RE: Logic + universal evolution

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Aug 14 2001 - 14:45:22 BST

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    Subject: RE: Logic + universal evolution
    Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2001 14:45:22 +0100
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            <Obviously. The question is how the birds manage to maintain the
    > distance, particularly when the whole flock turns on a dime. Either the
    > brain is running an incredbly elaborate motion program or the flock is a
    > morphic field in which the birds are "particles." While the latter
    > possibility might strike you as being "weird," the former possibility
    > would
    > require neural computing processes unimaginably more powerful and rapid
    > than
    > anything humans have ever devised.>
            When a human catches a ball in flight, they actually perform a
    complex mathematical calculation that only a pretty good mathematician could
    work out on paper. Yet children can catch balls in flight with no knowledge
    of the complex maths involved. Indeed, brains operate complex mathemetical
    operations all the time to control movements etc. Why's that a problem for
    you that needs the MR macguffin? The whole flock appears to us to turn on a
    dime. What actually happens is that the lead bird responds to conditions in
    flight with a slight turn that resonates rapidly through the flock, bird by
    bird, into what ends up looking like a massive sharp turn for the whole
    flock. Each bird makes a relatively small turn in relation to the birds
    near it. They are not calculating the movement of the entire flock, but
    only their own movement in relation to the birds immediately around them
    which doesn't require huge amounts of brain power, and can easliy be done by
    lots of organisms.

            In human society a similar kind of process, albeit kind of in
    reverse, is evident in traffic. In heavy traffic, when cars travel too
    closely together jams emerge out of apparently nothing. They're called
    shockwaves (IIRC), and are the net effect of small acts of braking caused by
    cars travelling at different speeds, changing lanes, and climbing hills etc.
    in heavy traffic. This works back down the line to result in complete
    standstills of traffic. The Jam doesn't stay in one place but moves slowly
    backwards, with the jam increasing in size. None of this requires any
    collective resonance, but simply the compound result of lots of little
    individual responses to individual circumstances (the car in front changes
    lanes suddenly making you brake, that compounds down the road behind you to
    a mile long tail back).

            If you take a solo bird in flight, or a solo car on a road, these
    small individual motions don't appear to do anything. Tack a few hundred
    birds or cars behind that lead one, and patterns of movement will emerge,
    that are merely the product of each individual applying basic rules of
    movement. They may look like a lot more that needs remarkably macguffins,
    but the really remarkable feature is that they need no more than very basic
    rules, and an appropriate environment, to operate.


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