Email about the mathematics of life

email to Friend#17


Thanks for the suggestion about Google Scholar. After 45 years, I finally found Ed Kamen’s published discussion of his theory that was the focus of my simulation studies! Henceforth I’ll have to start my literature searches there.

I’m in no hurry for our discussion, so take whatever time you need to manage urgent tasks. Next week would be perfect if you can break free that soon. I have recently had some breakthroughs in conceptualizing my theory of civilizational design from start to finish in mathematical terms, so I can use the intervening time to prepare a written overview that:

  • shows how a systems control perspective fits,
  • removes (hopefully) all political, teleological, and theological overlays, and
  • sets up mathematical arguments that reintroduce profound ethical/theological issues into discussions of civilizational design, even in a secular, agnostic setting.

I went out on a limb mentioning theological issues that my theory of civilizational design raise — which traditionally are presented from the standpoint of preexisting beliefs — if only so you wouldn’t be surprised or upset by my raising them later.

By way of a preview for you and an outline for me, this is how I currently envision the logical flow of my overview:

1. Even in unicellular organisms, the multilevel structure of life recasts the unsolvable form of second order nonhomogeneous equations in mixed time and spatial structure that describe its chemical driving forces (at different organizational levels, Schrödinger’s equation and reaction-diffusion processes) into solvable homogeneous partial differential equations in either time or spatial structure alone, as a framework for performing life-critical biological processes reliably.

2. From there, a universal developmental process for multicellular evolution and embryogenesis arises, involving four stages of increasing complexity:

1. anticipatory linear control,

2. bilateral, bilinear interactions,

3. a multilateral, multilinear, digital milieu for accommodating arbitrary interactions, and

4. linear systems design that anticipates the next level’s operation

at each of three levels:  

A. life’s sustaining physiological structure, as a platform for emergence of “higher-level thought”, which regains physical coherency that had previously been lost (most notably as the process of civilization recovers historically lost human potential),

B. “hardware” that makes some specific kind of advancement in that kind of “thought” possible, and

C. the “software” running on that “hardware” that further streamlines that kind of “thought”.

A mathematical induction argument establishes that life must have always used this system architecture and 12-step developmental sequence across all overlapping levels — from instantaneous intercellular biochemical reactions to civilizational processes over (hopefully) evolutionary timescales — to develop the corresponding span of life’s multilevel retrieval of coherency (“thought”) over all corresponding timespans.

3. Our top-down perspective of lower-level pathophysiological events that have affected our own bodies (health and illness that we as individuals have experienced) and our bottom-up perspective of our own personal participation in higher-level cultural, societal, and civilizational processes (our experience with citizenship and sensitivity to the legacies we are leaving to future generations and human civilization) set the stage for establishing those same perspectives across all organizational levels ad infinitum, anticipating a science of theology and a theology of science.

4. Harmful and disorienting effects that we are seeing (all too well) during the leadup to and outset of the coronavirus era have been pointing out (the hard way) at many organizational levels the functional defects introduced into life’s designs in each of the stages described respectively above by 1. delayed actions and chaotic dynamics (as with the logistic map, which involves the same bilinear nonlinearity as sigmoidal tradeoff functions, but pertaining to delays that individuals introduce through lack of awareness of interaction dynamics, generating a zoo of chaotic phenomena from the phasing errors of bouncing off gradual, “sloppy” transitions), 2. pathogenic interactions (which may involve opportunists attracted to the resulting chaotic dysfunction), 3. echoing disinformation (e.g., conspiracy theorists, rightwing media, fundamentalists, and foreign hackers intent on propagandizing the denial of science and planting doubts even that truth exists), and 4. the existential threat of potentially fatal destabilization (now involving a coronavirus that has taken residence in our collective airway like Ripley’s terrifying foe in the Alien series!).

5. From a minimally teleological standpoint, we might consider the COVID-19 pandemic as using a near-perfect simulated annealing optimization algorithm (the evolution of virulence of easily transmitted respiratory RNA viruses with high mortality from medical complications that demand expensive technological interventions) to catalyze the resolution of stresses at the interface between two dangerously/unsustainably interacting high-level meta-chemical processes (human civilization and planetary dynamics), by intercalating the coronavirus’ pathogenic agenda into human dynamics and forcing humanity to follow the universal embryogenic developmental process described above. I can’t yet fill in all the details of how the toxic mix of international and terrestrial feedback pressures made this diabolically clever evolutionary trap occur for the first known time in human history — otherwise, I would have anticipated it and sounded the alarm!

6. Humanity’s recent history in managing technological progress and observing biological processes suggests a series of physical systems with functional characteristics that have followed the same lifelike developmental sequence (although mostly emerging on all fronts simultaneously, and not so much developing in sequence). At the hardware level, those stages correspond to: 1. proportional-integral-derivative feedback controllers with anticipatory feedforward, 2. sigmoidal tradeoff curves in bilateral interactions, e.g., as activation functions in neural networks, 3. emergence of digital circuits with sharp switching transitions that (hopefully) eliminate phasing errors off sloppily bouncing interactions, and 4. flexible, general-purpose computers and networks. Corresponding technological stages at the software level might be: 1. optimization processes, 2. navigation tools, 3. research tools, and 4. social media. Together, these life, hardware, and software tools capture the multifaceted role of all technologies on society and the unfolding of civilization. The confusion that humanity has experienced over about the last 60 years has resulted from the wrenching separation of this technological development from the trajectory that life on earth must follow, turning up the amplification until it elicited, respectively. the screeching, toxic effects of 1. delays and chaos, 2. opportunistic and harmful commercial enterprises, 3. tribalistic ideological echo chambers, and the 4. resurgence of dictatorships over democracies. My theory provides physical models for interpreting these uncomfortably familiar dysfunctions in feedback terms involving both the hardware and software analogues of human civilization!

7. From a scientific standpoint, the specificity of the mathematical models described above suggests that the corresponding physical and engineering concepts might play new roles in biological, medical, and epidemiological sciences. From a spiritual standpoint, the criticality of civilizational design for wise self-governance and prevention of large-scale harm reconnects with theological themes developed intuitively over the history of religious thought. Although the concepts I’ve outlined can be framed in terms of first principles, their correspondences with preexisting beliefs is reassuring — and could play an important role in reconciling the squeaky wheel of religious fundamentalism to a new paradigm of transformative civilizational design that humanity must develop to coexist peacefully with the dynamics and future of all life. However, fundamentalists might have to experience a lot of grief before they’re willing to give up their toxic practice of preconceived beliefs that has gotten us stuck in this civilizational trap with a diabolically well-designed coronavirus that is now closing the airway of humanity’s global economic system!

To answer the questions you raised about the nature of the analysis I envision, I would like (1) to simulate processes in my theoretical developmental model that relate to threats that coronavirus could present to civilizational stability (corresponding in embryological terms to “civilizational miscarriage” very early in embryogenesis) and, even more, (2) to clarify the design trajectory that human civilization should take to reconfigure our economy along the structure of multicellular organisms. As I hinted in my previous emails, these processes occur primarily at stages 2 and 3 of the “embryogenic civilizational sequence”, after 1. the failure of anticipatory linear control and between 2. the coronavirus’ brutal enforcement of bilinear tradeoff forces and 3. the sharpening of tradeoff curves into sharp digital switching to avoid further chaotic bouncing off sloppy phase transitions.

Here are the implementation issues that I see ahead. As developing countries and poor populations develop herd immunity first and lead humanity out of economic depression, I envision that they should follow the lead that the embryonic mesoderm plays by forming the musculoskeletal system and internal organs 16-18 days after fertilization. Developed countries could provide developing nations the technologies needed to recover the lost coherencies that have resulted from centuries of exploitation (thereby emulating “higher-level thought” of multicellular embryogenic development). I have fairly specific ideas what systems, processes, and equations are involved, but I’m not experienced enough with mathematical modeling — and probably also symbolic computing — to figure out all the details.

I’m not sure if data will become available to relate to my developmental model, but I think the problem described above — getting the developmental trajectory of the global economic system to track the well-established path of human embryogenesis — would fall under the rubric of a multistage nonlinear Kalman filter. I’ve never even seen that kind of problem described in the literature, so performing such an analysis would be light-years above my experience and pay grade! However, since an embryological system changes its system parameters and configuration only slowly, a sequence of Kalman filtering processes could be invoked to model that tracking process. I noticed that Ed Kamen has more recently published theoretical articles on the control of slowly time-varying systems. Slowly-varying Kalman filters may be a horse of a different color, though!

I have taken the liberty of copying this email to a number of friends who have followed my recent descent into mixing science and theology with varying degrees of enthusiasm and alarm. 

Take care and stay safe,

Ray Gangarosa

2020|4|13   out of chronological sequence

Table summarizing a theory of civilizational design, evolution, and adaptation

Raymond E. Gangarosa, MD, MPH, MSEE

April 14, 2020

Let me start with a narrative explanation of the summary table below:

This modified Schrodinger’s equation captures the mathematics of life’s chemical driving forces, which apply to civilizational dynamics by replacing the conventional quantum potential V with an integral of cultural influences v over all time. No other species on earth has that temporal integral referable to its higher-level activities, in the realm of civilization:

Its three explicit terms correspond, respectively, to future (i.e., change, ∂/∂t), present (i.e., structure, ∇2), and past (i.e., all previous influences, ∫vdτ).

The tendency of systems governed by this equation to undergo transformative change implicitly introduces another developmental state, irreversibility.

