Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Flow

The flow is a pattern
a wave
a signal
a perpetuating  message
forever replicating
interweaving
unfolding and enfolding


Introduction

The evolutionary play of quarks and electrons resulted in nuclei and atoms. The computational burst of atoms resulted into molecules and star systems. The intricate relationships between molecules created the fascinating living entities of DNA, proteins and membranes. The interplay of which created the many species of cells, which through an inherent need to reduce their entropy and ensure their propagation would congregate into organs and advanced interacting organisms. These organisms would grow interfaces that would mirror their predecessors, and in a game of survival of the fittest would evolve complex processing capabilities resulting in subjective perception, artifacts and cultural codes. These world views would compete with each other for survival, evolving into their very own realities. These realities would then evolve to such an increasing state of sophistication they would create more realities ad infinitum.

The Flow is inherently moving towards order and computational complexity. The Flow is universal Darwinian evolution. Evolution that applies on every layer with increasing complexity. Every layer is a code or a program that through interaction with itself writes a more complex program that displays the same behaviour as its predecessor in a more elaborate form. Layer upon layer the flow builds new codes that create new codes, each version computing a new state based on the previous one. Information is a single continuum of reinterpreted data projecting from a simpler state out to a more complex one. It appears like an endless seamless pattern with no beginning or end flowing out of and into eternity, a crystalline fractal, a message that forever reiterates itself.

Information

We can think of reality as made out of levels of abstraction that supervene each other creating a gushing torrent of change and complexity, which we will call the Flow. The leading theory on the origin of our reality is the Big Bang where matter and energy begun from a state of implicated information where all fundamental forces existed in a singular state to the expression of discrete particles and through various phases of interaction led to the creation of matter. Matter interacts with itself and other unknown forces to create the universe in the degree that we can observe and theorise in. This conception of reality is a product of human perception mechanisms, moulded by the process of evolution, which were built to recognise patterns, and which tend to abstract and categorise the information perceived based on the diversity of mental connections in the brain. The way we perceive the world seems to be ultimately dictated by our biochemistry, which itself is abstracted from simpler molecules, atoms and various supervening layers of existence. Our perceived reality appears to be populated by various processes that continuously interact in specific ways resulting in the outflow of reality. These processes which we will name entities, can be seen as expressions of existence but also as contents of mind (qualia), but most importantly of informational ontology.

An entity is anything that helps manifest reality (or reality is perceived as composed of entities). It can be thought of as a code of compact information, an active process that is able to express, interact, process and evolve. It is an information processing system. The way it expresses itself is through its property or quality (the information it carries), which will be called its force – essentially its interaction medium. These forces are expressed by the entities until one force meets another. The point where they meet can be imagined as a sensory threshold where the forces bounce back in recognition signaling to the entity that an interaction has occurred. The entity processes the impressed signal and expresses back an ever so slightly modified signal that will meet yet another complementary signal and reflect back and so on. What is effectively created is a continuous cascade of change in the expressive force of entities that comes about through impressions caused by entity interaction; this can be imagined as an 8-shaped loop. (see diagram) The sensory threshold is called as such, as it can be seen as a primordial sensory organ, where information is recognised/received and translated/transmitted as a signal.

Processing ‘within’ the entity continues in the same vain, where the incoming signal is shone unto the entity and loops within itself creating a continuous reflection within a reflection, amplifying the change that is eventually beamed as the modified expressive force. It can be imagined that each entity is in fact made out of an infinite amount of similarly interacting entities within entities. Although this description makes it appear as if these are discrete events that happen one after the other, it is important to note that it is a continuous seamless and timeless motion. The flow is a continuous singular unit of change, the entities that we can observe (due to our perception mechanisms that favour fragmentation of concepts) are like the cogs in a clock, all working together and are absolutely interdependent. This seamless interaction between entities creates a mutual field, enabling the entities to work as a unit creating compound entities that can carry out even more complex interactions, increasing in processing power – the mutual field can be thought of as a body of entities; a sum bigger than its parts.  Layer upon layer, the entities build up an increasingly complex network of interaction each more sophisticated than the next, a process that can be thought of loosely as informational Darwinism.

