A ‘Logic of Life’?

This text is part of the text “Rebooting Humanity”

(The German Version can be found HERE)

Author No. 1 (Gerd Doeben-Henisch)

Contact: info@uffmm.org

(Start: June 25, 2024, Last change: June 28, 2024)

Starting Point

The excerpt discusses the concept of ‘collective human intelligence (CHI)’ and reflects on the foundational schema of all life : reproduction of Generation 1, birth of Generation 2, growth of Generation 2, followed by the onset of Generation 2’s behaviors accompanied by learning processes, and then reproduction of Generation 2, etc. It highlights how genetic predispositions and ‘free adapting’, commonly referred to as ‘learning’, alternate in phases. While genetic guidelines enable structures with typical functionalities that open up ‘possible action spaces’, filling these spaces is not genetically determined. This makes sense because the real ‘biological carrier system’ is not isolated but exists in an ‘open environment’ whose specific configuration and dynamics constantly change. From a ‘sustainable survival’ perspective, it is crucial that the biological carrier system has the ability to not only grasp the nuances of the environment at specific moments but also to represent, combine, and test them in the context of space and time. These simple words point to a highly complex process that has become known as ‘learning’, but the simplicity of this term may overlook the fact that we are dealing with an ‘evolutionary miracle of the highest order’. The common concept of ‘evolution’ is too limited in this perspective; it only describes a fragment.

A ‘Logic of Life’?

Basic Pattern of All Life

The ‘basic pattern of all life’ provokes many considerations. It is striking how phases of genetic change, which imply new structures and functionality, ultimately transform the ‘initial space’ of genetic changes into new, significantly more complex spaces, not just once, but repeatedly, and the more often, the more complexity comes within reach.

The life form of ‘Homo sapiens’—us, who call ourselves ‘humans’—represents a provisional peak of complexity in the temporal view of history so far, but already suggests from within itself a possible ‘next evolutionary stage’.

Even viewed closely, the individual human—with his structured cell galaxy, with the possible functions here, with his individual learning—represents an extraordinary event—relative to the entire known universe—, but this ‘individual’ human in his current state is already fully designed for a ‘plurality of people’, for ‘collective behavior’, for ‘collective learning’, and certainly also for ‘collective achievements’.

[1] The world of ‘molecules’ is transformed into the world of ‘individual cells’; the world of ‘individual cells’ is transformed into the world of ‘many cells (cellular complexes)’; the world of ‘cell complexes’ is transformed into the world of ‘structured cell complexes’, …, the world of structured ‘cell galaxies’ is transformed into the world of ‘cooperating structured cell galaxies with individual and collective learning’, …

Temporal Classification

Not only have the last few millennia shown what many people can achieve together, but particularly the ‘modern engineering achievements’ involving the collaboration of many thousands, if not tens of thousands of experts, distributed globally, over extended periods (months, year, many years), simultaneously in many different languages, dealing with highly complex materials and production processes—processes in which meta-reflection and feedback loops are taken for granted –… These processes, which have been globally initiated since the great war in the mid-20th century, have since become more and more the everyday standard worldwide. [2] The invention of programmable machines, information networks, highly complex storage systems, and the provision of ever more ‘human-compatible interfaces’ (visual, acoustic, tactile, …), up to those formats that make it appear to the human user as if ‘behind the interface’ there is another living person (even if it is ‘just’ a machine), have all occurred within just about 70 years.

While it took a considerable amount of time from the first evidences of biological life on planet Earth (around -3.4 billion years ago) to the first proven appearance of Homo sapiens in North Africa (around -300,000 years ago), the development of the complex ‘mental’ and ‘communicative’ abilities of Homo sapiens starting around -300,000 years ago, was initially slow (invention of writing around -6000), but the development then accelerated significantly over the last approximately 150 years: the complex events are almost overwhelming. However, considering the entire time since the presumed formation of the entire universe about 13.7 billion years ago, there is a rough time schema:

After about 75% of the total time of the existence of the universe, the first signs of biological life.

After about 99.998% of the total time of the existence of the universe, the first signs of Homo sapiens.

After about 99.999998% of the total time of the existence of the universe, the first signs of complex collective human-technical intelligence achievements.

This means that, in relation to the total time, the periods for the ‘latest’ leaps in complexity are so ‘short’ that they can no longer be distinguished on a large scale. This can also be interpreted as ‘acceleration’. It raises the question of whether this ‘acceleration’ in the creation of increasingly complex collective intelligence achievements reveals a ‘logic of process’ that would enable further considerations?

[2] Here began the career of the modern form of ‘Systems Engineering’, a quasi-standard of problem solving, at least in the English-speaking world.

Complexity Level: Biological Cell

With the description of a ‘basic pattern of all life’, a pattern emerges that is describable at least onwards from the complexity level of a biological cell.