1. Implications of quantum phenomena — an issue with scientific-ideological overtones in itself!

Bouncing oil droplets on a sonicated water bath, first demonstrated experimentally by Yves Couder et al. in 2005, illustrate very simply and intuitively a hydrodynamic analogue of quantum phenomena, which proves in the most obvious way that they can exist macroscopically — and perhaps, I would argue, when coherencies extend far and long enough, on a civilizational scale. Erwin Madelung derived almost at the same time as Erwin Schrödinger (1925-26), a pair of equations functionally identical to Schrödinger’s that were based on hydrodynamic analogies. Ironically — although my arguments below about purposiveness might provide a rationale for the delay — physicists’ focus on subatomic applications, for which coherencies vanished on even the tiniest macroscopic structural and temporal scales, obscured the now-obvious fact that $50 of hardware can bring easily visible quantum phenomena to a countertop near you! Burdened by their restricted focus to realms they could not see, the pioneers of quantum physics were so intent on rejecting everything in classical physics that they cooked up the arcane “Copenhagen interpretation” in 1929. That interpretation has promulgated nothing but utter confusion about quantum behavior, especially as “popular science” has struggled to decipher its relevance to everyday life.

Just before Neils Bohr established (and enforced among generations of physics graduate students with an iron fist) that chaotic interpretation of quantum phenomena, Louis de Broglie offered a trajectory interpretation of quantum mechanics based on classical principles in his 1928 doctoral dissertation and even defended it well at the conference in Copenhagen that established the conventional wisdom. Nonetheless, the authoritarian Nobel laureate Bohr talked the lowly graduate student de Broglie out of his own interpretation, until David Bohm resurrected and expanded it into the de Broglie-Bohm or Bohmian interpretation, which even de Broglie came to see again as a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, Bohm was ostracized by the community of quantum physicists by his refusal to reject everything about classical mechanics, and, hounded by the McCarthy commission for his early dalliances with communism, he sought asylum in Brazil, where his impact on scientific thought was altered and greatly lessened.

The semiclassical Bohmian view of quantum physics holds the existence of trajectories that guide “pilot-waves”, even though the trajectories cannot be observed in subatomic interactions. The Copenhagen interpretation postulates that macroscopic behavior emerges from quantum interactions via “wave function collapse”, an already mysterious process that Bohr et al. rendered completely incomprehensible and nonsensical with their attempts at its analysis. Bohm (and de Broglie) found simpler explanations for quantum trajectories and therefore rejected the notion of wave function collapse altogether.

The Couder water bath experiment clearly proves, once and for all, that quantum trajectories exist in visible juxtaposition with wave phenomena, pushing pilot-waves around, just as de Broglie and Bohr predicted. However, sloshing waves in a water bath are continuous, so they couldn’t model collapsing behavior even if it does sometimes exist under appropriate circumstances. We have to admit that discontinuous behavior might look different than continuous sloshing, even if the Copenhagen interpretation likely does not shed light on its true nature.

On a civilizational scale, I think the immediate effect that the novel coronavirus has had on the global economy could be a good model of wave function collapse, which (rather unfortunately for us, but perhaps by design of the large-scale corrective forces in long-duration planetary feedback loops) we can easily study on that spatial and temporal scale. We seem poised to take nature’s required master class on rejecting the luxury of a simplistic, separated, objective viewpoint and being an active participant in quantum feedback circuits, imposed on us by the COVID-19 pandemic — even if it kills us!

2. How life solves the quantum equations of its chemical driving processes

It’s instructive that engineers have implemented the same kind of “1. past | 2. present | 3. future | 4. irreversibility” dynamics from Schrödinger’s equation with proportional-integral-derivative (PID) feedback controllers that also use anticipatory feedforward, where

“proportional” feedback corresponds to the present (i.e. structure, ∇2)

“integral” feedback corresponds to the past (i.e., previous influences, ∫vdτ)

“derivative” feedback corresponds to the future (i.e., change, ∂/∂t)


feedforward introduces an anticipatory model (i.e., a “worldview”) capable of undergoing phase change (transformation).

The table below illustrates some overarching principles that apply to life’s processing of the equation that underlies its existence, presented in the same past | present | future | irreversibility format:

past. Life must reframe this equation in manner it can readily solve, so that vital, life-sustaining processes can function reliably. It does so by breaking it into cases corresponding logically to the developmental sequence tabulated below, much as electrical engineers consider different specializations of Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations to develop different technological applications.

present. Developmental processes work through these equations one term at a time, as a series of 4 stages (corresponding to the 4 terms) interacting over 3 levels (where there is one less term because the last stage, irreversibility, is left not to human agency, but rather to the discretion of nature, life, and God — depending on whether our proposed transformation is compatible with life’s plan. If not, those higher-level feedback forces will bounce us back out, generate spurious echoes from the impedance mismatch, and introduce chaotic dynamics into our own networks — and, as recent events have shown, inject intense cognitive dissonance and confusion into our thinking).

future. Civilization must emulate life, because the same driving forces act on it, albeit at much higher levels.

irreversibility. An induction argument establishes that this pattern between two adjacent levels applies to the same multicellular unfolding process generalizing ad infinitum to all higher pairs of levels interacting over indefinitely longer timescales, as a theological extension to the concept of a limitless, timeless, unitary God.