"Every resultant is either a sum or a difference of the co-operant forces; their sum, when their directions are the same -- their difference, when their directions are contrary. Further, every resultant is clearly traceable in its components, because these are homogeneous and commensurable. It is otherwise with emergents, when, instead of adding measurable motion to measurable motion, or things of one kind to other individuals of their kind, there is a co-operation of things of unlike kinds. The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference." (Lewes 1875, p. 412)(Blitz 1992)

The Flow is in effect the unified current of information that streams from entity to entity and from layer of interaction to layer of interaction. It is the currency of change, causing a cascading effect of complexity that multiplies from layer to layer. “Movement is what is primary; and what seem like permanent structures are only relatively autonomous sub-entities which emerge out of the whole of flowing movement and then dissolve back into it an unceasing process of becoming.” (source: Holomovement, Wikipedia) In effect, entities are abstractions of the flow, when we observe messaging entities we observe the currency of the flow, which is change. One could say that reality is in inherently informational in that is like a continuous relay of interpreted data and could be therefore computable (but not necessarily digital). Information is never lost, but it can be interpreted in a myriad of ways and continually changes configuration. "(This) new form of insight can perhaps best be called Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement" (Bohm, 1980, 11)


Infoware - Elementary Layer

One of the first layers of interaction that we can observe or conceptualise is the elementary layer which contains entities with very little or no mass, entities here are defined only by their intrinsic properties and as pure computational/informational interactions. Existence here is qualitative rather than quantitative, as entities can appear out of nowhere and disappear into nothingness. It is the realm of quantum mechanics, a state of existence where information interacts with itself in an evolutionary game. Here we find the building blocks of matter, quarks. Each quark carries a threefold force (the colour force) that is absorbed and transmitted from one to the other, creating a continuous flow of information between them. This force is expressed in the form of force-carrying particles, the gluons. A network of 3 (valence) quarks creates the most stable mutual field (made out of a myriad of virtual quarks that are expressed during force interaction) resulting in either a proton or a neutron depending on the type of quarks involved. What differentiates these quarks into ‘types’ and from other elementary particles, giving them their unique properties, is probably yet another layer of interactions that follows the universal interactive system which we have yet to observe. Strings, M-theory and the holographic principle are currently the best bets to what is going on beyond the elementary particle level, but eventually something more holistic in vain of Bohm’s implicate order would probably be a general conclusion. The sophistication of interactions at the sub-elementary level is what has created this diverse family of entities that carry slightly different properties and thus interact with each other in ever more complex ways. It is important to note that at the quark level and beyond (and possibly in preceding levels) evolution of entities favours interactions that can be sustained the longest, which later evolves into the negative entropy tendency of cells and other living organisms (see Quantum Darwinism).

Hardware - Subatomic Layer

At the next level, we can observe proton-neutron interactions that are the result of the interactions between groups of 3 quarks. A proton itself can be thought of as the first form of matter as it can exist free in a stable form as a positively charged Hydrogen ion. The residual force created from the flow of forces between the 3 quarks within protons and neutrons, is the force that each of these nucleons carry that enables them to stay together in groups, creating nuclei. A nucleus is in effect a congregation of 3-quark networks, or what we call a system of networks. Quarks also hold fractional electromagnetic charges that when combined in 3-quark networks create whole values like a positive charge in protons and a neutral charge in neutrons. The collective expressive force of the mutual field of the nucleons draws another class of elementary particles, the electrons, that carry a complementary force, a negative electromagnetic charge. Although electrons are on a lower level of complexity (ie. a simpler code) than groups of nucleons, they have (through the interaction of entities that spawned them) developed the force needed to interact with entities higher in the hierarchy of complexity. This is one of the first examples of inter-level interactions, and it is this kind of interactions that add to and enrich the the encoding of reality. Inter-level interactions need not only apply to a movement from a lower level of complexity to a higher one, but also the other way round as can be seen for example through the release of the simpler photons through the interaction of nucleons or atoms.

Atomic and Molecular Layers
Atomic entities are in effect the totality of the code that arises from the interaction of the nucleon network (or the underlying quark system) and the code created by the electrons interacting with the nucleus (that creates atomic orbitals). The number of nucleons and electrons involved, and thus the complexity of their code, is what creates the variety of elements that we observe. The varied flow of forces between the electrons and nucleons results in a variety of properties within these atoms which, acting as their expressive forces, interact with other atoms creating complex compound atoms or molecules. The mutual field between groups of atoms is achieved through interaction between their electrons, creating an even larger diversity of interacting entities. The electron code that is perceived as surrounding the nucleic code acts as the sensory organ of the atoms, and like a primordial membrane fuses with the electron codes of other atoms creating compound molecules. In the macrocosm, the interaction of these compound entities brings them together to create vast bodies of molecules that result in a variety of stars and other celestial bodies that become gigantic beacons of entity interaction and production. These bodies carry out their own interactive game, transmitting and absorbing forces that help shape the known and unknown universe. Stars help create solar systems, whose constituent interacting planets and moons act as the processing power that expresses a mutual force unto other systems, whose interaction creates galaxies and superclusters and so on. The force that is exchanged between these supermassive systems of atoms is gravity. Dark energy and dark matter although still mysterious are thought to be the forces governing superclusters and beyond, increasing the rate of expansion of the universe.

Wetware

Within individual solar systems, the continuous exchange of forces and entities between planets and stars brews another microcosmic revolution. Molecules, through inter-level interaction, are modified and combined in surprising new ways eventually leading to a higher level of complexity, that of organic molecules. On Earth, organic molecules with Carbon and Hydrogen in their hearts, achieve immense processing power, that enables them to interact with each other in a way that was not before possible. Having reached a state of advanced sophistication, these entities are able to manipulate entities of a lower level to propagate and improve their processing power. A primordial game of survival starts here, with these intelligent machines cooperating and competing to create even more sophisticated machines. They do this by either incorporating other entities to become more complex or by interacting with similar entities creating vast networks that expand their power. These entities become what are known as organic macromolecules, complex entities that develop the ability to reproduce their own molecular code, but also construct new codes through interactions with other entities.

Membrane Layer
The interactions of biomolecules create increasingly complex structures, working together to create a mutual field bound by a network of compound entities known as a membrane. The emergence of membranes marks the beginning of a new and important level of entity interactions, as it enables a closed system for smaller entities to work in and thus increasing in processing power and interaction sophistication – this breakthrough marks the beginning of the ‘wetware’ stage. These entities exhibit even more advanced behaviours, and possess a simple memory system that is carried out by a network of biomolecular entities within the cell. These networks can be thought of as a primordial nervous system, relaying and exchanging information within and without the cell.
The large membrane-bound entities interact through cooperation and competition, their molecular complexity allowing them to sense the force of other entities, and to even mobilise towards a prey-entity. In an even more advanced game of survival they consume or aggregate with each other and lower level entities becoming the first entities to actively reduce their entropy.

These interactions result in the pinnacle of molecular complexity, a membrane-bound entity that contains smaller membrane-bound entities that are all working together to process and produce biomolecular entities. This body or mutual field is what we simply call the eukaryotic cell (although prokaryotes are considered cells in this context they would fall under the membrane category as they do not contain any membrane bound organelles).

Cellular Layer
Cellular entities communicate with each other through their force which is expressed as proteins and other specialised biomolecules that carry the code to be deciphered by the next cell. Again in a game of survival of the fittest, the cells fight for space and power and soon start to specialise into different functions and aggregate to create even more powerful processing units. The mutual fields they create between them grow in size and complexity resulting into vast networks of cellular entities that work together in unison to process, absorb and transmit information to and from other networks.

Multicellular Layer
Finally all these interacting networks come together under one roof, a grandiose entity that contains vast networks of specialised membrane bound cellular entities that contain networks of biomolecular entities that are themselves networks of atomic entities, which are networks of elementary particles. The mutual field of all these levels of interactions (around 12 layers) is a complex body of multicellular systems, like an insect or a human being. These entities are composed of specialised cell networks that can interpret reality in ways that were not before possible, and express a vast amount of forces that can be met with other entities for a continuous exchange of energies. They have cell networks that can move them through seas of lower level entities towards entities that possess attractive forces. These vast entities experience classic Darwinism where they compete for space and survival, reproducing and reshuffling the biomolecular data that make them up by continuously ingesting lower level entities to advance into efficient negative entropy machines or dissipative dynamical systems.


