Generalized Adaptive Processes

When the “parts” of one reality relate: adaptive process at it’s most general.

  • The universe is ancient, and the “parts” that constitute it are equally ancient, having come into being via ancient processes. Processes which go on and on.

The only seeming discontinuity to this ancient and massive pattern is “us” who as the result of these processes come “into being” in a “life”, which suddenly renders us as seemingly “separate” from this flow.

This separation then persists for the barest tick of this time, and all action is directed towards maintaining it until we inevitably “die”. Whereupon everything that was “us” is once again accepted as part of the ancient flow of reality.

The theory of evolution is a description of this activity by which the “self” attempts to maintain characteristics of “permanence” and “separateness” from this surrounding enormity. This enormity of reality has characteristics of “constant flux” and “change”, and the “self” only manifests by mediating the most indivisible relationship with it.

While at the same time being nothing other than an expression of the enormity of reality.

It is a kind of strategy for attempting to achieve the goal of a kind of sub unity of “self” within the true unity which is reality i.e. “separateness” and ”permanence”, via “relationship” mediated “change”.

A paradox in other words – the fact that “we” are an expression of this paradox gives it an  absurd quality.

The management of this relationship could be thought of as the process of adaptation at  it’s most generalized (and will be referred to here as the generalized adaptive strategy).

“Environmental fluctuation” occurs on all sorts of time scales and manifests in all sorts of ways.

In order to be practical and effective, it is fluctuation as it occurs, to which adaptive response of a “self” must be directed as far as response and adaptive mechanisms allow. These fluctuations may be “cyclical”, “random”, or entirely “emergent”, and may occur over a continuum of time periods including real time.

The generalized adaptive strategic response must therefor modify itself in order to relate to whatever form of fluctuation happens to be occurring.

This must be so since adaptive response occurs where and when adaptive pressure is applied, and pressure is applied by environmental fluctuation.

The particular combinations of informational organization which actually manifest and reproduce are determined in interaction between the particular organism aspects, and the surrounding aspects of reality.

They are the net outcome of cause effect transmissions through the communicating medium of reality from “self” to reality (strategy), and from reality to “self” (including “natural selection”).

In the process of this relating, some “selves” persist and others not.

In the earliest forms of evolution, those “selves” (or precursors of “selves”) that persisted were presumably those whose nature of “being” essentially happened to be “left behind” as a local manifestation of the cause effect transmissions traveling through the communicating medium of reality.

In other words they were direct expressions of it in the same way an eddy in a river is an expression of the wider flow. There is no meaningful distinction to be made in this case between cause and effect transmission into “self” (selection) or “out” of it (strategy), only cause effect transmission through reality.

At some point one of these manifestations began to “reproduce”.  All biological life is descended from this common point, and it represents the earliest enduring adaptive transmission of cause and effect from a “self” into the rest of reality i.e. strategy.

As this one aspect of reality began to replicate, it simultaneously became a more common aspect of reality. As a result, from the perspective of one of the descendant replications, all of the others came to constitute an aspect of it’s “environment”.

Therefor their manifestation or not came to be determined by transmissions through the communicating medium of reality which in part consisted of those induced by the manifestations of related selves.

A local environment occupied by this early population would produce more or less uniform environmental fluctuation (on average) for all in other respects.

Any environmental fluctuation manifested as variation between “individuals” in this population would have therefor represented a relatively diverse source of environmental fluctuation (and therefor adaptive pressure) from the perspective of the rest of the population.

This is the origin of a powerful driver of “strategy”: The feedback loop.

“Strategy” is the activity of “self” to manage it’s relatedness with the fluctuations of “everything else”.

Any strategy which enables the transmission of the DNA code through successive generations, and becomes a more common aspect of reality, simultaneously represents a more prevalent form of “environmental fluctuation” from the point of view of other “selves”.

This stimulates adaptive response by these “others”, since the generalized adaptive strategy must be to manage the relationship between “self” and surrounding fluctuations of reality however they occur.

Movement of the “self” aspect of reality is therefore movement of the “environment” aspect. Evolution of the self leads to evolution of the environment, leads to evolution of the self.

Evolution is the evolution of organism and environment together as one reality.

This self adaptation / environmental fluctuation equivalence represents a simple cumulative feedback loop:

A “successful” strategy (one which proliferates) need not have any particular characteristic such as “sophistication” by necessity and strategic response is generally economical in the way it conforms itself to environmental requirements but:

Any strategy that is successful through any degree of sophistication will simultaneously represent greater sophistication in the nature of environmental fluctuation, altering requirements for successful adaptive response.

This can be thought of as adaptive feedback at it’s most general, and will be known here as the generalized adaptive feedback loop.

This produces adaptive pressure through competition for existing and potential ways of relating to reality.

