The Survival of The #Weavelets

Survival weavelets

(Draft page: still incomplete and imperfect just like real life (updated Nov 21 2018)

  1. Introduction This is real good news for our long term general interest. With the help of prof. Peter Corning’s recent publications, I can now present a view on the way ahead for society and communities. This is in demand especially by the young and talented who want to be inspired and fired up, since we are in the midst of a Big Shift & Transitions on multiple levels at the same time.  Change and confusion everywhere, which also leads many to want to go back to more certain times. Can we go forward instead?

Many Gurus [1] have forecasted that this Shift would take place, like prof. Carlota Perez and Yaneer Bar-Yam. And many like management guru Gilles Hutchings [2] have even shown what direction we have to take to get us out of the doldrums of confusion and fights. But such “directives” are still rather vague and they lack a sound scientific grounding. Fortunately such grounding can be found in my humble opinion in the very important recent work of Peter Corning.  I will present parts of that below with his permission. After which I will add my ideas on HOW to organize and structure that with #weavelets.

2. What are some of the the transitions in the Big Shift

Here I present a list of them, without explaining further or giving examples here.

Competition .                                                     –>     Cooperation . (*)

“Invisible Hand’ of the ‘Free Market’   –> ‘The Invisible Handshake’ of diverse skilled cooperating people (*)

Extraction of  value                                            –>   Value Creation and P2P sharing *) in Commons

abundance of material resources & energy sources —> scarcity of material and energy , recycling; protecting environment [8]

scarcity of information and knowhow: ((c))           —> abundance of information, knowledge

hoarding , selfishness                                                         —> sharing ,  Collective Purpose

Old Power (Ger: CSU, NL: PvdA) .                              —> New Power [4] (Ger: Greens)

General purpose technology: Electro/Mech/(petro)Chemical .  —> GPT= ICT communication networks

obedience, control                                                        —> freedom, education, emancipation

loyalty .                                                                           —> ability, imagination, creativity

nation                                                                             —> cities, chains of cities, planet

Publication, PR, Adds, Broadcasting, Propaganda —> Communication, Discussion, correlating. Value creation (synergy) by cooperation The 4th Network effect: Van Till’s Law [3]

The State, Businesses ;   individual                                                         —> Civil Society, volunteers.  teams, communities, local commons

Tired .                                                                                 —>     Wired

Survival of the Fittest (Social Darwinism) .                —> Survival of the Cooperators in #Weavelets  that create the most Synergy (Synthecracy, see my earlier blogs)  (*)

Remark: Do not think that the new “ideas’ will replace the ‘old’. No, the concepts listed on the right above will supersede and envelope those listed here on the left. (PS. political left vs right are notions that are tired and useless now too).

3. Recently, on Sept 3, 2018, Peter Corning published a strong and short article [5] on his blog of the ISCS, the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, which I will post here. This article describe and explain the movement towards the issues mentioned above with (*)

=================== Reblogged-1 with permission========================


However, this does not mean that competition is no longer an important factor. On the contrary, competition and cooperation are both major shaping influences. Indeed, natural selection can occur at multiple levels. When there is differential survival and success among competing social groups – which was clearly the case in human evolution — it could be called “competition via cooperation.” In other words, the cooperators may be the fittest.

Accordingly, the Spencerian, Social Darwinist model was partly right but also deeply wrong. What I mean by this is that competition is very obviously an important aspect of our economic, social, and political life, and has some positive aspects. But any complex human society is quintessentially an integrated, interdependent, and intensely cooperative organization with a collective purpose – to provide for our basic survival needs. It is a “superorganism”, in the terminology of the biologists. This is the core of what political scientists refer to as the “common good” or the “public interest.”
In the superorganism model, competition — and free-market capitalism in particular — cannot ever be “free”. It must be contained and subordinated to the common good. It is a betrayal of our ancient heritage and our common purpose, and it undermines the well-being of the “whole”, if any of the “parts” is allowed to be exploitative and cause harm to the rest. Social Darwinism and its modern refinements are therefore inherently subversive to the common good. And the proof of it can be found in our dismal economic and social welfare statistics, and in our deep political divisions. Our superorganism is in serious peril.

========================= end of Reblog-1=========================

4. Below I will first reblog the essay which summarizes the mentioned book “Synergistic Selection” in which he shows that [ socially organized groups can be a distinct “unit” of natural selection and evolutionary change ] ; which links to the units I have defined as “Weavelets”, see after Reblog2.

====Reblog-2 Essay/Speech-text of Peter Corning at the ICCS2018 Conference in Cambridge, MA=========

The PDF of this article can be downloaded Here . ===> Synergistic Selection, A Bioeconomic Theory of Complexity in Evolution. rev (1)

It is also available in the Conference Book of the July 26. ICCS2018 Conference and on the ISCS Blogpage  

Synergistic Selection: A Bioeconomic Theory of Complexity in Evolution

Peter A. Corning, Ph.D. Institute for the Study of Complex Systems Seattle, WA USA

Abstract. The rise of complexity in living systems over time has become a major theme in evolutionary biology, and a search is underway for a “Grand Unified Theory” (as one biologist characterized it) that can explain this important trend, including especially the major transitions in evolution. As it happens, such a theory already exists. It was first proposed more than 30 years ago and was re-discovered independently by biologists John Maynard Smith and Eӧrs Szathmáry in the 1990s. It is called the Synergism Hypothesis, and it is only now emerging from the shadows as evolutionary theory moves beyond the long-dominant, gene-centered paradigm known as neo-Darwinism. The Synergism Hypothesis is, in essence, an economic theory of complexity. It is focused on the costs and benefits of complexity, and on the unique creative power of synergy in the natural world. The theory proposes that the overall trajectory of the evolutionary process over the past 3.8 billion years or so has been shaped by functional synergies of various kinds and a dynamic of Synergistic Selection (in effect, a sub-category of natural selection).  The synergies produced by various forms of cooperation create interdependent “units” of adaptation and evolutionary change. Cooperation may have been the vehicle, but synergy was the driver. Some highlights of a new (2018) book devoted to this theory will also be discussed.