The complexity level preceding the biological cell is that of ‘molecules’, which can be involved in different process chains.

In the case of the biological cell, we have, among other things, the case where molecules of type 1 are used by molecules of type 2 as if the type 1 molecules were ‘strings’ that ‘represent’ molecules of type 3, which are then ‘produced’ through certain chemical processes. Put differently, there are material structures that interpret other material structures as ‘strings’, possessing a ‘meaning assignment’ that leads to the creation of new material structures.

Thus, biological cells demonstrate the use of ‘meaning assignment’, as we know structurally in the case of symbolic languages from complex cell galaxies. This is extremely astonishing: how can ‘ordinary molecules’ of type 2 have a ‘meaning assignment’ that allows them to interpret other molecules of type 1 as ‘strings’ in such a way that they—according to the meaning assignment—lead to the organization of other molecules of type 3, which ultimately form a structure with functional properties that cannot be derived ‘purely materially’ from the type 1 molecules.

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[3] In this context, the term ‘information’ (or ‘biological information’) is commonly used in the literature. If this usage refers to the terminology of Claude Shannon, then it would be difficult to apply, as in the specific case it is not about the transmission of ‘signal elements’ through a signal channel to ‘received signal elements’ (a structural 1-to-1 mapping), but about an assignment of ‘signs (= signal elements)’ to something ‘completely different’ than the original signal elements.

A ‘Logic’?

When the main title tentatively (‘hypothetically’) mentions a ‘Logic of Life’, it is important to clarify what specifically is meant by the term ‘logic’ as a possible concept.

The term ‘logic’ dates back to Aristotle, who introduced it around 2400 years ago in Greece. It was then translated back into the Latin of the Christian Middle Ages via the Islamic culture around 1000 AD, profoundly influencing the intellectual life of Europe until the late Middle Ages. In contrast to ‘modern formal logic’—from the late 19th century onwards—the ‘Aristotelian logic’ is also referred to as ‘classical logic’.

If one disregards many details, classical and modern logic differ fundamentally in one aspect: in classical logic, the ‘linguistic meaning’ of the expressions used plays an important role, whereas in modern logic, linguistic meaning is completely excluded. ‘Mutilated remnants’ of meaning can still be found in the concept of an ‘abstract truth’, which is reflected in ‘abstract truth values’, but their ‘meaning content’ is completely empty.

The concept of both classical and modern logic—despite all differences—is united by the concept of ‘logical reasoning’: Suppose one has a set of expressions that are deemed ‘somehow true’ by the users of logic, then there are ‘rules of application’ on how to generate other expressions from the set of ‘assumed true expressions’, which can then also be considered ‘true expressions’. This ‘generation’ of new expressions from existing ones is called ‘reasoning’ or ‘inference’, and the ‘result’ of the reasoning is then a ‘conclusion’ or ‘inference’.

A more modern—formulaically abbreviated—notation for this matter would be:

A ⊢Tr B

Here, the symbol ‘A’ represents a set of expressions assumed to be true, ‘Tr’ stands for a set of transformation instructions (usually called ‘rules of inference or inference rules’), ‘B’ stands for a generated (derived) expression, and ‘⊢’ refers to an ‘action context’ within which users of logic use transformation rules to ‘generate B based on A’.

A ‘normal’ logician, in the case of the symbol ‘⊢’, does not speak of an ‘action context’ but usually just of a ‘concept of inference’ or—with an eye to the widespread use of computers—of an ‘inference mechanism’; however, this way of speaking should not obscure the fact that ‘what actually exists’ are once concrete ‘objects’ in the form of expressions ‘A’ and ‘B’, and also in the form of expressions ‘Tr’. These expressions as such have neither any ‘meaning’ nor can these expressions ‘generate anything by themselves’. For the concrete expressions ‘B’ to be classified as ‘inference’ from the expressions ‘A’, which are ‘really generated’ by means of ‘Tr’, a real ‘process’ must take place in which ‘B’ is ‘really generated’ from ‘A’ ‘in the sense of Tr’.

A process is a real event ‘in time’, in which there is a real state that contains the object ‘A’, and a real logic user who has a ‘concept = model’ of ‘logical reasoning’ in his head, in which the ‘expressions’ of the generation rules Tr are linked with concrete process steps (the meaning of the expressions Tr), so that the logic user can identify the expressions belonging to A as part of the generation rules in a way that the generation rules can assign a new expression B to the expressions A. If this assignment ‘in the mind of the logic user’ (commonly referred to as ‘thinking’) is successful, he can then write down a new expression B referring to the concrete expressions Tr in a ‘subsequent situation’. Another logic user will only accept this new expression ‘B’ if he also has a ‘concept = model’ of logical reasoning in his head that leads to the same result ‘B’ in his mind. If the other logic user comes to a different result than ‘B’, he will object.

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