emergence (book)


adding page while reading Steven Johnson‘s emergence..

june 2016 – Jon Husband – while convo ing with Vinay – highly recommends Steven’s emergence

<emergence-connected life of brains/ants/cities> excellent book, read yrs ago. Yes re: 2 – 3 simple rules

can’t find in library or on pdf.. still looking.. reading summaries and partials..

wikipedia on the term emergence (disappointing.. too much focus/assumption/manufactured-consent on ie: money, cars, et-al…so shortening original copies.. and perhaps buying Steven’s book – seeking a less prescriptive emergence):

wikipedia small

In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties.

or do they..? just not visible to the eye

Emergence is central in theories of integrative levels and of complex systems. For instance, the phenomenon of life as studied in biology is an emergent property of chemistry and psychological phenomena emerge from the neurobiological phenomena of living things. Likewise, economic and legal phenomena emerge from psychology.

? econ and legal..?

In philosophy, emergence typically refers to emergentism. Almost all accounts of emergentism include a form ofepistemic or ontological irreducibility to the lower levels


This idea of emergence has been around since at least the time of Aristotle.  John Stuart Mill and Julian Huxley are two of many scientists and philosophers who have written on the concept.

The term “emergent” was coined by philosopher G. H. Lewes, who wrote:

“Every resultant is either a sum or a difference of the co-operant forces; …. 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.”

Economist Jeffrey Goldstein provided a current definition of emergence in the journal Emergence. Goldstein initially defined emergence as: “the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems”.

economist defining it.. and.. then.. who decides.. what is a coherent structure..


cannot even reliably predict the next move in a chess game. Why? Because the “system” involves more than the rules of the game. It also includes the players and their unfolding, moment-by-moment decisions among a very large number of available options at each choice point. The game of chess is inescapably historical, even though it is also constrained and shaped by a set of rules, not to mention the laws of physics. Moreover, and this is a key point, the game of chess is also shaped by teleonomic, cybernetic, feedback-driven influences. It is not simply a self-ordered process; it involves an organized, “purposeful” activity.

our focus on purpose often keeps us from living/listening.. ie: mom. how is that emergent.. at least.. not the story in my head of what emergence is..


Emergent behaviours can occur because of intricate causal relations across different scales and feedback, known as interconnectivity. The emergent property itself may be either very predictable or unpredictable and unprecedented, and represent a new level of the system’s evolution. The complex behaviour or properties are not a property of any single such entity, nor can they easily be predicted or deduced from behaviour in the lower-level entities, and might in fact be irreducible to such behavior. The shape and behaviour of a flock of birds or school of fish are good examples of emergent properties.


One reason why emergent behaviour is hard to predict is that the number of interactions between components of a system increases exponentially with the number of components, thus potentially allowing for many new and subtle types of behaviour to emerge.


Thus it is not just the sheer number of connections between components which encourages emergence; it is also how these connections are organised. A hierarchical organisation is one example that can generate emergent behaviour (a bureaucracy may behave in a way quite different from that of the individual humans in that bureaucracy); but perhaps more interestingly, emergent behaviour can also arise from more decentralized organisational structures, such as a marketplace.


In some cases, the system has to reach a combined threshold of diversity, organisation, and connectivity before emergent behaviour appears.


Swarming is a well-known behaviour in many animal species from marching locusts to schooling fish to flocking birds. Emergent structures are a common strategy found in many animal groups: colonies of ants, mounds built by termites, swarms of bees, shoals/schools of fish, flocks of birds, and herds/packs of mammals.

An example to consider in detail is an ant colony. The queen does not give direct orders and does not tell the ants what to do. Instead, each ant reacts to stimuli in the form of chemical scent from larvae, other ants, intruders, food and buildup of waste, and leaves behind a chemical trail, which, in turn, provides a stimulus to other ants. Here each ant is an autonomous unit that reacts depending only on its local environment and the genetically encoded rules for its variety of ant. Despite the lack of centralized decision making, ant colonies exhibit complex behavior and have even been able to demonstrate the ability to solve geometric problems. For example, colonies routinely find the maximum distance from all colony entrances to dispose of dead bodies.

thinking – from SBJ’s emergence – ‘every cell carries complete copy of genome. no cell need wait for instructions from authority..’ Ridley

taleb antifragile law


At the highest level, all the biological communities in the world form the biosphere, where its human participants form societies, and the complex interactions of meta-social systems such as the stock market.

highest level.. stock market..? we are so messed up

amazing how so much of this wikipedia page describes emergence in terms of econ/business/traffic jams


spontaneous order

Groups of human beings, left free to each regulate themselves, tend to produce spontaneous order, rather than the meaningless chaos often feared. This has been observed in society at least since Chuang Tzu in ancient China. A classic traffic roundabout is a good example, with cars moving in and out with such effective organization that some modern cities have begun replacing stoplights at problem intersections with traffic circles, and getting better results.

? roundabout is good ie?

Open-source software and Wiki projects form an even more compelling illustration.



The stock market (or any market for that matter) is an example of emergence on a grand scale.


As a whole it precisely regulates the relative security prices of companies across the world, yet it has no leader; when no central planning is in place, there is no one entity which controls the workings of the entire market.



The World Wide Web is a popular example of a decentralized system exhibiting emergent properties. There is no central organization rationing the number of links, yet the number of links pointing to each page follows a power law in which a few pages are linked to many times and most pages are seldom linked to.


Another important example of emergence in web-based systems is social bookmarking (also called collaborative tagging). In social bookmarking systems, users assign tags to resources shared with other users, which gives rise to a type of information organisation that emerges from this crowdsourcing process. Recent research which analyzes empirically the complex dynamics of such systems has shown that consensus on stable distributions and a simple form of shared vocabularies does indeed emerge, even in the absence of a central controlled vocabulary.


Some believe that this could be because users who contribute tags all use the same language, and they share similar semantic structures underlying the choice of words. The convergence in social tags may therefore be interpreted as the emergence of structures as people who have similar semantic interpretation collaboratively index online information, a process called semantic imitation.

architecture and cities

Traffic patterns in cities can be seen as an example of spontaneous order

Emergent structures appear at many different levels of organization or as spontaneous order. Emergent self-organization appears frequently in cities where no planning or zoning entity predetermines the layout of the city. (Krugman 1996, pp. 9–29)

? iwan baan..?

The interdisciplinary study of emergent behaviors is not generally considered a homogeneous field, but divided across its application or problem domains.

Architects and Landscape Architects may not design all the pathways of a complex of buildings. Instead they might let usage patterns emerge and then place pavement where pathways have become worn in.

not iwan baan enough


The architectural school of Christopher Alexander takes a deeper approach to emergence attempting to rewrite the process of urban growth itself in order to affect form, establishing a new methodology of planning and design tied to traditional practices, an * Emergent Urbanism. Urban emergence has also been linked to theories of urban complexity (Batty 2005) and urban evolution (Marshall 2009).

article *emergent urbanism by @mathieuhelie

Modern city planning has been successful at its stated objective, producing a city designed specifically around automobile use,


The most devastating criticism of modernist urban planning came in the form of a sociological study and personal defense of the spontaneous city, the book Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. (Jacobs, 1961) In it she described in great details how the functions of a spontaneous city related and supported each other. Her concluding chapter, the kind of problem a city is, is still the most relevant. In it she attacks the scientific foundations of urban planning at a paradigmatic level, and claims that the methodology of the life sciences, at the time undergoing the revolution created by the discovery of DNA, is the correct approach to studying cities.


A definition of emergence

To define what is meant by emergence we will use the abstract computational system upon which Wolfram bases his theories, the cellular automaton. Each cell in a row is an actor, making a decision on its next action based on its state and the states of its direct neighbors (its context). All cells share the same rule set to determine how to do this, that is to say all cells will act the same way with the same context. In this way each row is the product of the actions of the cells in a previous row, forming a feedback loop. The patterns of these rows are not in themselves interesting, but when collected in a sequence and displayed as a two-dimensional matrix, they develop complex structures in this dimension.

The 30th rule of all possible rules of one-dimensional cellular automata produces a chaotic fractal when displayed as a two-dimensional matrix, but most other rules do not create complex two-dimensional structures. The first line of the matrix is a single cell that multiplies into three cells in the second line in accordance with the transformation rules pictured below the matrix. This process is reiterated for the change from the second to the third line, and so on. All the information necessary to create structures of this complexity is contained within the rules and the matrix-generating process. (Wolfram, 2002)

perhaps.. i do like the .. chaotic fractal ness.. but rest seems too.. calculated..

back to wikipedia page:

Building ecology is a conceptual framework for understanding architecture and the built environment as the interface between the dynamically interdependent elements of buildings, their occupants, and the larger environment. Rather than viewing buildings as inanimate or static objects, building ecologist Hal Levin views them as interfaces or intersecting domains of living and non-living systems


Eric Bonabeau’s attempt to define emergent phenomena is through traffic: “traffic jams are actually very complicated and mysterious. On an individual level, each driver is trying to get somewhere and is following (or breaking) certain rules, some legal (the speed limit) and others societal or personal (slow down to let another driver change into your lane). But a traffic jam is a separate and distinct entity that emerges from those individual behaviors. Gridlock on a highway, for example, can travel backward for no apparent reason, even as the cars are moving forward.” He has also likened emergent phenomena to the analysis of market trends and employee behavior.[33]

Computational emergent phenomena have also been utilized in architectural design processes, for example for formal explorations and experiments in digital materiality.

computer AI

Some artificially intelligent computer applications utilize emergent behavior for animation. One example is Boids, which mimics the swarming behavior of birds.


It has been argued that the structure and regularity of language grammar, or at least language change, is an emergent phenomenon (Hopper 1998). While each speaker merely tries to reach his or her own communicative goals, he or she uses language in a particular way. If enough speakers behave in that way, language is changed (Keller 1994). In a wider sense, the norms of a language, i.e. the linguistic conventions of its speech society, can be seen as a system emerging from long-time participation in communicative problem-solving in various social circumstances. (Määttä 2000)

Emergent change processes

Within the field of group facilitation and organization development, there have been a number of new group processes that are designed to maximize emergence and self-organization, by offering a minimal set of effective initial conditions. Examples of these processes include SEED-SCALE, Appreciative Inquiry, Future Search, the World Cafe or Knowledge Cafe, Open Space Technology, and others. (Holman, 2010


the book

below find 1\ notes from wikipedia 2\ notes from reading free pdf  3\ notes from reading purchased ebook .. on third book read.. adding this page: emergence as whalespeak .. thinking natural emergence.. nothing like johnson/wikipedia take.. and why we keep perpetuating tragedy of the non common.. ie: not letting go enough to see legit free emergence

wikipedia on Steven’s book – emergence:

wikipedia small

Emergence refers to the ability of low-level components of a system or community to self-organize into a higher-level system of sophistication and awareness. Johnson notes that this self reorganizing stems from the bottom up rather than directed by an external control factor. Johnson gives examples of feedback, self-organization and adaptive learning. He presents 5 fundamental principles to support his hypothesis:

  • More is different.
  • Ignorance is useful.
  • Encourage random encounters.
  • Look for patterns
  • Pay attention to your neighbors.

from what i can grab..


p 13

when the environment is less hospitable, the slime mold acts as a single organism; when the weather turns cooler and the mold enjoys a large food supply, ‘it’ becomes a ‘they.’

the slime mold oscillates between being a single creature and a swarm..

zoom dance.. ni ness.. re wire.. via hosting-life-bits.. a nother way

p 14

one of Turing’s last published papers, .. studied the riddle of ‘morphogenesis’ – the capacity of all life-forms to develop ever more baroque bodies out of impossibly simple beginnings…. it (his paper) demo’d using mathematical tools how a complex organism could assemble itself without any master planner calling the shots..


Evelyn Fox Keller

the huge ness of non-prescription

thinking of this ted: grow a forest – https://www.ted.com/talks/shubhendu_sharma_how_to_grow_a_tiny_forest_anywhere?language=en

pacemaker ness –

until Keller began her investigations, the conventional belief had been that slime mold swarms formed at the command of ‘pacemaker’ cells that ordered the other cells to begin aggregating. in 62, harvard’s b.m. shafer showed how the pacemakers could use cyclic amp as a signal of sorts to rally the troops; the slim mold generals would release the compounds at the appropriate moments, triggering waves of cyclic amp that washed through the entire community, as each isolated cell relayed the signal to its neighbors. slime mold aggregation, in effect, was a giant fame of telephone – but only a few elite cells place the original call..

so much Ed ness here… even Dave‘s campfire.. here..

it seemed like a perfectly reasonable explanation. we’re naturally predisposed to think in terms of pacemakers, whether we’re talking about fungi, political systems, or our own bodies.

our actions seem governed for the most part by the pacemaker cells in our brains, and for millennia we’ve built elaborate pacemakers cells into our social orgs, whether they come in the form of kings, dictators, or city councilmen. much of the world around us can be explained in terms of command systems, and hierarchies – why should it be any diff for the slime molds..?

but shafer’s theory had one small problem:

no one could find the pacemakers….

all cells in community were effectively interchangeable.. none of them possessed any distinguishing characteristics that might elevate them to pacemaker status.. shafer’s theory had presumed the existence of a cellular monarchy commanding the masses, but as it turned out, all slime mold cells were created equal.

for 20 yrs that followed publication… mycologist assumed that the missing pacemaker cells were a sign of insufficient data, or poorly designed experiments.…. the generals were there somewhere in the mix, the scholars assumed – they just didn’t know what their uniforms looked like.. but keller and segel took another , more radical approach.

Turing’s work on morphogenesis had sketched out a mathematical model wherein simple agents following simple rules could generate amazingly complex structures;

perhaps the aggregations of slime mold cells were a real-world example of that behavior. Turing had focused primarily on the interactions between cells in a single organism, but ti was perfectly resonable to assume that the math would work for aggregations of free-floating cells. and so … keller started to think…. what if shafer had it wrong… what if the community of slime mold cells were organizing themselves…

what if there were no pacemakers..?

keler and segel’shunch paid off dramatically. while they lacke dthe advance visualization tools.. they scratched out a series of equations..

p 16

.. that demo’d how slime cells could trigger aggregation w/o following a leader, simply by altering the amount of cyclic amp they released individually, then following trails of the pheromone that they encountered as they wandered through their environment.

whoa.. total app/chip idea… hosted life bits idea… trail rather than proof/prescription…
just huge

story in my head…
don’t need mtgs/assemblies/consensus… as we know them…
just need.. each unit/cell/person… listening/consensus ing/ deciding/assessing …. w self……. (self-talk as data) ……and then…. leaving a trail … (hosted-life-bits)… that can io dance…. w others…

as the day… no other orders…
from para…. importance of random wandering.. in that city/trail/forest/….

if the slime cells pumped out enough cyclic amp, clusters of cells would start to form..

ie: enough cyclic amp.. via enough people free and playing

cells would begin following trails created by other cells, creating a positive feedback loop that encourage more cells to join the cluster.

here.. i think best to zoom back to individual.. and individual consensus w/in one body/cell.. if.. my whimsy .. as the day ness.. groundhog day ness… everyone getting a go everyday ness.. creates positive feedback loop to eudaimonia.. the joining of clusters isn’t from following other people’s trails… it’s from following your own.. and tech helping us find the others.. that would be a more natural cluster.. a less prescribed/peer-pressured/credentialed-campfire/course-like… cluster..

h u g e

if each solo cell was simply releasing cyclic amp based on its own local assessment of the general conditions, Keller and Segel argued in a paper published in 1969, then the larger slime mold community might well be able to aggregate based on global changes in the environment – all w/o a pacemaker cell calling the shots.

ginormous.. as this is where ongoing/re-generating/authentic/ginormously-small energy comes from as well..


h   u   g   e

the response was very interesting, keller says now.. for anyone who understood applied mathematics, or had any experience in fluid dynamics, this was old hat tot hem. but to biologists, it didn’t make any sense. i would give seminars to biologists, and they’d say, ‘so” where’s the founder cell” where’s the pacemaker?’ it didn’t provide any satisfaction to he whatsoever.. indeed the pacemaker hypothesis would continue as the reugning model for another decade, util a series of experiments convincingly proved that the slime mold cells were organizing from below..

it amazes me how difficult it is for people to think in terms of collective phenomenon, keller says today

… keller’s colleague at mit – mitch resnick.. developed a computer simulation of slime mold cells aggregating, allowing students to explore the eerie, invisible hand of self-org by altering the number of cells in the environment, and levels of cyclic amp distributed…….. some of today’s most popular computer games resemble slime mold cells because they are loosely based on equation that keller and segel formulated by hand in late sixties

p 19

the movement from low-level rules to higher – level sophistication is what we call emergence….. .. it wouldn’t truly be considered emergent until those local interactions resulted in some kind of discernible macrobehavior

p 20

emergent complexity w/o adaptation is like the intricate crystals formed by a snowflake: it’s a beautiful pattern, but it has no function..the forms of emergent behavior that we’ll examine in this book show the distinctive quality of growing smarter over time, and of responding to the specific and changing needs of their environment

p 21

for as long as complex organisms have been alive, they have lived under the laws of self-organization, but in recent years our day-to-day life has become overrun with artificial emergence: systems built with a conscious understanding of what emergence is, systems designed to exploit those laws …up to now, the philosophers of emergence have struggle to interpret the world. but now they are stating to change it.

pdf i’m reading from now skips from p 23 to p 73

2 – street level

p 74

call is swarm logic: ten thousand ants – each limited to a meager vocab of pheromones and minimal cognitive skills – collectively engage in nuanced and improvisational problem solving.

it’s this connection between micro and mcaro organizaiotn that got Deborah Gordon in to ants in teh first place.. ‘i was interested in systems where individuals who are unable to assesss the global situatoin still work together in a coordinated way.. and they manage to do it using only local info’

Deborah Godon

local turns out to be the key term in understanding the power of swarm logic.

swarm ness

huge – self-talk as data for hosting-life-bits

we see emergent behavior in systems like ant colonies when the individual agents in the system pay attention to their immediate neighbors rather than wait for orders from above. they think/act locally, but their collective action produces global behavior.

p 75

the perceptual world of an ant.. is limited to the street level. there are no bird’s eye views .. no ways to perceive the overall system….. seeing the whole is both a perceptual and conceptual impossibility ..

p 77

this local feedback may well prove to be the secret to the ant world’s decentralized planning.

huge – self-talk as data for hosting-life-bits

2 deep/simple/open enough convos
as the day

p 77

given enough ants moving randomly through a finite space, the colony will be able to make an accurate estimate of the overall need for foragers or nest-builders…. because the decision-making process is spread out over thousands of individuals, the margin of error is vanishingly small..

sounds like interpretive labor ness – the daily gut check being the true north.. rather than some political mech for decision making.. to get us all to waggle/consent on an idea..

redefine decision makingdisengage from consensus

if you’re building a system designed to learn from the ground level, a system where macro intelligence and adaptability derive from local knowledge, there are five fundamental principles you need to follow. Gordon’s harvester ants showcase all of them at work:

more is different: critical mass ness.. only by  observing the entire system at work that the global behavior becomes appartent

open enough ness

ignorance is useful: the simplicity of the ant language and the relative stupidity of the individual ants – is, .. a feature not a bug. emergent systems can grow unwieldy when their component parts become excessively complicated. better to build a densely interconnected system with simple elements, and let the more sophisiticated behavior trickle up. (one reason chips traffice in language of zeros and ones).. having individual agents capable of directly assessing the overall state of the system can be a real liability in swarm logic, for the same reason that you don’t want one of the neurons in your brain to suddenly become sentient (able to perceive or feel things)

usefully ignorant ness – helps you let go of overall control.. and just work on (and model working on) your art..

encourage random encounters: decentralized systems … rely heavily on the random interactions/explorations.. w/o any predefined orders..

do you have to encourage it..? or just get out of the way of it..? (in a natural healthy system)

look for patterns in the signs: while ants don’t need an extensive vocab.. they do rely heavily on patterns.. they detect…

grok ness.. interpretive labor ness..

pay attention to your neighbors: local info can lead to global wisdom

p 80

unobserved.. because looking at wrong scale.. looking at weeks/months.. rather than decades…. Gordon’s research transformed the way that we think about ants by transforming the temporal scale with which we perceived them.

p 82

how does the whole develop a life cycle when the parts are so short-lived..? 15 yr cycle compared to 1 yr lifespan of ant

p 83

the tyranny of dna would seem to run counter to the principles of emergence: if all the cells are reading from the same playbook, it’s not a bottom-up system at all; its’ the ultimate in centralization. … so does this mean our genes are secret stalins…… our cells do more than just follow the dictates of dna.. they also learn from their neighbors.. and w/o that local interaction, the master plan o f our genetic code would be utterly useless….

p 84

cells self-organize into more complicated structures by learning from their neighbors…. each cell in your body contains an intricate set of tools for detecting the state of surrounding cells, and for communicating to those cells using various chemical messengers..

p 85

the runaway power of geometric progression is not just a mathematical oddity – it is also essential to the very origins of life..

… like the ants, cells have no way of seeing the whole, and they have not fixed address stamped upon them when they come into the world., no factory serial number.. but while cells lack a bird’s eye view of the organism that contains them, they can make street-level assessments via the molecular signals transmitted through the cell junctions.. this is the secret of self-assembly: cell collectives emerge because each cell looks to its neighbors for cues about how to behave.. a microscopic herd mentality… looks around to see what neighbors are doing and joins in

good if.. in location of your art.. otherwise.. burn out.. or drudgery

cells rely heavily on the code of dna for development, but they also need a sense of place to do their work..

smacks of a and a ness

the great beauty of embryo development.. is that it is a totally decentralized process. since

every cell in the body carries a complete copy of the genome, no cell need wait for instructions from authority; every cell can act on its own info and the signals it receives from its neighbors. – ridley

2 deep/simple/open enough convos
as the day

p 88

the algos (of sim city) are relatively simple – look at your neighbors’ state, and change your state accordingly.. but the magic of the simulation occurs because the computer makes thousands of these calculations per second.. because each cell is influencing the behavior of other cells, changes appear to ripple through the entire system w a fluidity and definition that can only be described as lifelike

how hosted life bits could io dance on blockchain or whatever

p 89 (p 62 in ebook below)

great cities are not like towns only larger.. they are not like suburbs only denser.. they differ from towns/suburbs in basic ways.. – Jane Jacobs – emergence ness.. how cities self org over time.. while actual cities are heavily shaped by top down forces, such as zoning laws and planning commissions, scholars have long recognized that bottom-up forces play a critical role in city formation, creating distinct neighborhoods and other unplanned demographic clusters…. in recent years… have developed more precise models that re create the neighborhood formation process with startling precision..

imagine this as rat park ness – roosevelt and prospect.. bend ing your ear .. to model a nother way


p 90

local rules lead to global structure – but a structure that you wouldn’t necessarily predict from the rules..

p 91

neighborhoods are patterns in time… no one wills them into existence single-handedly; they emerge by a akind of tacit consensus: the artist go here, the investment bankers here, mexican-amiercans here, gays and lesbians here…

well kind of.. sans labels.. rather via curiosities.. via hosting-life-bits et al

neighbor hood govt ness

in the popular democracy of neighborhood formation, we vote with our feet..

true on.. rather than consenting to a topic.. consenting to individual gut.. and then grouping like people via that day’s gut ness

p 92

at core.. was street itself… the brilliance of.. death and life was that Jacobs understood – before the sciences had even developed a vocab to describe it – that those interactions enable cities to create emergent system. she fought so passionately against urban planning that got people ‘off the streets’ because she recognized that both the order and the vitality of working cities came from the loose, improvised assemblages of individuals who inhabited those streets. cities, Jacobs understood, were created not by central planning commissions, but by the low-level actions of borderline strangers going about their business in public life.

