Lecture 25: Life as a complex system
How a complexivist view of the world changes everything?
Clicker question: If you were an ADP molecule inside a bacterial cell. How would you manage to find an
ATP synthase so that you could become an ATP molecule
A. I wwould follow the hydrogen ion flow
B. The ATP synthase would grab me
C. My electronegativity would attract me to the ATP synthase
D. I would be actively pumped to the right area
E. Random movement would bring me to the ATP synthase
Our minds tend to explain patterns by “direct casual schemata”
Our world is very directional
This way of understanding is a schemata
o causal schemas
However some patterns require us to develop “emergent causal schemta”
Like a flock of birds flying there is no direction
Diffusion is emergent rather than causal….
There is a room full of people: if you put red hats on a few on the left….it will spread out
throughout the whle room
How does that happen?
o We would come with the idea that the red hatted people would just stream from one
side of the room to another. And there would be an even distribution of red hatted
people. Many people would believe that the people would just stop. There is gradient
and once it is dissipated it stops.
o THIS IS NOT TRUE: sure the red headed people will be distributed throughout the club.
Non random pattern: they were in this room and now they are in that room. They never
stop moving. What would stop ADP from moving: heat.
o ADP moves because it has thermal energy. Molecules do not stop moving once the
gradient is dissipated.
o Patterns and behaviour emerge out of interactions.
o just emerged out of their local interactions with each other Direct Schema vs. Emergent schema
Characteristics of the whole are not predictable by knowledge of the parts
emergence is an explanatory schema
Example: building a simple table
Example: building a robot
no ventral control
emergent patterns (1/f) Low predictability
EXAMPLE: Termites. No central engineer. Control is distributed among members of the colony. Cannot
predict how the next termite mound is going to look or where it is going to be.
“1/f” patterns (power laws) arise in complex systems
white noise – no relationships in white noise (random)
o no relationship
pink noise – made up of sound where the frequencies are present proportionally. Short
wavelengths high proportion. Long wavelen