There are two possible views of nature. One is as a system of disconnected parts in competition with each other. In this view, bacteria and viruses are seen solely as infectious agents of disease. Or, we can see nature as a system of information processing. Raw, sheer energy becoming information. In this view, bacteria and viruses are part of the exchange of information and on one level, on the deepest level, are therefore part of the life affirming phenomenon.
From an immediate-moment reading of animals, I’ve learned to see behavior as a function of attraction and this leads one to a different perspective on the nature of information. I don’t see information as a binary alternative between two equal choices that the animal mind attaches meaning, ponders their relative values and then makes a decision as to which one to weight. I don’t see information as something “figured out” by the individual. That would be like saying that a shopper and a merchant figure out what money is worth before they can complete a transaction. They may negotiate over how much money to pay for the item, but not what the money is worth. The “network” has already codified and denominated what each note is worth. First comes the network, the seed of which is a principle of conductivity (note that money is called “currency”) and then its structure arises around this current. The form of the network that ultimately emerges is already a foregone conclusion as its already embodied energetically in the principle of conductivity.
Likewise the immediate-moment manner of analysis renders a thermodynamic perspective of structure arising from a current so that I’ve come to understand information as energy coming into form, a form of interconnected constituents, a network. In this view, nothing of that form can be inimical to that which brings it into form. Energy enters the form, is captured and is then harnessed by its constituents to service the network. Energy becomes information in terms of the network that makes the form. It takes a network to make information, it’s not something that the constituents figure out independent of the form in which they exist. The network doesn’t emerge from the information, it precedes it in the form of a principle of conductivity. And as more energy is captured and harnessed, the form becomes more and more viable. And when the form expands as more and more energy is harnessed, certain constituents are amplified, others are discarded. This is not evidence of competition with winners and losers, but of an expansion. For example, if one wants bigger muscles, exercising breaks down tissues that then rebuild into a larger structure. Stronger muscle tissues didn’t out compete weaker ones in order to produce a bigger muscle.
Seeing canine aggression as a state of blocked attraction rather than as something fundamentally noxious to sociability, was perhaps the most seminal insight that positioned me to see this view of information. In aggression, energy (stress), that the individual has acquired from other experiences, finds its object in that other individual. Eventually, if allowed the time and space to be transferred naturally, the two individuals would entrain and thereby add energy to the network through their integrated and collectivized behavior. The network expands. I call this the function of disfunction and I’m gratified to find this thermodynamic view of behavior verified by the discovery of the “Constructal Law” by Adrian Bejan and explained in “Design In Nature.”
In the immediate-moment view nature evolves as a whole rather than as a system of disconnected parts in competition with each other. In this view of the animal mimd, emotion serves to capture and harness actual physical energies and then serves as the currency of exchange between organisms. Emotion works as a virtual force of attraction that moves according to principles of energy. Thus, any two animals, no matter their species, can potentially communicate. Emotion embodies the laws of nature so that animals can interact with each other in a way that is consonant with the way natural energies moves. This is adaptive because it allows organisms to participate in the expansion of the network. I call the process of energy becoming information “emotosynthesis..” Just as photosynthesis turns energy into matter making life on earth possible, emotosynthesis turns energy into information that makes intelligent life on earth possible.
For example I don’t believe that in experiments on intelligence the subject crows are cognitively solving puzzles in the view of information as value added through intellectual conceptualizing. Rather they are plugging in principles of physics to make the necessary connections to solve the puzzle. On the streets of Tokyo crows drop hard shelled nuts they can’t open in front of oncoming cars that then crush the shells, the crows swooping in for the feast. Behaviorism misinterprets this as high level deductive reasoning and tool use. However, it is actually an intuitive matching of resistance-to-acceleration, (the shell of the nut) that impresses an emotional charge into the body/mind of the crow, and then the car’s intensity of acceleration (the force of the car in motion), is high enough to counter the force of that charge. Mass (resistance to acceleration) and acceleration, (energy) are two complementary phenomena of the same unitary force of attraction. Matching force to resistance, mass to energy, is inborn. Probably a life time of dodging cars as they feed in roadways allowed them to make the connection of force that can overcome mass, the resistance of the shell. This would likewise how one can feel capable of moving a small round stone as opposed to a massive square boulder. One is emotional aroused to the former and inhibited by the later.
Feelings are energy converted into network information by emotion. When animals migrate rom winter grounds to a summer feeding range wherein they will reproduce, we’re seeing seasonal energies, the motion of the planets, being converted into new feelings, the urge to move as a group and then the relationship between parents and offspring. Starling murmurations are conducting this conversion process as well albeit on a much faster time scale. This is also what dogs are doing when they play and why dogs, as beings with a particularly high emotional capacity, are also particularly susceptible to storm phobias, again indicative of emotosynthesis.
In this vein I have long suspected that viruses which are capable of manipulating the genetic code of a cell, and which can move from one species to another as vectors of transmission, are actually importing information of the network, in particular its expansion, into the organism and tweaking the genomes in order to accommodate the network’s need to shift. Even plagues through their demographic impacts would affect how energies flow through the world. And so seeing nature as an interconnected information processing dynamo, I predicted that one day science will discover that even viruses are part of the information feedback loop, just as the term “junk DNA” when I first heard it in the eighties struck me as intellectual hubris of the highest order. Below we can see we’re getting one step closer to seeing nature as one network, the source of information, not something that emerges from it. Viruses are of the network, not inimical to it.