…safety… has everything to do with the local interactions of strangers sharing the public space of the sidewalks: … its essence is intimacy of sidewalk use… bringing with it constant succession of eyes….. we are the lucky possessors of a city order that makes it relatively simple to keep the peace because there are plenty of eyes on the street.

p 94

key is that sidewalks are important not because they provide environmentally sound alt to freeways..better exercise.. even though all those..  but nothing about physical existence that matters to Jacobs. what matters is that they are the primary conduit for the flow of info between city residents. … allow relatively high bandwidth communication between total strangers, and they mix large numbers of individuals in random configurations…… w/o sidewalks, ..like ants w/o smell…. they provide both the right kind and the right number of local interactions… they are the gap junction of city life..

many… misunderstood the reasons why she had embraced the sidewalk… that is because they saw the city as a kind of political theater, and not as an emergent system…

p 96

sidewalks exist to create the ‘complex order’ of the city, not to make the citizens more well-rounded. sidewalks work because they permit local interactions to create global order.

so imagining.. hosted life bits like global sidewalks ness… not to go global.. but to zoom deeper .. all directions..

.. encountering diversity does nothing for the global system of the city unless that encounter has a chance of altering your behavior….. the info networks of sidewalk life are fine-grained enough to permit higher-level learning to emerge…

p 100

we contribute to that emergent intelligence.. but it is almost impossible for us to perceive that contribution, because our lives unfold on the wrong scale. the next chapter is an attempt to see our way around that blind spot..

which i don’t have.. dang..

p 101

3 – the pattern match

the creation of the guild system, by all accounts, proved to be a reorganization that literally changed the world.

from 101 to 226

p 226

an ant colony w/o local rules has no chance of creating a higher-level order, no chance of creating a collective intelligence

p 227

7 – see what happens

p 232 (p 207 in ebook)

only in our long zoom do we find, at each scale, the same behavior repeating itself again and again.

p 233

one kind of decentralized intelligence (the human brain) grasps a new way to apply the lessons of an other decentralized intelligence (the ants), which then serves as a platform (the network) for the transmission of an other kind (the virtual cities), which we enjoy while sitting safely in our apartments in the neighborhoods of the planet’s largest man-made self-organizing system (the real city). it is emergence all the way down the chain.

it is both the promise and the peril of swarm logic that the higher-level behavior is almost impossible to predict in advance… don’t know till you press play and find out….

even the most optimistic champions of self-organization feel a little wary about the lack of control in such a process. but

understanding emergence has always been about giving up control,

letting the system govern itself as much as possible, letting it learn from the footprints.

why have we not yet..





notes/quotes while reading book (rather than first read of pdf above).. also notes with quotes in orange.. while rereading in 21 – actually.. adding emergence as whalespeak page for 21 read.. because so frustrat\ing – unsettling:

starting fresh here.. just got the book.. reading acknowledgements first.. seeing he read Jane’s book 3 blocks from where she wrote it..


emergence kindle

37 place

old forward

most of all, we need to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds. that ay we can keep open all the options, as we have in the past.

we have in the past..?

we are all obsessed by need to feed info in.. but lack sensing mech’s for getting anything back… no more sense of what goes on in mind of mankind than for mind in ant..  – lewis thomas, 1973

new forward for ebook edition – by Steven 2012


another unanticipated twist. the book was published in u.s. during first week of sept 2001. emergence happened to end with a look at the decentralized, swarm-like protest movements that had begun to capture the world’s attention, such as 1999 anti wto in seattle, then, the week after the book was published.. 9 11… before long i learned that it was being widely read inside the defense department and the cia, as those orgs struggle to adapt to the reality of waging war against networks instead of states.



other books of mine have sold more copies. others have generated more attention and public debate. but no book of mine has cast such a strange and eclectic shadow of influence.

152 place (page numbers? so mixed up.. this is closer to 113 added below.. ?)

(notes from above – on .. no pacemaker and Turing et al)

30 years after the two researchers first sketched out theory… slime mold aggregation is not recognized as classic case study in bottom up behavior.. mitch resnick.. developed a computer simulation.. .. some of today’s most popular computer games resemble slime mold cells.. because loosely based on equations keller and segel formulated by hand in late 60s

164 place/70

intro – here comes everybody


mathematics had played such a tremendous role in expanding our understanding of physics, (evelyn fox) keller thought – so perhaps it might also be useful for understanding living systems

oi.. of math and men.. need to let go of any form of m\a\p


when environ less hospitable.. slime mold acts as single organism (it).. when cooler and large food supply.. it becomes a they


turing’s paper had focused more on the recurring numerical patterns of flowers, but it demo’d using math tools.. how a simple complex organism could assemble itself w/o any mast planner calling the shots..

undisturbed ecosystem


it seemed like a perfectly reasonable explanation.. we’re naturally predisposed to think in terms of pacemakers, whether we’re talking about fungi, political systems, or our own bodies.. our actions seem governed for the most part by the pacemaker cells in our brains, and for millennia we’ve build elab pacemakers cells into our social orgs, whether they come in the form of kings, dictators, or city councilmen.. much of the *world around us can be explained in terms of command systems and hierarchies.. why should it be any diff for the slime molds?

*sea world

all the cells in the community were effectively interchangeable.. none of them possessed any distinguishing characteristics that might elevate them to pacemaker status.. shafer’s theory had presumed the existence of  cellular monarchy commanding the masses, but as it turned out, all slime mold cells were created equal


keller started to think: what if shafer had it wrong all along? what if slime mold cells were org ing selves.? what if there were no pacemakers?.. keller and segel scratched out out a series of equations.. that demo’d how slime cells could trigger aggregation w/o following a leader.. simply by altering amounts of cyclic amp they released individually, then *following trails of the pheromone they encountered as they wandered thru their environs…. *cells would being following trails created by other cells, creating a **positive feedback loop that encouraged more cells to join the cluster.. w/o a pacemaker ***calling the shots..

but there is ***one.. even if just a *trail.. still a pacemaker.. sill cancerous.. maté trump law et al

**rather feedback loop is broken.. perpetuating tragedy of the non common

left off 141

and no more orange notes here.. adding rest of 3rd re read on emergence as whalespeak page


30 yrs after… students now take courses in ‘self-org studies’ and bottom up software helps org the web’s mostly lively virtual communities…. also unearthed a secret history of decentralized thinking, a history that had been submerged for many years beneath the weight of the pacemaker hypothesis and the traditional boundaries of scientific research…..

People had been thinking about emergent behavior in all its diverse guises for centuries, if not millennia, but all that thinking had consistently been ignored as a unified body of work—because there was nothing unified about its body.There were isolated cells pursuing the mysteries of emergence, but no aggregation.

175 place

to see it as a pattern you needed to encounter it in several contexts.

fractal ness.. g pivot z dance .. rev of everyday life ness

keller and segel saw it in slime .. jacobs saw it in city neighborhoods.. minsky in the human brain

the movement from low level rules to higher level sophistication is what we call emergence.

? i don’t know.. who’s to say what is low/high.. what is sophistication..? is it not sophistication just because we can’t see it..? ie: there’s never nothing going on ness..

what are we missing because we’re defining things rather than seeing things..

209 place

how do you push your emergent system toward clocklike behavior, if that’s your goal.. how do you make a self=organizing system more adaptive..

and again – who defines adaptive.. ie: this ie is of getting billiard balls ready for next player.. is that what we want..?

part one

1\ the myth of the ant queen

p 4

Deborah Gordon‘s ants

p 7

We know now that systems like ant colonies don’t have real leaders, that the very idea of an ant “queen” is misleading. But the desire to find pacemakers in such systems has always been powerful—in both the group behavior of the social insects, and in the collective human behavior that creates a living city.

back to loc 175 – but fitting..

Keller and Segel saw it in the slime mold assemblages; Jane Jacobs saw it in the formation of city neighborhoods; Marvin Minsky in the distributed networks of the human brain

p 11

not quite following the raves of manhattan.. being via no plans.. but still able to hide the atrocities.. who decides what’s an atrocity..?

then this.. not seeming to fit what i just read.. (because ie: Jane against gentrification et al)

That mix of order and anarchy is what we now call emergent behavior. Urban critics since Lewis Mumford and Jane Jacobs have known that cities have lives of their own, with neighborhoods clustering into place without any Robert Moses figure dictating the plan from above

p 17

In one day, Turing had completed the text that would help engender the discipline of biomathematics and inspire Keller and Segel’s slime mold discoveries fifteen years later, and he had enjoyed a spirited exchange with the man who would eventually achieve world fame for his research into self-organizing systems. On that winter day in 1952, there was no mind on the face of the earth better prepared to wrestle with the mysteries of emergence than Alan Turing’s. But the world outside that mind was conspiring to destroy it

p 18

shannon and turing immediately recognized that they had been working along parallel tracks….

imagine if our focus.. our few simple rules.. was on just that.. people finding their people.. which.. begs people find themselves as well.. [otherwise we have fake people finding other real/fake people/matches]

imagine all the people working on the same things right now.. and not knowing about each other.. missing out on the.. ‘but shannon pushed him to think of the machine as something closer to an actual human brain.. et al..’ – shannon wants to feed not just data to a brain, but cultural things..

our walls.. are keeping us from us.. our vastness is keeping us from us.. let’s try a mech – deep/simple/open enough.. to get us back to us.. our interconnected ness.. our emerging us ness…

p 19

5 yrs after interactions w turing, shannon published a long essay in the bell system tech journal.. quickly repackaged as a book: the mathematical theory of communication… ch titles like: discrete noiseless systems… became cult classic.. info theory… profound impact on sci and tech research…theoretical and practical

weaver – from shannon – pens .. founding text of complexity theory.. weaver divided last few centuries of sci inquiry into 3 broad camps:  1\ simple systems – 2-3 variables  2\ disorganized complexity – mill/bill variables that can only be approached via stats/probability  – helped ie: *life insurance companies turn a profit..    3\ organized complexity – mod # of variables.. but variables all interrelated..

*no wonder stats/prob grates me wrong

p 21

disorganized because they don’t create any higher-level behavior other than broad stastical trends

org complexity – like motorized billiards table.. where balls follow specific rules….

ok.. if rules are what’s written on each heart.. – listen to whimsy

problem w org complexity… seemed ominpresenst in nature once you looked at it

All these are certainly complex problems. But they are not problems of disorganized complexity, to which statistical methods hold the key. They are all problems which involve dealing *simultaneously with a sizable number of factors which are interrelated into an organic whole

begs we leap to *in-sync ness.. for (blank)’s sake

This was a genuine shift in the paradigm of research, to use Thomas *Kuhn’s language—a revolution not so much in the interpretations that science built in its attempt to explain the world, but rather in the types of questions it asked. The paradigm shift was more than just a new mind-set, Weaver recognized; it was also a by-product of new tools that were appearing on the horizon. To solve the problems of organized complexity, you needed a **machine capable of churning through thousands, if not millions, of calculations per second—a rate that would have been unimaginable for individual brains running the numbers with the limited calculating machines of the past few centuries.

