Systemic Computation stresses the importance of structure and interaction, supplementing traditional reductionist analysis with the recognition that circular causality, embodiment in environments and emergence of hierarchical organisations all play vital roles in natural systems. Systemic computation makes the following assertions:

  • Everything is a system.
  • Systems can be transformed but never destroyed or created from nothing.
  • Systems may comprise or share other nested systems.
  • Systems interact, and interaction between systems may cause transformation of those systems, where the nature of that transformation is determined by a contextual system.
  • All systems can potentially act as context and affect the interactions of other systems, and all systems can potentially interact in some context.
  • The transformation of systems is constrained by the scope of systems, and systems may have partial membership within the scope of a system.
  • Computation is transformation.

Computation has always meant transformation in the past, whether it is the transformation of position of beads on an abacus, or of electrons in a CPU. But this simple definition also allows us to call the sorting of pebbles on a beach, or the transcription of protein, or the growth of dendrites in the brain, valid forms of computation. Such a definition is important, for it provides a common language for biology and computer science, enabling both to be understood in terms of computation.

It is possible to argue that random interactions that have no obvious intentionality or design are not computation. In systemic computation we do not make such a distinction, for it is clear that random interactions frequently result in clear examples of natural information processing, for example natural evolution, the immune system, the motion of planetary bodies. Nevertheless, when we wish to create this kind of computation for our own purposes we must add our intentionality and design. We program our systemic computer by creating our own systems.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License