For many years now, I have been fascinated by the mischievous, mysterious relationship between material systems (like living organisms) and the astoundingly complex information abstractions, systems and relationships within which they quite literally swim. I have mentioned parasitic wasps before – in a related context – but encountered an interesting article today which got me thinking.
Is the relationship of a parasite and it’s prey only a purely linear or direct and simply – if prolonged – reflexive process of mutual evolution, or is it a holistic matrix and interdependent network entity that proceeds by the mutual causation of biological information systems “gravitationally bound” together in some complex vector space. If it is not immediately obvious what benefits a spider might obtain in such an entangled pair, it might be because we identify and define an organism in terms of it’s overt, material boundaries.
The phylogenetic genealogy of a parasitic wasp as an integrated information and energy-processing system evolves in stable orbit not (only, or explicitly) around it’s prey, but also around the ontological artefact and information abstraction of an entire context, an adaptive ecological “inertial frame” of reference. In this sense, the predator evolves in two ways: around it’s object and through it’s extended information context.
A minehunter as an information system evolves and orbits around a concept and artefact of “mine” in analogy to a supervised machine learning algorithm. Simultaneously, we might say that an unsupervised thread of algorithmic optimisation occurs – a minehunter evolves and orbits the environment in which mines are a salient feature but which includes the gestalt totality of integrated information and energy-processing of that context or environment. In what sense, then, does the minehunter create the mine?
At a level of information abstractions, we are able to open up higher dimensions and entropic degrees of freedom in unexpected ways.