As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/
Options

Emergence Theory: I'm at Level 8!

QinguQingu Registered User regular
edited May 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
I think emergence is probably the most fascinating concept evar. It provides a general framework for basically understanding everything, from quantum mechanics all the way up to human societies.

Emergence deals with different "levels" of phenomena, and how those levels interact with each other. A classic example of emergence is the stock market. The stock market is simply the aggregate behavior of thousands of individual traders. So, the behavior of the stock market is determined by the behavior of all these individual traders. However—the behavior of individual traders is also determined by the behavior of the stock market!

The behavior of the "top" level phenomenon—the stock market—simultaneously determines, and is determined by, the behavior of the "bottom" level phenomenon—the individual traders. In emergence, a number of phenomena on one "level" combine to create an entirely new phenomena on another level.

Other examples of emergent phenomenon include
• Ant colonies and termite mounds
• Flocks of birds
• Evolution of multicellular organisms
• Abiogenesis (i.e. the formation of living cells from nonliving components)
• Storms
• Classical mechanics from quantum mechanics
• Fractal patterns
• Consciousness in animal brains

You can also use emergence to think about how different areas of science are related.
Mathematics/Information —> Physics —> Chemistry —> Biology —> Psychology and sociology

Each discipline describes behavior of phenomenon at a certain "level" of reality. And each level seems to emerge from behavior of phenomena on the level "below" it. Note that the arrows do not necessarily go one way. Chemistry obviously underlies biology (we living things are made out of chemicals). But just as obviously, biological behavior affects the behavior of the chemicals that make up the bodies of living things.

Finally, emergence is a framework that explains why we are here, why the universe has structure. It explains how complexity is created from chaos. In religion, creation is understood always as a conscious act. Not only does emergence explain how ordered and complex structures can form naturally, it also places consciousness itself in a natural context. Consciousness, I think, is best understood as an emergent property of the brain—an argument made pretty convincingly in Douglas Hofstader's I am a Strange Loop.

Qingu on

Posts

  • Options
    ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2009
    So it's kabbalah?

    Scalfin on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • Options
    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Scalfin wrote: »
    So it's kabbalah?
    What exactly do you think is mystical or unnatural or handwaiving about emergence?

    Qingu on
  • Options
    ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2009
    Qingu wrote: »
    Scalfin wrote: »
    So it's kabbalah?
    What exactly do you think is mystical or unnatural or handwaiving about emergence?

    I saw a large parallel in its focus of levels (I'm talking about the type practiced in Hasidic Judaism, and have no idea what those crazy Christians are following Madonna into now). Actually, maybe I was thinking about hasidism. I always get mysticism movements mixed up.

    Scalfin on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The rest of you, I fucking hate you for the fact that I now have a blue dot on this god awful thread.
  • Options
    OctoparrotOctoparrot Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Was there something to discuss?

    I think Legolas is the most awesme elf ever.

    Yes I'm being an ass.

    Emergent patterns in many of those examples (like QM>Classical Mechanics) is often about averaging, first order approximations, seems kind of boring.

    Octoparrot on
  • Options
    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Lacks quantifiability, I think. Does this actually claim to make any theoretical predictions of any kind, or is it intended to structure thinking about topics?

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
  • Options
    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    ronya wrote: »
    Lacks quantifiability, I think. Does this actually claim to make any theoretical predictions of any kind, or is it intended to structure thinking about topics?
    The latter.

    Qingu on
  • Options
    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    When I saw the title I was hoping it was related to Anathem (from that recent novel written by Stephenson)

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • Options
    QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Kalkino wrote: »
    When I saw the title I was hoping it was related to Anathem (from that recent novel written by Stephenson)
    I'm actually halfway through that book now.
    The Ringing Vale idea? Not emergence like this.

    Qingu on
  • Options
    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Everything can be considered to be "emergent." Every observable pattern is the result of lower level structures and forces. Phenomena that appear random and chaotic (in the classic sense, not in the fractal sense) are also the result of lower level structures and forces. Patterns and non-patterned chaos both are "emergent."

    Consequently, I don't see it as a particularly useful concept. It feels almost like a buzzword. Don't want to take the time to explain the origins of a pattern? Just say it's "emergent" and everybody goes "oooooohhhhh..."

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • Options
    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Qingu wrote: »
    Kalkino wrote: »
    When I saw the title I was hoping it was related to Anathem (from that recent novel written by Stephenson)
    I'm actually halfway through that book now.
    The Ringing Vale idea? Not emergence like this.

