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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Macro-evolution (not micro-evolution)

1. Any change in any system is THE change that would have resulted in the greatest dissipation.
2. A universe only becomes more dissipated with time. There are no exceptions to this process… it is a one way trip.
3. This is the only domain independent behavior in any system and in any possible universe.
4. As things fall down, they sometimes cause other smaller things to fall up, or to land in locally complex arrangements (so long as the energies released are greater than the energies needed to assemble).
5. Some of these assemblies are structurally stable (resist dissipation). Even more rarely, they are both stable and catalyze faster local dissipation.
6. As a result, these stable catalyzers result in greater local energy throughput. Think of them as the deepest and steepest canyon that will gather the greatest flow of river water.
7. This increased flow will have the greatest effect on the future topology of the dissipative landscape.
8. Complexities that can survive nearest this flow will by necessity need to be even more structurally stable (survive across time despite an extremely corrosive environment), and to do so, they will by necessity have to draw more and more energy through their own system to repair and maintain stability… increasing the rate and density of dissipation at that locality.
9. Each of these processes are change catalyzers. They increase flux at the local level. They take the universe closer to heat death not by doing anything qualitatively different, but by doing what a universe does, but faster.
10. We call this process evolution.
11. Evolution is not teleological. No knowledge of the patterns and structure and behavior of a universe is required. Evolution works in any universe with any set of forces and structures and initial conditions.
12. Evolution has nothing in particular to do with biology or to any particular system or domain. It is agnostic to domain. They way in which atoms hydrogen and lithium and helium both come into existence and precipitate into proto-star clouds that accrete into stars is no different than ways in which biology evolves. The methods used are the result of the materials and forces and environments at hand and are independent of the overarching reason that dissipative change results in or selects for systems that dissipate more quickly and comprehensively… that get the universe to its "heat death" end state at the highest possible rate.
13. Darwin described well, the "how" of evolution within the domain of biology. But he couldn't put together the more general "how" of evolution such that the process could be seen stripped of its dependency on one particular domain.
14. Darwin was correct. But he described evolution at the local or micro-scale. For instance, the Galapagos finch populations he observed felt survival pressure that selected towards beak shapes that made them more and more specialized towards the exploitation of particular seeds and nuts in their environment. Such solutions do indeed favor optimization in what topologists call "local minimums". This is indeed what happens, for the most part, in any evolving system. It is the path of least resistance. But it doesn't explain (or not directly) the way that evolution finds solutions that involve looking outward to non-local opportunities of resource acquisition. Getting good at the local game can very much make you unprepared for the larger game just over the ridge into the next still larger valley. A great beak and excellent nut detection skills, is of no use should the bush you have learned to exploit either go extinct or if the greater environment (especially that environment which is the future) not have much at all to do with that particular kind of nut or for that matter, with nuts of any kind. Specialization causes local advantage, but ultimately, specialization (local optimization) always makes a species less well adapted as a generalist, and thus, less flexible and robust into the future. Optimization always results in extinction.
15. Any change in any system will be judged by the environment based on the degree with which that change adds or subtracts from that system's capacity to advantageously predict its dissipative future. Evolution filters for prediction because prediction allows an entity to extract greater advantage while using less energy. If the energy in your environment is in nuts, a beak predicts energy access. If you have a way to store the experiences you've had today, you won't have to try every door to find the bathroom tomorrow. Prediction can involve a brain, but it can just as easily and more commonly involve a shape or the presence of an appendage or sensor. A shark's tail predicts the need to move swiftly through water to catch and consume other fish.
16. Prediction is equivalent to intelligence. And as with beak shape specialization, locally optimized intelligence is ultimately less important evolutionarily than general purpose wide-scope intelligence.
17. The most general of all predictions/intelligences is the prediction that thermodynamics provides… the eventual and always closer asymptote of total dissipation (heat death). The capacity to make such a prediction (and to pay attention to it) gives humans great potential advantage. But only should we be able to crawl outside of our own evolutionarily acquired set of attention enhancers, such that we can push our interests and motives in the direction of universal dynamics.
18. Just having the capacity to detect the universal direction of evolution, does not necessarily insure evolutionary advantage. You have to have the means to make it an actionable goal and motive. If we humans can't take action and create advantage from the prediction of heat death we will eventually be as food for some other entity or system that can.
19. The Zeroth Law of causality: the universe is at all times, changing at the maximum rate possible. There is no holding back, no waiting around, all systems are decaying and dissipating to the full possible extent and speed, given their present context and configuration.
20. The 2nd law says that total info or energy concentration is reduced as a result of any change in any change in any system (energy applied to a system). It doesn't say anything about why the change that happened was the one of all possible changes that could have happened. And it doesn't say that all systems are changing at their maximal change rate at all times.

Post Script:

Imagine a bunch of atmosphere separated by temp. Top layer is cold, bottom layer is hot. This is an unstable situation as the hot air is less dense, wants to rise above the more dense cold air.
I've just described a typical storm cell.

Now imagine that some smaller areas of air are moving laterally, and some others are moving up or down. Somewhere in the cell, units of air are moving in almost every direction.

All units are moving in the direction they are moving because that is the least energy thing to do. They, like all systems, are simply falling down.

These units compete with each-other in the falling down olympics that is the brewing storm (imbalance). The ones that can reduce the cline between hot and cold air the fastest, are the ones that fall the fastest and thus dominate the falling down in their immediate region. As units less dominant (efficient) motions are absorbed, that part of the storm becomes a larger and larger competitor and its original or combined behavioral dynamics become dominant on a larger and larger scale.

Eventually, spiral dynamics dominate as they are better at reducing the temperature cline than are other shapes and gas meta-dynamics.

At each level of scale, each granularity in the system both structurally and temporally falling down is always at its maximal rate for that configuration at that particular moment in time. As changes accrue, the new configuration allows a new maximal rate of dissipation.

This should be obvious. Change is always motivated by difference. A universe doesn't like difference. Change always follows the fall line, the fastest path to greatest dissipation.

As a description of dynamics, maximal dissipation rate is only interesting in context to what the brain likes to believe about systems and especially likes to believe about systems that are responsive to human interaction.

As example, I cite the often repeated "we only use 5% of our brain". This statement is physically and causally false. No system can ever be any faster than it is currently operating at. If it could be running faster, it would be. Full stop. Now, it is possible that a brain sent to Cambridge University will after 8 years of graduate studies, be capable of operating at a higher rate (what ever that means), but that brain would not be the same brain that existed prior to those 8 years of studies.

It is instructive to periodically remind ourselves of this very important aspect of the causal physical world of which we are a part.

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