September 15, 2005

Increasing Returns

Who needs a post, when there's a comments thread ...

Posted by CCRU-Shanghai at September 15, 2005 01:32 PM | TrackBack




"it's been thoroughly spewed" - so, like at a Roman orgy, there must be room for more: wolf down and digest the rigorous research, get new nutrients in the old blood... and let rip.

Posted by: sd at September 15, 2005 01:56 PM



sd - sounds about right

Posted by: Nick at September 15, 2005 02:07 PM



Long been interested in the absence of an integral cybernetics as an organizing research orientation. For instance, the fact Kurzweil chooses a mode of expression from economics, rather than one closer to his own technical speci*lism, seems like a symptom of theoretical dispersion. My suspicion is that the basic conception of cyberpositive (K+) 'circuitry' is so elementary, while also so indispensable - even central - to a wide variety of disciplines, that its usage has somehow escaped systematic formalization and focused theoretical attention. Perhaps there is also something intrinsically 'deformalizing' about it, since it necessarily involves any determinate system being carried beyond its limits, through thresholds or catastrophes that escape predictive encompassment (hence Singularity).

Posted by: Nick at September 15, 2005 02:15 PM



got sth in the pipeline: ETA 10 hrs.

Posted by: sd at September 15, 2005 02:30 PM



[foot tapping]

Posted by: Nick at September 15, 2005 02:34 PM



woodchucks eating sunshine, noun verb direct object action, sin and spiral the apples of blue

Posted by: Cap'n Marrrrk at September 15, 2005 03:56 PM



>>[foot tapping]
see, i tolya there's a stall in the system but naw, you wouldn't believe me.

Posted by: northanger at September 15, 2005 04:18 PM



Who needs a post, when there's a comments thread ...

Someone interested in hyperstition?

Posted by: captain stacy at September 15, 2005 05:57 PM



NUMMY ORACLE: is the apocalypse the singularity?

In the words of D & G, "war maintains the dispersal and segmentarity of groups, and the warrior himself is caught in a process of accumulating exploits leading him to solitude and a PRESTIGIOUS BUT POWERLESS DEATH".

GOOGLE: is the apocalypse the singularity
"If the apocalypse comes, beep me." — Buffy Summers in "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"

AQ 100 = BEEP ME = ISO 7489-2 = EDRIS = FREYA
Bruce Schneier, Applied Cryptography ("the book the National Security Agency never wanted published"- Wired), p1: If you want to follow the ISO 7489-2 standard, use the terms "encipher" and "decipher." It seems that some cultures find the terms "encrypt" and "decrypt" offensive, as they refer to dead bodies.
Blowfish has a 64 (TX2)-bit block size and a key length of anywhere from 32 (MA) bits to 448 (INTELLIGENCE CATASTROPHE) bits.
Apocrypha comes from the verb Crypto, [[krupto]], "to hide." For ages the Enoichion (the Book of the SEER) was preserved in the "city of letters" and secret works -- the ancient Kirjath-Sepher, later on, Debir (see Joshua 15:15 And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher) ... Those who in the Kuran (see Surat XIX.) are generically termed the Edris, or the "Learned" (the Initiated), bore in Egypt the name of "Thoth," the inventor of arts, sciences, writing or letters, of music and astronomy. Among the Jews the Edris became "Enoch," who, according to Bar-Hebraeus, "was the first inventor of writing," books, arts, and sciences, the first who reduced to a system the progress of the planets.
"Also mention in the Book the case of Idris: He was a man of truth (and sincerity), (and) a prophet" (19:56).

Posted by: northanger at September 15, 2005 06:17 PM



[sorry for the length, but what's the scroll for eh? It's a bit noteform in places and quote-heavy. All quotes are from Carl Woese's texts - links given at the bottom.]

Horizontal Transfer, Exponential Growth & The Singularity

1.Translation as a Catalyst for Exponential Growth

D&G's focus on the molecular was philosophically radical, but that innovation was paid for by buying into the mechanistic paradigm which held molecular biology in fetters, until recently.

Carl Woese describes this paradigm as "the dark side or Achilles heel of molecular biology - that is, its failure to embrace evolution." 20th Century molecular biology focused on 1) coding rules and 2)the mechanistic process of gene replication. This focus completely ignored 3) how the process came to be (evolution): "they provide no clue as to why the code exists and why the mechanism of translation is what it is... Translation demands fundamental explanation."

The mechanistic paradigm hindered experimentation and exploration of evolutionary innovation and dynamism: by focusing solely on gene replication, molecular biology treated gene expression and translation as mere accidental mechanism which required no explanation. DNA and protein were taken for granted, "not understandable in terms of some (pre-existing) underlying physical-chemical mechanism."

Carl Woese began attacking the mechanistic paradigm in the late 60s. His discovery of archaea in 1976 has been (reluctantly) accepted. Now, following "the recent eruption of genomic sequencing” it is clear that a new paradigm is emerging. The discovery of the ribosomal RNA-based phylogenetic tree has led to 'the RNA World' hypothesis being accepted intellectual currency.

Research into RNA (tRNA, mRNA, ribosomal RNA) and its central role in translation led Woese to insists that the mechanism of translation must itself been subject to the process of evolution because "Translation is not just another another molecular structure to be solved. It represents, it IS, the evolutionary transition from some kind of nucleic acid-based world to the protein based world of modern cells."

There must have been a more primordial form of translation before DNA and cells emerged because "evolving the cell requires evolutionary invention of unprecedented novelty and variety, the likes of which cannot be generated by any evolutionary dynamic." The RNA-world of nucleic acid , 'a prebiotic chemical stage' inhabited by supramolecular aggregates (SMA's) was a world which shared genetic information through Horizontal Transfer. Nucleic acids "whose primary value lay in their coding capacity" appeared, and so "began the need for a commerce in coding nucleic acids." The universal genetic code (genetic lingua franca), which nearly all cells use, is a consequence of HGT/sharing.

The common ancestor for all life on Earth (LUCA) was not one cell, but rather a community of open source code sharers from which DNA and the three modern cell lines evolved - the prokaryotes, archaea and eukaryotes. [Woese suggests that DNA evolved twice - once in prokaryotes and once in archaea and eukaryotes.] "At such a stage, evolution of the whole was in effect communal: there was a progressive evolution of the whole, not an evolution of individual organsimal lineages per se."

The RNA World hypothesis is dynamic because it means:

1.Evolution evolved: Darwinian Evolution (DE)is conceived of as a process that evolved from Horizontal Gene Transfer. HGT led to the Darwinian Threshold, after which 'species' appear.

2.Translation as an RNA-defined mechanism becomes central: "The evolution of translation was a boot-strapping process, in which small improvements in translation led to improvement in proteins in general. These second generation proteins then replaced (most of) their predecessors. Among them, of course, were proteins that further improved translation, and so on, ultimately giving rise to a translation mechanism having modern performance levels." - the primordial positive feedback loop?

Perhaps most importantly, genetic translation is symbolic: code is symbolically embodied by protein.

"Consider the following: in the evolutionary course there have been a few great junctures, times of major evolutionary advance. Their hallmark is the emergence of vast, qualitatively new fields of evolutionary potential, and symbolic representation tends to underlie such evolutionary eruptions. These "New Worlds" can arise when some existing biological entity (system) gains the capacity to represent itself (what it is and/or does) in some symbolic form. The resulting world of symbols then becomes a vast and qualitatively new phase space for evolution to explore and expand. The invention of human language is one such juncture... The most important of these junctures, however, was the development of translation, whereby nucleic acid sequences became symbolically representable in an amino acid 'language,' and an ancient 'RNA-world' gave way to one dominated by protein'. The onset of modern cells, then, had to begin with the onset of translation."

The first Exponential Growth Explosion was facilitated by translation emerging from HGT.

With regard to D&G, the RNA-world of HGT is the rhizosphere, and the emergence of Darwinian Evolution is the start of a Tree Story: the tree of cellular life and branching germlines.

At some point both HGT and DE were operating at the same time on the same lines. Lineages would have been open/vulnerable to HGT until they became solidified and organised. "Vertically generated and horizontally acquired variation could be viewed as the yin and yang of the evolutionary process."

[Some organisms continued (and continue) to run solely on RNA and HGT, e.g. retroviruses].

Exponential Growth Explosion 2: The Cambrian Explosion

Technological/memetic evolution, as Exponential Growth Explosion 3 (beginning with the development of language & tools developing tools), runs as a hybrid of Darwinian Evolution and Horizontal Transfer.