Keywords: Synergy, cooperation, evolution

1 Introduction

Much of the work in complexity science in recent years has been focused on the physical, structural, functional, and dynamical aspects of complex phenomena. However, complex living organisms are distinctive in that they are also subject to basic economic criteria, and to economic constraints. Biological complexity is not simply an historical artifact, much less the product of some exogenous physical trend, force, or “law”. Over the years, many candidate laws have been proposed that have claimed to explain complexity in evolution, going back to Jean Baptiste de Lamarck’s “power of life” and Herbert Spencer’s “universal law of evolution” in the nineteenth century. In the latter part of the twentieth century, the development of new mathematical tools and rise of complexity theory in various disciplines inspired a plethora of new law-like, or mechanistic explanations. This theme has continued into the new century, as documented in detail in Synergistic Selection: How Cooperation Has Shaped Evolution and the Rise of Humankind.1 (This paper will provide a brief summary of the argument in this book, rather than a stand-alone theoretical monograph.)

The problem with all such deterministic theories is that they explain away the very thing that needs to be explained – namely, the contingent nature of living systems and their fundamentally functional, adaptive properties. As the biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky long ago pointed out: “No theory of evolution which leaves the phenomenon of adaptation an unexplained mystery can be satisfactory.” The purveyors of these theories often seem oblivious to the inescapable challenges associated with what Darwin called the “struggle for existence” in the natural world, and they discount the economics – the costs and benefits of complexity. Nor can they explain the fact that some 99 percent of all the species that have ever evolved are now extinct. Life is phenomenon that is at all times subject to the requirement that the bioeconomic benefits (direct or indirect) of any character or trait – including complexity — must outweigh the costs. It is subject to functional criteria and the calculus of economic costs and benefits in any given environmental context.

2 Defining Biological Complexity

The basic question, therefore, is what are the advantages of biological complexity? However, there is also a prior question: What is “complexity”? One must start by defining what the term complexity means in relation to living systems before examining how – and why – biological complexity has evolved over time.

The issue of how to define biological complexity has been much-debated over the years, and it is evident that there is no one correct way to measure it; it can be defined in different ways for different purposes. However, two alternative methodologies are relevant (at least in theory) as ways of characterizing the broad evolutionary trend toward multi-leveled complex systems over the past 3.8 billion years or so, beginning with the origins of life and culminating (temporally at least) in humankind.

One method is structural. A synthetic complexity scale can be constructed from the number of levels of organization (inclusive of social organization), the number of distinct “parts”, the number of different kinds of parts, and the number of interconnections among the parts. The other method is functional. A complexity scale can be derived from the number of functionally discrete “tasks” in the division/combination of labor at all levels of organization, coupled with the quantity of “control information” that is generated and utilized by the system.2 Control information is defined as “the capacity to control the capacity to do work” in a cybernetic process; it is equivalent to the amount of thermodynamic work that a system can perform. 3 Both of these methodologies are relevant for the theory that will be described here.

3 Measuring the Costs and Benefits

There are also various ways of measuring the economic costs and benefits of biological complexity. The “ultimate” measure is, of course, reproductive success. Although the level of personal investment can vary widely in the natural world, an organism must sustain a minimal economic “profit” in order to be able to reproduce itself, and the more offspring it produces the more profitable it is from an ultimate evolutionary perspective.

However, there are also a many other “proximate” ways of measuring the costs and benefits involved in “earning a living” in nature, and a number of familiar economic criteria are likely to have been important from a very early stage in the history of life on Earth – capital costs, amortization, operating costs and, most especially, strict economic profitability. The returns had to outweigh the costs. There is, of course, a large research literature and various journals in behavioral ecology and bioeconomics that are focused on just such proximate issues. 4

Consider the fundamental need for energy capture. Dating back to Erwin Schrӧdinger’s classic lectures and small book, What is Life? in 1944, it has long been appreciated that thermodynamics is of central importance in understanding the nature of life, and the challenges 3 of living.5 Living systems must do work and are subject to thermodynamic entropy and the Second Law. This imposes significant functional requirements. However, there is also a deep tradition in biophysics that assumes away the economic challenges involved in creating “negative entropy” (Schrӧdinger’s neologism for how living systems contradict the Second Law). Indeed, there is a school of theorists who have advanced the proposition that energy is somehow a free good and that available energy itself “drives” the process of creating order and organization in the living world. 6

A famous experiment in physics, Maxwell’s Demon, unwittingly demonstrated why this assumption is incorrect. 7 In a nutshell, there is no way the Demon could create thermodynamic order “without the expenditure of work” (to use Maxwell’s own, ill-considered claim for the Demon). Living systems must adhere to the first and only law (so far) of “thermoeconomics”, namely, that the energetic benefits (the energy made available to the system to do work) must outweigh the costs required for capturing and utilizing it. From the very origins of life, energy capture and metabolism has played a key role. As biological complexity has increased over time, the work required to obtain and use energy to sustain the system has increased correspondingly. Indeed, improvements in bioenergetic technologies represent a major theme in evolutionary history and, in every case, involved synergistic phenomena.

4 The Synergism Hypothesis

How, then, can one account for the evolution of biological complexity? Over the course of the past two decades, the subject of complexity has emerged as a major theme in mainstream evolutionary biology, and a search has been underway for “a Grand Unified Theory” – as biologist Daniel McShea characterizes it – that is consistent with Darwin’s great vision.8

As it happens, such a theory already exists. It was first proposed in The Synergism Hypothesis: A Theory of Progressive Evolution in 1983, and it involves an economic (or perhaps bioeconomic) theory of complexity.9 The same idea was later independently proposed by John Maynard Smith and Eӧrs Szathmáry in their two books on the “major transitions” in evolution. 10,11 Simply stated, cooperative interactions of various kinds, however they may occur, can produce novel combined effects – synergies – with functional advantages that may, in turn, become direct causes of natural selection. The focus of the Synergism Hypothesis is on the favorable selection of synergistic “wholes” and the combinations of genes that produce these wholes. The parts (and their genes) that produce these synergies may, in effect, become interdependent units of evolutionary change.