Software

Due to the influx of data that their multicellular sense organs are able to receive, their processing power inevitably increases, making them able to codify and store the information they receive in biomolecular form. The codification of sense-data marks the beginning of the ‘software stage’ and is mediated in earth-bound creatures by a specialised network of cellular entities, the nervous system. Through a not very well understood process, the incoming impressive forces that multicellular entities receive are processed within the nervous network and are stored as data for later access. The accumulation of this stored data leads to increasingly complicated responses or expressive forces that enables entities to exhibit decision-making among other behavioural patterns. Behavioural patterns first appear in single cells as complex computational interactions between biomolecules which later evolve into nervous system patterns in multicellular entities like fight or flee impulses, instincts, emotions. Over time the process of codification of this information becomes so elaborate that it can be stored and retrieved for longer, with its quality and detail maintained and optimized. The greater the detail of information there is, the more connections between these data nodes can be created within the nervous system. The reason the resulting entities are considered software is because there is no longer evolution of physical entities as it could be observed before. Instead, virtual entities are represented by networks of biomolecular entities within multicellular nervous systems. Complex multicellular organisms in effect become the most efficient sense machines, continuously recording sense data, storing them in hardware form and combining them in ever complex ways. Soon these virtual entities, the ‘software’, begin their own game of interaction and survival, exchanging forces between them and, having reached a critical point, creating their own codes and integrative levels.

The representations of physical entities that virtual entities use as their language can be invoked without a need of external stimulation. The biomolecular code that generates the virtual entities also continuously feeds them with information from its molecular interactions with other cells, molecules, atoms and quarks. It is clear that consciousness is a product of quark processes (and the unknown ones before them) as much as it is a product of biomolecular-cellular processes. The virtual entities in their turn build the various levels of complexity we experience as mental processes. The mutual fields of interacting virtual entities create continuously evolving patterns that are expressed physically through synaptic plasticity, strengthening or weakening connections between groups of virtual entities. The interaction of these entities is what human beings experience as the flow of consciousness, and is what constitutes the next supermassive powerhouse, the self.

Timeware - Cultureware - Memeware

The self is a virtual body of systems of networks of virtual entities, it is the sum of all virtual processes within a multicellular body and is aware of itself as a coherent temporal entity. The self identifies with the virtual contents of its nervous system, and can actively use them to perform complex calculations to make sense of the world that is presented to its senses. The processing of a self-aware entity rapidly increases in power and higher states of being are achieved where self entities communicate the virtual entities they possess to other entities, like humans do with language. The communication of virtual entities, marks the beginning of yet another level of interaction with meme entities passed between selves. Memes are groups of virtual entities generated and absorbed by self entities, which cooperate and compete to ensure their propagation. Memes grow in sophistication as the number of selves that transmit them increases, and the ways to communicate them diversifies. Memes lead to the creation of tools and other objects, buildings, ideas, concepts etc., populating the world with virtually conceived entities brought to the hardware world. Through the advancement of meme networks, selves gain the ability of devising new, more efficient ways of transmitting memes, and meme networks or subcultures (the evolution of families, groups, communities, organisations, countries, companies) finally reach a critical point of complexity, where they create a whole entity, a grand network of memes only limited by its ability to distribute itself, the culture of a group of people. Culture systems and meme networks ensure their continuous propagation through time by transmission to more and more groups of people. Cultures compete and cooperate with each other creating even more advanced networks of cultures, until they create a postulated global culture entity, the unified body of all cultures of a planet.


Pattern

A pattern emerges when looking at reality from the point of view of the Flow. It can be summarised as such: information > interaction > emergence. Information is a pattern or a message that is being continuously transmitted, interaction occurs when the message causes a change on another part of information and emergence is when a new piece of information resulting from this interaction is released. “Information is any type of pattern that influences the formation or transformation of other patterns.” (Information, Wikipedia) Interaction is communication between patterns, and can be broken down to the 4 parts of an information processing system: input, processing, storage, output. Finally emergence is the result of the interaction where the pattern becomes more complex and creates a new integrative level ie. a higher level of pattern organisation (complexity). Emergence and integrative levels imply a supervenience where complex sets of information can always be reduced to a multiplicity of simpler interactions, with each layer being a child of the next one.