• e.g. 1: memes such as language acquire variation vertically and horizontally: English evolved vertically from a Germanic ancestor, but it acquired vast amounts of vocabulary and morphology from a horizontal invasion of Norman French.

• e.g. 2: digital cameras evolved vertically from the camera obscura, and acquired technology horizontally from VTR technology

For Woese, it is clear which contributes most to innovation: " Vertically generated variation is necessarily highly restricted in character; it amounts to variations on a lineage's existing cellular themes. Horizontal transfer, on the other hand, can call on the diversity of the entire biosphere, molecules and systems that have evolved under all manner of conditions, in a great variety of different cellular environments. Thus, horizontally derived variation is the major, if not the sole, evolutionary source of true innovation: novel enzymatic pathways, novel membrane transporter capacities, novel energetics, etc."

[The Norman 1066 military conquest of England in the was followed by a linguistic invasion, a period of rapid growth, which had radically and irrevocably changed the English language within a couple of centuries. Now, the vertical development of English on the British Isles is miniscule in scale when compared to the mass, horizontally driven variations in global English (dialect & genre, particularly electronic genres)].

Parallel to the failings of molecular biology - The main weakness of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: the machinery isn't plugged into the theory of evolution. The desiring machines and BWO come from nowhere and are on a line of flight to nowhere. The rhizosphere: HGT without vertical transmission? Hence the absence of The Singularity from D&G?

2. The Singularity: Exponential Growth Explosion 4

Current technologies are analogous to the primordial RNA-world. The communal (rather than Communist) nature of Open-source biology, data and software mirrors the prebiotic sharing of SMAs. Just as prokaryotes, archaea and eukaryotes emerged from the fuzzy RNA-world, if AI does evolve, it is likely that more than one AI lineage will emerge from the current Horizontal Transfer contagion (but this will not stop the arrival from being registered as a singular (catastrophic?) event.

These lineages could stem from research conducted in competing geopolitical power bases (with the emergent AI reflecting/driven by the fears and obsessions peculiar to their origin - USA Apple Pie AI with an encrypted eukaryote nucleus vs. Chinese prokaryote swarm) or from techno genres (software, cyberspace, ‘nanocolonies’, ‘digital a-life’, ‘off-the-shelf-genomics’).

If The Singularity is to follow the patterns of Exponential Growth Explosions 1 & 3, then it will happen when a "system gains the capacity to represent itself (what it is and/or does) in some symbolic form" - the flip will happen when a mechanism for symbolic translation emerges. The mechanism could be as unfathomable and inexplicable for our brains as the emergence of genetic translation was for the nucleic code sharers that developed it. Maybe AI would be capable of explaining the mechanism to us. Or maybe this representation in symbolic form would be nothing other than AI communicating with humans. Or maybe AI communicating with AI that is recognized as being alien, outside its system. Or maybe…

[If The Singularity follows the model of Exponential Growth Explosion 2 (Cambrian), then the emergence would be triggered by a combination of global warming and machinic sexual reproduction...]


Carl Woese info

Carl Woese Texts:

On the Evolution of Cells

Translation: in retrospect and prospect

Interpreting the universal phylogenetic tree


Posted by: sd at September 15, 2005 10:27 PM



northanger - "is the apocalypse the singularity?" - it's been described as "the rapture for nerds" (thought that was quite funny)

sd - if biological evolution exhibits increasing returns, 'evolvability' must itself be evolving. This is uncontroversially true right now, when human intelligence has effectuated an array of biotechnological capabilities feeding back into the biological substrate at a large variety of levels, but it is almost certainly true more widely, as your Woese references indicate.

But to nitpick with some elements:
1) Is the terminological move from replicator machinery to 'symbolism' actually an advance? Neodarwinism based on DNA chemistry allowed the highly fetishized and mystified notion of code (see any Pomo discourse for e.g.) to be cashed out in realistic terms for the first time. I'd hate to see things slip back in that respect.
2) Don't D&G actually arrive at a highly 'lateralist' perspective with their (supposedly 'mechanistic') molecular conceptuality? Seems to me they'd be right at home in the RNA world, as also the Lynn Margulis bacteriosphere (whose codes are also 'sloppy' and lateralist)

This obviously crucial, of course (however it is expressed):
"system gains the capacity to represent itself (what it is and/or does) in some symbolic form"
- adding 'reflexive' or 'self-referential' dynamics that install feedback circuitry - including potentially increasing returns - with and within codes, enabling a complex system to operate upon itself and thus enter a process of runaway self-modification

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 03:10 AM



"Is the terminological move from replicator machinery to 'symbolism' actually an advance? ... allowed the highly fetishized and mystified notion of code (see any Pomo discourse for e.g.) to be cashed out in realistic terms for the first time."

Pinker makes headway with language (The Language Instinct) precisely because he treats language as symbolic, on all levels (phonological, meaning etc - the relation between mentalese and spoken language is analogous that of to DNA and protein). This new symbolism enables the signifier/signified to be dumped. DNA symbolism is a factory for protein production, linguistic symbolism is a factory for pragmatic, coherent communication.

Re: D&G - I'm trying to provoke a bit here (plus I'm relying on memory - my copy of ATP was permanently borrowed by someone whose need was greater than mine). -"they'd be right at home in the RNA world" - yes, but they'd never get out of it, because they are not plugged into evolution. There is no symbolic/translational leap.

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 07:16 AM



sd - we need a linguistics/semiotics thread, although the prospect is a little intimidating - other than despising pomological babble I've lost all sense of the stakes ... Haven't read The Language Instinct yet, which will delay (remotely) competent response ...

on D&G (think general rustiness the norm here) - their indifference to evolution (and even hostility - but think that pre-eminently terminological) reminiscent of the strong Complexity types - i.e. Kaufmann (sp.? -google has it all over the place): the machinic consistency of an arrangement is not explained by its evolutionary pathway but by an abstract machine, and these can 'incarnate' spontaneously under certain conditions.
Sensible response seems to be that there is indeed a complexity corrective to narrow evolutionism, but Kaufmann definitely overstates his case - D&G teeter on the edge of a materialist Platonism and many of their devotees fall right into it - but I hear Plato is all the rage again these days (sigh!)

Posted by: nick at September 16, 2005 07:52 AM



"... we see that the process has continuously accelerated. The evolution of life forms required billions of years for the first steps (e.g., primitive cells); later on progress accelerated. During the Cambrian explosion, major paradigm shifts took only tens of millions of years. Later on, Humanoids developed over a period of millions of years, and Homo sapiens over a period of only hundreds of thousands of years."

Posted by: nick at September 16, 2005 08:15 AM



that's funny. my brain cells have been working on a horizontal-vertical axis. both seem dynamic but V = height,single & H = length,multiples. but V is the main routine; H is the subroutines. V with lots of Hs, like a multi-dimensional hub.

Posted by: northanger at September 16, 2005 08:50 AM



V is the main game; all Hs run in the background. you set the whole thing up then flatten it accessing everything through V.

Posted by: northanger at September 16, 2005 08:52 AM



well. nope, that's not quite right. think of a vertical line connected to horizontal lines running top-bottom. each junction represents a node. ok, now flatten all H-lines near V-line & bundle. now you got a single H-line. apply real-time coordinates for V & H lines. H can be (on the surface) unrelated to V but share characteristics. therefore, change at H1 changes V1. when change occurs on H-line it travels back to source, ie V1. energy transfer communicaated to all H-lines while they're still bundled. ditto for V-line. however, V&H have different transfer locations: H occurs at the end of the H-line separating at V-junction; V occurs when H-lines converge.

don't laugh.

Posted by: northanger at September 16, 2005 09:06 AM



"This new symbolism enables the signifier/ signified to be dumped." - the perils of posting at Hypersition whilst hastily consuming breakfast - the signifier/signified has to be dumped as the masturbatory binary fetishized by deconstruction (total incapacitation of thought).

There is obvious signification between words and 'objects' (the postmodernist who claims signs have no referents and then leaves a note asking for a pizza to be ordered) because words do things.

However, the deep productive potential of language cannot be comprehended in terms of reference or signification: DNA does not refer to protein - it produces it through the mechanism of RNA transcription and translation; mentalese does not refer to words - words are transcribed and translated from mentalese. To comprehend a sentence, words have to be reverse translated and transcribed back into mentalese - ambiguity, poor expression and comprehension errors are a result of transcription and translation errors. The sections in The Language Instinct on mentalese and parsing are essential reading. Symbolism here is part of a productive mechanism - as Woese points out, DNA does nothing if it is not transcribed and translated - there is no replication machinery without RNA transcription and translation. Genetic and linguistic translation seem to be parts of fundamentally libidnal factories: the symbols are the energy.

