Evolution by Selfreference

Author: Zbigniew Lisiecki,     1.3       (former versions) 
  1.0             15.02.2009
1.1             19.02.2009
1.2             23.02.2009
1.3             24.02.2009

This list is only for documentation purposes.
Old versions are considered as not valid any more.
  1. The contemporary standard theory explaining the evolution of species with the natural selection between competiting forms and with the random drift of DNA  (1) 
      (as also with other known evolution mechanisms like the gene flow )  
    is not sufficient as a general paradigma. This article proposes a change of view by which the feedback mechanism provided by the loop closed with heriting appears as the main engine of the evolution. The concrete phenotype is still shaped by the natural selection. With a new view explaining some phenomena appears more natural as thus easier.

    The theory presented here is still worked on. It has been send as an article to scientific press for publication. The presented version is not the ultimate one.

    1. The engine of evolution
      1. Why is the contemporary model insufficient
      2. The feedback model
      3. The natural spectrum
      4. Why sytheses come about

    2. Examples
      1. Paaring behaviour
      2. Sudden jumps and the speciation
      3. The emergence of life on the earth
      4. The hypothesis of god and the emergence of language
      5. Regaining control over social systems
      6. Evolving planet - What comes next after humans ?

    3. Conclusions
      1. Summary
      2. The outlook on future unifications
      3. FAQ - frequently asked questions

  2. The engine of evolution

    The Theory of Evolution (ToE) build on the work by Charles Darwin explains the evolution as a aggregation of small changes, which appeared more efficient in the competition between many organisms. It's so called "modern synthesis" unified the work of many scientists up to late 40-ties adding beside the natural selection also the genetic drift as another possible mechanism promoting evolution. Mid 60-ties after the DNA discovery a gene-centric view has been added. Still the main engine of the evolution is considered to be the competition between many forms.
    1. Why is the contemporary model insufficient

      The ToE, as defined above has been claimed to be insufficient in importand cases. A vivid discussion in science and in the society generally still holds on. Below I list phenomena which explanation in the standard paradigma of ToE appears not natural and strightforward, which on the other hand the model presented here claims to explain much easier.
      1. Pairing behaviour in biology

        The diversity evolved around pairing behaviour seems to be denied by the urge of efficiency stemming from natural selection. No one knows for sure why a peacoc has long tail nor why a deer carries antlers. The choice made by the female proposed as an explanation lacks a logical cause and the gene drift  (2) 
          see the sexual selection  
        alone does not explain why these appearences are so strong and important in almost every specie. Also the homosexuality belongs to this cathegory  (3) 
          The ToE suggests to explain homosexuality with the benefit provided by the common upbringing children. Yet this way it only explains friendship and not the erotical charm.  
      2. Sudden jumps of evolution

        The paleontology record suggest suddenly starting vivid developements (in which also newss species appear) and long periods without change beween them in the evolution of species. Changes in the environment (e.g. climat) has been proposed as a cause, but a true link has never been demonstrated.
      3. The origin of the DNA-machinery

        It is ofter argued that the evolution can due to ToE only take place when it's subject (here the DNA-machinery) already exists. Yet why did it emerged at all ? Also the gene drift refers rather existing systems than their sudden emergence, which on the other hand obviously took place. Appearing of some primary chemical cycles seems not to be explained by ToE in convincing way.
      4. Social systems, the evolution of culture

        The mechanism based on the natural selection proposed by ToE should be applicable also to the evolution of a human culture, of social and economical systems, etc., but ToE seems to fail to explain these processes sufficently. There seem to be no specie competiting with humans, which caused a natural selection and a genetic drift of the magnitude of for example human language seems curious at first sight.
      5. Evolution with no competition pressure at all

        Even without any competiting subjects the evolution can take place and new complexity may suddenly emerge. Some examples from the points above fall into this cathegory. Others are erobering new environments were the pure number of ressources excludes any selection pressure. Yet even without competiting partners such systems do evolve.
      6. The direction and the persitance of a genetic drift

        Species (and also the whole ecosytems) are ussually drifting in some direction yet the standard theory don't explain the reason for the direction of this drift nor for it's velocity. A future theory might accept the challenge to explain such drifts more quantitatively.
      7. One evolving organism

        Not only without competitors but also without any outer environment the evolution of a single organism (or a single functionality) is possible. An example is given by the hypothesis of Gaia describing the evolution of the biosphere as a whole, which cannot be reduced to nor explained by the evolution of it's parts. The proper model of evolution should at least suggest a mechanism with which evolving parts (like species) cause the new unifying complexity (like an ecosystem) to emerge. The todays ToE don't exclude that evolving parts cause a selfdestruction of a whole.
        The above list gives items at different abstraction levels, which also partially overlap  
      The ToE surely partially touches these objections, but the solutions proposed seem at least not to be stright, efficient and very convincing. They seem to neglect somehow the true cause of change. At a more abstract level this cause yet possibly exists.  (5) 
        Traditionally evolutionists deny such a possibility to reject objections from creationists  
    2. The feedback model

      As stated above the nature shows tendency to evolve towards more complexity even beyond the aplicability of natural selection mechanism. How does this come about ?

