Information System Reflexivity

The successful self-replication of information patterns in a (cultural) medium is implicitly biased by the most efficient methods through which those messages can be encoded and communicated. At a second-order abstraction of logical encoding and communication, the successful transmission of cultural or cognitive information is facilitated (through functional compression) by a qualitative value-systems dimension.

High-ranking Universities may generate more readily-adopted concepts for precisely the same underlying reason that the global information and communications media system is awash with celebrity gossip, sports news and inflammatory ideological rhetoric. The key selection factor for successful pattern self-replication in a transmission medium is the extent to which the information content of that message also (reflexively) supports the propagation of the integrated or gestalt information system represented by the networked transmission medium itself.

Physics and biology developed these solutions billions of years before cultural systems, Universities or strategic academic tenure arrived.

Culture, Technology and Information Systems as Living Entities ?

Cultural, technological and information systems may be considered as living entities. These emergent dynamical systems are generally oriented in essential ways of seeking self-propagation and continuity of existential tenure through the medium of their expression. The medium of transmission for cultural, technological and information systems is the aggregate field and dynamic gestalt of humanity itself. In as much as we may prefer to consider technology, information and culture as the medium, method and tool through which we express ourselves, it is quite logically sensible to state that the inverse is equally true – that human beings are the medium, method and tool through which culture, technology and information expresses itself. An ability to think in terms of systems holistically as participating in mutually reflexive causal interdependence can initially be a difficult abstraction and conceptual bridge to cross but it also reveals itself as a powerful way to understand real world systems and processes.

It is worth considering the consequences of thinking of a living system as considered to be a much broader range of entity, artefact and system than a classically linear or semi-isolated mechanistic object or process. Through extensive analysis it should probably not be surprising if non-subjective (i.e. non-agency, non-living) systems that would traditionally be considered inorganic actually demonstrate sufficient sophistication of organisational complexity and orientation towards self-propagation that we come to see them as distributed living systems of an entirely new class of entity. Cultural, technological or information-dynamical systems considered as living yet unconscious, undirected patterns or autonomous shockwaves passing through a transmission medium allow for new ways of seeing and understanding those more familiar and intimate living systems of ourselves, our own minds and bodies.


Conflict as mandatory error of social self-replication

At a global systems-theoretical level, conflict may be (among other things) an instance of an intrinsic or mandatory error or discontinuity in social systems self-propagation and pattern of functional self-replication; i.e. – as material consequences of underlying logical and material biases in complex systems. Organic systems (and particularly – en masse) are well-suited to exploiting existing resources and a critical material, logical or social-systemic fault may long ago have been encoded into human behavioural and communications systems as a resource (in conflict) from which “useful” entropy may be derived. The extraction of value from systemic turbulence is common enough as to be unsurprising but may also indicate deeper abstractions, regularities and logical patterns or theorems of culture and conflict.

Entropy and turbulence in self-propagating material patterns or information processing systems may for a variety of reasons be unavoidable. The recursive self-replication of sociological systems occurs at an integrated and gestalt level of systems abstraction. As a result, predictive (and interdictive) measures utilising information-systemic or statistical and probabilistic introspection would do well to also analyse the underlying logic and rationale of whole (i.e. holistic) self-propagating systems undergoing self-replication.


Improbable Insights

A question which strikes me is: if all of material reality (physics), biology and (for that matter, also) psycholinguistics is at base the recursive representation and autonomous self-perpetuation of the patterned, emergently complex information structure and logic of dynamical systems – why is it that there exist such monumental hurdles and difficulties in articulating this complexity, in encoding and communicating it ? A Cosmos in which the logic of emergence and creatively useful algorithmic information compression is ubiquitous and in some sense all-encompassing would surely also be one in which this logic of self-replication is best-served and maintains sustainable continuity through ease of information formulation (encoding) and transmission (communication).

