In chapter one, we have described information as something alive; it propagates, evolves, etc. Since then, we have extended the notion of information to everything. Thus we expect to recognize the phases of life in everything.
In the scheme of the ongoing efforts of externalization of information, we must realize that each instantiation lives its own life. During the life of an instantiation, it expresses itself (instantiates) many times. Each of these externalizations lives its life.
The abstraction of the experience gathered by the instantiations of an information set is memorized in that information set.
Because externalization is a recurrent process, the phases of life can be recognized at each level of externalization.
The hereditary information of a virus instantiates in many virus. One individual virus lives much shorter than the abstract hereditary information of the virus.
Life follows a typical pattern. The phases of life can be recognized at every level of externalization. It goes from development, gaining experience by a number of externalizations, generating offspring to decay.
How these steps are filled in depends largely on the experience of the information gained in previous externalizations.
It takes many attempts for an information being to externalize for the first time. These attempts are necessary to gain experience. The progress of the attempts to externalize is described in the externalization cycle in previous chapter. Once the information has gained control over the environment by a full externalization, it makes use of this control to prepare the environment for a new externalization.
An information being which has succeeded to externalize itself, can have several reasons to start a new externalization.
During the externalization, the information being does not stay in permanent contact with the externalization. It insulates itself (vertically) to have thoughts. These thoughts bring the experience in relation with the mapping used for the current externalization. During these thoughts, the information being is able to consider other externalizations based on the gained experience. When the anticipated success of another instantiation is high, the information being is tempted to maintain the insulation and start a new externalization. This tendency increases as the current externalization indurates and becomes rigid, making it more difficult to gain new experience.
The politician thinks about the experiences gained by the creation of his political party. He makes the relation between the difficulties he experiences and the initial choices made. By this, he gathers experience which would be very useful to create a new political party.
The abstract experience allows the politician to think about a political party using a slightly different base. He attempts to imagine the success of the imaginary party in the current circumstances. When the anticipated results are good, he is tempted to detach (insulate) from the existing party and start the new one.
Not only politicians are from time to time thinking about starting something over. Mangers say this is the problem of all engineers. Long before finishing a project, an engineer likes to start it all over using a different approach based on the experience gained by the current attempt.
When an externalization is fully developed, it expresses itself in many forms. When most of the expressions are successful, the information being has an excess of energy and feels frustrated because it can express itself in only one form at a time. This situation leads to a vertical insulation to generate a new externalization which is mainly a copy of the current externalization.
An adult human being (or animal) gains easily sufficient energy to maintain its body. The body is a stable structure. Excess of energy is the impulse for propagation. Propagation triggered by this causes a new externalization using mainly the same mapping (because it was successful).
Cell division in a multicellular body is based upon this trigger. The new cells are copies of the old cells. During cell division, no attempts are made to "make a better cell".
A third reason to start a new externalization is because a vertical insulation was imposed by a change in the environmental conditions. Abstract information protects itself from sudden changes by insulating itself from the externalization when conditions change as such that an intense pain is experienced. When the cause is a temporary change in the environment, the abstract information can restore the mapping (remove the vertical insulation) and continue its instantiation. However, when the environmental change is permanent and the externalized organization is destroyed, the information has to maintain its insulation and externalize again.
When the body gets injured or is completely destroyed, the abstract information cannot longer control the organism. The pain has caused the immediate insulation of the abstract information to protect it from damage (loosing consciousness, see later).
When a new externalization is considered for the first or the second reason, the information being has still some control over the environment through the current externalization. This ability is useful to prepare the environment as such that the new externalization has an easy start.
Imagine a creative engineer working in a large, stable company. It can happen that he has an an idea for which there is no place in the old company.
Therefore he does not attempt to integrate the idea in his work but he keeps the idea for himself. In his spare time he thinks of it in secret (insulation). Exposing the new idea in the company would cause an overruling of the new idea by all indurated ideas around.