By the way, that correspondence between development and technology, with connections to theology that are appropriate for the vast scale and civilizational importance of this undertaking, suggests how humanity might go immediately from sleepwalking and stumbling cluelessly through history to learning suddenly from mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology how to design civilization from a clean slate, looking far into the future from first principles to avoid design pitfalls.

3. Aside: a simple observation that (to my way of thinking) clarifies the purpose and meaning of human existence

Another deep insight mentioned in the table is my colleague John Letcher’s typology that characterizes the universe in terms of 5 “moieties”: charges, masses, photons, and spins, plus one noninteracting moiety that we will ignore, neutrinos. Letcher’s 4- (interacting) moiety typology corresponds perfectly with the four terms I’ve distilled from Schrödinger’s equation. Both perspectives also explain the steps in the sequential process involved in chemical reactions:

1. past | charges | chemical affinities of reactants

2. present | structures | masses that hold the active site in place

3. future | photons | energy needed to overcome the reaction’s high-energy barrier

4. irreversibility | spins | conservation of angular momentum that relaxes the unstable intermediate states toward the final reaction products

I further interpret John’s insight to highlight another important point about human civilization: humanity’s purview involves shaping the static structures of our world — the first two moieties, charges and masses — and then stepping aside to allow nature to use the other two, which travel at relativistic (photons) or near-relativistic (spins) speeds, to perform the computations.

Combining scientific and theological perspectives, we can see from Letcher’s typology that our design of human civilization can be likened to the construction of a supercomputer emulating a superorganism, where most of the actual computations are performed in circuits, systems, networks, and fields beyond the observation and reach of human agency. We thus become like cells in a larger body, embedded in and subservient to its feedback and feedforward loops, just as the early Christians conceived of “the body of Christ”, and we must learn to interface peacefully, respectfully, and gratefully with nature’s grace, which early Christians conceptualized as “the Holy Spirit” (and some environmentalists, with a more scientific perspective, have imagined as an overarching superintelligence they call Gaia). The fact that theology has considered these issues more than ten times longer than has scientific thought gives further reason to expand our perspective along those lines — especially since human civilization is exhibiting a lot of shortsighted behaviors characteristic of unicellular organisms and cannot conceptualize how to exhibit long-lasting cooperation characteristic of multicellular organisms.

That observation, in itself, hints at the existence and nature of God, as well as a delineation and clarification of our responsibilities for building His kingdom on earth. Given how technology is demonstrably rudderless, science can clearly present existential threats to all life, and history misleads us about future challenges, this simple consideration of Letcher’s typology combined with awareness of the mathematics of life’s chemical drivers and the associated developmental process suggests how humanity might step beyond the limitations of anthropocentrism, stop acting like an invasive species, and become a good citizen of our planet’s biosphere.

4. Issues of coherency

Schrödinger’s equation contains subtle but important information about the timing of interactions, or coherency, which is extremely important for the conduct of life and also has deep theological implications. The recovery of hidden coherencies is deeply embedded in the fields of paleontology, archeology, and forensics. Ultimately, in one way or another, we can’t hide from the specific causal sequence by which our actions unfolded.

In coherent terms, where the equations preserve the phase (timing) information from interactions, the chemistry of life takes on some form like Schrödinger’s equation. In noncoherent terms, typically in the context of bulk phenomena that average out all the coherencies of phase information, those equations look like reaction-diffusion processes. However, even in the latter case, the phase information doesn’t go away, so it can be recovered (e.g., the way cell phones have allowed us to tap into global positioning satellites to develop previously unthinkable navigational capabilities) and even reinjected (e.g., the way research on one frontier can seed previously inconceivable new concepts and/or technologies in an entirely unrelated realm). Obviously, this notion of life preserving coherence has deep theological, scientific, and combined implications.

The table illustrates another important implication of coherency. A flawed, incorrect worldview can cause life’s coherency to manifest as unreliability, spurious echoes, reverberation, and instability. If the phasing information of the tradeoff functions of two interacting agents is very spread out in time, the consequences of their interacting events will depend critically on the relative phases along the entire path of their interaction.

Congresswoman Pat Schroeder used the colorful expression “ricochet off reality” to describe how the tenuous grasp of reality inherent in Ronald Reagan’s wrongheaded but innocent worldview was already propagating dangerously unpredictable consequences from the national policies of a person who had so much power. Subsequent Republican presidents have detached themselves successively more and more from reality, aided by the self-serving rightwing media that promulgates wrong worldviews (e.g., climate change denial) and disparages journalistic fact-checking, so our national dialog has gone from those spurious echoes in the Reagan years to an echo chamber to crazy reverberations that spectacularly altered the results of the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections — and now to severe instabilities introduced by the Trump administration that show how dangerous a pervasive contempt for the truth can be. It’s easy to understand how a wrong worldview could introduce spurious echoes, induce proponents to create an echo chamber, creates reverberations, and foments instabilities — each application of that false anticipatory model of reality paradoxically pushes the system away from the intended target, inducing frustration, confusion, and an inclination to blame everyone else for one’s own flawed worldview.