But there are problems and seemingly intractable difficulties which arise when articulating and efficiently transmitting the structured or encoded information and message, again – these are the kinds of problems that material reality “solves” all over the place but when percolating through human beings, bottlenecks and chokepoints are endemic. Each one of us of necessity develops private languages and cognitive or linguistic compression methods with unique vocabularies and contexts which, other than isolating ourselves in ways similar to the siloed mutual-estrangements of academic specialisation, create difficulties of interpersonal or intertribal communication. Small surprise that popular communications and consensus reality is of generally lowest-common-denominator complexity – it may be that the generally and self-evidently trivial froth and bubble of cultural communications artefacts is the one true survivor and heir of human language, thought and technlogy – i.e. that which is most successfully (self-)replicated.

It may be, deep down in the conceptual coal mine (as we currently are), that the benefit that human beings derive through the successful structural replication (via information encoding and transmission) as logical, linguistic or symbolic information systems is primarily in some sense through the participation in those systems. We may be hard-wired for participation in the ongoing process of global information and communications systems self-replication; further, this may privilege function over semantics. The function being the participation in the process, the semantics being the meaning and revealed or discovered truths or facts of reality. The Universe may be structured in ways which privilege self-replicating logical, informational and material systems but the phylogenetic burden of an extended evolutionary process in biology and culture has created a human mind and society which is unwittingly and neurolinguistically oriented and probabilistically biased towards gossip over literary or scientific insight.

We have difficulty explaining the world because our own biological emergence in it privileges functional participation over structured intellectual insight, as information encoding or as subsequent communication of that structured data. Science and philosophy are also cognitive methods of informational self-replication but they remain improbable linguistic entities in comparison to the latest football scores or other common ideological caricatures of everyday thought, language and communication.

What we require most critically is insight and effective methods for sharing this valuable information to other minds. Again, it seems that our biological inheritance and all-too-human shared cognitive methods in language and the cognitive extension of technology may be actively (and counter-intuitively) working against our own (collective) best interests.

Self-replication, imperfect.

We can hardly ever have been created whole and unbroken if the primary evolutionary goal and mechanism of our phylogenetic history has cast us each as bit-players and (at least partly) preprogrammed genetic contributors to the mixed, moving logical and mathematical broth of our own self-definition. We are at base created imperfect and troubled by blind, probabilistic biological processes. It should be somewhat less of a surprise than it constantly is that we so readily throw ourselves into ill-fitting relationships. Friendship has intrinsic value, at least in as much as a lived positive experience is better had than not, but coupling’s primary goal precedes by many millions of years any consideration of romance or interdependent psychological complementarity and completion.

If we were not imperfect and incomplete, at any level, we should hardly be compelled (as we are or tend to be) to seek this completion and validation in another. Evolution and adaptation at the more intimate scales and contexts of being human are facilitated by implicit discontinuity and an associated (much more recent, as cultural and psychological) dissatisfaction. We are that living matter through which the logic of self-replication self-replicates; we are not the bearers or the beneficiaries of this process, we are the medium through which it (shockwave-like) passes.

The Boundaries of Logic, Abstraction and Knowledge

Matters of social, cultural, psychological or technological differentiation are more often a consequence of arbitrary decision than of any intrinsic academic or implicit logical distinction. The ontological methods by which object or entity labelling, value-attribution or analysis occur are generally also closely aligned to an underlying mechanical or algorithmic and sequential process of thought. Those objects of analysis which find themselves most readily and transparently dissected, reproduced, reassembled and (as concepts or constrained and defined information entities) communicated hold a special and privileged place in the taxonomy and logical structure of our reality.


The thought process captured by an “exploded diagram” view is that replication of an abstraction of linear and mechanical logic. The visual order and sequential assembly decompresses the structure of an entity, process or system in ways which mirror the grammar of language and thought: it is visible, differentiated and provides meaning because every part of the whole possesses clear functional purpose. Even where the purpose of a sub-component is not immediately obvious, a degree of trust in the overall rationale of functional purpose appears warranted. The irremediable logic of contextual relevance provides certainty that this system or entity considered as a whole is unlikely to possess redundancy in the way that organic systems commonly continue to bear material properties no longer apposite to their context.