He knows that the realization of his idea requires energy (money) so he starts saving money and looking for financial means to create an environment where the idea can flourish (a new company).
Biological life starts by separating (insulating) the hereditary information and some resources for a new expression. Remark the importance of the insulation. Without insulation, the resources would be used for growth and maintenance for the parent body.
The current externalization is used to insulate resources which will be organized by the new externalization. Having the right resources insulated from the environment facilitates the new externalization.
The deployment of the information starts when the insulated set of information starts mapping itself on the reserved resources. The resources are transformed by the information. The information is expressed using the resources. This deployment is an externalization as described in the previous chapter. At this stage the insulation from the external environment must still be carefully maintained. Without this insulation, the information and the unused resources would interact with information from outside and the partially organized resources could become part of another organism.
When the idea of the engineer is sufficiently outlined (insulated) and some resources to start with are reserved (insulated), for example some saved money and holidays, the first actions can be performed to express this idea using the resources. An insulated working cell is set up.
As soon the hereditary information (of biological life) is insulated and set apart combined with some neutral resources, the transformation of the resources starts. The hereditary information expresses itself (instantiates itself) in these resources (food).
The transformation of the reserved resources causes an induration (growth) of the organization. In this stage, the growth is restricted because only the resources reserved in advance are available. The full organization is developed but still in an insulated form. This insulation is required as long the induration is not sufficient to withstand the external influences.
When the engineer speaks too early to his boss about the new plans (breaks the insulation), he boss can easily convince him to change his plans and integrate the new idea in the existing company. When however he has sufficiently indurated the ideas for the new company, they will be able to withstand such discussions (temptations).
After sufficient induration of the newly developed body, some of the insulation to the external world must be broken down. This partial removal of the insulation is necessary because extra resources are required and some interaction with the external world is required to gain energy and experience. This is the moment of birth.
The company is formally set up and the goals are made public. Interactions with the external world are suddenly intensified : renting an office, purchasing some basic equipment, etc. This interaction is necessary to buy and sell, to gain energy and experience.
The new body is born. It breaks the major insulation (e.g. bird shell) and the interaction with the external world are drastically increased. Maintenance and further growth requires now the acquisition of food from the outside world which is packed with external influences (information, bacteria, etc).
The next phase is the induration (growth) of the organization while gaining energy and experience from the contacts with the external world. During this phase there is a slow but systematic abstraction of the experiences. The knowledge gained by the contacts with the external world is abstracted and the most stable an universal ones are climbing up to the most abstract levels.
To be able to grow, the startup-company has to attract resources from outside and transform them in a successful way. The organization must be sufficiently strong to cope with newly hired engineers which could attempt to use the company as a breeding ground for their own ideas.
The newly born body must start eating food. This requires a sufficient protection to cope with all kinds of chemical and biological information (poison and bacteria) acquired together with the food.
When the externalization is successful, a lot of energy is gained. At first, this energy is used to grow and indurate. When there is more than enough energy to maintain the organism, the excess of energy can be used to prepare for propagation (second reason to prepare a new externalization).
Some engineers feel restricted by the rigid company. They have plenty of experience but they can apply it only single sided within the company. They start dreaming of creating a company of their own. They outline an idea, set apart some resources and... we are back at stage one.
The gained experience cannot longer express itself in new forms because the entire organization of the body is thoroughly rigid (indurated). Some information attempts to insulate itself and acquire resources for a next generation.
If the excess of energy cannot be used for any form of propagation (physically or mentally), the excess of energy gives rise to the development of cancer.
The organization gets so far indurated that it becomes too rigid to undertake new things. The gained experience can only be made available for new applications by extracting it and making it available to new resources.
Finally, larger parts of the organization abandon because no new experience can be gained in the indurated structure. It is sufficient for one major organ to abandon completely to cause death of the entire body (organism, organization).
The externalization is obtained by organizing elements of the environment. The resulting structure is of course still very close related to the environment. Drastic changes in the environment can cause the destruction of (part of) the externalization. By this, the abstract information is forced to insulate. If the change is permanent, the abstract information has to start a new externalization.