This sloppiness is especially relevant to current events in the setting of opportunistic and/or malicious agents, for example, when a fisherman, con man, virus, or dictator dangles a shiny object that looks very attractive to an unsuspecting mark but then springs the trap after the victim takes the bait! That’s what the novel coronavirus has done to humanity’s global economy, attaining its intended corrective feedback by paralyzing our activity on a civilizational scale. We’ve seen how Trump, having commandeered the instruments of our national government the way a virus hijacks a cell’s replicative machinery, now tries to steer every interaction at every news cycle to advance his own personal interests. This is an adaptive form of dynamic chaos, far beyond the impartial geometric destabilization of delayed orbiting around the logistic map. From witnessing and studying that behavior, we might use societal data, especially a comprehensive database of Trump’s interactions, to learn how comparable pathogenic microbes work.

The antidote to these sloppy tradeoff curves is a mixture of discipline and knowledge that sharpens tradeoffs into digital-like transitions. By setting up digital technologies, a system makes all phase information irrelevant, so the unreliability introduced by internally predatory behavior (like cancers) can be eliminated. As we have seen over the course of our lifetime experiences with commercial electronic products, computers can do lots of things that analog circuits cannot, by setting up a milieu in which technological devices can allow arbitrary interactions and expect predictable results. That’s why human civilization must be purged of the institution of dictatorship and the self-reinforcing propaganda machines that profit by denying reality. Feedback from our planet’s immune system is telling us that it won’t let us get away with dictators’ capriciousness and destructiveness anymore.

5. Life’s solution of its chemical driving equations

Life’s design transforms the inhomogeneous second order differential equation in structure and time into solvable homogeneous second order differential equations in either time or structure, dealing with these now-manageable equations over three structural levels corresponding to: 1. life’s plan (unfolding in time during embryogenesis and childhood to establish a platform for higher-level organization, by abandoning life’s ultimately unworkable unicellular plan of selfish exponential growth to develop the collective capabilities of multicellular life), 2. “hardware” (unfolding in structure to recover coherencies present in the Schrödinger equation that were unavailable at lower developmental levels, as a basis for curtailing collective harm, most notably now from pandemic disease), and 3. “software” (unfolding in time to reinject coherencies in the Schrödinger that become discernible through applications of developmental processes, as a basis for gaining new capabilities, much as technology has done throughout living memory in our era, as engineers assembled growing toolboxes that transformed our lives).

The problem we are experiencing at this civilizational inflection point is that our developing technologies have not respected life’s interdependencies, so we must backtrack and reapply the lessons learned from engineering those technologies to developing a technology of civilizational design that is compatible with sustained harmonious life on earth and manifests awareness, wisdom, and compassion. It turns out that embryogenesis follows a similar track, starting the embryo’s trajectory as a unicellular-like organism that initially experiences negligible interactions from within or without, but then progressively unfolding its internal multicellular toolbox with powerful programs that destabilize its primitive structures and remold them to the demands of ever-higher level structures — ultimately expanding to the challenges that we as adults now face confronting pandemic disease and reconsidering the design of our civilization.