In other words, the Synergism Hypothesis is a theory about the unique combined effects produced by the relationships and interactions between things. It could also be referred to it as Holistic Darwinism because it is entirely consistent with natural selection theory, properly understood. Accordingly, it is the functional (economic) benefits associated with various kinds of synergistic effects in any given context that are the underlying cause of cooperative relationships – and of complex organization – in the natural world. The synergy produced by the whole provides the proximate functional payoffs that may differentially favor the survival and reproduction of the parts (and their genes). The well-known 20th century Behaviorist psychologist, B.F. Skinner, called it “selection by consequences.”

5 Synergistic Selection 4

Maynard Smith also proposed the concept of Synergistic Selection in a 1982 paper as (in effect) a sub-category of natural selection. Synergistic Selection refers to the many contexts in nature where two or more genes/genomes/parts/individuals have a shared fate; they are functionally interdependent. Maynard Smith illustrated with a formal mathematical model that included a term for “non-additive” benefits. However, Synergistic Selection is an evolutionary dynamic with much wider scope even than Maynard Smith envisioned. It includes, among other things, many additive phenomena with combined threshold effects and, more important, many “qualitative novelties” that cannot even be expressed in quantitative terms. There are, in fact, many different kinds of synergy.1 Synergistic Selection focuses our attention on the causal dynamics and selective outcomes when synergistic effects of various kinds arise in the natural world. The claim is that synergy, and Synergistic Selection, has driven the evolution of cooperation and complexity in living systems over time, including especially the major transitions in evolution.

One example (among many cited in the book) is the evolution of eukaryotes. Increased size and complexity can have many functional advantages in the natural world, and eukaryotic cells, inclusive of their complex internal architecture, are on average some 10-15,000 times larger than the typical prokaryote. However, this huge size difference requires many orders of magnitude more energy, and the key to solving this functional imperative was a symbiotic (synergistic) union between an ancestral prokaryote and an ancestor of the specialized, energy producing mitochondria in modern eukaryotic cells. Not only was this potent new combination of labor mutually beneficial for each of the two partners but it created a pathway for expanding and multiplying those benefits many times over. Some specialized cells in complex organisms like humans may contain hundreds, or even thousands, of mitochondria. Liver cells, for instance, have some 2,500 mitochondria and muscle cells may have several times that number. It could be referred to as a “synergy of scale.”

6 The Creative Role of Synergy

Many things can influence the likelihood of cooperation and synergy in the natural world – the ecological context, specific opportunities, competitive pressures, the risks (and costs) of cheating or parasitism, effective policing, genetic relatedness, biological “pre-adaptations”, and especially the distribution of costs and benefits. However, an essential requisite for cooperation (and complexity) – is functional synergy. Just as natural selection is agnostic about the sources of the functional variations that can influence differential survival and reproduction, so the Synergism Hypothesis is agnostic about how synergistic effects can arise in nature. They could be self-organized; they could be a product of some chance variation; they could arise from a happenstance symbiotic relationship; or they could be the result of a purpose-driven behavioral innovation by some living organism.

It should also be stressed that there are many different kinds of synergy in the natural world, including (as noted above) synergies of scale (when larger numbers provide an otherwise unattainable collective advantage), threshold effects, functional complementarities, augmentation or facilitation (as with catalysts), joint environmental conditioning, risk- and cost-sharing, information-sharing, collective intelligence, animal-tool “symbiosis” and, of course, the many examples of a division of labor (or more accurately, a “combination of labor”). Indeed, many different synergies may be bundled together (a synergy of synergies) in a complex socially organized “superorganism” like leaf cutter ants or Homo sapiens. 5

It should also be noted that size has played a critically important role in evolution, and that there is a close linkage between size and biological complexity, as discussed in depth by biologist John Tyler Bonner in his book, Why Size Matters. 12 However, size is not an end in itself. It arises because it confers various functional advantages – various synergies of scale. These may include such things as improved mobility, more effective food acquisition, efficiencies in energy consumption, more efficient and effective reproduction, and, not least, protection from predators.

Consider the example of volvocines, a primitive order of aquatic green algae that form into tight-knit colonies resembling integrated organisms. One of the smallest of these colonies (Gonium) has only a handful of cells arranged in a disk, while the Volvox that give the volvocine line its name may have some 50-60,000 cells arranged in the shape of a hollow sphere that is visible to the naked eye. Each Volvox cell is independent, yet the colony-members collaborate closely. For instance, the entire colony is propelled by a thick outer coat of flagella that coordinate their exertions to keep the sphere moving and slowly spinning in the water – in other words, a synergy of scale.

Some of the synergies in the Volvox were documented in a study many years ago by Graham Bell, 13 and in more recent studies by Richard Michod. 14 The largest of the Volvox colonies have a division of labor between a multi-cellular body and segregated reproductive cells. Bell’s analyses suggested some of the benefits. A division of labor and specialization facilitates growth, resulting in a much larger overall size. It also results in more efficient reproductive machinery (namely, a larger number of smaller germ cells). The large hollow enclosure in Volvox also allows a colony to provide a protective envelope for its daughter colonies; the offspring disperse only when the parental colony finally bursts apart.

But there is one other vitally important synergy of scale in Volvox. It turns out that their larger overall size results in a much greater survival rate than in the smaller Gonium. The volvocines are subject to predation from filter feeders like the ubiquitous copepods, but there is an upper limit to the prey size that their predators can consume. The larger, integrated, multicellular Volvox colonies are virtually immune to predation from these filter feeders.

7 Quantifying Synergy

It should also be stressed that synergistic effects can be measured and quantified in various ways. In the biological world, they are predominantly related to survival and reproduction. Thus, hunting or foraging collaboratively – a behavior found in many insects, birds, fish and mammals – may increase the size of the prey that can be pursued, the likelihood of success in capturing prey or the collective probability of finding a “food patch.” Collective action against potential predators – herding, communal nesting, synchronized reproduction, alarm calling, coordinated defensive measures, and more – may greatly reduce an individual animal’s risk of becoming a meal for some other creature.

