Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ On the roles of function and selection in evolving systems

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Phys.org calls this finding "nature's missing evolutionary law". You know of course that I want to somehow relate it to Connectivism. This would obviously be a stretch, but it's tantalizing. The researchers identify three major traits of evolving systems: "Each system is formed from numerous interacting units; in each of these systems, ongoing processes generate large numbers of different configurations; some configurations, by virtue of their stability or other "competitive" advantage, are more likely to persist." Such systems demonstrate three "orders" of selection: first order selection, which is stability; second order, "core functions" such as "dissipation, autocatalysis, homeostasis, and information processing"; and third, novelty, "adding new functions that promote the persistence of the core functions essentially raises a dynamic system's 'kinetic barrier' against decay toward equilibrium." "Accordingly,"write the authors, "we propose a 'law of increasing functional information': The functional information of a system will increase (i.e., the system will evolve) if many different configurations of the system undergo selection for one or more functions." Also here, with more authors listed. See also: Neuroscience news. Silicon Republic, Interesting Engineering.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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