level |stagestepthemesstagesbackgroundcomments
1|11life:Life’s structure is incorporated into a universal developmental sequence.  Initially,  in embryogenesis, synchronizing clocks encode spatial structures as guides to temporal interactions. As a result, the spatial derivative, ∇ 2, becomes a proportional synchronizing term, and spatial dependence vanishes from Schrödinger’s equation, which becomes solvable as a homogeneous second order differential equation in time.1. past: an integral over timelevel 1, unfolding in timeunderlying quantum physicsNot Copenhagen — Bohmian!oil droplets in sonicated bath— a revelation timed to our era?trajectories ⇒ steering a pathpandemic causes wave collapse?Schrödinger — natureMadelung — humanity — hydrodynamic analogues of quantum behaviorEmpirical demonstration:bouncing oil droplets(trajectories are visible)wave function collapse = COVID-19 pandemic!4 “moieties” of Letcher’s typology“charges|masses|photons|spins”past|present|future|irreversibilityInterdependence demands a unicellular-to-multicellular transition: exponential growth to curtail harm, gain capabilities .Foreordained in embryos and civilizations, as we’re seeing now.
1|222. present: effects of structurelevel 1, unfolding in timechemistryadjacent levelsinduction proof → all levelsreaction-diffusion processesblastomere phase~ a unicellular colonial organismnegligible interactions
1|333. future: change with timelevel 1, unfolding in timeself: morphogenesisReaction-diffusion on a lattice,signaling across structure, whereclocks decode structure as time.Solve inhomogeneous equationsby encoding ∇ 2 structure as time⇒ embryo emerges as a circuit!Circuits are much easier to solve!“carftal”* lattice(*the opposite of fractals)A. Turing’s embryogenesisNeglected Interactions ⇒in/out stimulus-response4+3 = 7 step process over2 adjacent structural levels 16-?? day embryoa dangerous dead zone, applying  only in weak internal interaction.Only occurs for a very short time,until interactions intensify —same as humanity’s crisis now!As internal interactions intensify,an embryo can’t ignore them.
1|444. irreversibility: phase changeinternal: interacting communityexternal: linear PID* control*proportional-integral-derivative— solves Schrödinger equation both internally and externally!strong Interactions ⇒4×3=12 steps on 2 levelsPID control circuit has a 
∫vdτ -∇ 2– ∂/∂t temporality— same as the structure of chemical equations!
later fetus through adolescence:organism-like internal interaction& manageable external interface! 
2|15“hardware”:coherence-recovering → 
 “curtail collective harm”(no more exponential growth!)
past: time integral,  ∫vdτlinear feedforward PID control — ∫vdτ -∇ 2– ∂/∂t temporality plays out throughout hardware levelfeedforward = anticipation— a worldview as a modelpitfall: incorrect worldview→ act counterproductively!stage of a selfish, irresponsible adolescent — at any level —the state of our civilization now!
2|26present: effects of structure, ∇ 2level 2, unfolding in structure bilateral interactions →tradeoffs possible implementation:Networks of coupled circuits: From a versatile toggle switch to collective coherent behavior.Each of these circuits is composed of a positive and a negative feedback loop in a motif that is frequently found in genetic and neural networks.Darka Labavic, Hildegard Meyer-Ortmanns. arXiv:1409.4551v1 [nlin.AO] 16 Sep 2014.Tradeoffs must saturate to accept interdependence.Bouncing off tradeoff curves → chaos (like logistic map).But worse, it invites viruses, who exploit others’ tradeoffs and always act selfishly, trampling interdependencyTrumpism emulates viruses: Hijack host, ignore dependency, grow exponentially, cause harm.“Great deals” = a virus’s bait!Virus Trump as perpetual victim — virus’s defense: ignore what I do.
2|37present: effects of structure, ∇ 2level 2, unfolding in structure multilinear interactions → 
digital circuits
Stop inviting viruses!Sharp, digital transitions ⇒
no “ricochets off reality”, propagating phase errors, spurious echoes, reverberating echo chamberWrong worldviews aren’t a self-destruction risk factor! Fundamentalists and libertarians no longer invite dictators to invade and hijack democracy. Trump and COVID-19 are related lessons, teaching us how to repel dictators and viruses.
Learning how to act in the world by emulating life’s plan.A robust, resilient community that protects its weakest links.Concede self-interests and make civilization emulate multicellular organisms — and thrive, not grow.Design civilization like a supercomputer that does good.Humanity’s purview — static moieties, charges and mass — establish supercomputer design.God/nature’s purview —moving moieties, photons and spins — compute, beyond human agency. Key to step 7: sharing resources.
2|48Irreversibility: transformationlevel 2, unfolding in structure computers | systems | networksHumanity’s experiences developing technology — and our belated recognition that we allowed it to separate us from life’s natural plan and path — allow us to design and steer our civilization as a force for good, using the mathematics of life | our own harsh experiences living through the consequences of our actions | a renewed dedication to humanity’s purpose as a good citizen using our power wisely | and a new kind of theological discourse, informed by truth, reason, and knowledge, of what’s really important to the future of life on earth.Note: In embryos, the ectoderm, which becomes skin and nervous system, makes these same mistakes — as it also develops pain sensation, which is a prerequisite for steering the organism. Conservatives aspire to that role, but followed a false prophet — who fully documented for future generations why they should never again let that happen.Fairness|truth|democracy set up the next level — software implementation that learns from application of emerging capabilities.Respecting truth is key — Trump, Putin, and other autocrats have shown (and documented why, in great detail) humanity must purge our civilization of dictatorship.Nature’s corrective feedback and civilization’s response have been purposive, putting Trump — a cosmic buffoon and twin virus of COVID-19 — in power to mismanage the pandemic, as a lesson to humanity that our civilization cannot pose an existential threat to the future of life and earth’s life support system.Develop multicellular economy, emulating our own bodies as we design “the body of Christ”.Develop a circulatory system, as different faith/cultural traditions form different organs in the body.Expand civilization’s timeframe from centuries of science to millennia of theology so humanity can become a good citizen in the biosphere over evolutionary timescales (billions of years).This is the most important transition in human civilization, revealing the mathematics of life as applied to our own transition and subsequent transformations.
3|19“software”:coherence-reinjecting → 
“gain collective capabilities” Now in a stable mode of easily observable and controllable digital circuits, the system learns, from its iterative application of its own technological advances, how to refine its future development of civilizational design. These features, predicted by the mathematics of life and forever embedded in multicellular biological designs, were predictable — foreordained! — for human civilization when interactions became so dominant that we could no longer ignore them. Trump ignored them past the time when they had become obvious — and presented himself to the ages as a fully self-documented cosmic buffoon, villain, dictator, and virus. God and nature put him in power to mismanage the coronavirus, leaving him no accomplishments to claim — a tainted election, a puppet presidency, a crashed economy, a ravaged global ecosystem, and its inevitable result, corrective feedback of pandemic disease, rapidly-mutating to thwart further idiots like him. The flawed worldview of Christian fundamentalists put and kept Trump in power, and as his quasi-viral modus operandi corrupted everybody and everything he touched, he exposed them as cosmic hypocrites, abandoning every principle they ever considered as bedrock and sacred — God’s proof that the Bible, while replete with ancient wisdom, doesn’t have enough information content to guide civilization through the rest of time to emulate life’s plan, discern its purpose, and steer its path.
past: foundationslevel 3, unfolding in time global optimization processes a universal theological discourse, spanning math to spirituality, emulating life and discerning its purpose and meaningreplace self-serving gradient searches with global optimization algorithms arguing for purposiveness:- the future of life on earth- earth’s computing power- technology connecting us- growing destructive power- humanity’s encroachments- role of wrong worldviews- stressed ecosystems- pandemics as feedback- and Trump as too good a villainous virus — complete with constant unwitting confessions! — to be a coincidence!If we behave as good citizens, we can use genetic algorithms, building on what came before.If we misbehave, nature will use annealing algorithms, destroying our social structures — with our wrong worldviews and reverberating echo chambers and its pandemics —  and rebuilding the world to life’s specifications.It’s no coincidence that COVID-19 commandeered humanity’s global economy and forces us into a dilemma between our wealth and health — the earth’s life support system is warning us it will apply natural selection pressures against us if we don’t stop threatening it and all life.
3|210present: toolboxlevel 3, unfolding in timeresearch toolsStop jabbering and think!Use the Internet to advance our worldview, not corrupt itDevelop communities dedicated to exploring life, its meaning and purpose, and timeless implications of our legacies to civilization. 
3|311future: fluent interactionslevel 3, unfolding in time[honest] communication mediaRethink everything — 
not social media, but Zoom.Being in touch, not documenting ignorance and stupidity for all future generations to pillory.Not empowering dictators, but building democracy.And finally developing “the developing world” by giving them technologies they need to lead when they emerge first from this pandemic with herd immunity — and never exploiting the weak again.Multicellular organisms use interdependence to develop new capabilities, they don’t let extremities get necrotic to save energy!
3|412future: transforming civilizationlevel 3, unfolding in time  Co-creative partnership with God, respecting truth and knowledge; being wise and compassionate; engaging in a respectful, diverse theological public discourse about what’s important to the future of life on earth; defending all its weak links; deciding democratically together with respect for interdependencies, common interests, and all of life’s shared fate. This final step gets humanity to the developmental level of a civilization in adolescence — but hopefully, with a growing toolbox for understanding how to cope with the world, and fully ready to continue this developmental process indefinitely, as our civilization leaves unbridled growth behind in favor of never-ending transformative change.