*hearing Keller on Kuhn..

**mech – deep/simple/open enough – to host-life-bit – via self-talk

mysteries of organized complexity would be much easier to tackle once you could model the behavior in close-to-real time.

rev of everyday life

p 23

Turing played essential role in creating both hardware/software that powered this first digital revolution and he work on morphogenesis had been one of first systematic attempts to imagine development as a problem of organized complexity.. one of great tragedies of this story that turing didn’t live to see.. much less *participate in ..those two paths intersecting..

*if he had.. perhaps we might have let go enough.. by now.. of the flowering ness..

weaver call to action – nothing to do w digital computers… problem of inner city slums.. decidedly top down: razing entire neighborhoods… eliminating streets altogether..  destroy neighborhood feel that had preceded them..

p 24

october *61 – nyc… at center of protests was … Jane..argued that the way to improve … was not to bulldoze…. shortly after the village showdown.. Jacobs read weaver’s rockefeller foundation essay.. and immediately recognized her own agenda in **his call for exploring problems of org complexity

*61 ness – and even Jane

imagining the potential of mech to *find your people

p 25

a complex order. Its essence is intimacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance—not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole.

tons above from first reading.. on JJ

we cannot analyze virtues/faults, diagnose trouble, consider helpful changes, w/o going at the as problems of org complexity… wishing can”t change these problems into simpler matters than org complexity…to understand city’s complex order, you needed to understand that ever-changing ballet

where city streets had lost their equilibrium, you couldn’t simply approach problem by fiat and bulldoze entire neighborhoods out of existence…

vision of city far more than sum of its residents.. closer to living or… capable of adaptive change.. ‘vital cities have marvelous *innate abilities for understanding/communication/contriving/inventing what is required to combat their difficulties.. they get their order from **below

*h  u  g  e

**w/in rather.. w/in gut ness

Jacob’s book was a work of social theory, not science. was it possible to model and explain the behavior of self-org systems using more *rigorous methods..?

*more rigorous that ie: soles

p 40

Just like the clock maker metaphors of the Enlightenment, or the dialectical logic of the nineteenth century, the emergent worldview belongs to this moment in time, shaping our thought habits and coloring our perception of the world

p 42

Our minds may be wired to look for pacemakers, but we are steadily learning how to think from the bottom up.

more like.. minds intoxicated to look for pacemakers..

part two

p 44

look to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise: which having no chief, overseer, or ruler, provides her meat in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest – prov 6:6-8

2\ street level

p 48

knack for engineering and social coord can be ..spooky – because none of the individual ants is actually ‘in charge’ … it’s this connection between micro and macro org that got deborah gordon into ants in the first place


local turns out to be the key term in understanding the power of swarm logic..

swarm ness

huge – self-talk as data for hosting-life-bits

no individual ant can assess any of the variable on her own (i sue her deliberately – all worker ants are females)

no view… street level

those chemical signals turn out to be the key to understanding swarm logic…. pheromones play central role in org of colonies

p 49

communication.. relies on a vocab of ten signals, nine of which are based on pheromones.. the one exception is tactile communication directly between ants..

p 51

5 principles for system designed to learn from ground level.. (see above for more): 1\ more is diff  2\ ignorance is useful  3\ random encounters  4\ patterns in signs  5\ pay attention to neighbors

p 58

cells do more than just follow the dictates of dna. they also learn from neighbors. and w/o that local interaction, the master plan of our genetic code would be utterly useless..

we all start life as a single-celled organism, and yet by the end of our development cycle, we’re somehow composed of 200 variations, all intricately connected to one another, and all performing stunningly complex tasks…

cells self-org into more complicated structure by learning from their neighbors.

p 60

(repeat from above but huge)

since every cell in the body carries a complete copy of the genome, no cell need wait for instructions from authority; every cell can act on its own info and the signals it receives from its neighbors – Ridley – what human beings find so hard to grasp..

this is us..  #woke.. deray

p 61

sim city was one of first games to exploit the uncanny, bottom -up powers of emergence..

p 62

the magic of the simulation occurs because the computer makes thousands of these calcs per sec

p 65

the great preponderance of city dwellers live by those laws (no one wills them into existence singlehandedly they emerge by a kind of tacit consensus: the artists go here, the investment bankers here, mexican americans here gas and lesbians here…?), w/o any legal authority mandating that compliance. it is the sidewalk- the public space where interactions between neighbors are the mot expressive and he most frequent – that helps us create those laws. in the popular democracy of neighborhood formation, we vote with our feet.

? kind of

p 66

brilliance of death and life was that Jacobs understood – before the science had even developed a vocab to describe it – that those interaction enabled cities to create emergent systems. she fought so passionately against urban planning that got people ‘off the streets’ because she recognized that …

both the order and the vitality of working cities came from the loose, improvised assemblages of individuals who inhabited those streets

cities, Jacobs understood, were created not by central planning commissions, but by the low-level actions of borderline strangers going about their business in public life

rev of everyday life ness.. let’s design for that.. a nother way

its essence is intimacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. this order is all composed of movement and change… the ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place to place, and in any on e place is always replete with new improvisations.

p 67

a city order that makes it relatively simple to keep the peace because there are plenty of eyes on the street..

why we need no busyness.. keeping us from hanging together.. ie: school, jobs, et al

they unite in their join effect upon the sidewalk which is not specialized in the least. that is its strength.

random local interaction leading to global order; specialized components creating an unspecialized intelligence; neighborhoods of individuals solving problems w/o any of those individuals realizing it. and safety is only part of the story… .. sidewalks important not because.. good for environ.. exercise…….. in fact, nothing about the physical existence of sidewalks that matters to Jacobs. what matters is that they are the primary conduit for the flow of info between city residents….. sidewalks allow relatively high0bandwidth communication between total strangers, and they mix large numbers of individual in random configurations…. sidewalks provide both the right kind and the right number of local interactions. they are the gap junctions of city life.

misunderstood the reasons why she had embraced the sidewalk…. that is because they saw the city as a kind of political theater, and not as an emergent system…

p 69

both perspective assume seeing racial/econ diversity is intrinsically good or you, like some kind of political cardiovascular workout…… that diet has nothing to do w jacobs understanding  of sidewalks and their uses… according to d and l..

individuals only benefit indirectly from sidewalk rituals: better sidewalks make better cities.. which in turn improve lives of dwellers… value of exchange lies in what it does for superorg… sidewalks exist to create the ‘complex order’ of the city.. not to make the citizens more well-rounded. sidewalks work because they permit local interactions to create global order.

p 70

city life depends on the odd interaction between strangers that changes one individual’s behavior….. encountering diversity does nothing for the global system of the city unless that encounter has a chance of altering your behavior. there has to be feedback between agents, cells that change in response to the changes in other cells..

this is the ultimate lesson of jacobs’s’ sidewalks, and of her way of thinking about cities as self-organizing systems. the info networks of sidewalk life are fine-grained enough to permit higher-level learning to emerge… ie: cars occupy diff scale from sidewalks.. so lines of communication between two are finite..

important distinction must be drawn..between ant colonies and cities, though, and it revolves around the question of volition….. as we have seen, the intelligence of the colony actually relies on the stupidity of its component parts……. even gordon herself is sympathetic to the objection..’in a human society, every person always thinks they know what they’re doing, even if they’re wrong…. it’s very hard to imagine any human society in which people would go around responding to what happened at the moment w/o any conception of why they’re doing what they’re doing..

whoa.. though today… perhaps closer to living that very thing… pluralistic ignorance er al..

p 72

what ants to and what cells do wand what sidewalks to should be seen as instances of the same idea, the same activity built out of varied material, like a musical score played by diff instruments. but to see beyond the objection of individual human volition, we need to think about cities on the right scale. the emphasis on free will only matters on the scale of the individual human life. we need to think about cities the way gordon thought about ant colonies – on the scale of the superorganism itself..

human behavior works at two comparable scales our day to day survival, which involves assessments of the next thirty or forty years at best; and the millennial scale of cities and other economic ecosystems..

why economic..? or i guess.. what do you mean by economic ecosystems..?

decisions… all made on the scale of the human lifetime – and usually a much shorter time frame than that. those decisions we make consciously, but they also contribute to a macrodeveloment that we have almost *no way of comprehending..

*no way..?  thinking prior to now ness. via shirky

and that macrodevelopment belongs to he organism of the city itself.. which grows/evolves/learns over a 1000 yr cycle, as dozens of human generations come and go… viewed at that speed…. like gordon’s harvester ants……. perceived as that scale, the success of the urban superorganism might well be the single most momentous global even of the past few centuries…… (ie: city dwellers from 3% to over 50%)

p 73

why has the city superorganism triumphed over other social forms…… possess a kind of emergent intelligence…. we contribute to it.. but almost impossible to perceive that contribution.. because our live unfold on wrong scale.. next chapter is attempt to see our way around that blind spot..

3\ the pattern march

p 75

the creation of the guild system, by all accounts, proved to be a reorganization that literally changed the world..

p 76

learning is not always contingent on consciousness……immunity is a learning process…. we don’t come into world predisposed to ward off chicken pox.. our bodies learn how to do it on the fly.. w/o any specific training..


p 77

body learns w/o consciousness, and so do cities.. because learning not just about being aware of info; also about sorting info and knowing where to find it….. about altering system’s behavior in response to patterns…

p 78

like any emergent system, a city is a pattern in time…. the world convulses, sheds its skin a thousand times, and yet the silk weavers stay in place….. that pattern in time is one of the small miracles of emergence….and yet.. the silk weavers remain, held in place by the laws of emergence, by the city’s gift for self-org..

p 80

cities are blessed w an opposing force that keeps the drift and tumult of history at bay: a kind of self-organizing stickiness that allows the silk weavers to stay huddled together a long the same road for a thousand years, white the rest of the world reinvents itself again and again..

ie: manhattan streets from 1000 yr view.. what comes into mind is an embryo self-organizing into recognizable shapes, forming patterns that will last a lifetime..

p 81

city may be described as structure specially equipped to store/transmit the good of civilization – lewis mumford

that clustering becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: potential consumers and employees have an easier time finding the good and jobs they’re looking for

? why consumers and employees..?

cities were creating user- friendly interfaces thousands of years before anyone even dreamed of digital computers…

p 82

the neighborhood system of the city functions as a kind of user interface for the same reason that traditional computer interfaces do: there are limits to how much info our brains can handle at any given time..

p 83

and the extraordinary thing.. is that this learning emerges w/o anyone even being aware of it..

cities may function like libraries and interfaces, but they are not built with that explicit aim

organic cities – florence or istanbul or downtown manhattan – are more an imprint of collective behavior that the work of master planners…

they are the sum of thousands of local interactions: clustering, sharing, crowding, trading – all the disparate activities that coalesce into the totality of urban living..

p 84

there is nothing gradual or linear about the change; it is sudden, and as emphatic, as turning on a light switch.. cities aren’t ideas that spread, viruslike, through larger populations; ….

p 85

a linear increase in energy can produce a nonlinear change in the system that conducts that energy, a change that would be difficult to predict..

we saw before that the idea of building cities didn’t spread through europe via word of mouth, but what did spread through europe, starting around ad 1000, were a series of tech advances that combined to produce a dramatic change in the human capacity for harnessing energy flows..

