The Evolution Of The Biosphere And Econosphere Are Self Creative
Author: Stuart Kauffman
Source: NPR Blog
Evolution may be the mysterious "antientropic force" that generates complexity, at least in the living world and, just perhaps, in the universe at large. (Although, of course, evolution is not a force at all.)
The evolving biosphere and econosphere have both exhibited astonishing increases in diversity and complexity over time. One common biological ancestor diversified, we believe, into the millions of species we see today. Except for some extinction events, the diversity of species shows a steady increase.
Similarly, the diversity of goods and production capacities 50,000 years ago across the globe might have been a few thousand. Now this diversity numbers in the billions.
Why does this diversity increase?
One view is that this process is just a "random branching, birth and death process." Here is the theory: consider a token "person" on an infinite-square lattice. At each discrete moment in time he takes one step north, and at random chooses to go one step east or one step to the west. This process iterates and the "person" performs a random walk, a well-studied stochastic process. Now let the single "person," divide occasionally into two "persons" at the same spot on the lattice. Call it a "birth process." Thereafter each "person" walks fully independently of the other. From time to time there are similar "birth" processes to "persons" walking. Now add "deaths" where "persons" die and disappear from the lattice. This is a random branching, birth and death stochastic process, well studied.
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