The life cycle can be followed by the evolution of the insulation. At first, some information gets insulated almost completely together with some resources (matter, energy, time, money). This insulation is maintained until the reserved resources are entirely organized with the initial information. At this point, an interaction with the outside world is allowed and interactions take place and experience is gained. By the induration prior to this interaction, the essential information is deeply hidden and cannot easily be modified by these interactions (stability). After induration of the experience (deep assimilation), the information cannot express itself further in these rigid circumstances and the information (with gained experience) is released in the outside world in an insulated package to develop new expressions. Finally, the whole system stops, the entire insulation is removed and all elements (carrying experience) become available for new expressions in the environment.
It is astonishing how well we can recognize these phases in such wide variety of phenomena.
In the inter galactic space, matter gets attracted to each other and forms a new cluster. By the formation of the cluster, it becomes an entity separated (insulated) from the environment. As it becomes more dense, the interactions increase and an intense transformation of matter takes place in stars. After a very long time (in our time scale), the transformation rate reduces because of most of the interaction is done. Finally, the star explodes and gives away all its transformed matter (removal of insulation) and throws its matter far apart (new insulation of experienced information) in space. The main structure is given up but the transformed matter will be used in other structures. This separated matter from the explosion is launched with sufficient speed to come in contact with other stellar systems after a long insulated journey.
It is interesting to remark that all atoms used in our body are the result of several such cycles.
After the life of a company, the organization becomes so rigid that it cannot longer cope with changing environmental conditions. Finally the company is given up and all the resources (experienced employees, housing, market segment, machines, etc.) become available for other companies (star explodes, body dies).
Successful information converts the environment in an intensive way. There will come a point where all information of the environment is converted and the information is not longer useful in the environment. This causes a burning out of the information (of the externalization).
A shocking event in politics is spreading very fast. Soon the fact is known by the whole society. A joke can cause some change in this information. Because the information which is converted by the joke is so widely spread, the joke finds food wherever it comes. The joke will spread very rapidly. However, the joke is not longer successful when told to people who know it already. By this the joke burns out.
In many cases, there exist a process which reconstructs the original information from the converted elements. By this the process seems to go on for ever. From a broader point of view, we see that these opposite conversions can only take place by the usage of excess energy from an other source. When the conversion of information by other information is such that energy is released, the opposite conversion must require energy.
Biological life on earth uses energy from the conversion of chemical elements. Without external energy source, the conversion would terminate when all available chemical elements are converted to the more stable form. However, excess energy from the sun is used by processes to convert the chemical elements in the opposite way loading them again with energy.
Some stories are told to children since many generations. The telling of the stories can go on because there are each time new children. From the matter point of view, the matter which is converted by the tale will decompose again after death of the person and by intermediate of energy from the sun, this matter can be used again to built new children which are new breeding grounds for the tale.
Large energy sources cause an apparent circular effect at lower level. In these circular processes, some experiences are repeated under slowly changing circumstances and the cycle is repeated so many times that experience is able to become deeply integrated in the basic elements.
This repetition reminds us to the rehearsal in a thought center.
The remainders of burned out information decompose in a natural way and loose energy by failing attempts to express itself, by natural decay and by other elements "eating" them (triggering the collapse). It is possible that a new information element develops which uses the burned out information as food. Using this burned out information as food is very easy because it is ready to collapse and release its remaining energy. Information specialized in this conversion can spread very fast but cannot live a long life because the amount of energy is limited. We can compare this with a straw fire which burns the remainders of other processes.
Just at a point where a very successful joke cannot longer being told because everyone knows it, a new joke can be created referring to the old joke and making it collapse and release its remaining energy. The new joke will spread like a straw fire but die quickly.
More in next chapter on Evolution of information
This is Chapter 16; Life of an instantiation of Behavior
Author: Luc Claeys. All comments welcome, mail to lcl at this site: nanohome.be
Last updated on Nov 12, 1997