Likewise, shared defense of food resources – a practice common among social insects, birds, and social carnivores alike – may provide greater food security for all. Cooperation in nest-building, and in the nurturing and protection of the young, may significantly improve the collective odds of reproductive success. Coordinated movement and migration, including the use of formations to increase aerodynamic or hydrodynamic efficiency, may reduce individual energy expenditures and/or aid in navigation. Forming a coalition against competitors may improve the chances of acquiring a mate, or a nest-site, or access to needed resources (such as a 6 watering-hole, a food patch, or potential prey). In all of these situations, it is the synergies that are responsible for achieving greater efficiencies and enhancing profitability.

8 Testing for Synergy

There are also various ways of testing for synergy. One method involves experiments, or “thought experiments” in which a major part is removed from the whole. In many cases (not all), a single deletion, subtraction or omission will be sufficient to eliminate the synergy. Take away the heme group from a hemoglobin molecule, or the mitochondria from a eukaryotic cell, or the all-important choanocytes from sponges, or, for that matter, remove a wheel from an automobile. The synergies will vanish.

Another method of testing for synergy derives from the fact that many adaptations, including those that are synergistic, are contingent and context specific, and that virtually all adaptations incur costs as well as benefits. Again, the benefits of any trait must, on balance, outweigh the costs; it must be profitable in terms of its impact on survival and reproduction. Thus, it may not make sense to form a herd, or a shoal, or a communal nest if there are no threatening predators in the neighborhood, especially if proximity encourages the spread of parasites or concentrates the competition for scarce resources. Nor does it make sense for emperor penguins in the Antarctic to huddle together for warmth at high-noon during the warm summer months, or for Mexican desert spiders to huddle against the threat of dehydration during the wet rainy season. And hunting as a group may not be advantageous if the prey is small and easily caught by an individual hunter without assistance.

Another way of testing for synergy involves the use of a standard research methodology in the life sciences and behavioral sciences alike – comparative studies. Often a direct comparison will allow for the precise measurement of a synergistic effect. Some of the many documented examples in the research literature include flatworms that can collectively detoxify a silver colloid solution that would otherwise be fatal to any one individual; nest construction efficiencies that can be achieved by social wasps compared to individuals; lower predation rates in larger meerkat groups with more sentinels; higher pup survival rates in social groups of sea lions compared to isolated mating pairs; the hunting success of cooperating hyenas in contrast with those that fail to cooperate; the productivity of choanocytes in sponges compared to their very similar, free-swimming relatives called choanoflagellates, and the difference in nutrient uptake between lichen partnerships and their independent-living cousins.

9 A “Grand Unified Theory”?

Albert Einstein long ago observed that “a theory is all the more impressive the greater is the simplicity of its premises, the more different are the kinds of things it relates and the more extended its range of applicability.” I believe it is both possible and appropriate to reduce a fundamental aspect of the evolutionary process, in nature and human societies alike, to a unifying theoretical framework. Like the concept of natural selection itself, the Synergism Hypothesis involves an “umbrella term” (an open-ended category) that identifies a common causal principle across a very diverse array of phenomena. Synergistic Selection focuses our attention on the causal role that functional synergies have had at every step in the evolution of biological complexity, beginning with the origins of life itself, and especially including the major transitions in evolution; the “economic” benefits have always been the key.1 7

The Synergism Hypothesis can also account for the unique trajectory of human evolution, including the transformative influence of cultural evolution. Synergistic behavioral and cultural innovations played a key role at every stage. (There are three chapters in Synergistic Selection related to this thesis.)1 It can also help to explain warfare in human societies, as elsewhere in the natural world. Among other things, warfare is a highly synergistic phenomenon.

The Synergism Hypothesis also encompasses the role of both “positive” and “negative” synergies and their selective consequences for a given organism, group, or species. One obvious example is how organized, cooperative predation may be viewed very differently by a group of predators and their prey. Another example is how individuals and corporations in human societies may benefit in various ways from burning fossil fuels, yet their combined actions also produce global warming (a negative synergy of scale).

It should also be noted that Synergistic Selection is a dynamic that occurs at both the “proximate” (functional) level and at the “ultimate” evolutionary level. Indeed, proximate synergies are in many cases the direct cause of differential survival and reproduction over time. Some predator-prey interactions are, again, a canonical example. The Synergism Hypothesis also offers an explanation for the ubiquitous role of cybernetic “control” processes in living systems at all levels. (In humankind, we refer to it, variously, as “management”, “politics”, and “governance”.) As Maynard Smith and Szathmáry detail in their two books on the major transitions in evolution, every new form of organization in the natural world represents a distinct “combination of labor” that requires integration, coordination, and regulation/policing.10,11 From eukaryotic protists to Adam Smith’s pin factory and the emerging global society in humankind, cybernetic governance is a central challenge and a necessary concomitant. Finally, it should be stressed that Synergistic Selection can also be formally modeled. Two alternative models can be found in a 2015 paper in the Journal of Theoretical Biology coauthored with Eӧrs Szathmáry. 2

10 Conclusion

Many theorists these days are calling for a new post-modern, post-neo-Darwinian evolutionary synthesis. Some theorists advocate the adoption of a more elaborate “multilevel selection” model. 15 Others speak of an “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis” that would include developmental processes and Lamarckian inheritance mechanisms, among other things. 16 Denis Noble has proposed what he calls an “Integrative Synthesis” that would include the role of physiology in the causal matrix.17

Whatever the label, it is clear that a much more inclusive framework is needed, one that captures the full dynamics and interactions among the many different causal influences at work in the natural world. We also need to view the evolutionary process in terms of multi-leveled systems – functional organizations of matter, energy, and information, from genomes to ecosystems. And we must recognize that the level of selection – of differential survival and reproduction – in this hierarchy of system levels is determined in each instance by a synergistic configuration, or network of causes. Indeed, the outcome in any given context may be a kind of vector sum of the causal forces that are at work at several different levels at once.

What is needed going forward is a broadly ecumenical paradigm that would provide more of a work plan than a finished product **) Perhaps it could be characterized as an “Inclusive Synthesis.” It would be an open-ended framework for explaining how, precisely, natural 8 selection “does its work” in any given context (what causal factors influence adaptive changes). It would also represent an ongoing work-in-progress rather than a completed theoretical edifice.

