Bei der Beschäftigung mit Emergenz nahm ich mir eben, mal wieder, das Buch »Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software« von Steven B. Johnson zur Hand. Und da ich einige Zitate an anderer Stelle benötige, folgt hier eine lose Sammlung von Aussagen aus dem Buch, die mir in der Beschäftigung mit Emergenz wichtig sind:

»The slime mold spends much of life as thousands of distinct single-celled units, each moving separately from its other comrades. Under the right conditions, those myriad cells will coalesce again into a single, larger organism, which then begins its leisurely crawl across the garden floor, consuming rotting leaves and wood as it moves about. … The slime mold oscillates between being a single creature and a swarm.« (13)

»In the first phase, inquiring minds struggled to understand the forces of self-organization without realizing what they were up against. In the second, certain sectors of the scientific community began to see self-organization as a problem that transcended local disciplines and set out to solve that problem« (20)

»But in the third phase … we stopped analyzing emergence and started creating it. We began building self-organizing systems into our software applications, our video games, our art, our music.« (21)

»Gordon studies display some of nature’s most mesmerizing decentralized behavior: intelligence and personality and learning that emerges from the bottom up.« (32)

»The city is complex because it overwhelms, yes, but also because it has coherent personality, a personality that selforganizes out of millions of individual decisions, a global order built out of local interactions.« (39)

»A city is a kind of pattern amplifying machine: its neighborhoods are a way of measuring and expressing the repeated behavior of larger collectives—capturing information about group behavior, and sharing that information with the group. Because those patterns are fed back to the community, small shifts in behavior can quickly escalate into larger movements« (40/41)

»Our minds may be wired to look for pacemakers, but we are steadily learning how to think from the bottom up.« (67)

»If you are building a system designed to learn from the ground level, a system where macro intelligence and adaptability derive from local knowledge, there are five fundamental principles you need to follow.« (77)

  1. More is different.
  2. Ignorance is useful.
  3. Encourage random encounters.
  4. Look for patterns in the signs.
  5. Pay attention to your neighbors. (78/79)

»The persistence of the whole over time—the global behavior that outlasts any of its component parts—is one of the defining characteristics of complex systems.« (82)

»An important distinction must be drawn between ant colonies and cities, though, and it revolves around the question of volition. … We consciously make decisions about where to live or shop or stroll; we’re not simply driven by genes and pheromones. And so the social patterns we form tend to be substantially more complex than those of the ant world.« (97)

»Human behavior works at two comparable scales: our day-to-day survival, which involves assessments of the next thirty or forty years at best, and the millennial scale of cities and other economic ecosystems.« (98)

»The body learns without consciousness, and so do cities, because learning is not just about being aware of information; it’s also about storing information and knowing where to find it. It’s about being able to recognize and respond to changing patterns (…). It’s about altering a system’s behavior in response to those patterns in ways that make the system more successful at whatever goal it’s pursuing.« (103/104)

»Cities store and transmit useful ideas to the wider population, ensuring that powerful new technologies don’t disappear once they’ve been invented. But the self-organizing clusters of neighborhoods also serve to make cities more intelligible to the individuals who inhabit them (…). The specialization of the city makes it smarter, more useful for its inhabitants. And the extraordinary thing again is that this learning emerges without anyone even being aware of it.« (108/109)

»That feedback was central to the process should come as no surprise: all decentralized systems rely extensively on feedback, for both growth and self-regulation.« (133)

»In fact, the needs of most progressive movements are uniquely suited to adaptive, self-organizing systems: both have a keen ear for collective wisdom; both are naturally hostile to excessive concentrations of power; and both are friendly to change.« (224)

»But understanding emergence has always been about giving up control, letting the system govern itself as much as possible, letting it learn the footprints.«

Quelle: Steven Johnson, Emergence, Seite 234.

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