Further on the topic of differentiating organic and mechanical (or irreducibly algorithmic and logical) systems, it seems that the mental visualisation of a material system composed of manufactured or planned components and sub-systems possesses a fundamental difference in kind, under consideration, than does an organic or living system. An exploded view diagram of a gun, a typewriter, a car, a jet plane or a city has existence as a mental concept in a way characteristically alternative to a fly, frog, a tree, a forest or an integrated Global ecosystem. Inorganic configurations of material components avail themselves of mental visualisation, reorientation and an associated conceptual or teleological rotation in ways which organic or living systems do not.


A living system, specifically, manifests such a radical interdependence between its component sub-systems and orientation and interpenetration towards its broader historical or material context that it can not in any comprehensive way avail itself of the linear proposal endemic to reductive algorithmic or (a purely) sequential logical analysis. There are far too many caveats, exceptions and suspended definitions implicit in the mental model (not to mention – the manifest reality) of a living or complex emergent organic system to find any direct route to capturing or modelling the system in any logic of control and teleology such as that with and through which we generally think and communicate.


The logic of language, narrative thought, explanation and communication has emerged as something of a probabilistic inevitability from the material world. This logic finds itself poorly equipped as a method by which to represent or communicate the sophisticated complexity of living systems such as those that bear the rational burden of seeking existential advantage (or individual and collective Self improvement) through the application of that logic. This is, among other things, an indication of the critical importance of intellectual creativity and authentic innovation. While the ongoing process of refinement towards comprehensive analysis (and explanatory synthesis) of both biological and non-biological natural systems represents an important requirement for our continuing and sustainable scientific and technological development, there exist deep conundrums within the narrative logic of thought and communication which make this an exceptionally difficult task.


Logic is of reality but does not contain it.


On the Various Burdens and Trials of (a) Shared Life Experience

It is something of a cliché that a person might feel loneliest in a crowd. It is (in my view) uncommonly acknowledged that this loneliness is quite probably implicit in the nature of the crowd, it is of the crowd. It may be similarly said of marriage or at least of most longer-term human intimacies that loneliness or isolation is not always so much experienced in those relationships as it is of those relationships. Negotiating the extremities of (and discontinuities between) individuation and emotional or existential interdependence are skills mostly learnt through the accumulation of error, mistakes or painful experiences; with brief moments of intervening clarity, joy and catharsis.

The intermittent joys of emotional experience are like those television advertisements which generate the value upon which an otherwise melancholy thread of culturally normative programming (or filtered experience and existence) is constructed; we wouldn’t wilfully follow the overall narrative if not for the over-hyped messages and misdirections which lead us to believe there is something worthwhile going on in all this human emotional messiness and confusion. While commercial television seeks to actively obscure that the programming and notional content of any particular channel is in many ways secondary and subservient and essentially an interruption of the primacy of an unrelenting stream of marketing and desire-production, emotional life is somewhat inverted by most of the desire and longing being generated by those vast and empty or bleak emotional hiatuses of everyday existence. The void of loneliness serves as the advertisement for the value of its own inversion in a fabricated, staccato and discontinuous narrative of joy and pleasure in relationships, both significant and trivial; and with varying numbers of other human beings on a spectrum right up into that imaginary collosus of absolutely everyone else on the planet.

A recurring theme for me is that of the unnatural ways in which human beings bind themselves to each other, largely to satisfy cultural or social expectation and tradition. If people were ever empowered with the freedom to express their actual feelings or thoughts on matters such as this, untrammelled by expectation or normative (and narrative) restriction, it may just emerge that those relationships and dependencies which do exist may reveal themself as far more deeply rewarding and fulfilling than they ever could be when in constant competition with what are effectively cultural overlays on biological facts.

It says a lot of the burden of expectations that I would very likely never write this under my own name, that the relentless pressure to conform and to compete in a socio-cultural game of “who can be the most like everyone else” is best rendered out of pseudo-anonymity. Sartre may have been at least partially correct when he asserted that “hell is other people” but he may have also neglected that possible state of successfully disentangling the complexities of our own mental modelling and relationships with all those internalised, imaginary instances of all those other people is about as close to heaven as is agnostically plausible in this life. Loneliness may be to some extent inevitable; suffering as a consequence is probably not.