Mechanical Drawing from Complex Adaptive System II.


RNA, Inside and Out

Complex adaptive systems are composed of three main components: stored information, tools, and an intermediary that uses information to make tools. On the cellular level the information is composed of DNA, tools are made from amino acids(proteins) and the intermediary is RNA. On the human scale the information is composed of various diagrams, schematics, plans, specifications and verbal descriptions, the tools are made from a wide variety of materials and humans are the intermediary, the operative working between information and tools. Tool-making using editable information is the basis of evolution. At the cellular level DNA mutates, new tools are specified, some good, some not so good and they are applied to acquire and metabolize resources. Messenger RNA is assembled upon a DNA template, a reading process, and then at at ribosomal site becomes the template upon which transfer RNA sequentially add amino acids to make a protein tool. In human terms this is equivalent to reading some hard copy of information, for instance a diagram and keeping the image in your head (mRNA) just long enough for your hands to assemble the subcomponents of the tool, acting in a manner similar to cellular tRNA and ribosomal RNA. Ribosomes can be considered tool/intermediary, protein/RNA assemblages necessary to press together the amino acids of tools and structural elements. In a similar manner a human may be paired with a machine that presses together some variety of sub-components into a tool.

Cellular tool-building occurs in an environment dominated by Brownian motion or thermal motion and electromagnetic charge. Bonding occurs automatically based upon variables such as molecular conformation, temperature, and charge distribution. At the size/scale of human tool construction these forces, charge distributions and bonding specificity are of less importance. Different forces are predominate at our scale.

Complex adaptive system II (CAS II), the one in which humans operate, came about at a scale vastly larger than that of the molecular one. Complex adaptive system I (CAS I) created humans as a unique arrangement of cells, just like all other organisms. A cooperative arrangement of cells can form tissues capable of accomplishing larger scale mechanical movements and specialized functions. Human individuals are a population of cooperating cells arranged to ingest massive amounts of resources for distribution to the cellular society. Protists, single-celled eurkaryotes use tools to capture nourishing molecules or envelop other cells with amoebic efficiency. Humans and other metazoans cannot capture molecules floating in a primordial soup for cellular ingestion, instead they capture entire metazoan cellular societies, puncture them with fangs in many cases so that they lose hydrostatic pressure and power and then they are masticated with special organs and swallowed them to be digested, absorbed, and distributed to our own cellular society.

Even before arriving at our current status in CAS II we had been formed by CAS I. The DNA in CAS I evolved to ease our transition into CAS II which offered tools that could greatly magnify our survivability through accessing previously inaccessible resources in unprecedented amounts. Whereas we once lived as free-living and free-roaming organisms, we evolved back into a cellular setting (factory) because of the benefits that the technological tools produced could confer (temporarily).

By having grasping hands with great sensitivity, a large brain with incipient communicative ability, bipedalism and binocular vision, we were ready to take the next step. By picking up a club and killing another animal with it, at a distance that could lessen the chances of bodily damage, we found a significant survival tool, albeit one we did not produce. It increased the amount of net energy to the user and conferred a reproductive advantage over other hominids. Farther down the evolutionary line the use of fire in cooking would greatly reduce the parasite and harmful bacteria load on food thereby further increasing survivability. Those tribes or populations that were most inventive in tool-use could overcome in numbers those less inventive and industrious. Regarding the speed of mutation, DNA must await a random change, a mutation to occur to get a better tool, but humans, bearing the information within their brains can play recombination at will and thereby change and discover tools very rapidly. But great evolutionary rapidity in CAS II awaited the establishment of a hard copy of information as found in various schematics, writing, pictographs, diagrams and so on so that incremental change would not be lost with the death of the possessor. Not only could the existing information be used to build tools and structural elements, it could be worked upon within the brain to achieve various useful changes. It is not uncommon for man in his engineering and design, especially in times past, to examine nature, the accomplishments of CAS I, as guide to his own design and engineering in CAS II. This rapidity of evolution, in which neural modeling and experimentation replaced chance mutation as the determinant in evolution, resulted in the sudden burst of complexity enabled by the new human scale tools.

Unfortunately humans seem to proceed as subconsciously, but with less control as the mindless RNA at work in their own cells. It does not seem to enter most people’s minds that complex adaptive system II is destroying complex adaptive system I. We humans seem to think that we are now fully a part of complex adaptive system II, the technological one, because we work “jobs” and live within technological cells. This is a grave mistake since we are fully dependent upon a healthy and functioning CAS I, the ecosystem, for our lives. We have used the products and organization of CAS II, the technological system, to grow like a cancer at the expense of the CAS I. This will seem propitious for a while, like the sky is the limit, progress unending, until the ecosystem collapses and thereby also extinguishes the technological system.

Due to the human impulse to compete, which generally applies throughout the ecosystem, man the organic being will likely push the technological/ecological systems to collapse, all along hoping for a “technological breakthrough”. The current state of technological advancement is more than enough to destroy the ecosystem entirely, thereby destroying humans and putting an end to the technological system. Some may believe that technology can survive by ending the chimerical marriage of the ecosystem and the technological system by eliminating humans and replacing them with AI surrogates. In this case, if this seems to be the course of things, then perhaps the representatives of the ecosystem should begin fighting for their lives now.

Using my stack of copy paper metaphor, if each sheet of paper is equal to a long human life (90 years), it took a stack of paper four miles high for chance and DNA to produce humans. The entire reign of the technological, CAS II, is no more than thirty or forty sheets of paper and the fast technological evolution bolstered by fossil fuels would be no more than the last three sheets. Only three life-times for a fast-evolving, large-scale, complex adaptive system to invent and deploy enough tools to consume and/or destroy everything. That is a rapidly metastasizing malignancy, and it’s still growing.