      This text argues for the change of view. The self-referencing feedback provided by the generation order is proposed to be the source of power promoting the evolution. The natural selection yet remains the main mechanism shaping a concrete phenotype. In this article the natural feedback is proposed to be the true engine of evolution. In living organisms the natural feedback is realised by the generation order successing and amplifying functionalities stored in DNA (inheritance). Parents bring up children, which can be considered copies similar to themselves. This feedback "engine" is going on supplied by the energy from the sun.

      The natural selection, while still important is ascribed only a shaping role. It curves the individual species out of the stream of generation cycles. The natural selection is not a neccessary condition for the evolution to take place. Without it the evolution simply fills all possibilities spreading around so far as it reaches selections.

      Aldow the ineritance plays in the evolution of organisms undeniably the central role traditionally a genetic drift has been considered as the counterpart to the natural selection. This omitted the the selfamplification, which the model presented here stresses. As a consequence the whole theory was widely half-undestood in the society and importand phenomena has been half-explained by the science.
    3. The natural spectrum

      The self-reference (or feedback) model on the other hand demonstrates more clear, what has partially already been known that:

      1. The power of evolution comes from the sun supplying the inheritance circles with a negative enthropy and without it no evolution (even with the best selection conditions) is ever possible.

      2. The evolution is even without a natural selection possible. (genetic drift)

      3. It shows toward extensions capable to explain social phenomena and the possible next evolution period of our planet as a whole.

      4. It suggests mathematical means to cope with evolution of a species pool filling a chosen ecosystem.

      To demonstrate how a feedback engine works let us consider an electric amplifier fed back through the microphone by the sound that the loud speaker is producing. Obviously some high tone emerges. The control theory distingushes between a positive and a negative feedback. The expotential growth (explosion) is the consequence of the first one, while the steady vibration is the consequence of the second.

      Considering a feedback engine of a chosen ecosystem is much more complex, but some clues are seen immediately. One can argue that the spectrum of some distinct "tones" (called species) with only small information transfere (gene transfere) beteewn them must come about. Why is it so ? Without giving the strict proof this article suggests that in any given initial distribution some "minima" and "maxima" appear just by definition of a distrubution variety. They must further contract and posess thus fixpoints  (7) 
        See also Banachs' fix point theorem.  
      identified in the biology as individual species.

      The computational methods can in principle be applied to judge about it what species spectrum will emerge. Some astronomical data like the day-night rythmus, the negative enthropy flux, etc. could be the bundary conditions. Yet the true "mystery" appears when:

      1. different abstraction levels are considerd. i.e. organisms consists one of the others

      2. the biosphere is astronomically stabile, which makes the developement direction and complexity less dependand on the outer influence, while still takeing the energy to supply it from outside.
    4. Why sytheses come about

      At this point it is worth to consider why and how the complexity of subsystems contribute to a new system (new feedback link). Truely the sudden emergence of a synthesizing system may appear as a miracle if the former growth of it's parts is disregarded. Yet even if subsystems are known the emergence of a new feedback link appears for a human mysterious. This is:

      1. partially due to the time scale of such a link creation, which compared with a steady functioning inheritance circle resembles naturally a jump.

      2. due to the human tendency to search for reasons, which observing the mechanism only partially suggests some "purpose of the evolution".  (8) 
          The cause of this mistake is suggested deeper in chapter 2.2.  

      3. Yet some unexplained rest still remains for future syntheses (see the last chapter).
  3. Examples

    This chapter is providing examples, in which explanation offered by the evolution by self-reference (EbS) seems to be more successfull than the standard theory (ToE).
    1. Paaring behaviour

      Let us demonstrate how the EbS explains the diversity in paaring behaviours. The fertilisation poses obviously a bottleneck in the generation cycle: A small amount of DNA is transfered which has wast conseqences to the new organism (new cycle). A huge pressure from the whole self-refering loop concentrates at this point. Yet a grown up male and female posess enought ressources to realise and to amplify the behaviour which ever appears. As a consequence otherwise strange behaviours are amplified. For a deer to carry antlers is just not difficult enought to stand this pressure.  (9) 
        Such mating rituals has been studied and described. E.g. see Fisher in July 12, 1990 issue of Nature referenced by Chris Colby, Evidence for Evolution, sexual selection, 1997. What lacked was an explicite qualification of this mechanism as feedback amplification.  
        Also P.J.Weatherhead and R.J.Robertson pointed with their sexy son hypothesis towards some self-reference as a explanation for the sexual behaviour.  

      In a more pictorial metapher one can compare this bottleneck situation with daming up a river by narrows, which causes it to overflow. An evolution perpendicular to the ussual direction spreads around.

      Using this metapher one explains also the homosexuality in a simple way: There are enough ressources, also of erotic charm collected (damed) at this point near the reproduction events. The pressure of a feedback alone without outer cause nor benefit shows here it's power.

      Let us ask also why the reproduction occurs in the middle of a cycle and not at the end. Creating a sucessor at ones death appeared technically more logical.
    2. Sudden jumps and the speciation

      The feedback model easily explains sudden jumps in the past evolution of living organisms, which the paleonthology is suggesting. The cause, why such "jumps" take place is the closing of a new feedback link, which naturally occurs suddenly compared with a longer period of building subsystems.