However, the historical process through which multilevel biological systems have evolved over time can be framed as a sequence of major transitions in complexity – from the very origins of life itself to the emerging global society that humankind is now engaged in creating (for better or worse). And, at every level in this hierarchy, we can see the driving influence of synergy and Synergistic Selection. From an evolutionary/biological perspective, complexity has a purpose – or perhaps even many. In any case, biological complexity must ultimately pass the test of being useful for survival and reproduction. Cooperation may have been the vehicle, but synergy was the driver.

1 Corning, PA (2018) Synergistic Selection: How Cooperation Has Shaped Evolution and the Rise of Humankind. World Scientific, Singapore, London, New Jersey.

2 Corning, PA, Szathmáry, E (2015) ‘Synergistic selection’: A Darwinian frame for the evolution of complexity. J Theor Biol. 371 pp. 45-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.02.002

3 Corning, PA (2007) Control information theory: The ‘missing link’ in the science of cybernetics. Syst. Res. Behav. Sci 24 pp. 297-311. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.02.002

4 Davies, ND, Krebs, JR, West, S (2012) An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology (4th ed.). John Wiley, New York.

5 Schrödinger, E (1944) What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.

6 Schneider, ED, Sagan, D (2005) Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

7 Corning, PA (2005) Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics and the Bioeconomics of Evolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

8 McShea, DW, Rosslenbroich, B (2015) On the origin of autonomy; a new look at the major transitions (book review). Biol. Philos 30(3) pp. 439-446.. doi: 10.1007/s10539-015-9474-2

9 Corning, PA (Oct 1983) The Synergism Hypothesis: A Theory of Progressive Evolution. McGraw-Hill, New York.

10 Maynard Smith, J, Szathmáry, E (1995) The Major Transitions in Evolution. Freeman Press, Oxford.

11 Maynard Smith, J, Szathmáry, E (1999) The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

12 Bonner, JT (2006) Why Size Matters: From Bacteria to Blue Whales. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

13 Bell, G (1985) Origin and early evolution of germ cells as illustrated by the Volvocales. In Origin and Evolution of Sex, Halverson, H.O., Monroy, A. (eds.) pp. 221-256. Alan R. Liss, New York.

14 Michod, RE (2007) Evolution of individuality during the transition from unicellular to multicellular life. Proc Natl Acad Sci 104: 8613-8618. doi:10.1073/pnas.0701489104

15 Wilson, DS (1997) Introduction: multilevel selection theory comes of age. Am Nat. 150 (Suppl.) pp. S1- S4. doi: 10.1086/286046

16 Pigliucci M, Müller, GB (2010) Evolution – The Extended Synthesis. MIT Press, Cambridge MA.

17 Noble, D (2013) Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology. Exp Physiol. 98(8) pp. 1235- 1243. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2012.071134

=====================end of ReBlog-2============

5. The book by Peter Corning which is mentioned several times in above article/ speech text is: [6]

Corning, PA (2018) Synergistic Selection: How Cooperation Has Shaped Evolution and the Rise of Humankind. World Scientific, Singapore, London, New Jersey.

Synergistic Selection Book Cover

Synergistic Selection is being hailed as a major contribution to what is perhaps the greatest shift in our understanding of evolution since The Origin of Species. As Corning puts it: “Nothing about the evolution of biological complexity makes sense except in the light of synergy…. One of the great take-home lessons from the epic of evolution is that cooperation produces synergy, and synergy is the way forward. The arc of evolution bends toward synergy.”


7. How does the “Synergistic Selection Theory” of Peter Corning connect to / correlate with my ideas of constructing modern organizational units and can we then interconnect those units.

a. As I highlighted in Red in Cornings texts Survival in Evolution has always  done not by individals entities but by GROUPS of them. That is: in small, closely INTERCONNECTED and cooperating, egalitarian groups. Furthermore he states that we now know that socially organized groups can be a distinct “unit” of natural selection and evolutionary change. I call it the cooperative gene model.

b. Now I have defined based on a number of sources and idea’s that such units can function at best as a group of people which are connected in a certain structure I have called a “Weavelet” .

c. Why I have constructed it in such a way, I have presented that in an invited lecture at the same ICCS2018 Conference, and at the same time as Corning presented his Synergistic Selection speech, in another room. So unfortunately we could not hear each others lecture, but I now can connect the two in the hope that this synthesis will produce some new Synergy !!

8. Here is the PDF of my sheets at ICCS2018 [7] : you can load them ==> HERE :My Short pres Jaap van Till ICCS Late News (<===sheets you can download). Title: “Synthecracy: “NewPower Deep Organization Structure for Collaboration” the #Weavelet”

This same brief talk was presented earlier, twice in Berlin at the Dirk Helbing “Salon” and at a symposium organized by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society

Synthecracy Weavelet

The main reason for me to define the Weavelet new organizational structure was the problem that the time tested Hierarchical Organization structure, with many (management) levels, no longer did function well. Reasons: could not cope well with complexity and rapid/unexpected changes outside the organization. Because too few connections with other organizations & the environment and lack of communication and overview between managers and workers. That was impossible before, but that is no longer the case due to availability of communication networks and computer supported tools. 

Further reasons where:

  • I wanted to define such groups of people, similar to flocks of birds, anthills or schools of fish, as a new life form. As a Living Organization That could: interconnect between the participating people, share and combine (over)views, aggregate, learn & remember and imagine knowledge, recognize and match patterns
    • Adopt to its Environment & be PART OF NATURE
    • facilitates working in parallel by widely different participants, which makes the structure very resilient, also because there is no single central management.
    • Survive attacks and selections, also based on the “Third Law of Darwin” ideas of Martin Nowak [9]
    • Survive the worldwide transitions in and after the Big Shift, as summarized at the start of this blog.
    • evolve and propagate new weavelets

Now, since I read Cornings work i can add that Weavelets can cope with complexity and can evolve based on creating synergy (and all the red requirements mentioned by prof. Peter Corning, as marked above in the blog. Indeed, I am perhaps a bit too bold, Weavelet like structures can act as the requested ‘workplan’/ paradigm **) that Corning indicated would be needed. The structure is derived from the very successful similar structures with many hidden layers of “Deep Learning” AI. To which I added the advantages of using orthogonal transforms. That is why I call the Weavelet organization structure a Deep Organization.