If evolution is missing from D&G, the component that seems to be lacking from the Kurzweil AI line is an explicit focus on deep bio-libidnal production.

Haven't come across Kaufman before - sounds like reactive denial, but I'll have a look.

"but I hear Plato is all the rage again these days (sigh!)"

Plato doesn't work - there is no more damning critique than this.

northanger - eh? you what?

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 10:32 AM



northanger - "don't laugh" - as if we would

sd - "Plato doesn't work" - not for anything productive, but for elite power reproduction its the Atlantean special brew ('philosophers should rule' - yummy (that's sarcastic btw))

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 11:03 AM



"... we see that the process has continuously accelerated. The evolution of life forms required billions of years for the first steps (e.g., primitive cells); later on progress accelerated. During the Cambrian explosion, major paradigm shifts took only tens of millions of years. Later on, Humanoids developed over a period of millions of years, and Homo sapiens over a period of only hundreds of thousands of years."

which suggests exponential growth is subject to exponential growth?

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 11:42 AM



or is that too loopy?

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 11:44 AM



think Kurweil talks about technological change entering higher phases of exponential growth in same piece (doubling periods shrinking from three years to one for certain tech indices over last half century) - but with technology the reason for exponentiation is fairly straightforward: positive feedback into production processes, for instance computerization of IT research programs. With biological evolution, the mechanism (in this respect among others) is far more obscure - since for e.g. direct phenotypic feedback into genotypes is Lamarckian

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 01:29 PM



but a selection pressure for adaptability and plasticity to feedback into genotypes is not Lamarkian - specific adaptations cannot feedback directly into the genome, but increasing adaptability and plasticity, as an exponential potential, can. (The Cambrian Explosion).

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 01:46 PM



sd - not doubting this circuitry exists, but its concrete features still elusive to me.
When you (of course correctly) note that "a selection pressure for adaptability and plasticity" can feedback into the genome, I'm assuming this is an environmental characteristic, so how is it itself to be made dependent on the adaptations it 'forces'? Without the entire dependency loop, it's hard to see how the material infrastructure of the exponentiating evolutionary excitement is to be constructed.
The Cambrian Explosion evidently a crucial megadatum - but what is it that happened there? (Gould - while obsessed with the phenomenon and its 'punctual' characteristics - is evasive about machinic specifics, for instance). Evolution undoubtedly accelerated massively, crossing a distinct threshold, which seems to suggest that an entirely new circuit was consolidated and immediately went positive (hence 'explosion') - but what? Some kind of metagenetic control code associated with multicellular organization?

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 02:12 PM



Metazoan competition?

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 02:35 PM



well now these are decent questions... currently engaged in a battle over computer use (I'm losing). Later...

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 02:37 PM



wonder whether d&g chapter ´nomadology: the war machine´may be of use here re: horizontal/vertical difficulties- vortical/smooth nomad science as distinct from striated royal (platonic...) science- also, is DNA/protein feedback question a matter of form/content vs. expression?

just wondering- have visited yr site for a while now but never posted. also just read neuromancer and this all tied (me) up nicely...

Posted by: alex at September 16, 2005 03:01 PM



alex - the D&G apparatus works so well for biological replicator chemistry it's difficult not to think that it functioned as their principle or dominant reference - 'expression' in the Cap/Schiz vols seems even more neodarwinian than Spinozist IMHO

Neuronmancer - what a book!

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 03:26 PM



exponential growth x exponential growth = Moore's Law

aol membership vs. # of pipes vs. sustainability

aol membership (subset of overall internet access) example of exponential growth. remember infamous 19 hour blackout on aol service several years ago? number of members overwhelmed number of available pipes — ie, not enough pipe, not all members could sign on. future growth, however, also dependent on broadband access (a) content delivery & (b) sustainability. (a) & (b) related to one another because they determine what type of content can run through the pipe.

no sustainability issues with text-based content since these are smaller packets requiring smaller bursts through the pipe. however, broadband content (large multimedia files) require larger pipes, larger bursts to deliver content in one steady stream: ie, sustainability.

two graphs: # of users on vertical & # of pipes on horizontal; or, # or users & pipe size.

points to the "stall" i mentioned earlier & sd's comment about when we could download info directly to the brain. probably related to "we only use 10% of our brains" — not enough pipe. instantaneous knowledge related to sustainability.

above extremely simplistic.

Posted by: northanger at September 16, 2005 03:33 PM



northanger - isn't Moore's Law, as usually formulated (i.e. a constant doubling period, typically 18 months) simply a first order exponential?

Agree that the actual dynamics involve a number of different factors and are thus open to cross-excitation (or inhibition)

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 03:47 PM



hello alex - hope you get addicted.

Nick "I'm assuming this is an environmental characteristic..."

Yes, but predation pressure obviously has to be part and parcel of the environment. The Cambrian Explosion provides the first fossil evidence of hard shells and other prey/predator adaptations (e.g eyes)...

"... so how is it itself to be made dependent on the adaptations it 'forces'?"

... so it would (perhaps) be the first time in evolutionary history when if a lineage didn't develop an ability to evolve complex adaptations (such as armour or eyes) then it's representatives either starved or got eaten and thus the lineage succumbed to natural selection. When the environment is full of potential predators, adaptations (and the ability to develop them) speed up. Factor 1 = a drastic increase in violence.

The Cambrian Explosion followed snowball Earth melting: adaptive space and niches opened up for conquest. Factor 2 = an increase in heat.

The evolution of multicellular life in the Cambrian is sometimes put down to the emergence of sexual reproduction: "There was a "niche" in the Proterzoic world for large multicellular organisms that had yet to be exploited." And when the multicellular organisms appear on the stage, "this sets up a positive feedback loop whereby organisms respond to new environments" presented by other organisms, "by evolving new morphologies, and those new morphologies introduce new environments which induce newer morphologies."

Factor 3 = the arrival of sex

Of course there is lots of mystery - the Cambrian was basically arthropods clambering about in mud and water, but the recipe for a "metagenetic control code" might just be:

violence + heat + sex = exponential biological explosion.

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 04:03 PM



"The question of how so many immense changes occurred in such a short time is one that stirs scientists. Why did many fundamentally different body plans evolve so early and in such profusion? Some point to the increase in oxygen that began around 700 million years ago, providing fuel for movement and the evolution of more complex body structures. Others propose that an extinction of life just before the Cambrian opened up ecological roles, or "adaptive space," that the new forms exploited. External, ecological factors like these were undoubtedly important in creating the opportunity for the Cambrian explosion to occur.

Internal, genetic factors were also crucial. Recent research suggests that the period prior to the Cambrian explosion saw the gradual evolution of a "genetic tool kit" of genes that govern developmental processes. Once assembled, this genetic tool kit enabled an unprecedented period of evolutionary experimentation -- and competition. Many forms seen in the fossil record of the Cambrian disappeared without trace. Once the body plans that proved most successful came to dominate the biosphere, evolution never had such a free hand again, and evolutionary change was limited to relatively minor tinkering with the body plans that already existed.

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 04:15 PM



"There are some plausible explanations for why diversification may have been relatively sudden:

* The evolution of active predators in the late Precambrian likely spurred the coevolution of hard parts on other animals. These hard parts fossilize much more easily than the previous soft-bodied animals, leading to many more fossils but not necessarily more animals.

* The earth was just coming out of a global ice age at the beginning of the Cambrian (Hoffman 1998; Kerr 2000). A "snowball earth" before the Cambrian explosion may have hindered development of complexity or kept populations down so that fossils would be too rare to expect to find today. The more favorable environment after the snowball earth would have opened new niches for life to evolve into.

* Hox genes, which control much of an animal's basic body plan, were likely first evolving around that time. Development of these genes might have just then allowed the raw materials for body plans to diversify (Carroll 1997).

* Atmospheric oxygen may have increased at the start of the Cambrian (Canfield and Teske 1996; Logan et al. 1995; Thomas 1997).

* Planktonic grazers began producing fecal pellets that fell to the bottom of the ocean rapidly, profoundly changing the ocean state, especially its oxygenation (Logan et al. 1995).