Discussion: Objectivity is not a valid worldview for self-referential agents embedded in powerful feedback loops and widely influential networks. Something else may be going on at this pivotal civilizational inflection point, beyond the assumptions of scientific reductionism. That Donald Trump is such an extreme outlier who can cause so much harm at such a critical moment is, by itself, a statistical test that rejects all null hypotheses. It hardly seems an exaggeration to say we could have chosen a better president with a dart and a phone book.

As a scientist, I have long found it uncomfortable to raise issues of purposiveness in relation to nature’s corrective feedback and God’s actions. However, I feel compelled to address Christian fundamentalism on its own terms, since one of my brothers insistently holds to that worldview. More to the point, such views are the squeaky wheel that needs the grease, so, as I present this theory in a way designed to reach agreement in my family, I also offer it as a way to persuade the stubbornest defiers of scientific methods. Maybe what scientists and progressives should have done all along was to make the religious connections, before warped worldviews and their reverberating consequences got so out of hand and so obviously interconnected.

The fact that human civilization has thus far been so shortsighted that we cannot envision how to cooperate stably like multicellular organisms at all — much less over evolutionary timescales — is a warning sign that we’re doing things completely wrong. A unicellular organism can’t imagine how a multicellular organism functions. Over the span of its first few weeks, an embryo undergoes such radical changes as to become unrecognizable as its initial self. Such changes reflect the emergence of strong interactions, such as we’ve seen recently in the run-up to the coronavirus era.

Consistent with our term-by-term, “past | present | future | irreversibility” characterizations of life and of civilization, we must also consider civilizational timescales beyond the span of science, which has only been in full force for a few centuries and, in its separate, self-cloistered status as humanity’s most powerful instrument for change, science has only interacted weakly with the past until very recently. That conceptual challenge is consistent with the mandate of quantum physics, which criticized objectivity as nonviable in strongly-interacting systems, but ironically, then never stepped outside its own narrow discipline of objective scientific inquiry!

