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Patrick Tierney (M, 32)
Princeton, US
Immortal since Oct 7, 2007
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    I recently read an article by Manuel DeLanda discussing Non-Organic Life and the Mechanical Phylum. Simply put, anything that crosses thresholds can be thought of as an organism. This includes waves moving through water, rocks forming stratas over millennium, yo-yos, simple circuits, and computers.

    Dimensions can be assigned to these organisms for each degree of freedom. A light switch, a battery, and light is an organism with a "point" degree of freedom: it is either on, or off, and therefore exists in a point space. An oven occupies a point in one-dimensional space (it's freedom is confined to a linear temperature). A pendulum occupies a point in two dimensional space, and bicycle, DeLanda notes, has about 10 degrees of freedom. In other words, there are only 10 aspects of a bicycle that separates it from a static object. It therefore exists in 10 dimensional "phase space," depicting this phase space would require collapsing 10 dimensional to a space we can view. I like the terms Non-Organic Life and Mechanical Phylum, since as we clearly dont require organic life to have even the slightest consciousness, non-organic life should not have to start with AI.

    I find this concept most interesting as it applies to bots or web crawlers. When computer programs are competing to solve a problem their "movement" and the very space they inhabit it made at the discretion of the programmer. I've discussed this process and how this space can be thought of as architecture in a previous essay.
    A glass structure is charted in two dimensional phase space. The orientations of the glass shards is the structure's degree of freedom, charted in a line.

    Another interesting dimension (no pun intended) of bots is that they can be thought to exist in multiple "universes." If you create a bot, Q, to roam through a set of data, you can duplicate not only Q but the space it lives in. You Therefore when charting Q's location you must not only specify its position according to these degrees of freedom, but you must specify which Q in which universe you are describing. DeLanda neglected this in his essay but I would consider it a part of phase space.

    So if we can think of bots as part of a phylum, is there an architecture to their space? Does architecture apply only to humans? Is there an architecture to the space bacteria or worms live in?

    Order out of Nothing

    DeLanda's essay also brings up an interesting note about order arising with no guided influence. Rocks are organized into similar stratum though nothing more than the chaos of our universe. Similarly, the planets of our universe formed in the same way. If the planet we stand on and the environment we live in creates order out of nothing, why is it so hard to imagine that it eventually created rudimentary life, or rather, rudimentary life created itself.
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