Full Title or Meme
A particularly life-like description of stability of living systems.
The attempt to form analogies between computers and life systems continues. Even the word "computer" was originally applied to humans that performed mathematical calculations long hand, or with monstrous, clanking desktop machines.
Norbert Weiner was established as a professor of Mathematics at MIT when he began a collaboration with Aururo RosenBlueth originally with the Harvard Medical School. In 1948 Weiner published "Cybernetics or Control and Communications in the Animal and the Machine", which is as good a description as possible about their collaboration and about the plethora of terms from the life science that invaded computer science.
To Quote from Dr. Weiner:
- A great group of cases in which some sort of feedback is not only exemplified in physiological phenomena but is absolutely essential for the continuation of life is found in what as known as Homeostasis. The conditions under which life, especially healthy life, can continue in the higher animals are quite narrow. p114
- Small, closely knit communities have a very considerable measure of Homeostasis: and this, whether they are highly literate communities in a civilized county or villages of primitive savages. p 160
- Any organism is held together in this action by the possession of means for the acquisition, use, retention, and transmission of information. p 161
- [In a discussion of the control of electric generating systems with obvious analogies to cloud computing] parallel systems had a better Homeostasis than serial systems and therefore survived, while the serial system eliminated itself by natural selection. … This possibility of self-organization is by no means limited to the very low frequency of [electricity generation or human brain waves]. Consider self-organized systems at the frequency of infrared or radar [frequencies]. p202
- In connection with the effective amount of communal information, one of the most surprising facts about the body politic is its extreme lack of efficient Homeostasis. There is a belief, current in ay countries, which has been elevated to the rank of an official article of faith in the United States, that free competition is itself a homeostatic process: that in a free market the individual selfishness of the bargainers, each seeking to sell as high and buy as low as possible, will result in a stable dynamics of prices, and with redound to the greatest common good. … The evidence, such as it is, is against this simple-minded theory. The market is a game … strictly subject to the general theory of games. … Where there are three or more players, the results is one of extreme indeterminacy and instability. … There is no Homeostasis whatever. p 158ff
After publishing this book, Dr. Weiner was tasked with solving non-linear problems for WWII. His piece de resistance was the design of the analog computer that controlled the heaviest guns for the largest warship (the Missouri) that fought in that war and continued in active service until 1992. Homeostasis in life and in death.
As soon as three systems are connected, it is harder than it might be expected to create any system that is self-regulating and self-sustaining.
In multi-computer, multi-networked systems, Homeostasis can only be achieved by small components that evolve independently, but are only evaluated by how they contribute to the overall welfare of the totality of the system. Game theory may work to engender inequality, but not comity.