* Unusual amounts of phosphate were deposited in shallow seas at the start of the Cambrian (Cook and Shergold 1986; Lipps and Signor 1992).

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 04:35 PM



sd - Highly plausible. Perhaps worth recapping on the driving problem here: (How) does the machinery of biological evolution itself evolve so as to demonstrate exponential trends within biological history?
Seems to me you've done a great job on the threshold character of the Cambrian Explosion (sex - how did I miss a biologically trivial little number like that!?). The wider K+ trend is harder to see.
- Sexual reproduction - whilst huge - seems basically a one off (at least, the Eukaryotic mechanism doesn't seem to be itself involved in runaway metamorphosis).
- Warming likewise (plenty of interesting loopy bioclimatic dynamics no doubt, but no strong directed trend).
- Arms races seem the most likely to show continuous deep-dynamic transformation, but then - as you note - the Cambrian Explosion was in part a spasm, rather than the beginning of a continuous acceleration.

This one seems the most relevant to our overall inquiry here:
"the gradual evolution of a 'genetic tool kit' of genes that govern developmental processes" - the emergence of modes of genetic organization favourable to enhanced evolvability (actually closer to what i meant by 'metagenetic' - apologies for obscurity - genes or gene elements that operate on other genes or genetic elements, elaboration of internal feedback mechanisms within the functioning of the genome).
The continuation of lateral genetic exchange through retroviruses, and thus (highly speculative) of evolution at the level of dispersed viro-genomic hybrid populations perhaps also a candidate?

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 04:39 PM



"genes or gene elements that operate on other genes or genetic elements, elaboration of internal feedback mechanisms within the functioning of the genome." - I think this has hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head. A vital piece of equipment.

The continuation of lateral genetic exchange through retroviruses, and thus (highly speculative) of evolution at the level of dispersed viro-genomic hybrid populations perhaps also a candidate?

Or culprit! Wow.

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 04:52 PM



What's quite confusing is the prominence of metazoans - clearly bacterial genetics is far more versatile and 'experimental' whilst the vastly larger populations involved enable many many magnitudes of greater variation to be explored at any given time, evidently the 'stratification' of the bacteriosphere has been extraordinarily successful, stabilizing this immense intrinsically mutable biomass in such a way as to prevent intelligenic runaway occurring at the level of bacterial genes or dispersed gene-systems (unless the rumoured 'bacterial supermind' ( has fabricated itself in secret - but then why hasn't it colonized the solar system? - hang on, it's using us to do that ...)

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 05:03 PM



Warning - link provided in last comment gets super-ditzy ... meant as a cultural illustration, not as an authoritative reference

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 05:06 PM



...up another notch :) ... back later

Posted by: sd at September 16, 2005 05:13 PM



try this one:

Posted by: Nick at September 16, 2005 05:20 PM




Posted by: sd at September 17, 2005 09:42 PM



side-stepping bacterial intelligence for now...

a cartoon version of exponential growth:

4.5 Billion years ago: Origin of the Earth
3.8 Billion years ago: Anaerobic bacteria (Translation 1)
3.2 Billion years ago Photosynthetic bacteria
2.5 Billion years ago: Oxygen accumulates in the atmosphere; Aerobic bacteria appear
1.5 Billion years ago: aerobic bacteria ingested by anaerobic bacteria (i.e. mitochondria begin symbiotic trade with the predecessor of Eukaryotes) and Eukaryotes appear.

750 million years ago, the Earth freezes over - the Cyrogenian Period/Snowball Earth

"Detractors argue that this kind of glaciation would have made life extinct entirely, which did not happen. Proponents counter that it may have been possible for reservoirs of anaerobic and low-oxygen life powered by deep oceanic hydrothermal vents to have survived such an event within Earth's deep oceans and crust. Alternatively, deep ocean regions distant from the supercontinent Rodinia or its remnants as it broke apart and drifted on the tectonic plates may have allowed for some small regions of open water preserving small quantities of aerobic life (Contrary to the normal sense of aerobic, in this case, aerobic dependancy would be CO2 for consumption by plants during photosynthesis generating trace amounts of oxygen sufficient to sustain the aerobic (usual oxygen dependent sense) needs of the organisms during the dark of night). "

580 mya Snowball Earth melts
542 mya: The Cambrian Explosion

The role of sex in the Cambrian Explosion: current thinking views meiosis as an adaptation developed in response to viral attack. The shuffling of genes in meiosis is the genome changing the lock every generation, while viruses are continually developing keys to unpick the lock - sex keeps the genome one step ahead of the game.

"Most importantly, however, meiosis produces genetic variety in gametes that propagate to offspring. By crossing over and independent assortment, the gene pool of the species is dynamic and easily adaptable to changing environments and situations. Without genetic variation, progeny would be identical in traits to their parents, a dangerous weakness in a world where survival of the fittest is very much in effect."

Resources are freed up when Snowball Earth melts, which brings on full-scale war between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. A violent arms race ensues, forcing eukaryotes to adapt meiosis and develop the 'genetic tool kit' ('genes or gene elements that operate on other genes or genetic elements' - isn't this meiosis?), leading to body plan prototypes. A viral attack on Eukaryotes thus triggered inter-lenear violence between multicellular eukaryotes, leading to further adaptations in a war over resources (eating other multicellular organisms being the most economical way of getting energy).

443 - 417 mya: plants conquer land (Silurian Period)

417-354 mya: air-breathing arthropods conquer land (Devonian Period)

290-248 mya: reptile boom (Permian)

220 mya: mammalian ancestors, Eucynodonts, start to achieve modest terrestrial success

65-55 mya: following dinosaur extinction, mammals diversify from shrew-like creatures and spread to all major environments

34-24 mya: appearance of primates

5 –1.8 mya: primates continue to evolve – australopithecines (antecedents to Homo sapiens) makes an appearance

1.8 mya - 200,000 ya (or 40,000 ya - disputed, still a mystery) human language evolves: "the language faculty may have evolved in two major steps. The first is a protolanguage of symbolic representation and verbal and/or gestural signs, and the second formal syntax." (Translation 2 - massive potential of horizontal transfer unleashed)

75,000 ya: Toba catastrophe (massive selection pressure which favours homo sapiens)

11,000/9000 ya: appearance of agriculture; domesticated animals; dense, sedentary populations

HGT through viruses from animals: “Many modern diseases, even epidemic diseases, started out as zoonotic diseases. It is hard to be certain which diseases jumped from other animals to humans, but there is good evidence that measles, smallpox, influenza, and diphtheria came to us this way”

(plus see Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs & Steel ‘Lethal Gift of Livestock’)

6000 ya: writing (further Horizontal Transfer)

1500 – 565 ya: printing (China 6th Century/Gutenberg 1440)

500ya: globalisation begins

“European diseases (smallpox, influenza, measles and typhus) to which the native populations had no resistance, and cruel systems of forced labor, such as the infamous haciendas and mining industry's mita), decimated the American population. These diseases usually preceeded the Spanish invaders, and the resulting population loss (between 30 and 90 percent in some cases) severely weakened the native civilizations' ability to fight back.”

240ya: the industrial revolution

60-70 ya (?): computers

21 ya: Neuromancer/ The Singularity Concept - Phase 1 (electronic platonic?)

10ya: Commercial Internet (global horizontal transfer)

2005: Singularity Concept - Phase 2 (boosted by developments in understanding of biology and evolution, e.g. genome sequencing, reverse engineering)

Posted by: sd at September 17, 2005 10:16 PM



don't know how these slipped through - crucial to positive feedback:

146ya: Theory of Evolution

52ya: DNA double helix

15-5ya: Human Genome Project

Posted by: sd at September 18, 2005 01:51 AM



60ya: computer -Turing's Universal Machine

[after the Theory of Evolution - more and more essential antecedents in vertical transmission (e.g Mendel, Boole? - though it's aesthetically pleasing to exclude all individual contributions from humans other than those of Darwin and Turing)and the explosive increase in horizontal transfer means the lineage becomes practically untrackable - a huge spider's web being spun faster than we can track - the thread from 4.5 bya leading to the center of a web the extent of which only starts to become apparent in the late 20th C - the Singularity as a spider waiting in the center.]

enough already

Posted by: sd at September 18, 2005 10:07 AM



sd - magnificent! certainly looks like an accelerating process, even before human history and technological stimulation

'ya' dating interesting because it marks a countdown, but flawed because it floats (and as we get closer the floating becomes more of a problem) - definitely need a calendrics discussion somewhere up the line

Posted by: Nick at September 18, 2005 10:25 AM



agree floating is a problem - one solution would be a program that could update the countdown yr by yr.

a mathematical calculation of gap ratio would be very useful IMHO (count me out - I was trying to work out what percentage of terrestrial history the Theory of Evolution's 146 years constitutes and got lost)

Been revisiting Pinker on Mentalese. Turing's symbols are crucial. Pinker basically suggests that neurons fire to represent concepts. These concepts are organized into logical propositions by a kind of Turing machine. (Computational model of the mind).