      Let us see what consequences the mathematical model has on speciation. From the described contractions in the spiecies spectrum one may follow, that individual species will be more and more distinct from each other. Practically this means, that a gen flow between species will be weaker and weaker. This explaines why the gen flow in microworld is significantly smaller than in the macroscale - the microworld is simply much elder.

      In the standard model speciation appears as if it were the consequence of erobering new environments. On the other hand in the model presented in this article this is not neccesssary so. The speciation will take place also in a constant and filled environment just by closing a new self-reference. With each new self-reference a specie aquires new abilities, whereas a new specie emerges if a self-reference closes in significant parts through the outer environment.
    3. The emergence of life on the earth

      The self-reference model explains the emergence of life on the earth also with a bottleneck mechanismus. In the contrary to the bottleneck described in the first chapter (the pairing behaviour) it regards the whole flow of negative enthropy reaching the earth from the sun. A relative stability of the earth ecosphere posesses the ability to store this negative enthropy.  (10) 
        See also dissipative systems by I.Prigogine  
      It is easy to conclude, that in one, or the other manner some circles must emerge.
    4. The hypothesis of god and the emergence of language

      This chapter is highly speculative. It is included here to demonstrate the power, which the self-reference paradigma offers. The justifying research and a scientific proof, which must follow may show that the picture drawn here is a oversimplification.

      Let us imagine a group of hominids as a social entiety, bound together by exchanging social signals regarding individuals like signals refering bringing up children, hierachy in a group, common threats, etc. Let us as a simplification imagine that these signals regard only social issues and are realised by some instance in each individual psychic.

      Let us further imagine that this system manages enough complexity to be one day (possibly by some collapse in the psychics) used beneth its' proper applicability for social themes to describe issues from the physical world outside of a social group. It appears than that threes, mountains and lakes aquire personal features. They are "he", "she" or "it" ! Such hominids begin to hear, what mountains "are saying". Obviously its' just a misuse of a social competence.

      It is crucial to notice yet that this false application closes a strong feedback loop. A hominid group suddenly acquires (abstract) means to handle it's environment in a new way, which on the other hand drives the redefinition of the psychical instance mensioned above. What was a social behaviour is a "wrong-behaviour" or a behaviour-substitute (a symbol) now. What follows is an explosion of language and a human culture. As a reminder of this developement some "ghosts" stay back. People hear even to inanimate nature the way the did to their parents.

      Trying to explaing the emergence of language expecting of some sort of adaptation is the ussual starting point  (11) 
        See "Language evolution - consenus and controversies" by Morten H. Christansen and Simon Kirby  
      On the other hand the picture drawn above didn't presume that any adaptation has taken place ! It's no competition, nor natural selection, nor any genetic drift, but only a pure strong feedback which causes new complexity to appear. It is even not neccessary that the psychics of such hominids is the most skilled (the biggest) between neighbouring species. Rather a weakness, which made a wrong use of posessed social skills was crucial, which yet closed the feedback.  (12) 
        An interesting question arises when asking if such a developement was necessary and could be foreseen. It is for example known that elefants show the simmilar affinity to this type of error. They consider dead relatives as if they were not dead.  
    5. Regaining control over social systems

      Undeniably sudden social changes challenge the humanity. New important feedback links has been closed even in the last decades with the mass media  (13) 
        Consider ideologies like racism, communism and ill undestood religion as the consequence of. The comparison with the bottleneck mechanism described in first example makes the violence-metapher even more stressing.  
      the global trade, the internet. The emergence of new formal systems posessing abstract structures of information exchange one can experience as awakeings beasts, or does not notice them at all, like children not noticing the danger, because it's too difficult. One of such beasts is the monetary system claiming to map human values to natural numbers, while in the reality this mapping is getting more and more one-directional.

      Where does it all evolves to and what are our chances to regain control ?

      The EbS model has an abstract, but simple answere: The feedbacks are crucial ! To regain control we must strengthen or weaken some of them and contruct new ones, possibly ones, which enclose human sociology.

      The EbS entails in the natural way the human selfconsciousnes as wehicle for our culture.
    6. Evolving planet - What comes next after humans ?

      Let us consider the possible evolution of the biosphere as a whole. If it sucesses (possibly with a human help as a mediator) to stabilise the clima we could truely be witnessing the birth of some new (global) organism.

      Yet an important element of it's self-reference is still lacking. This system does not know itself well enought to provide stability. Without such self-knowledge no true feedback link seem to be possible and it will decay by itself while destroying our environment and possibly us humans too. The challenge to the humanity stresses the fact that left alone this system seems aquiring the knowledge of human sociology by testing now. Why ? - Just because it's the next possible closing loop.
  4. Conclusions

    1. Summary

      While the Darwin's Theory of Evolution woke up the humanity showing that even the life itself is a explainable process the unifying view presented here provides means to cope with it in our planetary surrounding as a whole. It points also towards it's source.

Copyright © by the author, evot.org 2009