The feedback loop as a symbol for life in the 21st Century

self-organisation is a high-level property that emerges from the underlying network, not a feature of any of the individual components.

This has interesting consequences. Where any part of the mechanism is sensitive to the environment, the whole self-organising loop can be too.

http://aeon.co/magazine/science/why-the-symbol-of-life-is-a-loop-not-a-helix/

Here’s an example from the Resilience Alliancethe adaptive cycle – that maps nicely onto the four cultures of cultural theory:

The Adaptive Cycle

The Adaptive Cycle

See also: redundancy and resilience

Biosemiotics and slime mould

many headed slime - physarum polycephalum

Image by randomtruth via Flickr

New Scientist has an interesting article on the ways in which it may make sense to talk about non-conscious entities creating meaning. Biosemiotics.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727741.200-biosemiotics-searching-for-meanings-in-a-meadow.html?full=true

Hat tip to Meika.

I had been thinking abut this when I came across a report on the slime mould’s ‘irrational’ decision-making process.It seems that like humans, Physarum polycephalum makes quick foraging decisions based on comparisons of what’s available. These decisions aren’t strictly rational.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.1045

Canadian researcher Dr Tanya Latty of Sydney University said:

“If you are in a risky environment… it’s better to be able to make a quick decision that’s right most of the time rather than a perfect decision that takes too long and means you get eaten by something,”

There’s a radio interview on CBS.

…and another paper.