viernes, 8 de abril de 2011
Critical systems: from neurons to leaders
I always wondered why the regenerative process of the brain was not as efficient as for other tissues. There was certainly a mystical feeling about way the most precious and philosophical organ of our body was so vulnerable. I think I might have an hypothesis. This hypothesis might also claim and provide a way to seize the programmed and discriminate value which society assigns to individuals. My starting point is the naive but not totally wrong assertion that disposable components are by definition of low "value". Now at this point it is important to distinguish between transcendent and immanent components. I conceive these kantian categories as comparative adjectives: one emphasizing the opposite condition of the other. I will use the proper name (say George) as an epitome for immanent condition (the condition of being George). And as transcendent condition every adjective which I pose in the proper name (George is an electrical engineer). The fact that these are comparative adjectives can be shown by noting that being an electrical engineer is an immanent condition with respect to the upper category of engineers. Now I shall continue with my discussion about the value of humans and other components inside evolutionary systems (or Complex Adaptive Systems CAS). My naive assertion should then be understood as a claim that CAS have an internal classificatory system where transcendent and immanent are adjectives. Furthermore I would add that although at a global level (in evolutionary space-time) CAS are able to reach the sense of comparative adjectives (the proof is immanent), at a local level the superlative version of the adjective takes place. In between the local and the global I think the CAS has a sort of spectrum where in one pole assigns the components which are highly transcendent and in the other pole those which are highly immanent. But this spectrum (basically a line joining to points which I call "poles") have a dynamic size which varies according to the different subsystems of the CAS (e.g. the spectrum of the muscle tissue should greater than that of the brain). My claim (or rather hermeneutic proposal) is that what I call critical subsystems are characterized by a very short distance between the transcendent and immanent poles. It is precisely for that reason that when we address the problem of cognition there is a difficulty in separating those features which are immanent from those which are transcendent, and this should happen in any other critical subsystem. At this point you, if you have read carefully, you may say my reasoning is tautological. It is, but the whole effort is worth it once we try to connect the other notions of critical systems with the former. In the physical or computer science community the discussion is rather taken in terms of immanent components which are very important in the functioning the whole CAS. Implicitly they are working in the singularity where transcendent (ness) and immanent (ness) are indistinguishable. They also have purely transcendent approaches which they take care of calling abstract theory. But my claim is that there are CAS for which there is an interplay between both categories with concrete dynamical manifestations. This reasoning might seem complicated but the example are rather simple (this might be a warning about the usefulness my extra conceptualization). The discriminate regenerative regime of the body tissue is my favorite, but take for example society. It is not fortuitous the difficulty in separating the leader ethos from that of the institutions they lead. There are times where some people say that a leader threats to replace an institution while other people say that the leader has become an institution. My reflection doesn't say who is right (but perhaps says who is IN the right), but it provides a broader context to this conflict. The leader can only become an institution to the extent that we pursue a critical system where transcendent and immanent become one. My personal view is that, indeed, critical subsystems are an interesting evolutionary mechanism (the brain is cool!), but I think it is wise for nature to have a minimal robusticity mechanism even for critical systems and this is done not only by creating an external shield but by leaving a small but finite distance between the pole of transcendent an immanent components.