[p2p-research] is the mind a computer

Samuel Rose samuel.rose at gmail.com
Fri Nov 13 15:18:43 CET 2009

Hi Ryan,

On Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 11:54 AM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 11/12/09, Samuel Rose <samuel.rose at gmail.com> wrote:
>> "A Complex Adaptive System (CAS) is a dynamic network of many agents
>> (which may represent cells, species, individuals, firms, nations)
>> acting in parallel, constantly acting and reacting to what the other
>> agents are doing. The control of a CAS tends to be highly dispersed
>> and decentralized.
> This is very difficult for me to understand because the boundary conditions
> for what is and isn't a system are difficult to define.  Something discreet
> occurs when a person exists.  They are part of social processes, etc., but I
> know of no one who quibbles much with the idea of an individual.  Nations
> are interconnected...as are ecosystems  Discreetness is much less clear.
> But a person could talk about resident bacteria in a human...that humans are
> ecosystems, etc.  I'm struggling with that...
> There is also a macro versus micro approach issue going on I think.  At one
> level we are discussing differences in macro systems...a brain versus a
> highly complicated machine (say a supercomputer running a large program).
> At another level there is a question as to whether processes that cause
> changes to genetic material...whether those are programmatic and can be
> simulated...or whether the workings of a set of neurons can be simulated.
> At the macro scale, difference of opinion is more plausible to me.
> So far is it the Complex Systems' peoples' opinion, Sam, that there is
> something at an elemental level that makes these systems different?  Or is
> it something that occurs as complexity arises?  In other words, are there
> boundary cases between complex and not-complex?  You were getting into this
> a little...

Complex systems theory is a post-human-centric viewpoint, meaning that
it focuses on the nature of the system. The properties of the system
are more important than whether it is human or not.

The core property (the moment of complexity):


"...what a system does by virtue of its relationship to its environment"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lewontin, though not a complexity
theorist himself, per se, gave a thorough picture of how this works
with living things. He also explains why this prevents us from
programming genes like a computer in the same book.

On each scale, from micro, to macro, "...what a system does by virtue
of its relationship to its environment" results in multi-scalar
emergent behavior. What you see as a "human" is now the result of
millions of these evolutionary relationships (what I referred to
earlier as "connections"). They are emergent connections.

It is possible to *model* emergence with computers. People have been
doing this for years

It is NOT possible to PROGRAM emergence.

This means that it is possible to program complicated behavior (like
the behavior of machines of any type), but not complex behavior (like
the behavior of emergent systems like ants, stockmarkets, and

Emergence is the result of simple rules and functions on many scales
*interacting* and leading to complex behavior (not complicated

I hope this helps.

> Ryan

Sam Rose
Social Synergy
Tel:+1(517) 639-1552
Cel: +1-(517)-974-6451
skype: samuelrose
email: samuel.rose at gmail.com

"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human
ambition." - Carl Sagan

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