The process of supervenience also appears to have a pattern, what is observed as the body-network-system order. Entities can be perceived as autonomous processes where they appear as ‘bodies’ of information. When entities of the same integrative level aggregate together they create a network of bodies, and when these networks aggregate with each other they become a system of networks. A body of systems is a congregation of various systems and networks (and inter-level interactions) which creates yet another autonomous body entity which will then aggregate with other similar bodies to create a network, system and so on. For example we can  see a quark as a body, a nucleon a network of quarks, a nucleus a system of quark networks and an atom as a body made out of system of quark networks and electron networks. A body always appears to be more than the sum of its parts (emergentism). It is clear that information tends to cooperate in order to increase complexity (and reduce entropy) and this can be even seen in classical Darwinism where cooperation and hive-like operation is far more important than competition in the success of evolution. Thus we can see that the Flow can be intellectually divided into major integrative levels signified by body entities and minor integrative levels which are networks and systems. This seems to denote a hierarchy of some sort, from simple to complex it is obvious that it is all part of the same process where integrative levels and discrete entities are merely abstractions of the whole.
Nonetheless it is useful to look at the pattern in a fragmented way in order to abstract and deduce further patterns which can give us insight to parts of the Flow that we cannot see but also to enhance understanding of the part we already “know.” It is also interesting to see that the major levels and sublevels are not part of a continuous line but branch out in and diverge like a never ending tree fractal.

Some of the major levels of supervenience that we can observe are:

in bold is the evolution of the internal message, the force being exchanged by the apparent entities, the actual flow of meaning. Meaning builds syntax-complexes that interact by exchanging smaller complexes. The syntax of code is always based on a previous, simpler state of code. The flow from this viewpoint becomes a language that is able to

quark bodies - hadron networks - nuclear systems - strong force
atom bodies - molecule networks - compound systems - electromagnetism
celestial bodies - planet networks - solar systems - gravity
organic bodies - macromolecular networks - membrane-bound systems - 3D structure recognition
cell body - tissue networks - organ systems - biomolecular communication
living bodies - behavioural networks - memory storage systems - neurotransmitter

We can further conjecture some other levels like:
galactic bodies - cluster networks - supercluster systems - dark energy
universe bodies - multiverse networks -multiverse systems - inter-universe force
self/emotional bodies - meme networks -category systems - neurotransmitter syntax
rational bodies -family networks - community/tribal systems - memetic syntax
social bodies - religious/science networks - digital, coding systems - linguistic syntax
culture bodies -interculture networks -multi-cultural systems - historical syntax
global culture bodies - deculturing/post-scientific networks - post-cultural systems cultural syntax
truth bodies - truth networks - flowic systems - inter-universal-cultural-linguistic syntax

Truth, Metaphor, Knowledge
It has been stressed before that entities are abstractions of the flow, as David Bohm says:
"Not only is everything changing, but all is flux. That is to say, what is is the process of becoming itself, while all objects, events, entities, conditions, structures, etc., are forms that can be abstracted from this process" (Bohm, 1980). It appears that all we perceive are abstractions, qualia, interpretations of raw data. It seems that everything is a metaphor, and things can only be understood through metaphors and never directly. This is the nature of information and information processors, the pattern is there but it can be interpreted or processed in a myriad of ways depending on the processor. The message is always the same but the reading, the interpretation, the meaning derived is different depending on the information complex reading the message. We are metaphor-processing metaphors, living in a metaphorical world, communicating in metaphors. Knowledge and truth become metaphors both linguistically and virtually. This flexibility in explication of the flow is what drives complexity. Which returns us back to the questions of, what is truth, what is knowledge, whether these questions are relevant and whether metaphors have their own ontology. Is objective truth possible in what appears to be a strictly subjective world?

Our notion of self is an abstraction from the flow, our notion of reality and a world populated by entities is also an abstraction, the metaphors we create be it linguistic, philosophical, scientific or spiritual are all abstractions from the same thing. The very concept of the Flow is an abstraction of the ‘real’ anonymous, intangible, invisible flow. It is mind bogglingly beautiful. All is flux, panta rei.

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