Emergence



according to Wikipedia emergence is conceived as a process where these patterns and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties in the previous section we discussed how synergistic relations give rise to the phenomena of two or more elements having a greater combined output or effect than the simple product of each in isolation this process whereby the interaction between elements gives rise to something that is greater than the sum of their parts is called emergence so whereas when we were talking about synergies we simply said that the combined effect was greater than its parts in isolation the concept of emergence though implies that what is created out of these synergistic relations is not just quantitatively different it is in fact qualitatively different that is to say none of the elements that contribute to the emergence of this new phenomena have its qualities when taken in isolation there are many examples of this but maybe the simplest is the example of water water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms neither of these two elements that make up the system have the property or quality of wetness but when we combine them we get a substance called water that has the quality of being wet this property of wetness has emerged out of the interaction of the system's elements and it only exists on the system's level another often cited example of emergence is the phenomena of life biological systems such as a plant cell consist of a set of inanimate molecules none of which in isolation have the property of life but it is the particular way that these elements are arranged into structures and processes that enable the emergent phenomena of the living system as an entirety our world is full of examples of emergence that we could cite from ant colonies to galaxies and cultures but all of these are types of structures whereas emergence is really a process these systems are then the product of a process of emergence that has played out to create two qualitatively different levels to the system emergence then is a process through which systems develop or we might say grow during this process unassociated elements interact synchronized to form synergies and out of this emerges some new and novel phenomena that previously did not exist in order to create some qualitatively different and new phenomena the system must go through what we call a phase transition a phase transition is an often rapid or accelerated period during the process of a systems development either side of which the fundamental parameters with which we describe the system can change qualitatively again there are lots of examples of this such as the phase transition between solid and liquid that a substance goes through when heated but maybe the most dramatic example is the metamorphosis of a butterfly from being a caterpillar to a mature adult not only does the system's morphology change but the whole set of parameters that we define it with are so drastically altered prior and post the phase transition that we give the creature a whole new name this illustration helps to bring us to another important theme with an emergence that is the distinction between what is called strong and weak emergence week emergence describes how the emergent phenomena can be traced back to the individual elements meaning we can predict and observe higher-level emergent phenomena just by looking at individual components in contrast strong emergence also known as irreducible emergence states that these phenomena cannot be reduced to the individual components instead the emergent phenomena are traced back to the interactions between the multiple components so quite literally cannot be predicted in any sense by looking at the components on their own consciousness is often cited as an example of strong emergence it would appear that without prior knowledge or experience of what consciousness is it would be virtually impossible to understand the vastly complex and subtle system that is human consciousness by analyzing the properties of the very simple neurons that formulate it this distinction between strong and weak emergence may also be formulated within the language of information theory where weekly emergent phenomena are essentially computable that is to say if we had sufficient information we could simulate them in contrast with strongly emergent phenomena no amount of information could predict or formulate the end result of the process prior to its completion the discussion of strong and weak emergence leads us to another key theme in system theory that is hierarchy the distinction between micro and macro and top-down versus bottom-up causality all of which we will be talking about in the next lecture




Comments
  1. This ends the Chicken and Egg dilemma as to where the advanced intelligence of the Ancients originated from. It emerged from synergy and other bits of intelligence of strong emergence in the collective morphic field. Thus, no evolution from apes or alien intervention was necessary to produce advanced technologies. This is a game changer of epic proportions.

  2. Good intro video. George Ellis and Nancy Murphy are big proponents of emergence as the best explanation for consciousness. Ellis has a video on it that is interesting.

  3. I remember when Michael Behe made a similar argument for strong emergence in biology. Irreducible complexity is a valuable concept right up until it hits "the third rail," of scientific orthodoxy, namely evolutionary theory.

  4. Maybe a naive question, but it strikes me that a 'strong emergence' qualifies in that sense as a product of 2nd Order Cybernetics in that it is a value judgement reliant on the observer, as opposed to the measurable change in interaction/relationship of the constituent parts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *