[ 29/9/20 – on a Facebook thread on evolution, on Zane’s page, in response to a comment by Zane]

The evolution of complexity is not simple.

If you have competitive environments, then complexity cannot arise.

New levels of complexity can only emerge in contexts where cooperation can in fact mitigate some set of significant threats that are external to the population in question.

And you need to think in terms of populations when thinking about this, and the sorts of contexts those populations experience of the timescale of a few hundred generations of the individuals within the population. What emerges is a complex function of the context specific costs of the various strategies present.

That leads eventually to the emergence of sets of cheat detection and removal strategies on non-cooperative behaviour, and that develops into an ecosystem in itself at successive levels of cooperation.

Once you start to understand how that works – recursively, then you can start to see the existential level threats present in the current societal dominance of competitive markets, and the multiple levels of cheating strategies embodied in many of our economic and political systems.

We are so complex, that rather than saying that we are the product of competitive markets, it is far more accurate to say that to a reasonable first order approximation we are the result of cooperative systems – many levels of them.

We are the most cooperative entities on the planet, and we can certainly compete if the context demands it of us; but our survival probabilities in competitive systems are very low – we are just too good at competing, too good at developing destructive technology.

Our survival requires that more and more people start to see and accept the reality that our survival demands that we develop systems of universal cooperation, and that demands of us multiple levels of respect for the ecological and social systems upon which our complexity is built and depends.

So yeah – evolution is amazing, and as a geek with mathematical and biochemical interests who has been fascinated by the subject for over 50 years – it is far more complex than I can possibly express in any reasonable number of years (communication bandwidth is too low – and maintaining interest in others too unlikely).

Evolution seems to me to clearly be, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, far more complex and reliant on very different sets of mathematical constructs than any formal mathematical published account of it I have seen. It seems to be deeply and fundamentally uncertain, often essentially on the boundary between order and chaos – in the creative zone.

Nothing simple about it.

In most of us, at least 15 levels of fundamentally cooperative complex adaptive systems – with many instances of complex systems at every level – just mind numbingly complex to begin to come to terms with.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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