Quantum physics questioned objectivity in relation to classical mechanics, proving the disturbing result that agents and systems deeply embedded in their own dynamics cannot separate themselves from the underlying transition equations. It was too threatening to apply those ideas to the human realm, so physicists carefully compartmentalized quantum studies to inanimate systems, in fairly obvious violation of the underlying rule. Keeping the quantum wave equation in the realm where it only affects our views of physical reality and out of the realm where it would spill into our lives defeats the purpose of recognizing the limitations of objectivity.

As we envision using the foundational equation of quantum physics to unfold the pattern of life into human civilization, we note that, over the course of millennia, theology has asked deeper existential questions, much like those of survival that confront us in the current pandemic. Employing ever-more powerful technological tools for disrupting natural ecosystems, humanity has self-destructively unleashed a series of progressively more threatening RNA virus pandemics over the past century (from the “Spanish” flu and seasonal influenza to HIV/AIDS to Lassa fever and Ebola virus to SARS, MERS, and now COVID-19), thereby invading, traumatizing, and over-stressing ecosystems that had evolved over millions and billions of years. We have not demonstrated that human civilization is even compatible with a viable planet over such future evolutionary timescales — and if we go extinct and take civilization away with us, all the knowledge and tools that could make all of life flourish infinitely better would disappear, and biological evolution would revert to its brutal, aimless, minimally capable baseline. That, in itself, is reason enough for nature, life, and God to want human civilization to persist — but not as it has acted.

A number of considerations — from the existential importance of earth’s life support system to its enormous computational power to its cultivation of RNA viruses over many millennia and centuries to carry out this attack to the tight linkages between planetary and civilizational dynamics to the mathematical coherencies that reveal patterns in the unfolding of all life to the potential that human civilization offers to all life as a wise steward and pilot and finally to the unlikely possibility of finding such a perfect, self-documenting virus-like civilizational pathogen as Donald Trump and then pitting him against a viral pathogen that is practically his twin! — suggest that this inevitable transition in human civilization from unbridled exponential growth to multicellular-like curtailment of harm and development of capabilities had always been planned since the first flickering of life on earth. Perhaps Trump and all the communications technologies that empowered him to commandeer our government were on a path intersecting the release of this coronavirus to expose his incompetence to all the world. The closest thing in our understanding of life would be an embryonic unfolding that conveys the emergence of a new program that supplants the old one — now being presented to us as a lesson for the ages how humanity must never again act against life’s natural plan and path! The forces that compel cells in a multicellular organism to manifest such supremely self-sacrificing cooperation have always been mysterious, but now we can appreciate from our own past transformation, current experiences, and projections onto future perceptions that the path to hell that we’ve been on will read future generations the riot act never to do this again! One can just imagine the library that contains the pitiful “memoirs” of Trump and his administration being such a warning against Donald Trump’s civilizational sins of cosmic-grade ignorance, stupidity, exploitation, corruption, duplicity, treachery, and existential threat!

There is plenty of evidence that nature has been preparing for this inflection point in human civilization. Especially over the past 300 years, various RNA viruses have probed human weaknesses and defenses, supplanting more static and stable pathogens, like bacteria and DNA viruses, as tools for simulated annealing global optimization that do not respect barriers we erect, destroy existing suboptimal structures we have built, impose new demands we must meet, and mutate or try again with a different pathogen if we try to defend ourselves against them. This interpretation predicts that no defense against COVID-19 will be effective unless humanity comprehensively ceases its assault on the earth’s homeodynamic mechanisms. The novel coronavirus has successfully arrested human encroachment by attacking the global economy, forcing us to trade off between our wealth and our health, twisting our collective arm behind our collective back as a not-so-subtle signal that it will cull our population with natural selection pressures — starting with the most vulnerable groups (the aged, the immunocompromised, those with chronic medical conditions, etc.) — if we continue to present existential threats to the earth’s life support system and the future of life on earth!

The lessons have been presented in the most straightforward possible ways: start by doing everything the opposite of Donald Trump; straighten out our collective worldview and the truth-defying echo chamber that has distorted it; eliminate dictatorship as a civilizational institution by holding dictators personally and financially accountable for the harm they do; emulate the economy that is inside our own bodies; develop capabilities unique to what civilization has to offer to all of life; design our civilization so we have the awareness, knowledge, and experience to steer planetary dynamics wisely over timescales that vastly transcend our current narrow and shortsighted perspectives; and ultimately establish a civilizational design that will help (and compel) our species to be a good collective citizen of the biosphere as long as the earth exists. If we are being commissioned with that task, we would have to start designing our civilization with a clean slate, so the trivial conveniences to which we are so casually attached do not become major design defects (“kludges”) that much later could limit the potential of future generations and the ultimate capabilities of human civilization. Consistent with both theological concepts developed over the course of millennia and a scientific method that has increasingly come to recognize the limits of reductionism and objectivity when we are strongly embedded in the feedback loops that influence our lives, this seems to be a purposive message from an intelligent system directed at engaging our own intelligence and partnership.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *