[F2] Self-organizing system / itseorganisoituva systeemi


Self-organizing systems have forever produced integrated outcomes in nature (ecosystems) and in human societies (language). Perhaps the earliest examples of self-organizing commercial systems are town markets that, with their haggling merchants, date back to the dawn of commerce itself. But in the Internet age, self-organizing systems go beyond market exchange to produce complex, sophisticated, highly competitive products: computer operating systems (Linux), scientific blueprints (the human genome), and vast multimedia social entertainments (online games). (Harvard Business Review)


Principles of Self-organizing systems

The original “principle of the self-organizing dynamic system” was formulated by the cybernetician Ashby in 1947.[ It states that any deterministic dynamic system will automatically evolve towards a state of equilibrium (or in more modern terminology, an attractor). As such it will leave behind all non-attractor states (the attractor’s basin), and thus select the attractor out of all others. Once there, the further evolution of the system is constrained to remain in the attractor. This constraint on the system as a whole implies a form of mutual dependency or coordination between its subsystems or components. In Ashby’s terms, each subsystem has adapted to the environment formed by all other subsystems.

The principle of “order from noise” was formulated by the cybernetician Heinz von Foerster in 1960.  It notes that self-organization is facilitated by random perturbations (“noise”) that let the system explore a variety of states in its state space. This increases the chance that the system would arrive into the basin of a “strong” or “deep” attractor, from which it would then quickly enter the attractor itself. A similar principle was formulated by the thermodynamicist Ilya Prigogine as “order through fluctuations”  or “order out of chaos”.  It is applied in the method of simulated annealing that is used in problem solving and machine learning (Wikipedia)


In economics

Adam Smith’s idea of the “invisible hand” can be understood as an attempt to describe the influence of the economy as a spontaneous order on people’s actions.

In economics, a market economy is sometimes said to be self-organizing. Paul Krugman has written on the role that market self-organization plays in the business cycle in his book “The Self Organizing Economy”. Friedrich Hayek coined the term catallaxy to describe a “self-organizing system of voluntary co-operation,” in regards to the spontaneous order of the free market economy. Most modern economists hold that imposing central planning usually makes the self-organized economic system less efficient. By contrast, some socialist economists consider that market failures are so significant that self-organization produces bad results and that the state should direct production and pricing. Many economists adopt an intermediate position and recommend a mixture of market economy and command economy characteristics (sometimes called a mixed economy). When applied to economics, the concept of self-organization can quickly become ideologically imbued. (Wikipedia)

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