    Well if you have made it half way you've passed the first test
    Yes. Which I kind of like the idea of but I'm not sure why

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • Options
    HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I think emergence is a very useful idea for resolving certain philosophical problems. The complexity of human existence is a result of increasingly rapid emergence events, where emergent properties themselves give rise to even more complex phenomenon. Biological life emerges from non-living matter, intentionality (aka free will) and consciousness emerge from biological processes, ethics emerges from interaction between intentional beings, etc.

    I think this is the point where a hawk Dennett. His idea of the Intentional Stance is basically emergence, though I'm not sure if he ever calls it that.

    HamHamJ on
    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
  • Options
    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    What? This sounds like a rehash of things we already know.

    The parts make the whole and the whole makes the parts.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
  • Options
    RussellRussell Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    Everything can be considered to be "emergent." Every observable pattern is the result of lower level structures and forces. Phenomena that appear random and chaotic (in the classic sense, not in the fractal sense) are also the result of lower level structures and forces. Patterns and non-patterned chaos both are "emergent."

    Consequently, I don't see it as a particularly useful concept. It feels almost like a buzzword. Don't want to take the time to explain the origins of a pattern? Just say it's "emergent" and everybody goes "oooooohhhhh..."

    It seems like just another way of saying the universe is self-organizing.
    Edit: Also hierarchical.

    Russell on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Options
    poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    (1) I'm never sure how anyone decides what's a 'lower' or 'higher' order. I mean, the stock market affects the lives of bacteria. Sure it's all interconnected, but I just see anthrocentrism in any idea of 'level'.

    (2) When the atheist threads metastasise here, and religious types accuse atheism of being a religion, stuff like this and Loren's utilitarian/commie/NonZero thing is what they mean.

    (3) What Feral said. I think I shall make this my sig, since it saves time.

    poshniallo on
    I figure I could take a bear.
  • Options
    HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I think the key point is that emergence allows for things that are reducible to but not informationaly equivalent to lower levels.

    The best example of this is using The Game of Life. At a sufficiently high level of complexity you can get things like motion, perception, and decision making which are reducible to interactions governed by the basic rules, but talking about them on a "physical" level, ie that of individual cells, does not carry the same informational content as talking about them on an "organism" level.

    HamHamJ on
    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
  • Options
    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    Everything can be considered to be "emergent." Every observable pattern is the result of lower level structures and forces. Phenomena that appear random and chaotic (in the classic sense, not in the fractal sense) are also the result of lower level structures and forces. Patterns and non-patterned chaos both are "emergent."

    Consequently, I don't see it as a particularly useful concept. It feels almost like a buzzword. Don't want to take the time to explain the origins of a pattern? Just say it's "emergent" and everybody goes "oooooohhhhh..."

    Yes, this is what I meant when I asked whether this was just a way to structure thought. Qingu says it is, in which case I suppose it's just supposed to organise thinking, not provide any actual explanations - it's up to the thinker to check that there are actual causative relationships and distinctions between his 'levels'.

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
  • Options
    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    ronya wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Everything can be considered to be "emergent." Every observable pattern is the result of lower level structures and forces. Phenomena that appear random and chaotic (in the classic sense, not in the fractal sense) are also the result of lower level structures and forces. Patterns and non-patterned chaos both are "emergent."

    Consequently, I don't see it as a particularly useful concept. It feels almost like a buzzword. Don't want to take the time to explain the origins of a pattern? Just say it's "emergent" and everybody goes "oooooohhhhh..."

    Yes, this is what I meant when I asked whether this was just a way to structure thought. Qingu says it is, in which case I suppose it's just supposed to organise thinking, not provide any actual explanations - it's up to the thinker to check that there are actual causative relationships and distinctions between his 'levels'.

    I think I might have been a little harsh. It's a good and useful word, I just don't consider it this amazing groundbreaking paradigm shift.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • Options
    JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited May 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    I think I might have been a little harsh. It's a good and useful word, I just don't consider it this amazing groundbreaking paradigm shift.

    I don't know if you were being too harsh. It just feels very much like bubblegum science, like the stuff that you used to see on the cover of Omni (that probably dates me a bit D: ).

    Jacobkosh on
  • Options
    desperaterobotsdesperaterobots perth, ausRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I feel like I need to read up on this theory very quickly to particpate in this thread! So quickly that you might say it's an ... emergency?

    Thanks guys, I'll be here all week!

    desperaterobots on
  • Options
    GrudgeGrudge blessed is the mind too small for doubtRegistered User regular
    edited May 2009
    I see emergence as something that eases the understanding of certain phenomena for people who have a hard time accepting the harsh reality of physical reductionism. It adds no real explanatory value, but is still useful if a phenomenon needs, and can, be described on an abstract and not totally exhaustive "level".

    Grudge on
Sign In or Register to comment.