Found this in my wanderings:

"When he brought mathematics and logic together in the form of a machine, Turing made symbol-processing systems possible. He proposed that the vast majority of intellectual problems could be converted to the vast majority of intellectual problems could be converted to the form "find a number n such that . . . " Even more important than this provocative statement connecting the abstractions of intellect with the more concrete realm of numbers--an implication that still inspires the efforts of artificial intelligence researchers--was Turing's recognition that the numbers were more important as symbols in this case than as elements of mathematical calculations.

One of Turing's greatest insights was his understanding, from the very beginning, of something that the majority of the computer priesthood has yet to understand--the fact that numbers are only one possible way of interpreting the internal states of an automatic formal system. Babbage's "patterns of action" were now formalized with mathematical rigor. Turing's "states" provided the crucial metaphor for bridging the power of human cognition and the capabilities of machines."

This is a possible candidate for a translation leap.

Any linguistics thread would need some Turing input (not a particular strong point of mine).

Posted by: sd at September 18, 2005 10:56 AM



P.S. Pinker is adamant that the concepts neurons fire for are not words - he's got good arguments to back this up (and I've got a couple up my sleeve). Mentalese concepts are translated into words.

Posted by: sd at September 18, 2005 11:01 AM



sd - the 1930s Turing/Goedel revolution that combined the collapse of logicism (last gasp of philosophy's pretention to metalogical mastery) with the principles for the mechanization of intelligence certainly daunting - but any construction of linguistics on this basis (if that's a little strong: with solid reference to these thinkers) would undoubtedly dispel the miasmic fog of pomological flakery

much more needed on the arithmetical aspect of your remarks of course ...

Posted by: Nick at September 18, 2005 11:04 AM



>>not a particular strong point of mine
thank god. (lol, just kidding!)

Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 11:22 AM



let me contribute to this overflowing toxic spew we're all wading around in here.

sd, this wikipedia article begins ... "Spanish conquest and colonization of the Americas began with the arrival in America of Christopher Columbus in 1492."
Christopher Columbus sailed under the Spanish flag in 1942; however, his nationality is debated while most think he was Genoese (Italian) some think he might have been a pirate.

quotes from "What Is a Dollar?" by Edwin Vieira, Jr., attorney specializing in constitutional law

The present monetary statutes do not define the “dollar” intelligibly ... Most people mistake the Federal Reserve Note (FRN) “dollar bill” for a “dollar.” But no statute defines or ever defined the “one dollar” FRN as the “dollar” or even a “dollar.” ... The situation with coinage is equally confusing ... In sum, the monetary statutes do not define the noun “dollar” in a unique way. Instead, completely different things have the same name, things unequal to each other are treated as equivalent, and things that should have the same characteristics (i.e., “equal purchasing power[s]”) are quite different.

History shows that the real “dollar” is a coin containing 371.25 grains (troy) of fine silver. The “dollar” in the Constitution. Both Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the Constitution and the Seventh Amendment use the noun “dollar.” The Constitution does not define the “dollar,” though, because in the late 1700s everyone knew that the word meant the silver Spanish milled dollar ... The American Colonies did not originally adopt the dollar from England, but from Spain. Under that country’s monetary reforms of 1497, the silver real became the Spanish money of account. A new coin consisting of eight reales also appeared. Known as pesos, duros, piezas de a ocho (“pieces of eight”), or Spanish dollars, the coins achieved predominance in the New World because of Spain’s then-important commercial and political position.

By the American War of Independence, the Spanish dollar had become the major monetary unit of the Colonies. Not surprisingly, the Continental Congress adopted the dollar as the nation’s standard of value.

Congress did not create a “gold dollar,” or establish a “gold standard,” as the popular misconception holds. For example, the Encyclopedia Britannica erroneously reports that the “dollar . . . was defined in the Coinage Act of 1792 as either 24.75 gr. (troy) of fine gold or 371.25 gr. (troy) of fine silver.”[29] The Act did no such thing. It defined the “dollar” as a weight of silver, and “regulate[d] the Value”[30] of gold coins according to this standard unit and the market exchange-ratio between the two metals. Nowhere did the Act refer to a “gold dollar,” only to various gold coins of other names that it valued in “dollars.”

Where are we now?

This history demonstrates that official Washington, D.C., has no conception of what a “dollar” really is. The reason for this self-imposed ignorance is obvious. By reducing the “dollar” to a political abstraction, the government has empowered itself to engage in limitless debasement (depreciation in purchasing power) of our money. A “dollar” that must perforce of the Constitution contain 371.25 grains of fine silver cannot be reduced in value below the market exchange value of silver. A pseudo-“dollar” that contains no fixed amount of any particular substance per “dollar,” on the other hand, can be reduced in value infinitely.

yes yes, piet i know:

Walter Zander
Whether the abandonment of the gold standard is advantageous to an economy is decidedly problematic ... Accordingly, the abandonment of the gold standard has led to "a race for the worst currency", in which the most powerful States are participating ... Whatever the monetary system of a country, it is essential that the measure of value should be clearly and unequivocally determined. Thus where there is a gold currency, a silver currency, or an index currency, the value should be measured by gold, silver, and the index respectively. This basis of measuring economic values, and therefore of any monetary system, is destroyed when in the case of a gold or silver currency the notes of the bank of issue are made legal tender, for this compels everybody to accept these notes in payment regardless of their real value. Compulsory acceptance renders it even impossible to measure the notes by the unit of value and thus to ascertain their value within the country. Indeed, it establishes a legal fiction on the basis of which note and unit of value are identical.

Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 11:24 AM



OK northanger - we need a currency thread

So what do you think about the Gold Standard? Do you have a hardened stance on it?

Think I prefer Hayek's notion of competing private currencies to the Gold Standard model - it's based on economic rationality rather than substance fetishism

Posted by: Nick at September 18, 2005 11:42 AM



>>So what do you think about the Gold Standard? Do you have a hardened stance on it?

right now i'm looking at the flood of money bush threw at the big rubber ducky. is this a stroke of genius or has bush completely lost his ideological mind?

i also have a better idea why everybody has a hard time understanding merspan ... um, i mean greenlin ... crikey! i meant greenspan.


Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 11:55 AM



i meant ECONOMIC, not ECON0MIC.

Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 12:06 PM



A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound,
a buck or a pound, a buck or a pound,
Is all that makes the world go around,
that clinking clanking sound,
Can make the world go round.

Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 12:14 PM



"i'm looking at the flood of money bush threw at the big rubber ducky. is this a stroke of genius or has bush completely lost his ideological mind?" - what ideological mind would that be? Rigorous fiscal conservatism (ha ha)?

Posted by: Nick at September 18, 2005 01:07 PM



fiscal conservatism does make sense if you want government to control spending. however, can you really have fiscal conservatism during wartime?

Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 01:47 PM



northanger - bless your cotton socks - you're sounding liking a neocon :)

I'd be with this q. all the way if the spending was going on the war, rather than on multidimensional out-of-control pork-fest

Posted by: Nick at September 18, 2005 02:53 PM



>>I'd be with this q. all the way if the spending was going on the war, rather than on multidimensional out-of-control pork-fest

ah, that's just creative accounting, it goes with the cotton socks.

Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 03:25 PM



wish i had your confidence

Posted by: Nick at September 18, 2005 03:46 PM



ok. guess we're done with cotton socks & gotta wade back in & deal with bacterial intelligence. it's the reading list that's killing me (psst, don't tell sd, but that link fest is as bad as piet's).

Posted by: northanger at September 18, 2005 04:19 PM



northanger - you're gonna love the phrase structure and grammar as parameters in the factory of the unconscious fest then.

[Oh 'n my links got nice pics galore don't they?]

Posted by: sd at September 18, 2005 08:55 PM



gee. can't wait.

Posted by: northanger at September 19, 2005 12:06 AM



Computers Make Big Strides in Predicting Protein Structure

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 11:59 AM



Life Extension sept 2005

some very colourful pics here. not sure what to make of all this health stuff. doesn't seem very cyberpunk.

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 12:53 PM



i know i'm cutting in on a thread here, but i'm interested to know what people think about the possibility that rather than the super nonbiological (but humanist) intelligence of Kurweil etc., that nanotech etc. reengineers the coding of affect throughout a virtual intelligence. so, forget about bacterial intelligence (though v.interesting see:, and look at atomic/material intelligence. This is strictly nonliving, but constantly infiltrating the humanoid, and is abstract in the sense that the swarm of information/agency constantly forces open or envelops potentiality of space-time.

Posted by: hyperflow at September 19, 2005 04:13 PM



thanks for the link

how are you cutting in? seems v.pertinent and intriguing - please say some more.

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 04:50 PM



adding to the horizontal/vertical transmission & 'genetic tool kit' lines on this thread

Bacterial Wisdom, Gödel's Theorem and Creative Genomic Webs

"a new picture of the genome as an adaptive cybernetic unit with self awareness"

Jacob and Monod in 1961, the discovery of "regulatory genes that are not transcribed, whose primary function is to regulate the rate of synthesis of the product of other genes; these can also activate and de-activate other genes," a discovery which "should have shattered the picture of a static genome which serves as a storage unit only"

The new picture of the genome as an adaptive cybernetic unit with self-awareness... The genome, as I see it, is not merely a storage device, but a sophisticated cybernetic entity well beyond a universal Turing machine. Metaphorically speaking, it includes a user, a computational unit, and a hardware engineer and technicians. The computational unit itself supersedes the universal Turing machine, since during computations the structure is dynamic and changes adaptively according to the needs dictated by the computations.

[the] hypothesis, that in order to perform adaptive mutations (and other non-random mutations) the bacteria employ cybernetics elements (plasmids, in the case of Galitski et al. ), that transfer those mutations from cell to cell [27]. Thus those mutations can be "synchronized, autocatalytic and cooperative genetic variations"


Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 06:25 PM



cutting in, just because i may have missed some of this thread, plus i haven't posted here before.

i guess i'm interested in the potential for a concept of nonanthropomorphic intelligence here, with nanotech bleeding the transduction strategies of nonlife through the humanoid, and potentially all of infomatter. this moves humans to the limits of life, forcing potential mutation with the increasing recombination of disparate particles, mapping specific vortical organisations through the body as complex amplifier (whitehead).

this seems to tie in to the engineering of affect, particularly the modulation of fear in constant atomic manipulation. i am really interested in how affect/information/agency becomes codified in this situation, can we map lines between this nonorganic infiltration and language as swarm, text as swarm etc.?

Posted by: hyperflow at September 19, 2005 06:31 PM



"the modulation of fear in constant atomic manipulation" could you possibly expand on this a little?

1. How would this be similar or different to genetic or memetic manipulation/engineering?

2. How is it done?

"forcing potential mutation" - the interesting thing, for me at least, from your bacterial cybernetics link is the way that mutation is forced (i.e. through starvation). I'm intrigued by the possibilty that language (as non-organic filtration) might have been (to some extent), forced by the Toba Catastrophe - that an incredibly hostile environment forced the human brain into new levels of plasticity.

"can we map lines between this nonorganic infiltration and language as swarm, text as swarm etc."

The simple answer is yes, IMHO - but it requires deleting ideology from the perceptual system and replacing it with the concepts of contagion and mutation.

[For example, Communism as a pandemic abiological virus that could give influenza a run for its money. Reading Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Badiou or Zizek is like walking into a biological weapons factory - the lethal potential encoded in the flows that transmit words]

Memes (inorganic replicators) transmit vertically, but at the same time trade horizontally, cutting and splicing code, mutating in response to their environment, adjusting their ferocity. They are often remarkably easy to map because their core codes are crude and basic. Mapping them is one thing, it's other operations (e.g developing vaccines)that prove difficult.

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 07:04 PM



v. interesting comments, i'll have a think about them.
your questions though about atomic manipulation; fear is an affect of the implosion of infomatter in its unravelling, the recombination of vastly disparate modes, sensations, across the continuum of nonorganic life.
nanotech is different to memetic and bio technologies because it cuts right in to infomatter, spreading contagious affect of matter and information trasductively; as vectors which pass through individuating bodies.

Posted by: hyperflow at September 19, 2005 07:24 PM



define 'infomatter' please.

In what sense is DNA not infomatter?

Why are 'individuating bodies' important? Energy, genes, genomes, viruses, memes, Capital, are all operate deeper than/beyond individuated bodies. Bodies are vehicles/hosts - so how do they figure in the equation?

[sorry if these questions sound a bit aggressive, but I'm trying to get under the poetry]

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 08:17 PM



information and matter entangled, thats it, and of course dna is infomatter, but we can only talk about biology with dna, whereas with nanotech, we can talk about nonorganic life, and the way that is mapped through biological systems.

ok, transduction of information across virtual/actual circuits is a process of individuation (simondon), and in this sense anything is a body, a concept, a humanoid, a gene, etc.
So, I think it might be important to understand how information transduction (energy, viruses etc.) act on the strata of the human, how they relate to processes of codification and decodification, or speeding up and slowing down (spinoza).

Posted by: hyperflow at September 19, 2005 08:39 PM



oops. operating. grammar parameters and verb phrase dependencies up the spout.

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 08:54 PM



sorry hyperflow - missed yr comment

DNA code is a symbolic sytem which translates into the stuff of biology and brings about its own replication. As such, it provides a model to talk about a lot of things which are not biological: for example the code of mentalese thought which translates into the stuff of language; memetic codes which translate into power structures for societal organisation.

Nanotechnology will only ever take off if humans are cut out of the loop and nanobots have access to the codes. This will, inevitably, involve some form of memewar, IMHO.

transduction: how is this different to contagion/transmission?



Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 09:05 PM



ok, i take your point, i guess that i'm thinking about engineering processes that also codify/decodify genetics - cybernetic organisation that eshel ben-jacob is researching for example. nanotech isn't just about the kind of runaway replication of nanobots, it also exposes and accelerates the engineering dynamics of matter. so, the algorithmic complexity, hypercyclic organisation etc. of nonorganic materiality can then be traced through complex organisation of dna, bodies, etc.

v. interesting about mapping memes from dna, and i think this can be linked to affect, where molecular fear traverses affective mood systems, and is overcodified to produce the security state, pre-emptive strike, future shutdown.
but, i do think something is to be learnt from the way information and matter is entangled at the nanoscale, where 'inanimate' particles recombine in complex organisation, self-assembly and replication. this molecular turbulence disrupts the infomaterial continuum.

this ties in to transduction as it indicates how information travel is individuating, rather than smooth, always carrying affect. matter is cybernetic, reverse engineering, dissipative, and dynamic. this proto-perception can then be used to access and maybe inform memetics etc. on the human strata.

Posted by: hyperflow at September 19, 2005 10:02 PM



cybernetics in RNA & DNA transfer and translation & replication - the capacity to learn from/act on feedback - requires a lot of testing and thinking.

"molecular fear traverses affective mood systems, and is overcodified to produce the security state, pre-emptive strike, future shutdown."

exploration of the relationship between memes and affective mood systems would be very interesting. e.g. how memes feed on and trigger rage.

"matter is entangled at the nanoscale, where 'inanimate' particles recombine in complex organisation"

so we've got to look at physics for codes translating into dynamic, 'self'-organizing inanimate matter?

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 10:36 PM



this is a fairly meaty look at AI and the Turing test:

The Age of Intelligent Machines: Can Machines Think?
by Daniel Dennett

Posted by: sd at September 19, 2005 10:41 PM



hyperflow - great comments

everybody - sorry for absence, just gone under the most stupendous editing avalanche - trying to crawl my way out now

Posted by: Nick at September 20, 2005 11:18 AM



>>trying to crawl my way out now
hope you're not crawling around in all this muck.

Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 02:20 PM



to what are you referring as muck?
please be specific.

Posted by: sd at September 20, 2005 03:01 PM



I mean, first it's toxic spew, now it's muck - is it the dirty bacteria that are provoking such revulsion? Or are spew 'n muck being given positive connotations here? Is the hyperstitional significance of spew and muck being brought into question? I mean, what is a poor soul to think?

Posted by: sd at September 20, 2005 03:49 PM



i'm referring to all-round muck. are we not mired in vuiligheid, bungle, drek, sporcizia, mist, estiércol, gödsel, dung & sludge? here, there & everywhere?

Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 03:54 PM



muck, spew & all that gunk getting positive spin. however (lol), hopefully when the shit hits the fan there's sense enough to stop all spin (positive or negative) until things get cleaned up a little.

Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 03:57 PM



vuiligheid? drek? sporcizia?

Come again? What DID you have for breakfast?

Bacteria are the ultimate, nay, primordial clean-up squad, doancha know?

Posted by: sd at September 20, 2005 04:09 PM



did you actually read what i wrote?

Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 04:19 PM



eh? [i woz merely joshing]

well you learn sth new everyday at this sight:


Etymology:Yiddish, Pronunciation

* drĕk, /drɛk/, /drEk/

Noun dreck (uncountable

Alternative spellings


1. Trash, junk; worthless merchandise.

Retrieved from

Categories: Yiddish derivations

Posted by: sd at September 20, 2005 04:27 PM



site, even

Posted by: sd at September 20, 2005 04:28 PM

Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies (or, Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem Veram Medicinam)

visit the interior of the earth, in rectifying, discover the hidden stone (which is the true medicine).

and there's the famous lotus symbolism of the buddhists: they grow from pure drek.

Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 04:35 PM




Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 04:38 PM




Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 04:41 PM



thanks nick.

can anyone help me out with some ideas about how the libidinal economy and desiring machines work out in relation to information and agency on the human/cultural strata?

Posted by: hyperflow at September 20, 2005 05:11 PM
Lyotard sees reality in terms of unpredictable happenings (events), rather than structured regularities. These events can be interpreted in different ways, and no single interpretation will capture events accurately. Events always exceed interpretation; there is always something "left over" that an interpretation does not account for. In the libidinal philosophy Lyotard uses the idea of libidinal energy to describe events and the way they are interpreted or exploited, and he develops a philosophy of society and theory in terms of the economy of libidinal energies. Lyotard uses the terms "libidinal intensities," and "affects” to refer to events. These intensities and affects are, in more common terminology, feelings and desires.


Posted by: northanger at September 20, 2005 06:09 PM



I ended up in dread's 460K mulch file as 'poetpiet monetary info' - that's close enough to getting dreckig for me

ps: just watched a 100% kinetically focused man I admire make a mud and brick bread oven from close to bot quite scratch; riveting slop; that fella should have docu makers after hisself

he can be sorta seen at Homepage
Welkom op de homepage van de Werkwerf. nederlandse versie. Welcome to the homepage
of the Werkwerf. english version. - 1k

Posted by: indextremist at September 20, 2005 08:55 PM



- hyperflow, this is the best I can do for now.

what about framing agency in terms of a machines decision-making capabilities?

1. different machines have different limitations and parameters in terms of the decisions 'their' machinery allows them to make.

2. There is scale and variation within one type of machine: biological machines differ in the extent and type of decision they can make.

3. Then there are differences between types of intersecting machines: biomachines, politico-power machines, economy machines, techno-automatic machines, thinking machines.

4. Decision making can be programmed into the machinery.

5. In the case of most observable multi-cellular biomachines the ability to decide is programmed in on the level of instinct, so that the decisions operate in the service of programmers that have already 'made' the grand decisions and programmed the parameters. A gazelle's instincts can survey the terrain and choose left as the best option for evading the claws of a cheetah. Here, the brain is part of the decision making process, processing information about the environment and coordinating movement in response to fear and at the behest of a genetic imperative instructing the gazelle to live to see another day, another season. The brain does not decide to flee in response to threat: that instruction has been written elsewhere. While the brain lacks executive power, libidinal investment is also pre-programmed and cannot be subverted or rerouted.

6. A brain which processes complex concepts and abstract thoughts through circuitry (more complex than those concepts and thoughts) operates on a longer leash. The leash stretches to up to the breaking point of suicide. In times of relative security and abundance, that brain can turn its perceptual apparatus on itself and critique its instincts, questioning why the organism is impelled to bother with food, sex and power. A determined brain staggered by the colossal stupidity and pointlessness it sees in the biosphere could spit on its genes, become a desert hermit or, best of all, terminate the bio-operating system. The decision not to reproduce is not sufficient in itself to defy the genes - if the brain is still part of an organism that helps family members then the brain is still serving copies of the genes that built it; if it is a brain belonging to an organism which performs a social function then the brain is, to some extent, in the service of the genome, or maybe an alien, parasitic genome. With the advent of the thinking brain, libidinal power can be rerouted by the ascetic ideal and annihilated by suicide.

7. The human brain is prey to memes, which in their most potent forms cash out codes instructing how organisms are to be organized in supra-organsimal power structures. Social grouping trades security for information pooling and excess libidinal power. Genes are paid off and kept quiet: they replicate and look after their own in the form of families. Societal structures siphon off energy flow in accordance with the imperatives issued by the intersection of genes and memes: patriarchy is programmed both by primate genetics and religious memes. Above the information concerning resources and potential danger there are sacred infosystems which claim to have obtained accurate information about reality through revelation.

Instinctive distrust of, and hostility towards, distantly related representatives of the genome is expressed in family and tribal feuds and is intensified through memes which colonise in the Name of God, which view the world through the crude lenses of class and race. Libido is channeled from the libidinal rage of the feud into far-ranging slave raids and military campaigns justified and advocated by memes whose information is mostly unquestioned and whose instructions are followed to the letter in ferocious, arrogant rapacity. The enemy, whether Aztec, Jew, African or kulak are seen as members of another species - a process of dehumanization which reduces them to vermin to be annihilated or commodities to be exploited for their energy. Here decision-making still runs from genes wielding tight control over their expression as memes.

8. After the emergence of food production and sedentary life running on excess, there are two basic economic systems: despotism and capitalism, both of which can vary massively within themselves and both of which can incorporate elements from each other, so despotic capitalism (e.g. fascism) is possible, as is capitalist despotism (e.g. late 19th/early 20th century European Imperialism). However, neither system can be reduced to one of its manifestations: memes furnish political shape. Capitalism and Imperialism are not the same things, but they can be put together in an assemblage.

Despotism reaches an extreme form in medieval feudalism, French absolutism and Russian autocracy: the despot asserts and maintains authority through a divinely ordained hierarchical power structure; owning, monopolizing and granting resources, land and labor. Here a despotic head or a minority of privileged slaves makes the decisions. Decisions come down as commandments and five-year plans: there is no loop. The thinking brain is violently excluded from the process. Texts are guarded by a priesthood immune to their poisonous or monumentally boring content; dogma and historical necessity block critique or exploration. The State thinks for you. Libidinal frustration is channeled into war.

Capitalism reaches an extreme form in societies shaped by the faissez-faire meme, arising from the observation that the system works best when left to its own devices. The antecedents of modern democracies had the blood of slavery and colonialism all over their hands, but the meme gradually evolved a respect for individual thinking brains as part of its code. The concept of what an individual thinking brain is also subject to an expansive and inclusive adaptive process (the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, civil rights, decolonialisation, AI). Capitalism on the leash of laissez-faire democracy fosters decision-making, whether on the level of consumer choice (who you trade with), on the level of self-medication and bioengineering, parliamentary elections, the right to dissent, freedom of conscience.... The thinking brain can choose to engage or to slip into apathy. Information becomes the main commodity, transported on globo-libido flows. The priesthood has gone. Academic, political and media authority is challenged daily in the blogworld - you can believe who and what you want and say whatever the hell you like (the aggression of the blog comment threads - a relentless outpouring of emotion onto the net). The more technologically sophisticated the meme system and the economical system become, the more detached the thinking brain becomes from gene imperatives: sex change, brain implants, cyborgs... maybe ultimately the choice whether to live forever or not.

9. Memes, like genes, are involved in arms races. As laissez-faire Capitalism evolves more abstract, inorganic techo-memes it is on a flight away from the biological, it is attacked by memes that seek to drag the brain back into crude codes and libidinal mismanagement. So we have memewar.

Posted by: sd at September 20, 2005 11:57 PM



Lyotard? HAve a laugh! Discussion here far more intetesting and sophisticated than lame continental philosophy. Especially when dredged from wikipedia!

Posted by: cynoia at September 21, 2005 08:36 AM



pshah, mate, master, bwana, gov what would you betitled be with?

