not stable. Only non vital tasks are delegated. By this, a change in the cooperation does not cause a danger of life.
In the animal realm, we can recognize many forms of cooperation. In the earliest form of cooperation, there is not yet a permanent assignment of tasks to individuals. Birds traveling together, animals hunting together, etc.
From temporary cooperations, more permanent cooperations develop. As these cooperations become more stable, more essential functions can be assigned to specialized members. This results in an organization. There is an intense communication between the elements of the organization and an increasing specialization of the elements.
Ants and bees have developed stable forms of organizations. Even the functions which are essential for survival are executed by specialized members.
Before the development of the organization, every instantiation (element) had to acquire its energy directly from the environment. As the organization became more stable, functions with an increasing importance for life where assigned to specialized members. The specialization of the acquisition of energy from the environment is an important step in this process. Some members loose the ability (by specialization) to gain energy directly from the environment. This requires a distribution of energy inside the organization.
There must be strong stabilizing forces in such cooperation. Members with access to the source of energy must not use all of it to indurate itself. This is solved by a rewarding system in the organization. An economy develops in which the results of the specialized services are "paid" in some universal form of energy. The more members are using the results of the specialized work of a member, the more the member is rewarded and can indurate. By this members are tuned to produce what is needed and parasites are avoided.
The economy developed by mankind is the example easiest to observe by us.
We know of a similar mechanism inside our body. Energy is converted to some universal form (glucose) and distributed by our blood. How much energy a particular cell is allowed to burn is controlled by an elaborate regulation system.
There exist a similar regulation mechanism inside each living cell. In each cell, there is information (catalysts) to convert the available resources in all kinds of chemical structures. The activity of each of these information elements is controlled by specialized elements which distribute messages turning on and off different catalysts.
A set of information such as a philosophy or a technique will only flourish in a society when the results are considered useful by the members of the society.
The development of the economy and the specialization of the production of energy makes an individual instantiation very dependent of the organization. Life separated from the organism becomes increasingly difficult.
One bee cannot abandon the hive. Alone, he has no chance on survival.
One human individual is probably still able to survive without the help of a society. The person will experience extreme difficulties and the chances on survival are less than for one living in the society. The dependency of a person on the society increases gradually.
The specialization of the functions extends to the control over the economical processes. This requires the awareness of what elements must be produced and what elements are excessively available. A central regulation can be of great help in the economy.
Central control is impossible without a very well developed communication system reporting the needs and the results to a specialized part controlling the economy. Slow or inaccurate communication causes a malfunctioning of the economy.
A regulation of the economy requires also an anticipation function to predict future needs.
Humanity has not yet reached this stage. Attempts on smaller scale (countries) are under development and still fail frequently. The communication infrastructure is not sufficiently developed and there is not yet sufficient experience to anticipate the outcome of changes. The regulation elements which have to avoid the development of parasites is by far not yet stable.
Our body has a quite well developed mechanism of centralized economy. The distribution of energy to the parts corresponds reasonably well to their contribution to the whole. A complex mechanism avoids the development of useless structures which gather energy without contributing to the entire organism. A failure of this mechanism causes the development of a tumor.
A good regulation of the production in correspondence with the needs guarantees a stable economy of the organism. Specialized instances are producing just what is needed for the others. However, external factors can disturb the regulation. The outcome of the production of some specialized members depends on external environmental factors.
To avoid such surprises, the organization develops an awareness of the external factors. Some members become specialized in predicting the outcome of the varying production taking external elements into account.
Our body increases the production of heat when it senses a colder environment.
The economy of our countries is in the very early phase of development of senses. There is a more or less developed system of internal communication which detects shortages or excesses of some resources. The communication between countries to take the anticipated future production by the others of some commodities into account is still very weak and informal. The development of senses to detect planetary changes (on longer term) is also still very weak. The results are too uncertain to relay economical decisions upon (e.g. whether forecast for the following year to anticipate the production of corn and rice).
The specialized functions to detect the external changes which affect some elements in the economy of the organization can be considered as the senses of the organization. This is the start of the development of the awareness of the environment of the organization. This is the stage where we have started the explanation of the externalization cycle.
The human (animal) body has developed an amazing system of senses. They work in a very stable way and the results are already deeply integrated in all other body functions.
Only the largest and most stable companies have developed a mechanism of sensing. It is called marketing and it is even already connected to a restricted internal model of the world to anticipate the effect of a possible action of the company.
Our society is developing some senses. They are still in a premature stage, they do not function well but we can already recognize the shape. Each country has some information centers related to the government. They provide the information upon which the government can rely for decisions. The most developed countries have connected these senses to a mathematical model of their economy. The model is often very restricted to the economy of the country itself and takes only input from the internal senses.
There is a close relation between the hierarchy of abstractness and the spiral of externalization. Each cycle is one level more concrete. This suggests a strict hierarchy of abstractness.
However, the interaction of elements from different evolution schemes disturb this strict order. Elements from asynchronously evolving externalization spirals cooperate and the resulting structures do not fit in the strict scheme. In chapter 17, we will investigate interactions between elements originating from different externalizations.
More in next chapter on Life of an instantiation
This is Chapter 15; Externalization of an organism of
Behavior of Information
Author: Luc Claeys. All comments welcome, mail to lcl at this site: nanohome.be
Last updated on Nov 12, 1997