In the transformed layer correlation/matching/recognizing with stored patterns is a much less complex process: multiplication of two vectors. So the value creating SYNERGY (the Fins call that “The Sampo’= magical motor) is generated at the core of the Weavelet by parallel [transformation-correlation-storage- backtransformation] and then to action of actuators. And by feeding back the outputs to the input sensors all participants get holograms of the overview what is done together, and can compare it to the shared general interest objectives.

The Weavelet structure can scale up in a fractal way, which I will show in the upcoming article/blog, mentioned below. Also weavelets can interconnect, forming what i called The Weave, using the same “collective intelligence with distributed authority” structure as the Weavelets have insides, and maybe the participating people have insides their brain too.

The hidden crux of the Weavelets is that by synthesising the widely different inputs from the complex environment with an online realtime orthogonal transform structure, the perceived complexity and dynamics is sorted out according to a number of orthogonal vectors and which forms holograms/patterns that contain all information. And based on that sorting actuators can be driven to take action on issues that are relatively agnostic/ independent to eachother. This is in stark contrast to measures of some governments that work out quite in the opposite way as was intended.

Is what I did totally new? Of cause not ! After my little lecture at the ICCS2018 several people who appreciated it mentioned to me that the US Special Forces tightly connected  combat teams have implemented quite similar structures.[10, 11]. To selforganize, cooperate and survive no doubt!\

9. Example (with hat tip to prof. Yaneer Bar-Yam, who retweeted the following:)



This shows a spontaneous shift of the students in the audience to a COLLECTIVITY.

9A. Several people at the Complexity Conference in Cambridge,MA notified me that tightly connected teams in the US. Special Forces have a structure similar to my Weavelets ! See [10, 11].  I can understand that. The lives of the team members literaly depend on collective intelligence inside the group.


9B. Another very impressive example which contains nearly everything I have described for #Weavelets is the “Open Source Online Volunteer Investigative Journalism Collective” #BELLINGCAT who have been very succesfull in the digging up of the truth behind the shooting down of the passenger plane #MH17 by the Russians and the identification of the GRU officers who tried to poison Skripal. See the impressive video documentary at


10. All this may apply to widely different types of communities, organizations (groups of workers/ volunteers. Like universities, ventures, communities, corporations, football teams, villages, city areas, chains of megacities. IMHO such Weavelets with vitality and P2P connections will appear in the Civil Society, with a Commons that makes decisions very quickly,  based on the basis of open&shared information and meaning, a true DEMOcracy. And without endless meetings and large square speeches 🙂 Does this mean total freedom and total privacy. No, it will mean survival of the cooperators, based on synthesis of the different contributions of the participants, who will be appreciated and rewarded according to what they create, combine and share.

11. Those groups that remain isolated, with unfounded sentiments of supremacy,  inside looking only, not open/cooperating, not adaptive to the world; will not survive and run the risk of becoming extinct in Nature’s harsh rule. Xenophobia is not a fertile path. USA, Brazil, Poland, Hungary and UK have chosen to learn that the hard way and fail.

I do hope that this blog “The Survival of The Weavelets” is also an answer to the fears expressed by many that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and learning robots will supersede Humans. If we INTERCONNECT in a smart way (using smartphones, Internet IoT, etc), just like bacteria colonies can (in our stomach) and trees in forrests, YES then we may survive as a species.

PS I hope you appreciate the fact that for me and my wife this scientific effort is a rather costly matter. As an independent pensioner-researcher: books, international travel, conferences and lodging is difficult if you are no longer payed by an institution. I would be very grateful if you could send me some support for this project, by way of Paypal at vantill (at)   gmail. First one to do that was Marius Schouten. Thanx.


Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

[1] List of my Gurus

[2] blogpage about Gilles Hutchings message for managers

[3] Van Till, The four Network Effects. cooperation’s multiplicative effect: Van Till’s Law

[4] Heimans & Timms “New Power”

[5] Peter Corning, ‘”Survival of the Fittest”: Herbert Spencer (and friends) got it Wrong’, ISCS Blog, Sep 3, 2018:

[6] Corning, PA (2018) Synergistic Selection: How Cooperation Has Shaped Evolution and the Rise of Humankind. World Scientific, Singapore, London, New Jersey.

[7] van Till, sheets of an invited presentation of the ICCS2018 Conference on Complexity. Title”Synthecracy: ‘NewPower Deep Organization Structure for Collaboration’ the #Weavelet “. Context of my lecture: 

[8] Nafeez Ahmed, Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism’s Imminent Demise

[9] Martin Nowak‘s work, see

[10] General Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams.- new rules of engagement for a complex world-  2015, Penguin

[11] Jocko Willink & Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership – about US Navy Seals- 2015,2017, Macmillan.

Full paper about Weavelets and “the Weave” will be published soon on pages.

Posted in Adaptive, Bellingcat, Complexity, cooperation, Cooperation Science, Evolution, Life on Earth, New Power, scale, Survival, Survival of the Collaborators, synergy, The Invisible Handshake, The Weave, Uncategorized, Weavelet, Weavelets | 1 Comment

Gilles Hutchings shows the Direction

Schermafbeelding 2018-10-14 om 12.56.35

Gilles has been presenting his view on the way to go for a number of years. And it is now becoming clear every day during these turbulent times in what direction the global consciousness Transition is moving. Faster and faster. The picture, MUST SEE video and texts below are re-blogged from his Blogpage

I do agree with his vision of Connectedness and hope to contribute my own thoughts to tell HOW we can start to CONNECT and implement that vision towards #Synthecracy.

