Emergence and epiphenomena (3)

Salinas17 at aol.com Salinas17 at aol.com
Thu Mar 2 04:57:34 UTC 2006

In a message dated 3/1/06 4:49:10 PM, lists at chaoticlanguage.com writes:
<< In the Conway's Life sim. 
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_Game_of_Life) you see this in the glider gun. The gliders move, but their movement is 
caused only indirectly (by rules for the birth and death of cells.) You can't  
formulate a single "rule of movement" to describe the movement of these 
"gliders", and yet they move  >>

That's not the case.  Those familiar with the Game of Life will know that 
"gliders" are highly regular patterns compared to the chaos that other starting 
patterns can generate and that makes them relatively predictable.  They appear 
to "move" precisely because of the recurring pattern and the fact that the 
rules of the basic game say that spaces are filled or emptied according to what 
is adjacent to them on a particular turn - which can be rendered as an 
algorithm.  In fact, many of the solutions to "Game of Life" pattern problems -- like 
the glider gun, which was designed to continually grow a specific pattern 
indefinitely -- were worked out mathematically first. 

What might be relevant to language growth and structure in the Game of Life 
is that chaotic growth started by a particular pattern sometimes eventually 
reverts to an order or symmetry after a long number of "turns" in the game.  As 
in the case of fractals -- the more current example of mathematical weirdness 
-- this eventual orderliness has elements that reflect something of the 
original pattern -- which appeared to be lost in the chaos.

Just like in the entanglement concept of quantum physics, there seems to be a 
deep layer of information underlying mathematics and maybe other natural 
phenomena that we are simply not able to read -- maybe because the math is beyond 
us.  So that we may have to settle for concepts like "emergence"  to account 
for patterns disappearing into chaos and reappearing again -- with us having no 
idea where they came from.

Steve Long

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