chip ness

p 86

the acceleration in urban development.. manuel de landa.. would not be matched for another 500 years, when a new intensification of the flow of energy – this time arising from the exploitation of fossil fuels ..


we are by all accounts, in the midst of another tech revolution – an info age, a time of near infinite connectedness

p 88

for there to be a single, global consciousness, the web itself would have to be getting smarter, and the web wasn’t a single, unified things – it was just aa vast sum of interlinked data..

but as years passed… question kept bounding in my head.. is web itself becoming a giant brain? i still think answer is no. but now i think it’s worth asking why not..

p 89

sustainable city life ranks high on the list of modern inventions – as world-transforming as the alphabet (which it helped engender) or the internet (which may well be its undoing)

p 90

emergence isn’t some mystical force that comes into being when agents collab….. intelligence requires both connectedness and organization….. has the web followed a comparable path of development over the past few years? is the web becoming more organized as it grows?

you need only take a quick look at the nasdaq most active list to see that the answer is unequivocal no..

p 91

as if the web would make a miserable city, it would do even worse as a brain..

p 92

the goal-directed org comes from an important property of organisms you discuss: their cells are in the same reproductive boat and thus have no ‘incentive’ to act against the interests of the whole body. but the internet, not being a cohesive replicating system, has no such org.

some systems, such as the web, are geniuses at making connections but lousy with structure. the tech’s behind the internet – everything from the microprocessors in each web server to the open-ended protocols that govern the data itself – have been brilliantly engineered to handle dramatic increases in scale, but they are indifferent, if not downright hostile, to the task of creating higher-level order..

these patterns (hub .. spoke.. of traffic flows) may be self-organizing, but they are not adaptive in any way….

p 93

there is great power and creative energy in self-organization, to be sure, but it needs to be channeled toward *specific forms for ti to blossom into something like intelligence..

? *specific forms..?

or at least – people finding people..  no forms..

by tweaking some of the underlying assumptions behind today’s web, you could design an alternative version that could potentially mimic the self-organzigning  neighborhoods

neighborhood govt ness

of cities or the differentiate lobes of the human brain…. the web’s not inherently disorganized, it’s just built that way. modify its underlying architecture, and the web might very well be capable of the *groupthink that teilhard envisioned.

perhaps we can do better than *groupthink ness

p 94

ironically, it is precisely this feedback that the web lacks, because html-based links are one-directional. you can point to ten other sites from your home page, but there’s *now ay for those pages to know that you’re pointing to them…

is this still true? don’t think so..

self-organizing systems use feedback to bootstrap themselves into a more orderly structure. and given the web’s feedback-intolerant, one-way linking, there’s no way for the network to learn as it grows, which is why it’s now so dependent on search engines to rein in its natural chaos..

p 95

is there a way around this limitation? in fact, a solution exists already… works around the shortcomings of html to create a true learning network that sits on top of web…

first attempt to nurture emergent intelligence online began with the desire to keep the web from being so forgetful..

brester kahle.. server farm in alexa internet’s basement….. now it houses what may well be the most accurate snapshot of the collective intelligence anywhere in the world: thirty terabytes of data, archiving both the web itself and the patterns of traffic flowing through it..

p 96

in just 3 years got bigger than library of congress.. kahle says.. so the questino is.. what dow e do now..?

obsessed with the impermanence of today’s datastreams, kahle.. founded alexa with the idea of taking ‘snapshots’ of the web… anytime a surfer encountered a 404 page not found error… he or she could swiftly consult he alexa archive and pull up the original page..

tool that accompanies you as you browse..more than just resuscitate old web pages.. could make connections between web sites.. that otherwise have been invisible….. how are these connections formed? by watching traffic patterns, and looking for neighbors

chip ness

in other words.. the associations are not the work of an individual consciousness, but rather the sum total of thousands and thousands of individual decisions, a guide to the web created by following an unimaginable number of footprints..


p 97

as kahle says, learning from users is only thing that scales to size of the web….. alexa’s *power of association – this site is like these other sites – emerges out of the **desultory travels of the alexa user base..

*power – so chip/server.. sidewalking hosted life bits.. this curiosity/person.. like this curiosity/person.. in the neighborhood (local)…

h    u     g     e

**desultory – whoa… out of desultory travels.. that’s whimsy.. as the day…

none of those users are deliberatley setting out to create clusters … to enow the web w much needed structure.. they simply go about their business and the system itself learns by watching… if only 1000… not enough data…. more data.. the system starts to learn..

let’s be clear… alexa makes no attempt to simulate human intelligence or consciousness directly…. you don’t teach the computer to read or appreciate web site design. the software simply looks for patterns in numbers, like the foraging ants counting the number of fellow foragers they encounter per hour

why we don’t want/need tech to be human like.. we’re better off if it’s not judgmental… biased..

we can do that.

we haven’t yet.. but we can.

p 98

intelligence of alexa is really the aggregated wisdom of the thousands, or millions of people who use the system..

worth noting.. alexa is not truly a ‘recommendation agent’ it is not telling you that you’ll like the five sites it suggest. it’s saying that there’s a relationship between the site you’re currently visiting and the sites listed on the pull down menu..the clusters that form via alexa are clusters of association, and the links between them are not unlike the traditional links of hypertext.

think about the semantics of a hypertext link embedded in an online article:  you don’t translate.. if you like this.. you’l like this.. the link isn’t *recommending another page; it’s pointing out that there’s a relationship… it’s still **up to you to decide if you’re interested in other sites… alexa’s simply there to ***show you were the clusters are

*recommending  – h  u  g  e

**up to you – like unschooling mom.. strewing things/options… about


p 99

a brilliant site called everything2 employs a neural-net-like program to create a user-authored encyclopedia, with related entries grouped together, alexa-style, based on user traffic patterns,… promising to bring like minds together…. digital-age heirs to the por santa maria..

for many people the distinction persists to this day: we look to our computers for number crunching; when we want cultural advice, we’re already blessed with plenty of humans to consult. other critics fear a narrowing of our aesthetic bandwidth, with agents numbly recommending the sites that everyone else is surfing, all the while dressing their recommendations up in the sheeps’ clothing of *custom-fit culture.

* h  u  g  e

if the computer is, in the end, merely making connections between diff cultural sensibilities, sensibilities that were originally developed by humans and not by machines, then surely the emergent software model is preferable to the way most westerners consume entertainment: by obeying the dictates of advertising….

software like alexa isn’t trying to replicate the all-knowing authoritarianism of big brother or hal, after all – it’s trying to replicate the folksy, communal practice of neighbors sharing info on a crowded sidewalk, even if the neighbors at issue are total strangers, communicating to each other over the distributed network of the web…

p 100

the pattern-seeking algos of emergent software are already on way to becoming one of primary mechs in great goldberg contraption of modern social life.. as familiar to us as more traditional devices like supply/demand, representational democracy, snap polls..

? yuck..

intelligent software already scans the wires of constellations of book lovers or potential mates.. in the future, our networks will be caressed by a million invisible hands, seeking patterns in the digital soup, looking for neighbors in ta land where everyone is by definition a stranger…

as the futurist ray kurzweil writes, humans are far more skilled at recognizing patterns than in thinking through logical combos, so we rely on their aptitude for almost all of our mental processes… indeed, patter recog comprises the bulk of our neural circuitry. these faculties make up for the extremely slow speed of human neruons. the human mind is poorly equipped to deal w problems that need to be solved serially – one cal after another – given that neurons require a ‘reset time’ of about 5 milliseconds, meaning that neurons are capable of only 200 cals per second..

a modern pc can do millions of calcs per second.. which is why we let them do heavy lifting for anything that requires math skills… but..

unlike most computers, the brain is a massively parallel system, with 100 billion neurons all working away at the same time..

… because each individual neuron is so slow, kurzweil explains, we don’t have time.. to think too many new thoughts when we are *pressed to make a decision. the human brain relies on precomputing its analyses and storing the for future ref. we then use our pattern recog capability to recog a situation as compatible to one we have thought about and then draw upon our previously considered conclusions..

*pressed – prescribed…. manufacturing consent..

p 101

the web may never become self-aware in any way that resembles human self-awareness, but  that doesn’t mean the web isn’t capable of *learning.

*learning – … or memorizing patterns..

our networks will grow smarter in the coming years, but smarter in the way that an immune system or a city grows smarter, not a way a child does…

that’s nothing to apologize for- an adaptive info network capable of complex pattern recog could prove to be one of the most important inventions in all of human history . who cares if it never actually learns how to think for itself.




esp if hosting life bits..

it follows purchase patterns or listening habits that we supply and lets us deal with the air guitar and the off key warbling. on some basic human level, ,that feels like a difference worth preserving

meta ness.. as worth preserving..

but is it truly a diff in kind, or is it just a diff in degree…

computer doesn’t listen to music or browse the web; it looks for patterns in data and converts those patterns into info that is useful – or at least aims to be useful – to human beings…

p 102

but what is listening to music if not the search for patterns – for harmonic resonance, stereo repetition, octaves, chord progressions – in the otherwise dissonant sound field that surrounds us everyday.. one tall scans the zeros and ones on a magnetic disc…. what drives each process is a hunger for patterns, equivalencies, likenesses; in each the art emerges out of perceived symmetry.. (back, our most mathematical composer, understood this better than anyone else)

? perhaps cage would disagree..? perhaps back would too..

what makes music diff from noise is that music has patterns, and our ears are trained to detect them..

? really?

a software application – no matter how intelligent – can’t literally hear the sounds of all those patterns clicking into place.

really? or is that what software does… not humans…

but does that make its music any less sweet

seems reverse here.. upside down ish

4\ listening to feedback

p 105

change substance of politics: tv would increase our focus on the interpersonal skills of our politicians and diminish our focus on the issues. w the flowers affair, though, the medium hadn’t changed; the underlying system had

we didn’t notice until jim wooten first posed that question in new hampshire, but the world of televised news had taken a significant first step toward emergence…

it was a casualty of feedback…

p 106

 all decentralized system s rely extensively on feedback, for both growth and self-regulation..

not voting.. not consensus..

p 107

an unimaginably large number of possible neuronal circuits go unrealized over the course of a human life..

beneath all that apparent diversity, certain circuits repeat themselves again and again. one of the most tantalizing hypotheses in neuroscience today is that the cellular basis of learning lies in the repetition of those circuits..

marks fixed space in brain and thereafter becomes a part of our mental vocab

p 108

If each neuron extended a link to one or two fellow neurons, the chance of a reverberating loop would be greatly reduced. But because neurons reach out in so many directions simultaneously, it’s far more likely that a given neuron firing will wind its way back to the original source, thus starting the process all over again. The likelihood of a feedback loop correlates directly to the general interconnectedness of the system

feedback loop borken

daniel boorstin .. 1961 … the image.. analyzed tv age….. mediated media-critique, unknown in boorstin’s less solipsistic times (self is all that can be known to exist)

p 109

flower controversy blossomed because shift.. that made entire system significantly more interconnected….. rewired system… letting affiliates pick and chose from almost anything cnn cameras had captured…. … change almost invisible to americans watching at home… but consequences profound..

p 110

that was moment which system began to display emergent behavior,… system began calling shots, instead of journalists themselves lehrer had it right.. flowers affair was ‘out of my hands.’ the story was being driven by feedback

flowers is great ie of why emergent systems aren’t intrinsically good.. tornadoes/hurricanes are feedback-heavy systems too…

slums can also be emergent phenomena.. that’s not an excuse to resign ourselves to their existence… or write off as part of ‘natural’ order of things. it’s reason to figure out a better system.