===========================Reblogged from Gilles Hutchings site=========

This MUST SEE VIDEO is on Youtube

I quote Suzuki the early 20th Century Zen Buddhist, from the Manual of Zen Buddhism

Schermafbeelding 2018-10-14 om 13.29.20

============================end of reblogged========================

Interesting that he uses the example of the connected woods where trees send nutrients to other trees (even other types of trees!) in need to assist the survival of the whole wood.  See also my blog about the “Wood Wide Web” 

I am also very happy with the picture he showed for the connected beings which fits

Schermafbeelding 2018-10-14 om 13.34.54.png

very well with my vision of “The Weave” , consisting of interconnected Weavelets , as I have presented in Berlin and Cambridge,MA; see my recent blogs about those lectures. I hope to write out those lectures into a blog/paper soon.

Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist


Posted in Connectedness, Nature, Synthecracy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

AMS-IX knotenpunkt traffic is Growing Again since Aug-Sept

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graphs are available from

Snapshot of Graph of AMS-IX traffic on October 11, 2018.

Good news. The total digital dataflow traffic of one of the biggest Internet Exchanges in the world,  AMS-IX is growing sharply since August and September 2018. At the “Amsterdam Exchange”, where access network providers do peering and transit, also video stream providers interconnect and mobile network operators connect for roaming, and private/corporate networks, including the NRENs (National Research and Education Networks) etc.

The post-summer growth is usual since then schools and higher education welcome their new and growing student populations who get their EduRoam onsite network accesss and EduGAIN . But we had an unusual sunny summer which even now gives 26 degrees C Indian summers. And on hot days people do not take their laptops or smartphones to the beach.  But now traffic is coming back.

The biggest drivers for traffic growth are the CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) for Netflix etc. These have built private networks largely outside the IX networks. My expectation is that Cloud computing and Interconnection of Corporate Networks and FttH for COOPERATION will take over as traffic growth drivers. And the much applauded 5G (if it can deliver beter price/perf than Wi-Fi ++) and IoT (with low latency).

jaap van till, TheConnectivist


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seven ways misinformation spread during the 2016 USA election

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 16.59.59

This Article is reblogged from The Medium and was originally posted by the Knight Foundation. It fits and complements the findings of the “Propaganda” book by Benkler c.s. see

Hat tip to Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation for drawing my attention to this article.

PS. From the mere fact that tweeters from both sides of the political spectrum are still daily (mass)producing rubbish stories to either confirm or attack prejudices, I onder if we can construct “reality checks” to counter untrue allegations and frames?

Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

=======================================begin of re-blog=======

Seven ways misinformation spread during the 2016 election

How did misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election and has anything changed since? A new study of more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 misinformation and conspiracy news outlets answers this question.

The report reveals a concentrated “fake news” ecosystem, linking more than 6.6 million tweets to fake news and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election. The problem persisted in the aftermath of the election with 4 million tweets to fake and conspiracy news publishers found from mid-March to mid-April 2017. A large majority of these accounts are still active today.

The study, one of the largest to date on this topic, is supported by Knight Foundation and produced by Matthew Hindman of The George Washington University in collaboration with Vlad Barash of the network analysis firm Graphika. Knight commissioned the study to improve understanding of how misinformation spreads online.

Here are eight findings that stood out to us:

  1. There was a concentrated “fake news” ecosystem highly active both during and after the 2016 election: Of the 10 million tweets analyzed, the study linked more than 6.6 million tweets to fake news and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election. The problem continued after the election with 4 million tweets to fake and conspiracy news publishers found from mid-March to mid-April 2017.

2. “Fake news” and disinformation continue to reach millions: More than 80 percent of accounts that repeatedly spread misinformation during the 2016 election campaign are still active, and they continue to publish more than a million tweets on a typical day.

3. Just a few fake and conspiracy news sites accounted for most of the fake news that spread on Twitter: Sixty-five percent of fake and conspiracy news links during the election went to just the 10 largest sites. The list of top misinformation outlets was largely stable before and after the 2016 election.

4. Most of the accounts spreading fake or conspiracy news included in the report show evidence of automated posting: Thirty-three percent of the 100 most-followed accounts in the report’s post-election map — and more than 60 percent of a random sample of all accounts — show evidence of automated activity.

5. Fake news still receives significantly fewer links than mainstream media sources: Fake news sites received about 13 percent of the Twitter links that a comparison set of national news outlets did, and 37 percent of the links received by a set of regional newspapers.

6. Accounts that spread fake news are densely connected: Both the election-eve and post-election maps of accounts that spread fake or conspiracy news reveal an ultra-dense core of accounts that follow each other. As such, fake news that reaches the core has countless paths to spread.

7. A substantial amount of misinformation was spread by both Republican- and Democratic-identified accounts: While a majority of “fake news” came from pro-Republican and pro-Trump accounts in the month before the election, smaller but still substantial amounts of fake news was spread by liberal or Democratic-identified accounts. After the election period, left-leaning fake news decreased much more than right-leaning fake news.

8. The coordinated spread of misinformation by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) trolls is evident — but other accounts were likely more important in spreading fake news: Of the more than 2,700 IRA accounts named publicly when the research was conducted, 65 are included in at least one of the report’s maps. These accounts include several that were widely quoted in U.S. media, such as @WarfareWW, @TEN_GOP and @Jenn_Abrams. Content with similar messaging was however tweeted by many other accounts with far more followers than top IRA trolls, as well as by still-active accounts that are likely automated.

This report is part of Knight Foundation’s Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, which aims to strengthen the role of strong, trusted journalism as essential to a healthy democracy. In September 2017, Knight Foundation announced $2.5 million in support to launch the initiative.

Originally published at

Posted in disinformation, Election, election meddling, Fake news, Russian mass manipulation of foreign elections, Trolls, tweets, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WakaWaka (solar powerpack and light source) has relaunched

Schermafbeelding 2018-10-10 om 15.55.43

Good news! The best and most rugged solar battery for outdoor (hiking)  use is the”Waka-Waka”. The brand also helps hundreds of thousands of children in refugee camps and remote off-grid areas to read and learn at night. And the”Waka-Waka” company just relaunched. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 09.49.43

If you buy one for yourself, another person will also get access to light.