Each “self” is an expression of the DNA encoded informational content of reality, and since the “self” is impermanent, it is only this informational content as a whole which evolves through a process of relatedness between it’s aspects, and with the rest of reality.

As stated, this information flow is related via a common ancestor – the first organism to “reproduce” itself.

Like everything else, this information flow as a whole cannot be assigned a “self”, but runs through, and is an expression of, the relatedness of reality.

As such it is in no way “separate” from reality but a central characteristic of it is that it’s specific expressions (i.e organisms) experience “themselves” as largely separate from both the information flow and from reality.

This informational content of reality is a sea of genetic code, expressing as billions of “individuals”. It splits apart and recombines (mixes) endlessly.

Each organism is a specific expression of this information, but in order for it to persist as an aspect of reality, it must respond to and interact with the “environmental fluctuations” produced by the activities of “other” expressions of the wider informational flow.

The environmental fluctuation resulting from the action of the informational content of reality is astoundingly diverse. The generalized adaptive feedback loop is cumulative, and so therefor are the environmental fluctuations, adaptive pressures and responses produced.

This is a powerful driver for the adaptation of all forms of organism interaction which includes strategies aimed at the reproduction event, sexual selection, group strategy and intelligent selection as well as all forms of “social” and “antisocial” interaction.

Not to mention all symbiotic, parasitic, predator – prey, and hologenomic forms of informational relationship.

(Intelligent selection, and intelligent design as discussed here refer to the abilities of mind developed via processes described within the theory of evolution, and should not be confused with meanings which may be accorded them within creationist thought.)

These represent strategies for responding to this informational category of environmental fluctuation, and are simultaneously further expressions of this fluctuation and are therefor stimulators of response.

Responses to fluctuation may compete against, align with, or embody (through sexual selection) this fluctuation.

The generalized adaptive feed back loop is easily visible in the interactions between technologies, sports teams, armies, corporations, countries, and thought, but extends right back to the beginnings of biological life.

It has driven the informational content of reality along a continuum from entirely random, to the current situation where the human mind is increasingly able to direct some of this process.

As a whole the movement along this continuum represents the evolution of evolution, not to mention the evolution of reality itself.

It is the epitome of “self” defeating, since any gains which might represent “superiority” to any “self”, are simultaneously an environmental stimulus for the rest of reality to either align with or neutralize this advantage.

The “self” cannot fully establish the independence of “itself” within reality through it’s actions, because the rest of reality cannot separate itself from these actions. They are one reality.

The movement of self is simultaneously fluctuation of environment (and further response stimulus) simply because the interaction represents an interfacing between two aspects of one reality.

  • The generalized adaptive feed back loop appears to be the mechanism alluded to in the theory of Gaia.

The Gaia or ecology based view of biology and the evolutionary based view as they are typically conceived do not appear to be compatible in the sense that one emphasizes harmony, interconnectedness and inter dependance between the aspects of what are thought of as a community system, while the other emphasizes competition and “survival of the fittest” between “separate organisms”.

Yet it is the same system they seek to describe. Evolution is simply the 4th dimension of Gaia – the temporal (time) aspect.

In other words the intimate relatedness between all things which we appreciate around as captured in the Gia/ecology concepts, are extended into the concept of evolution and change of form with time via this mutual accommodation process between “self” and “everything else”.

The informational expressions of reality have a relationship between themselves and with the rest of reality comparable with the relationship between a swirling cloud and it’s reality in the sense that it expresses in no static form.

Rather it is expressed as a constant flowing change of organism expressions, negotiated through ongoing relationship between the various expressions of “self” and the fluctuations of “everything else”, just as the cloud expresses as a negotiation between water vapor and it’s surrounding reality.

In this reality, trees rise and fall like waves striking rocks. Our existence as minute components of this flow within the course of time, conceals the flowing nature of “us” to us.

Humanity moves with the sun in the way that seaweed moves with the water aspect of it’s reality, flowing together in a connected unity.

Rising and lying down in a never ending kind of Mexican wave swirling about the planet as we reach for the sun then retreat from the cold. Yet even at this speed, time moves too slow to show the truth of our bodies as a flow of change.

“Humanity” (an aspect of the Gaia mind) as a collective set of strategies for negotiating relatedness between self and reality is therefor not, nor has ever been a finished nor static product.

The “Fight for survival” motivation is clearly a significant aspect of evolutionary process, however in reality, evolution as a whole is simply a process of intimate related moulding of reality to itself.

“Competition”, although tragic, is in a fairly literal sense just a squabble between between two expressions of one relational process.

It is what happens when “something” that cannot be separate from “everything else” nonetheless directs ceaseless effort as if it can.

2013 Peter Sillifant

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