p 111

flowers.. not adaptive.. most of the time, making an emergent system more adaptive entails tinkering with diff kinds of feedback

most automated control systems rely extensively on ‘negative feedback’ devises. classic ie: thermostat, uses negative feedback to solve the problem of controlling the temp of air in room…

p 112

system uses neg feedback to hone in on proper conditions.. and for that reason it can handle random changes in the environment.. neg feedback, then, is a way of reaching an equilibrium point despite unpredictable – and changing – external condition. the ‘negativity’ keeps the system in check, just as ‘positive  feedback’ propels other systems onward.

neg feedback.. lets the system find the right balance eve in a changing environ..

p 113

at its most schematic, negative feedback entails comparing the current state of a system to the desire stated, and pushing the system in a direction that minimizes the diff between the two states.

p 114

w/o that negative feedback pulling our circadian rhythms back into sync, we’d find ourselves sleeping through the day for two weeks out of every month. in other words, w/o that feedback mech, it would be as though the entire human race were permanently trapped in sophomore year of college


p 119

fundamental laws of emergence: the behavior of individual agents is less important than the overall system

feedback is usually not a tv thing. you need the web to hear it wail.

building a city without sidewalks, jJacobs argued, was like building a brain without axons or dendrites…

p 124

in the f to f world, we are ll social thermostats: reading the group temp and adjusting our behavior accordingly

p 125

group convos in real world have uncanny aptitude for reaching a certain kind of homeostasis: the convo moves toward a zone that pleases as much of the group as possible and drowns out voices that offend.

oh my.


consensus in public always oppresses someone.. no?

p 133

the ‘ideal state’ that the slashdot system homes in on is not defined by an individual’s perspective; it is defined by the overall group’s perspective. the collective decides what’s quality and what’s crap, to us rob malda’s language. you can tweak the quality-to-crap ratio based on your individual predilections….. more groupthink than daily me


p 134

the big three networks were competing for the entire tv-owning audience, which encourage them to serve up programming designed for the average view rather than for a particular niche.


p 135

but the *fringe voices in the community would have a stronger presence at level 5, because the feedback system would be rewarding perspectives that deviate from the mainstream… ….. but the **thoughtful minorities… – the ones who attract both admirers and detractors – would have a place at the table..

*why consensus ness..?

** why not everyone… and why at a table..?

5\ control artist

p 137

describing… mitch resnick’s tool for visualizing self-organizing system, starlogo..

but sounds like waggle dance

p 138

on how it works best the more you have participating…

‘once they come together, the slime molds are extremely difficult to break apart, even though they can be very fickle about aggregating in the first place.’

then he triples population… and.. only a *handful of lonely red cells remain, drifting aimlessly between the clusters. more is very different. ‘the interesting thing is’ resnick says…’ you wouldn’t have necessarily predicted that behavior in advance, just from looking at the instructions…

thinking *none of us are free if one of us is chained.. or excluded.. by not finding a match.. not by being consensus ized..

p 139

you have to make it live before you can understand how it works..

p 140

When people see a flock of birds, they assume the bird in the front is the leader and the others are just following. But that’s not the way the real birds form flocks. In fact, each bird just follows simple rules and they end up together as a group.

starlogo is a kind of thinking prosthetic, a tool that lets the mind wrap itself around a concept that it’s not naturally equipped to grasp

p 142

Minsky has thought more—and more deeply—about self-organization and decentralized systems than almost anyone else,” Resnick writes. “When I explained the rules underlying the slime mold program to him, he understood immediately what was happening. But his initial assumption was revealing. The fact that even Marvin Minsky had this reaction is an indication of the powerful attraction of centralized explanations.

martin be bold law

yet even starlogo is centralized… obeys rules laid down by single authority.. programmer

kevin kelly book – out of control..

or perhaps.. beyond control.. because we finally .. let go..

but phrase doesn’t quite do justice to emergent systems – or at least the ones that we’ve deliberately set out to create …. systems like starlogo are not utter anarchies: they obey rules that we define in advance. but those rules only govern the micro motives..

perhaps why we haven’t yet

not following hillis’s software for getting computer to figure out how to sort numbers.. ie: fitness landscape.. small ridges.. only a few everests….?

again.. perhaps why we haven’t yet..

p 148

It’s probably fair to say that digital media has been wrestling with “control issues” from its very origins. The question of control, after all, lies at the heart of the interactive revolution, since making something interactive entails a shift in control, from the technology—or the puppeteers behind the technology—to the user.

ways to go about challenging our sense of control… – john maeda… tap, type, write.. make it clear that user id driving..

p 149

We find ourselves reaching around the noise—the lack of structure—for some sort of clarity, only to realize that it’s the reaching that makes the noise redemptive

nintendo64 zelda… moving your character around is simple enough, but figuring out what your’e *supposed to do with him takes hours of exploration and trial an derror..

*supposed to do..?


p 154

rules give games their structure, and w/o that structure, there’s no game: every moe is a checkmate, and every toss of teh dice lands you on park place.

p 155

this emphasis on rules might seem like the antithesis of the open-ended, organic systems we’ve examined.. but nothing further from truth. emergent systems too are rule-governed systems: their capacity for learning and growth and experimentation derives from their adherence to low=level rules: ants choosing to forage or not, based on patterns in their encounters with other ants…if any of these systems – or, to put it more precisely, the agents that make up these systems – suddenly started following their own rules, or doing away with rule altogether, the system would stop working: there’d be no global intelligence, just a teeming anarchy of isolated agents, a swarm w/o logic..

ok.. 2 things going on in my head .. 1\ this is wrong.. and why we haven’t yet.. because there are no rules.. can’t be.. or else we are robots.. 2\ the the rules are.. to listen to your heart.. gut.. and do/be that and/or a and a ness… which to me are one in the same.. get there – to us ness – either way..

emergent behaviors, like games, are all about living within the boundaries defined by rules, but also using that space to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

i don’t know.. again.. only if the rules are to listen to rules within your heart/soul.. case in point.. rules/prescriptions have messed us up for years..

p 158

not only are you playing god by deliberately selecting certain traits over others, but the dna for those traits is planted near the appropriate obstacles (describing game evolva..)

a game where anything can happen is by definition not a game.

perhaps then… life isn’t a game.. and why my mind blurs when we keep trying to describe life in terms of games.. like the last several pages.. if we can describe/model it in a game.. then it’s not alive.. it’s pre scripted.. no?

p 160

for better or worse, we control these games (sims et al) from the edges. the task of the game designer is to determine just how far off the edge the player should be.. (the whole sims free will button.. w/o pushing it.. the players won’t do anything..w/o being told to do it first)

why a designer of a game..? that’s too much control from outside of a person…

p 162

wright’s early incarnations of the game, once you turned on free will, your characters would go about maximizing their happiness in perfectly rational ways. the effect was not unlike hiring deep blue to play a game of chess for you – the results were undeniably good ones, but where was the fun…

p 162

narrative has always been about the mix of invention and repetition; stories seem like stories because they follow rules that we’ve learned to recognize, but the stories that we most love are ones that surprise us in some way, that break rules in the telling. they are a mix of he familiar and the strange: too much of the former and they seem stale, formulaic; too much of the latter, and they cease to be stories.

but that battle over control that unerdelies any work of emergent software, particularly a work that aims to entertain us, runs parallel to the clash between repetion and invention in the art of the storyteller

part three

6\ the mind readers

p 169

human beings are innate mind readers. our skill at imagining other people’s mental states ranks up there with our knack for language and our opposable thumbs.

p 170

and yet most animals lack the mind-reading skills of a four year-old child. we come into the world with a genetic aptitude for building ‘theories of other minds,’ and adjusting those theories on the fly, in response to various forms of social feedback..

the idea of two radically distinct mental states, each contianing different info about the world, exceeded the faculties of the 3 yr old mind, but it came naturally to the 4 yr olds.. (mid 80s research)

p 173

many neuroscientists now believe that autistics suffer from a specific neurological disorder that inhibits their ability to build theories of other minds…. autism, the argument goes, stems from an inability to project outside one’s own head and imagine the mental life of others…

p 174

you can’t step back and reflect on your own thoughts without recognizing that your thoughts are finite, and that other combos of thoughts are possible..

it may well be that self-awareness only jumps out to us because we’re *naturally inclined to project into the minds of others

*so… when so intoxicated/manufactured.. that we can’t/don’t take time/attention to see minds of others… also don’t/can’t self reflect…?

p 175

it’s not the lack of visual info that should startle us; it’s that we have such a hard time noticing the lack..

an absence of info is not the same as info about an absence… – daniel dennett..we’re blind to our blindness…

there’s not feedback mech to sound the alarm that something’s missing. only when we begin to speculate on the mental life of others do we discover that we have a mental life ourselves..

p 176

social complexity is a problem that scales well – build a module that can analyze one person’s mind, and all you need to do is throw more resources at the problem, and you can analyze a dozen minds with the same tools… the brain didn’t need to invent any complicated new routines once it figured out how to read a single mind –

did it figure that out..? how to read a single mind..? i don’t think so..

it just needed to devote more processing power… that power came in the form of brain mass: more neurons to model the behavior of other brains, which themselves contained more neurons, for the same reason. it’s a classic case of positive feedback, only it seems to have run into a ceiling of 150 people, according to latest anthropological studies. we have a natural gift for building theories of other minds, so long as there aren’ too many of them..

or perhaps.. we shouldn’t have that theory at all.. better to realize.. we can’t ever figure someone else out..

…for whatever reason.. we stopped short at 150, and that’s where we remained – until the new techs of urban living pushed our collectivities beyond the magic number. those oversize communities appeared too quickly for our minds to adapt to them using the tools of natural selection, and so we hit upon another solution, one engineered by the community itself, and not by its genes. we started building neighborhoods, groups within groups. when our lived communities extended beyond the ceiling of human comprehension, we started building new floors.

p 177

whatever the underlying mech turns out to be, the faculty of mind reading – and its close relation, self-awareness – is clearly an emergent property of the brain’s neural networks. we don’t know precisely how that higher level behavior comes into being, but we do know that it is conjured up by the local, feedback-heavy interactions of unwitting gents, by the complex adaptive system that we call the human mind. no individual neuron is sentient (able to perceive or feel things), and yet somehow the union of billions of neurons creates self-awareness…

whichever one came first – the extroverted chicken or the self-ware egg – those faculties are *prime examples of emergence at work..

*prime ie’s.. and two needs… dee/simple/open enough for all of us..

the homo sapiens mind naturally recoiled from the sheer scale of those populations. a mind designed to handle the maneuverings of less than two hundred individuals suddenly found itself immersed in a community of ten or twenty thousand. to solve that problem, we once again leaned on the powers of emergence, although the solution resided one level up from the individual human brain: instead of looking to swarms of neurons to deal with social complexity, we looked to swarms of individual humans….. neighborhoods emerged out of traffic patterns. by *following the footprints, and learning from their behavior….

*following…? my first attraction to danah boyd and macarthur research ness.. was that they were following/listening to.. what was already there..

p 178

…*managing complexity became a problem to be solved on the level of the city itself.

*so too.. begs we get away from.. managing… complexity/anything..

over the last decade we have run up against another ceiling. we are now connected to hundreds of millions of people via the vast labyrinth of the www. a community of that scale requires a new solution

if we even had one before.. no? perhaps we were never zoomed out enough.. otherwise we wouldn’t be in this broken feedback loop ness.. no?