The “WakaWaka Power+” gives you light (instead of having to use a smoking oil lamp) and can charge mobile phones/ cell phones/ smartphones for connectivity .

Available from stores, see the list at:


These things make a difference in the lives of many in the world, not only yourself.

Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist and lightknight

Posted in lightsource, solarbattery, solarlamp, Uncategorized, Waka-Waka, WakaWaka | Leave a comment

Network Propaganda = Empirical Study by prof Benkler: recent USA Media Ecosystem

Benkler book Netw Prop


UPDATE December 17, 2018 The book is now published and it arrived today at our house in Holland.

The key message is that in the USA a vast right-wing media ecology (not only Internet, Facebook or Twitter)  has been in operation, and has since the 1970’s created a huge feedback loop in American conservative media, rendering it susceptible to foreign and domestic propaganda.

Recommended reading to all those concerned with “DEMOCRACY” and Fake-News.


Prof. Yochai Benkler, well known scholar at the Harvard – [ Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Twitter: @BKCHarvard ] has announced the publication of an important new book, written with two colleagues, called “Network Propaganda – Manipulation, Misinformation, and Radicalisation in American Politics”. It will hit the book shelves later in Oktober – beginning November. ( Nov ; Oct 15)

In this book they have done a very thorough tracing what happened in the USA society the years before and the American Presidential Election. What impressed me was that they have shown that crucial in the huge and unexpected shift in PUBLIC OPINION which are decisive for he outcome of the candidacy and elections, was not only profiling, cocooning and manipulation of the voters mindsets and preferences with social media and internet tools, but the huge and orchestrated US MEDIA bombardment of the population. Which caused the widening and deepening of The Split between Illiberals and Competents

Warning: this study applies to the situation as it was and is  in the USA, and may or may not be applicable to the political situation in other countries.

The best way to learn what the “Benkler Study” found is how it was presented at a session on September 28 at the Cato Institute in Boston (further info Twitter: @CatoInstitute)

You can stream the video of that session from:

Cato Inst. Added the following comment to this video:


Featuring the author Yochai Benkler, Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, Harvard Law School; with comments by Rebecca MacKinnon, Director, Ranking Digital Rights project, New America; moderated by Julian Sanchez, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute.

The internet and social media were supposed to radically democratize news and information—yet many observers now worry that they are undermining the preconditions for healthy democracies. Misinformation peddled by conspiracy theorists, unscrupulous clickbaiters, and even intelligence agencies spreads around the globe at the speed of light, while in the United States, citizens increasingly retreat into distinct media ecosystems so divergent as to be mutually unrecognizable. Can liberal democracy function in a world in which voters no longer inhabit the same universe of facts?We’ll take up these questions with renowned scholar Yochai Benkler, coauthor of the important new book-length study Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. We’ll take a close look at the dynamics of how propaganda, misinformation, and “fake news” propagate across modern information networks. Rebecca MacKinnon, author of Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, and Cato senior fellow Julian Sanchez provide commentary.

Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 17.56.16



Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

Posted in belief system, Benkler, Brainwashing, Cambridge Analytica, democracy, disinformation, election meddling, Fake news, Media, social media, The Split, Uncategorized, Voter manipulation | 1 Comment

Charles Kao, inventor of Fibre Optic Technology, passed away. May he RIP.

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 11.28.20

I am saddened to hear of the recent passing of Sir Charles Kuen Kao – the father of fibre optic technology, in 1962 *).  Professor Kao’s work allows millions of people all over the globe to stay connected. Thanx.

*) my physics teacher told us about the Invention of Fibre Optic Communication on wires of Glass in 1962.

jaap van till, TheConnectivist


Sir Charles Kuen Kao

A young Charles Kao became the driving force behind the idea of long distance communication using a single-mode optical fibre waveguide made of glass. The idea seemed impossible to most researchers at the time due to the poor optical characteristics of the best available glass material. He and George Hockham thoroughly investigated whether there were any fundamental limits and found none. The comprehensive results of this research were published in the paper which is now recognised as the very beginning of the optical fibre revolution. Charles then toured research labs around the world (e.g. USA. France, Japan) in an attempt to convince others of the idea, for he realised that it’s success would depend on the contributions of others.

The Vision Background

Charles Kuen Kao was born in Shanghai on the 4th of November 1933. He is a Chinese-born Hong Kong, American and British electrical engineer and physicist who pioneered in the development and use of fibre optics in telecommunications. He holds multiple citizenship of Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States.

His family moved to Hong Kong in 1948 where he completed his secondary education, then moved to England in 1952 to do his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering at Woolwich Polytechnic (now the University of Greenwich), obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree.

Charles Kao at STC Woolwich

He joined Standard Telephones and Cables at Woolwich, pursuing research into microwave communications using Long Haul Microwave Waveguides. In 1965 he received his PhD degree in electrical engineering  from University College London (under Professor Harold Barlow) as an external student while working at Standard Telecommunication Laboratories (STL) in Harlow, Essex, England, the research centre of Standard Telephones and Cables. It is there that Kao did his first ground-breaking work as an engineer and researcher working alongside George Hockham, initially under the supervision of Alec Reeves.

In 1963 he had joined the team of people who were exploring possible ways of achieving optical communication, and he made some diligent notes summarising the whole situation at the time, and identifying the team members and their areas of expertise. These notes now reside in The Nobel Prize museum in Oslo, but copies can be viewed here:

Young Charles Kao’s notes from 1963: Set A & Set B

Photo of Charles Kao during visit to STL in 2002

Extensive details of his life are contained in his biography: A Time and A Tide – A Memoir – Charles K. Kao, with additional recent material added by Gwen Kao.

This is now available in eBook format

Alzheimer’s Disease

Sadly Charles was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2004 and his health has subsequently deteriorated. Gwen Kao cares for him and now runs The Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease.

This charitable organization was founded in 2010 by Charles K. Kao and his wife, Gwen Kao. It is based in Hong Kong which is now their home. The Foundation aims to raise the public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, educating the general public on brain healthcare strategies, enhancing care and support to Alzheimer’s patients, their families and caregivers. Words from Gwen Kao

Posted in Fibre Optic, Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment