Thermodynamics and Cooperation

Thermodynamics and Cooperation

“Rewriting Life”
“New Model of Evolution Finally Reveals How Cooperation Evolves
By treating evolution as a thermodynamic process, theorists have solved one of the great problems in biology.”

In this study the thermodynamics of how atoms in a material coordinate their spin states so that the same spin sweeps through the entire lattice of atoms like a contagion, is applied to the cooperative behavior of animals.

Researchers are considering that cooperation in animals is remarkably like a phase shift in a lattice of atoms wherein the magnetic spin of one atom causes its neighbor to align until a cascade of such effects sweeps through the entire lattice to create a single, unified magnetic field. In most substances the spin of its atoms are randomly distributed so that they cancel each other out and the material has no net magnetic charge. We could say this is like a group of non-cooperative individuals. Whereas in magnetic materials the spin states of most of its atoms are aligned so that the electromagnetic charge of each atom combines to produce a net magnetic charge. This is likened to a state of cooperation. Also if an external magnetic field is strong enough, this can influence the atoms within a material to align and aggregate their charge as well. In either case the atoms cooperate to produce a single magnetic field that is stronger than any individual atom can manifest on its own.
To translate this magnetic property to the behavior of animals, this model uses game theory as a stand in for aligned spin states. In one game if all individuals kick in their share of a prize, at the end of the game they each realize a greater return than the single share they possess. However an individual could cheat, keep their share and then reap the benefit of those who sacrifice for the greater good. To then mimic the harmonizing action of an external magnetic field, the risk of punishment for gaming the system is introduced and it’s observed that a phase change similar to atoms linking their spin states tends to break out and spread over the population.
Now while science is beginning to understand that the laws of physics are providing better and more foundational answers for the how of complex affiliative behavior such as sociability and cooperation (with Behaviorism notably absent from these advances), unfortunately they don’t have a way of applying the laws directly to the mind of the individual animal itself. So for example when I explain my energetic model of behavior to receptive experts, even when they find my logic compelling they still believe I’m speaking metaphorically. I have to emphasize that I’m not. I’m speaking literally. My argument is that when animals are emotionally energized, they behave exactly as if they are “point” particles of mass that carry an electromagnetic charge, i.e. charged particles of consciousness. I’m not saying they are generating an electromagnetic field between them that can be measured (although their brain heart and bodies are), but rather that the emotional affects which are consuming their bodies and minds are making them feel just as if they are indeed electromagnetically charged: the proof of which can be seen in their behavior and in this approach’s capacity to provide the most parsimonious explanation for said behavior. (It must be noted however that it can only be seen if one doesn’t automatically project one’s thoughts into their heads. Nevertheless the parsimonious explanation stands on its own logical merit.)
So when one understands this energetic logic, one arrives at a different definition of the self. For example, atoms aligning their spin states into a unified magnetic domain have achieved a higher and more stable energy state, that’s the payoff. Therefore were an atom endowed with a sense-of-self, that sense of stability would certainly have something to do with how the Self is constructed in the mind of such an atom. Therefore an atom would not define its Self as separate and distinct from its surroundings. It would predicate its sense-of-Self on the highest and most stable level of integration with its surroundings. Whereas in mainstream science the brain is seen as a self-contained faculty of intelligence, the individual is seen as manifesting a self-contained sense of its Self, the genome a self-contained agency of inheritance, and this is why science must turn to game theory and the psychological rationale of punishment to effect these electromagnetic principles as an influence on behavior. In this approach the thermodynamic logic is abandoned for metaphor. Unfortunately this leads to the oxymoronic conclusion that punishment is essential to cooperation.

However we don’t need to move away from thermodynamics and electromagnetism and to a psychological rationale such as game theory and the cost of punishment because thermodynamics already has the cost of being selfish baked in. This is how it works: if a sense-of-self is a function of its surroundings as proposed above, therefore acting in a way that elicits positive feedback from its surroundings would simultaneously mean raising the conductive value of the surroundings ( i.e. a heightened magnetic field) and this would benefit the entire configuration of affiliates because the stronger the magnetic field, the more energy it can conduct, hence each individual experiences more flow. Therefore, were an individual to fail to integrate at this higher level it would suffer a diminished sense of Self, it would feel incomplete, i.e. electrically charged. In other words it’s the resistance to flow, an electrical phenomenon, that imposes a toll on the individual. So were one to employ a complete thermodynamic approach to the phenomenon of cooperation we find that magnetism and improved conductivity, .e. flow, rather than punishment, is the lynchpin to cooperation, an important distinction.

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Published June 23, 2017 by Kevin Behan
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6 responses to “Thermodynamics and Cooperation”

  1. b... says:

    So in light of this would you say that the reason that humans don’t cooperate is because they have learned to cut themselves off from their surroundings or others?

  2. Where is the evidence that humans (as a species) don’t cooperate? Humans and the close ancestors have cooperated for a million+ years.
    I’m not trying to be facetious, I know you are referring to the recent phenomenon of civilization, I just want to make sure we frame it (civilization) correctly as a recent aberration. Which presents a puzzle but it is still a thermodynamic one.

    One possible reading of it is: recent climactic shifts (the Holocene) and the surplus energy (aka “charge”) it created allowed new thermodynamic paths to open up. Once invested in, the flow systems of civilization (slavery, agriculture, organized warfare) became strong enough currents that they persisted in spite of environmental conditions (desertification just led to search for more forests to clear, more slaves to take).

    Now with imminent biosphere collapse due to climate change, we are nearing the time when the charge will go to ground, old flow systems will fossilize and be metabolized into new structures “beyond civilization”.

    This is of course one reading. But, much like trauma is the solid form of emotion in the body, I believe seeing fossil fuels and the ecologically-damaging energy structures of empire designed to hoard and isolate resources (cities, plastics, landfills, travel networks) as a kind of solidified trauma waiting to be turned back into flow.

    So that’s one. Here’s yet another thermodynamic perspective on human role in evolution:

    I look forward to Kevin’s take!

  3. Cindy Coble says:

    B’s query sounds to me as if she’s wondering about the perceived lack of human cooperation ( as some of us view it) in more recent terms, in very recent terms. Political divide, by design, means to separate and weaken. Financial divide is the same operating system. Coerced into the technological era, we ( once again, by design) have digital divide.

    In the very recent past, we knew our neighbors, fraternized regularly with people whom we didn’t share simpatico ideologies. We attended social functions without the irrational fear that some may not have voted exactely as we did.

    I’m not sure if we have ‘ learned to cut ourselves off’ from society, but the less pleasure we experience from encounters with others, the more likely we are to isolate.

    Human cooperation is inextricably entwined with human survival. Willem’s reference to our collapsing biosphere, which I feel is accurate, could be polarizing humans. We repel, and are repelled. It’s the end of the line for us.

    In light of that, I’m going to take my dogs deep into the woods, roll in the mud, swim naked and enjoy the primal satisfaction of the feel of fur on skin. Perhaps my delight will prove contagious, and I’ll see you all out there, too.

  4. Kevin Behan says:

    That sounds right. Because a human can see himself separate from his surroundings, which is the default setting of the intellect I would propose and which is why it takes great training in a mystical tradition, or experience a spiritual awakening/epiphany, in order to see one self as connected to all, we think that if we control what’s going on out there we can control what’s going on in here. This need to control then would resist cooperation. In contrast when humans choose to cooperate, there is more of a surrender of the self to the synergy of the whole. Nevertheless the Self must remain vital and not wholly subsumed, otherwise it won’t be able to serve as a pole to make energy. For example, every cell in a body is wholly integrated into the well-being of the body, but it still must maintain a semi-permeable membrane, a faculty of discrimination according to its internal milieu, in order to have anything to contribute to the whole. In most treatments however we’re handed a false dichotomy, the Self or the whole, as if they are mutually exclusive. My resolution of the paradox is to treat the notion of individual integrity and network integration as different sides of the same phenomena.

  5. Kevin Behan says:

    If we take a Gaia Earth interpretation of evolution, and then the same to the Cosmological theory of the Big Bang conditions being just right for the evolution of consciousness, and given that my reading of animal behavior is that consciousness came before life forms, then basically I read that article to mean that raw physical energy is becoming consciousness, in our era raw oil fueling the capacity for people to communicate and connect over greater distances and with less effort via the internet, classic Constructal Law. We also have to note that all living systems have a reserve capacity and buffering system, the body has a spleen, stored fat, the brain a memory, a car a reserve gas warning light, a watershed has a wetlands and so on. These energy reserves help to smooth out the flow so that it isn’t overwhelmed with a sudden surge, or can also be summoned forward when times are lean. So even the stuck charge is part of the flow system. Nature has all the time in the world, sooner or later energy will move. Finally, in my reading of the animal mind, there can only be network coherent information, the only thing that can be information is of the network. Now one might argue, and one might be correct, that a human can think a network incoherent thought, but I still believe nevertheless that the “House (thermodynamics) always wins.” so they will end up with a charge and feel more and more incomplete and eventually their inefficiency will consume itself.

  6. b... says:

    KB: “Nevertheless the Self must remain vital and not wholly subsumed, otherwise it won’t be able to serve as a pole to make energy. …. My resolution of the paradox is to treat the notion of individual integrity and network integration as different sides of the same phenomena.”

    This seems consistent with the yogic tradition of mahasamadhi whereby, in my understanding, once a person attains an “ultimate” level of consciousness (through what I think you could call a practice of surrender) they usually leave the body and it takes a high level of awareness and determination to remain in the body and not dissolve into the vastness of consciousness.

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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