..onen beyond our brains or our sidewalks, but once again we look to self-organization for the tools, this time built out of *the instruction sets of software: alexa, slashdot, epinions, everything2, freenet.

*instruction sets..?

our brains first helped us navigate larger groups of fellow humans by allowing us to peer into the minds of other individuals and to recognize patterns in their behavior.

or at least think we were..

the city allowed us to see patterns of group behavior by recording and displaying those patterns in the form of neighborhoods..

again.. or at least think we did..

science of people ness..wilde not-us law… et al

now the latest software scours the web for patterns of online activity, using feedback and pattern-matching tools to find neighbors in an impossibly oversize population. at first glance, these three solutions – brains, cities, and software – would seem to belong to completely diff orders of experience. but as we have seen over the preceding pages, they are all instances of self-organization at work, local interactions leading to global order. they exist on a continuum of sorts. the material change as you jump from the scale of a hundred humans to a million to 100 mill. but the system remains the *same.

*and again… works best when we let go.. of managing/prescripting/… even of figuring us out.. because once we think we have… we live dead.. no?

we are curious… and so yes.. study… keep track of… but in order to find our people… in order to do something else.. together… not to figure us out… which means a killing of sorts… in the defining ness

thinking… Feynman‘s pleasure of finding things out rather than figuring things out.. ness

today, we are beginning to create software applications that are *capable of developing a theory of our minds

*no. we’re/they’re not.

unless theory is: uncertain/antifragile.. ie: no set theory..

this is

h    u    g    e

as in

g i n o r m o u s l y     s   m   a   l   l

and we’re missing it..

p 181

patti maes – collab filtering..

p 184

the first gen interactive narratives were finally all about choosing one of several sanctioned links, picking on path over the others. the future that wright envisions will be about creating a new path – or eliminating paths altogether.

spot on.. but doesn’t sound like picture being painted here.. ie: tivo et al.. assuming we want to watch something in the first place.. science of people ness

p 188

because i have a long and informative purchase history w amazon, and because patterns in that history are generating the alert, i find the messages that amazon sense me completely  useful, and i often find myself buying items that they recommend

how is this good..? lots of ie’s that revolve around consumerism.. we have no idea what we’re like w/o it..

p 194

the web will contribute the metadata that enables these cluster to self-organize…

p 200

(naomi) klein writes, what emerged on the streets of seattle and washington was an activist model that mirrors the organic, interlinked pathways of the internet…. but as we’ve seen countless times over the preceding pages, even the web itself.. the largest and most advance man-made self-organizing system on the planet – is only now becoming capable of true collective intelligence.. by an measure, the web’s mind-reading skills are embryonic at best, because we are still tweaking the rules of the system, still fiddling with how adaptive and intelligent clusters can *prosper online…

*prosper online… probably what’s keeping us from self-organizing ness..

7\ see what happens

p 204

bright minds with shared interests still flock together, even when they have wireless modems and broadband in their living rooms

then describing prospect ness via jj

p 207

copied above.. on z dance – get pivot ness capabilities

Even the most optimistic champions of self-organization feel a little wary about the lack of control in such a process. But understanding emergence has always been about giving up control, letting the system govern itself as much as possible, letting it learn *from the footprints

*from the life-bits..


p 210

but even more, the shift was probably due to a philosophical antipathy to holistic models.. garfinkel

in death and life… jj describes the decentralizing mentality this way: in principle, these are much the same tactics as those that have to be used to understand and to help cities. in the case of understanding cities, i think the most important habits of thought are these: 1\ to think about processes; 2\ to work inductively, reasoning form particulars to the general rather than the reverse; 3\ to seek for ‘unaverage’ clues involving very small quantities, which reveal the way larger and more ‘average’ quantities are operating..

p 211

understanding something in just one way is a rather fragile kind of understanding. marvin minsky has said that you need to understand something at least two diff ways in order to really understand it. each way of thinking about something strengthens and deepens each of the other ways of thinking about it. understanding something in several diff ways produces  an overall understanding that is richer and of a diff nature than any one way of understanding – resnick, 103

the study of self-org systems is, in some ways, the ‘related opposite’ of the study of chaos: in self-org systems, orderly patterns emerge out of lower-level randomness; in chaotic systems, unpredictable behavior emerges out of lower-lever deterministic rules…

jj describes these systems as ‘dynamically stable systems’ : ‘every kind of system that is neither inert nor disintegrated. this includes all living systems: ecosystems, organisms, cells composing organisms, microorganisms. it also includes many inanimate systems: rivers, the atmosphere, the crust of the earth. human settlements, business enterprises, economies, hovts, nations, civilizations – they’re all dynamically stable systems – jacobs 2000

? not getting this

the dynamics of ant colony life has some features in common w many other complex systems: fairly simple units generate complicated global behavior. if we knew how an ant colony works, we might understand more about how all such systems work, from brains to ecosystems. because we don’t yet comprehend any natural complex system, i think it is premature to say how general a theory we may eventually achieve. the intriguing question about task allocation is how might an ant react to local events, in a simple way, that in the aggregate produces colony behavior?…. these are the big, general questions to biology, and many of us dream that when we have the answers, from diff fields of bio, it will be possible to see similar processes at work from cells to ecosystems..

p 212

norbert wiener makes a parallel observation in cybernetics: this desire to produce and to study automata has always been expressed in terms of the living technique of the age. in the days of magic… figure of clay… in time of newton… clockwork music box…. 19th cent… heat engine… present automaton opens doors by means of photocells….

the social cohesion of ant colonies is interestingly tied to their genetics: while you share on ave half of your genes w your siblings, the sister ants that populate a colony share three-quarters of their genes, due to a complicated process of sex determination in ant societies. those shared genes imply a greater communal interest in preservation – even greater than the connection between parent and child. being in the same ‘genetic boat’ tends to lead toward greater cooperation: whether you are a bunch of genes or a bunch of memes, if you’re all in the same boat you’ll tend to perish unless you are conducive to productive coordination. for genes, boat tends to be cell/multicelled org.. or looser grouping such as a family; for memes boat is often a larger social group – a village/chiefdom/state/religious denom…. genetic evolution thus tends to create smoothly integrated organisms, and cultural evolution tends to create smoothly integrated groups of organism. – wright

apart from human communities, war exists only among the social insects, which anticipated urban man in achieving a complex community of highly specialized parts.

as far as external observations can show, on certainly does not find religion or ritual sacrifice in these insect communities. but the other institutions that accompanied the rise of the city are all present: the strict division of labor, the creation of specialized military caste, the techniques of collective destruction , accompanied by mutilation and murder, the institution of slavery, and even, in certain species, the domestication of plants and animals. most significant of all, the insect communities that exhibit these traits boast the institution i have taken to be central in this whole development: the institution of kingship. kingship, or rather, its feminine equiv, queenship, has been incorporated as a supreme biological fact in these insect societies; so that what is only a magic belief in early cities, that the life of the whole community depends on the life of the monarch, is an actual condition in insectopolis. on the queen’s health, safety, and reproductive capacity the continued existence of the hive does in fact depend. here and only here, does on e find such organized collective aggression by a specialized military force as one finds first in the ancient cities. – mumford 1961

p 213

considering this new urban area on its lowest physical terms, w/o ref to its social facilities or its culture, it is plan that never before in recorded history had such vast masses of people lived in such a savagely deteriorated environment, ugly in form, debased in content. the galley slaves of the orient, the wretched prisoners in the athenian silver mines, the depressed proletariat in the insulae of rome – these classes had known, no doubt, a comparable foulness; but never before had human blight so universally been accetped as normal: normal and inevitable. – mumford 1961

on shops… acting .. as insulators for the city’s system of communication.. acting as buffers between the antagonistic extremes.. marcus

p 214

on simplest methods of improving.. wiping it all out… ie: 7th ave ny… benjamin flvd in phily…

on shannon w turing.. fascinated on idea that machine should be able to imitate the brain.. he had studied neurology as well as mathematics and logic, and had seen his work on the differential analyzer as a first step towards a thinking machine. they found their outlook to be the same: there was nothing sacred about the brain, and that if a machine could do as well as a brain, then it would be thinking..

huge if wrong.. and i believe .. wrong..

p 215

we are beginning to see that such important elements as the neurons, the atoms of the nervous complex of our body, do their work under much the same conditions as vacuum tubes,

are we sure..? how sure.?

w their relatively small power supplied from outside by the circulation, and that the bookkeeping which is most essential to describe their function is not one of energy.

so.. let’s outsource the bookkeeping and the math.. [kevin kelly‘s recent interview with Nikola)

in short, the newer study of *automata, whether in the metal or in the flesh, is a branch of communication engineering and its cardinal notions are those of message, amount of disturbance or ‘noised’ a term taken over from the telephone engineer – quantity of info, coding technique and so on  – wiener

*from Kelly interview again..

1:16 – automation is good for doing things that are efficient…so that goes to the robots.. what we’re left are things that are very inefficient.. ie: exploration, innovation – a type of questioning.. what if.. 

so what i was saying above (on notes in Kelly interview).. decisions are inefficient.. or could say.. efficient if able to be always changing.. (so inefficient to machine)

human relationships… inefficient.. so we are moving into this area which will be our strength.. asking good questions.. that’s where our strength is compared to the machines…

1:19 – art is a question that’s not answerable..

things don’t have to always be pragmatic/useful..

how do you know if a question is unanswerable..  question become the essential thing..

back to emergence:

unlike linear equations (the type most prevalent in science), nonlinear ones are very *difficult to solve analytically, and demand the use of detailed numerical simulations carried out with the help of digital machines.

*so perhaps nonsolvable.. imagine nolinear.. nonequations… kk’s talk of unaswerable questions.. ie: art

these emergent (or synergistic) properties belong to he interactions between parts, so it follows that a top-down analytical approach that begins with the whole and dissects it into its constituent parts (an ecosystem into species, a society into institutions), is bound to miss precisely those properties. in other words, analyzing a whole into parts and then attempting to model it by adding up the components will fail to capture any property that emerged from complex interactions, since the effect of the latter may be *multiplicative (e.g., mutual enhancement) not just additive.

*and/or something we haven’t even seen/defined yet.. no..?

again from kk.. between random and order..

p 216

in emergent evolution, the intro of a new factor does not just add to the existing mass, but produces an over all change, a new configuration, which alters its properties. potentialities that could not be recognized in the pre-emergent stage, like the possibility of organic life developing from relatively stable and unorganized ‘dead’ matter, then ..

for the first time become visible. mumford, 1961

as usual, turing was ahead of the game here…’it has been said computing machines can only carry out purposed they are instructed to do….if do something other.. then mistake.. also true that the intention in constructing these machines in first instance is to

treat them as *slaves, giving them only jobs which have been thought out in detail, jobs such that the user of the machine fully understands.. what is going on all the time..