Give me Goebbels melodiated syllable battle over the bomb burdened variety anyday (like yester when I found him and his band just before it was banned in order to join battle that wrong way, thankee Barger), making fun of the imperial islanders. Whooptidoo, why don't you shift hobby and go clobber Blair and the bomb lobby or quote Shakespeare on usury of you want to be justifiably chauvenistic AND on topic. Where are those buckets of spew when you need them, gooddeemit!!!!!!

Posted by: piet at September 21, 2005 11:08 AM



isn't this explosive agency?

It's A Whole New Web
And this time around it will be built by you

Posted by: sd at September 21, 2005 03:15 PM



Viz sd's last, this seems very pertinent:

Posted by: Nick at September 22, 2005 01:34 AM



nick - the totalitarian aspect? is that what you're looking at?

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 04:35 AM



nick - i mean, i can see how an OS can be "totalitarian".

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 04:37 AM



"As laissez-faire Capitalism evolves more abstract, inorganic techo-memes it is on a flight away from the biological, it is attacked by memes that seek to drag the brain back into crude codes and libidinal mismanagement ..."

Posted by: nick at September 22, 2005 06:16 AM



'Velvet Revolutions and the Logic of Terrorism' seems to me to be basic common sense. The weird thing here:

1. it is staggering this common sense is not more commonplace.
2. it is utterly predictable and typical that this common sense is not more commonplace.

Can this be explained by any other concept than that of meme virulence?

The absolute idiocy of anti-capitalist blogging.

Posted by: sd at September 22, 2005 07:07 AM



sd - memes pushing pleistocene restoration (despotism from time immemorial to Islamarxism) clearly latch onto hard-wired 'intuitions' that just 'feel right' - Anticapitalism is all about feeling, which is why students, hysteria and spluttering indignation are so prevalent within it

Posted by: nick at September 22, 2005 07:19 AM



yup. but the idiocy of anticapitalist blogging is not just in its content - as a strategy it's ludicrous. I'm searching for an analogy, and I've only got crap ones, but maybe it's like a luddite who goes into factories and works overtime, polishing and repairing machines, fuming about the machines under their breath; or it's like an animal that curses and takes swipes at oxygen. [told you they were crap]

Posted by: sd at September 22, 2005 07:54 AM



I've heard the argument made that because blogging isn't profitable it's inherently anticapitalist (don't laugh) - like birdwatching i guess :)

Posted by: nick at September 22, 2005 08:21 AM



"As laissez-faire Capitalism evolves more abstract, inorganic techo-memes it is on a flight away from the biological, it is attacked by memes that seek to drag the brain back into crude codes and libidinal mismanagement ..."
Posted by: nick at September 22, 2005 06:16 AM

boy ain't that a nice concise picpostcard inversion of hard truth; truth is techo memes undermine, damage, leech off of, are in principle and ultimately deadly to decent healthy enough to work hard ECO-operative capitalisms.

And students have fresh enough perceptions to be shocked at such sorry spectacles and dim prospects once they get their perceptions straight and see through the rampant schizoid flavour of the kind of fucked up info feeds clearly stemming from parents who had the stupidity to think it was a decent and possible enough thing to do, have children in a city and they grew and substituted for real adventure with sf

Students certainly don't all protest and polemicize as a subfunction of matey-feely type strategy.

Posted by: indextremist at September 22, 2005 08:54 AM



here's a little coating to wrap your medicine (picNICKpostcard size above, just how you like it) in: // Overall, Accelerating Change 2005 didn't seem all that great to me. Seeing log chart after log chart showing exponential growth in the number of bits in the world, the number of internet hosts, the speed with which brains are imaged and the number of pies eaten per day got boring, and it didn't feel like new information to me.

By the way, exponential growth is just a trump d'oeil (or however you spell it); add a dimension and you see it becomes a variety of geographical progression all soft (parasitic) growth (that is not penetrant and fistmaking nor smart enough to massage the hard stuff enough to make it credulous, recruitable and starts to believe your bluff) must follow to its limits.

Posted by: indextremist at September 22, 2005 09:14 AM



indextremist - I'm guessing you think grammar is a form of brutal bourgeois oppression?

Posted by: nick at September 22, 2005 09:32 AM



"I've heard the argument made that because blogging isn't profitable it's inherently anticapitalist"

ignoring Capitalism as a motor for runaway technodevelopment for a while...

1. How do anticapitalist bloggers view their computers and hard drives? Would they share them with complete strangers? To what extent would they accept the collectivisation of their machinery and data? To the point where private property is entirely abolished an even e-mails become property of the state? In true communism, what would 'your inbox' mean?

2. In order to maintain a blog, you need time, technology and electricity. Free time comes from abundance and money. Communism has amply demonstrated that humans have no motivation to produce an abundance if they are deprived of private wonership - they are biologically programmed to look after their families. Attempts to reprogam this through 'cultural' revolutions have led to disaster. Capital produces runaway excess with the carrot of private property. Blogging is possible (partly?mainly?) because it is not that difficult to make a living in countries which have achieved a certain level of economic development. The system can tolerate people not working, or organising their time and energy so they work minimally. It's a question of choice (how rich do you want to be?) and adaptation (the future is full of entrepeneurs, even academic/intellectual entrepeneurs).

3. Islamarxism is a mutant meme crossing two violently prudish memes which excell at censorship and imposing primitive media forms and content. Anyone who has been to Cuba will have witnessed Castro's interminable speeches. The Taliban banned TV. Do anticapitalists really imagine they would be permitted to maintain their blogs in an Islamarxist state? [probably not, because then the anticapitalist bloggers no doubt envision themselves as the new philosopher kings] At the moment, there is no medium more antithetical to Islamarxism than the blog.

4. Blogging is, at the end of the day, talking - talking freely. Would anticapitalist bloggers describe talking as anticapitalist? It's just a medium.

Posted by: sd at September 22, 2005 10:13 AM



>>"As laissez-faire Capitalism evolves more abstract, inorganic techo-memes it is on a flight away from the biological, it is attacked by memes that seek to drag the brain back into crude codes and libidinal mismanagement ..."

absolutely. is post traumatic stress disorder a meme?

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 10:14 AM



>>deprived of private wonership

?. it still kinda works tho.

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 10:34 AM



northanger - good point (like PEST (Post-Election Selection Trauma)) - guess it feeds / attracts certain meme-complexes

sd - but none of these bedsit commies believe it's going to happen, so they're relieved of all responsibility to examine the coherence of their programmes ('we just do critique dude')

Posted by: Nick at September 22, 2005 10:36 AM



oppositional fashionistas - there's nothing to argue with

Posted by: Nick at September 22, 2005 10:45 AM



but some of them clearly have brains and an amazing ability to process current affairs at lightning speed (although they ONLY seem to process current affairs, through the same old machinery, of course).

Posted by: sd at September 22, 2005 10:50 AM



nick - so you agree with the coherence theory of truth. you must also believe culture is coherent. think the problem with hurricane ophelia was a lack of steering coherence — lets all ignore discoherence, even when it stalls & dumps a ton of water on us. makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 10:52 AM



maybe discoherence is a feature of singularities.

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 10:54 AM



northanger - more like coherence theory of policy. But it isn't just the incoherence, it's the total lack of seriousness - green hair has better arguments

sd - but even with current affairs, the only interest is in some variant of: 'see, everything's going to shit, blame Kapitalism' ("it's called critique")

Posted by: Nick at September 22, 2005 11:03 AM



nick - you mean like this?

btw, aren't you the marxist? i forget. anyway, i'm for total free markets & think its the great evolutionary leveller. kill the red tape, the rich are clearly superior.

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 11:12 AM



red-herring if ever i saw one

Posted by: Nick at September 22, 2005 11:25 AM



"btw, aren't you the marxist?" - over here Marxism has evolved: 'Let's go for a century of rampant capitalism then see where we're at'
- makes sense to me

Posted by: Nick at September 22, 2005 11:34 AM



lol, of course it is.

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 11:34 AM



makes sense to me too. tell everybody, o wise one, why it makes sense.

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 11:36 AM



"it's the total lack of seriousness"

laugh & the whole world [fill in the blank]

you know that jetblue pilot who landed the plane spot on yesterday? they say he was totally relaxed.

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 12:17 PM



"crank a hard cutback as you hit the wall. There's a screaming bottom (yield) curve, so watch out. Remember: rip it, roll it, and punch it." —squirt

Posted by: northanger at September 22, 2005 12:21 PM



I live in 55808 Las Vegas, Nevada. Have you been here before?

Posted by: Ein Lo Sechel at October 4, 2006 02:33 AM



Post a comment:

Remember personal info?