American government uses NET. Democracy and NET is grounded in the notion that society works best when people are left alone to do what they want.
Brian Arthur applies the science of complexity to the study of economics, and says that NET does not represent reality. In fact, positive feedback occures, which results in instability. Also "lock in" to an inferior technology can occur as a result of a small accident.
As a result, there is a problem with the "free market competition": The winner takes all in high tech markets, which means no competition, which means inequality. And just look at the environment.
Read Eighth Day of Creation by Horace Judson: a History of molecular biology
At the molecular level, every living cell is very similar; but tiny, almost imperceptable differences in DNA account for enomorous differeneces in organisms.
Jacob & Monad in Paris found that genes along DNA can function as switches. Biochemicals trigger these switches, which send out more biochemicals, which trigger other switches. The result is a cascade of triggering that settles down to a new configutstion.
This implies that DNA is not just a blueprint, but actully directs how the cell will build itself.
The atoms and molecules tht physicists study behave much like cells and molecules studied by biologists: a handfull of particles under slightly different intitial conditions fall into a near infinite number of patterns,
The second law of thermodynamics states that systems left to themselves will mix and randomize as much as possible (entropy increases)
Self organizing structures are found everywhere. A self organizing structure has an incoming supply of material and energy. Examples are lasers, hurricanes, heated water in a pot, a living cell.
Ila Prigogine addresed the question of why there is order in the world. He came up with a theory of Dissapative Structures
Prigogine showed that self organization depends on self reinforcement; ie, that small effects can become magnified under certain conditins, rather than disipating. This is positive feedback.
Prigogine suggested that the economy is a self organizing system.
An economy is not a machine, but a kind of living system, with spontaniety and complexity built in.
George Cowan was administrator at Los Almos during the development of the atomic bomb under the Manhatten Project. He made the following observations:
Science in the 20th century has typically been reductionistic: to do science, you must disect the world into smaller and smaller peices. This leads to fragmentation of science and teh overlooking of opportunities. Also, real world problems demand a more wholeistic approach.
He had noticed trends awaw from this reductionism, which he saw as reaching a dead end.
For example, physicists contributed to the development of molecular biology: Irwin Schrodinger, co-onventor of Quantum Mechanics, wrote a book What Is Life in 1944.
Francis Crick, who took credit for discovering the structure of DNA, was influenced by this book. Crick was trained as a physicist and used equipment developed by physicists.
Recombinant DNA technology gave biologists the power to analyse and manipulate life forms.
The computer allowed scientists to think more about complex systems by being able to store and analyse large quanties of data.
Scientists began to realize that a lot of messy complex systems could be described by a powerful principle called non-linear dynamics
Non-linear phenomena: solitons, chaos
A soliton is a coherent group of particles ot waves that is held together by an incoming energy supply. Examples are laser beams, hurricanes, and tidal waves. They are found in air, water, metals, plasmas, and can be though of as material objects as well as movements of energy.
Los Almos was an ideal environment for non-linear research. Cowan thought all this provided great opportunities which were largely being ignored by academic institutions.
Cowan got an idea for a new institute specifically for a grand synthesis of science. Some of his collaborators liked the idea.
They set up the Santa Fe Institute
Murray Gell-Mann was a supporter. He had set the pace in particle physics for a generation, and developed the idea of a small number of "quarks" within the atomic nucleus which could account for the zoo of subatomic particles that were discovered during particle accelerator experiments. Gell-Mann was an ardent conservationist and Nobel Prize winner in physics.
Phil Anderson was a Nobel Prize winner in condensed matter physics. He disagrees strongly with reductionistic sciences such as particle physics, which has asserted that "fundamental" particles hold all the secrets and are the most important. He supports the notion of emergent properties, which says that the total is greater than the sum of the parts; i.e. unexpected behaviors "emerge" from large numbers of componant parts.
Creative people gathered at the Santa Fe Institute. They shared the view that the emerging synthesis really meant a restructuring of science.
Stuart Kauffman College trained as playwrite, philosopher, medical doctor, and molecular biologist. Interested in evolution of complex organisms. He realized that one cannot explain complex organisms as the chance occurance of incredible improbable events. He feels the order of building up of complex organisms occurs spontaneously. He experimented with computer models of genetic networks.
The standard story of how life got started was that an early atmosphere of methane and ammonia was energized with lighting. Time would, in the standard theory, eventually produce life Kauffman didn't buy it. There was not enough time to produce the required complexity. He proposed instead the process of autocatalytic sets. In this process, a series of molecules act as catalysts to one another until the final molecule of the series catalyzes the first molecule. This reinforces the development of this set of molecules, but this was still not life.
Other scientists had explored autocatalytic sets as scenarios for a possible origin of life. Manfred Eigen was able to demonstrate a form of autocatalytic cycle using RNA molecules. But no one had been able to demonstrate autocatalytic sets emerging from the simple molecules of the theorized primordial soup. Hauffman found analogies between the concept of autocatalytic sets and the economy.
Examples of complex adaptive systems:
brain, immune system, ecologies, cells, ant colonies; political parties; communities; economies
Characteristics of complex adaptive systems:
each system is a collection of agents acting in parallel
each egent is constantly acting & reacting to what other agents are doing; nothing int the agents environment is fixed
control is highly dispersed
coherent behavior arises as a result of competition and cooperation
has many levels of organization; agents at one level provide building blocks for agents at a higher level
constantly revise themselves as they gain experience
anticipate the future: have an internal model (subject to evolution) Holland says: this anticipation is far beyond issues of human forsight, or even consciousness
has numerous "nitches" for agents; the act of filling a nitch creates other nitches, so new opportunities are constantly being created
meaningless to talk of a complex adaptive stytem ever being in "equilibrium"
multiple agents, constant revision, perpetual novelty
Donald Hebb; neurophysiologist at Montreal; postulated that:
we learn thru a modification of synaptic connectins; certian synapes are strengthened while others are weakened
selective strengthening of synapses could cause the brain to organize itself into "cell assemblies"; each cell assembly would represent a fragment of an idea or perception. any given neuron could be part of several cell assemblies; this means activation of one would result in activation of others; this would allow for cross-pollinization" of concepts