*slaves – huge description here.. and again fitting with what kk was saying

up till present machines have only been used in this way.. but is it necessary they should always be used in such a manner…. if good reason arose.. able to modify tables.. after machine had been operating for some time… instructions would have altered out of recognitions.. but .. still be such that one would admit.. machine still doing worthwhile calcs..

pop of world as constituting a giant computer.. calculating costs and benefits and currency conversion… it is quite an illuminating insight – dawkins

not so illuminating. or human.. if stay w/in os of money.. of measuring transactions.. et al

some researcher argue that the centralize mind-set is hardwired into our brain… we default to top0down explanations and only reconcile ourselves to bottom-up explanations after extensive training..

yeah.. if we start out intoxicated.. ie: assuming science of people in schools.. we have to have extensive training (aka: detox) to get back to us.. but thinking.. the hard-wire part.. not centralized..

people also view working of econ in centralized ways, assuming singular causes for complex phenom.. children in particular.. then research with israeli children et al.. – resnick

of course… working with econ.. with os as money/measuring et al..

p 217

other ant and termite species are specialized to cultivate fungi….

ant farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into wars, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves..

a colony’s soldiers give off an odor, a pheromone distinctive to the soldiers. if the odor falls below a certain level… it means that proportion of soldiers is less than normal.. there’s no mistaking the purport of the feedback… no room for mistake .. appropriate responsed to the data are all perfetly integrated. jj 2000

p 218

randomness plays yet another role in some self-organizing processes – it makes possible the exploration of *multiple options


ant research jean-louis deneubourg  notes that ants do not follow pheromone trails perfectly. instead, ants have a probabilitistic chance of losing their way as they follow trails…..this ‘ant randomness’ is not a defective stage on an evolution path ‘towards and idealistic deterministic system of communication’ rather,

this randomness is an evolutionarily adaptive behavior

so the randomness of the ants provides a way for the colony to explore multiple food sources in parallel.. while positive feedback encourages exploitation of a particular sources, randomness encourage exploration of multiple sources.’ – quote via resnick

a nother way

on younger colonies changing week after week.. but also continuing after food gone.. but overall change not visible.. compared to older colonies..

p 219

since workers live only a year, the colony muse *re create itself each year

*each 100 yrs… or each 24 hours.. or each yr (skin shed et al)

so the demand for food, per forager, may be greater in the smaller, quickly growing colony. this might make foragers of a small, quickly growing colony more *prone to engage in conflict over food than those of a larger one

*huge.. to what we do in a diveded world.. no glue.. via siemens glue law et al

on a cellular basis, we change most of our cells (although not our brain cells) over a period of several years. on an atomic level, the change is much faster than that, and does include our brain cells. we are not at all permanent collections of particles. it is the patterns of mater and energy that are semipermanent (that is changing only gradually), but our actual material content is changing constantly and very quickly – kurzweil

exponential growth puts great power int eh hands of naturally selected genes….. sublineage of cells to go on dividing just one more time… can .. effect of doubling the size of a particular bit of the body….. in a way , the remarkable thins it that cell lineages stop dividing when they are *supposed to, in such a way that all our bits are well proportioned relative to one another – dawkins 1996

*where does this – supposed to ness – come from.. asking dawkins, jj, turing, kk gs, god,.. me…

h   u    g    e

within a time frame, a cell’s *competence depends upon its location, its previous history of locations, and the proximity of its neighbors in a collective. there i s no indication that a cell’s exact position in the collective is critical, but its fate can be determined by how many cells of **similar history are located close by.

who is defining this *competence ness

**on similar history.. hmm. thinking of mating ness

a cell’s *fate thus depends upon its competence and upon its neighborhood – edelman 1988

who defines this .. *fate.. ness

p 220

twenty years before wright released simcity, thomas schelling sketched out its basic principles in a decidedly low tech game theory experiment – get a roll of pennies and dimes…  rep ing.. members of two homogeneous groups – mean and women, blacks and whites, ..et al

so basically modeling binary ness.. another assumption of os ness..

as garfinkel puts it: of course a set of concentric rings has a geometric center. but is the geometric center the *cause of the propagation. not necessarily – garfinkel

*cause – not a pacemaker

a moderate *urge to avoid small-minority status may cause a nearly integrated pattern to unravel, and highly segregated neighborhoods to form.

*urge – to avoid.. huge.. beginning of tiny compromises… manufacturing consent.. et al

p 221

the starlogo slime-mold project provides another ie of randomness in the service of exploration….. randomness makes it more likely for cells to break free of their clusters. as a result, small clusters become less stable

erosion of cities by autos is thus and ie of what is knows as ‘positive feedback’

humans do resemble, in their most compulsively social behavior, ants at a distance. it is, however, quite bad form in biological circles to put it the other way ’round, to imply that the operation of insect societies has any relation at all to human affairs…. insects are like creatures from another planet…. more like crazy little machines, and we violate science when we try to read human meanings in their arrangements. it is hard for any bystander not to do so. ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. ‘ thomas

p 222

on larger scales, only occasionally does the work of our energetic species show up: a bridge, a wall, a dam, or a highway. these are typically less than fully 3d. they seem long ribbons when occasionally they are caught in aerial views. only in their collectivity do we see human artifacts that occupy large surface areas (still not 3d) in the ten to hundred kilometer range, sometimes even beyond.

tens of millions of people making billions of decision every week about what to buy/sell/work/save/borrow/stocks/schools/jobs/build/markets/invest/… it can amaze you that the system works at all.

does it..?

amazement needn’t be admiration: once you understand the system you may think there are better ones/ways… … whether this system works well/ill, in most countries and esp the countries w comparatively undirected econ systems, the system works the way ant colonies work – schelling

p 223

an appropriately stimulated immune system can tell the diff between two large foreign protein molecules composed of thousands of carbon atoms that differ by only a few degrees in the tilt of a single carbon chain. it can tell these molecules apart from all other molecules and retain the ability to do so once it has initially developed that ability. it has a memory… edelman 1992

because some of the cells have divided but not all the way to the antibody-making end, they constitute a lager group of cells in the total population of cells than were originally present. this larger group can respond at a later time in an accelerated fashion to the same antigen. ... the system .. exhibits a form of memory at the cellular level..

p 224

congeries of little cities, each with a certain degree of autonomy and self-sufficiency, each formed so naturally out of common needs and purposes that it only enriched and supplemented the whole.

division of town into quarters.. each w own churches/markets/water… but as town grew.. quarters became sixths.. or smaller… without dissolving into the mass.. this integration into primary residential units, composed of families and neighbors, was complemented by another kind of division, into precincts, based on vocation/interest: thus both primary and secondary groups, both geminschaft and gesellschaft, took on the same urban pattern… regensburg.. 11th cent… town divided into clerical/royal/merchant’s precinct.. while craftsmen and peasants much have occupied the rest of the town. mumford 1961

i am  using the word memory here in a more inclusive fashion than usual. memory is a process that emerged only when life and evolution occurred and gave rise to he systems described by the sciences of recognition. as i am using the term memory, it describes aspects of heredity, immune responses, reflex learning, true learning following perceptual categorization and the various form of consciousness….

..memory is an essential property of biologically adaptive systems. – edelman 1992

these economies come from the fact that the firm can find tin the large city all manner of client, services and suppliers, and employees no mater how specialized its product; this, in turn, promotes increased specialization…….

a key point about economies of agglomeration is that small businesses depend on them more than do large ones. the latter can internalize these ‘external economies’ by providing their own services and gain locational freedom as a result…

yes.. inequity.. not everyone getting a go (happens when os is money)

relationship between large cities and small businesses is a symbiotic one beneficial to both…. small firms are the major carriers of innovation, including creative adaptation to change

though the great city is the best organ of memory man has yet created, it is also – until it becomes too cluttered an *disorganized – the best agent for discrimination and **comparative evaluation,…

whoa..1\ *becomes disorganized.. – so that is our security against bias.. no? i’m hearing.. idiosyncratic jargon ness – ps in the open

whoa..2\ **comparative eval.. – so that’s our downfall.. no?.. civilize/organize.. in order to rate/segregate/label/… create winners/losers… put people on hold.. make many people small… et al..

p 225

decades before the first graphical interface was designed, wiener connected the problems of communal info and software interface, gesturing to vannevar bush’s visionary essay on the memex: on the other hand, the human organism contains vastly more info, in all probability, than does any one of its cells. there is thus no necessary relation in either direction between the amount of racial or tribal or community info and the amount of info available to the individual.. as in the case of the individual, not all the info which is available to he race at one time is accessible w/o special effort. there is a well-known tendency of libraries to become clogged by their own volume; of the sciences to develop such a degree of specialization that the expert is often illiterate outside his own minute specialty. dr vannevar bush has suggested the use of mechanical aids for the searching through vast bodies of material… wiener..

Vannevar Bushmemex

p 227

it it important to emphasize, … cereal cultivation was only one of several possible ways of intensifying energy flow…. early urbanites.. collectively engaged in shortening their nutrient cycles.. by shortening food chains, human populations acquired control over nutrient cycles.

p 228

it takes only one person to invent something that the whole group can then adopt (since info is a ‘non0rival’ good)

the claim was that whatever a brain did, it did by virtue of its structure as a logical system, and not because it was inside a person’s head, or because it was spongy tissue made up of a particular kind of biological cell formation. and if this were so, then its logical structure could just as well be represented in some other medium, embodied by some other physical machinery


p 229

an ant’s task decision is based on its interaction rate… ants do not tell each other what to do by transferring messages. the signal is in the pattern of contact.

p 231

in creating city success, we human beings have created marvels, but we left out feedback.. – JJ 1961

broken feedback loop – begs self-talk as data.. as the day.. in the city..

p 233

his aim was the creation of self-sufficient small towns, really very nice towns if you were docile and had no plans of your own and did not mind spending your life among others who had no plans of their own. as in all utopias, the right to have plans of any significance belonged only to the planners in charge – JJ 1961

rather.. a nother way.. utopia ness where 8 bill whimsy’s rules

p 234

the ways in which resnick altered the logo turtle model are instructive: first, starlogo has lots more turtles. whereas commercial version of logo typically have only a few turtles, starlogo has thousands of turtles..

p 235

ray kurzweill referst to his as the ‘consciousness is just a machine reflecting on itself’ school. … consciousness is not exactly an illusion, but just antoher logical process. it is a process repsonding and reactiv to itself. we can build that in a machine: just build a procedure that has a model of itself, and that examines and responds to its own methods. allow the process to reflect on itself. there, now you have consciousness. it is a set of abilities that evolved because self-reflective ways of thinking are inherently more powerful – kurzweil

? hmm. don’t think so

p 236

it was the system as a whole that ‘thought’ in alan turing’s view, and it was its logical structure, not its particular physical embodiment, that made this possible.. hodges

p 238

many organizations nowadays are consciously trying to figure out how they can use self-organizing principles w/o becoming either disintegrated or inert – in short, as avatars of fruitful complexity. ecotrust lists these three requirements: a\ autonomous agents able to make independent decisions w/in a framework of relatively simple rules; b] moderately dense network and web connections among the agents – that is, the organization ‘s parts; and c\ vigorous experimentation by agents, disciplined by responding to feedback on results’ jj 2000



Steven Kotler (@steven_kotler) tweeted at 6:04 AM – 11 Mar 2018 :

What do we really mean by emergence? The brilliant Stuart Kaufman making lots of sense… https://t.co/QMVwRKOy3l (http://twitter.com/steven_kotler/status/972805515519713282?s=17)

2 min – if you can write theorems about it.. i don’t want to call that emergence

5 min – not only do we not know what will happen.. we don’t even know what can happen.. in the evolving biosphere in the economy.. in life.. and that means something for us as humans.. it means that reason is an insufficient guide for living your life.. we need reason, emotion, intuition, sensation, metaphor.. it means.. what just happened to the enlightenment.. our hero.. it’s insufficient.. life is much richer than we thought

6 min – something that stuns me.. it means that w/o any selection doing so.. the biosphere is creating its own future possibilities of becoming..  that’s not in darwin..

7 min – that’s radical emergence: a\ couldn’t pre-state it  b\ we don’t know how it happened  c\ it changed the course of evolution

just briefly.. the same thing happens in the economy.. ie: nobody saw fb when the computer was invented.. new econ niches created by what happened beforehand.. becoming into the adjacent possible..



generative value