Nature is neither complex nor simple

Nature is neither complex nor simple

Nature is perceived by us as change. In order to survive we try to make change comprehensible, focusing on the beneficial and avoiding the risky. For this purpose we group change into positive and negative phenomena. Although Nature is perceived as complex and incomprehensible, grouping and classification makes it livable.

Complexity is a metaphor. We feel its meaning and are not able to define it. Any definition which concretizes this feeling is arbitrary. It’s like in object oriented programming. You have a superclass called complexity which contains attributes and methods. When you create a complexity object it inherits some of the features from the complexity metaphor (class), however it cannot inherit all its features since it is not uniquely defined.

Any complexity definition is therefore arbitrary, which applies also to class-4 in Wolfram’s book (p. 231). First we note that Wolfram’s complexity can be easily simplified. You generate a CA set which displays calss-4 complexity and apply the following transformation. For every state, sum up its elements, and you will get a number. In this way you may simplify any evolving CA in Wolfram’s book into a series of numbers.

This kind of reasoning fails when applied to life. You cannot transform or simplify any state because the states are not given. Any grouping of phenomena in an evolving living system into consecutive states is arbitrary and leads to inconsistencies. Take for instance age, which is also a metaphor. By stating that the age of your friend is 40y, you actually simplify the complex age metaphor and represent it by a number which results in the following inconsistency. You observe two individuals with the same age. One looks younger and the other older. Officially both age at the same rate, since each year they age by one year. However the older looking one ages somewhat faster than the young looking, and should be placed in an older group.

Chronological time does not capture real aging. It segments the complex aging process into arbitrary states and places in each individuals with different biological ages. In order to simplify aging into “pure” age states you need a different age measure, called biological time. It matches your intuitive age metaphor, and does not group individuals with different biological ages together.

More on Biological time :

Complexity is an evolving process. This example illustrates the fundamental difference between Wolfram’s complexity and the real thing. In Wolfram’s complexity the states are given and it can uniquely be simplified, while in life whose states are not given any simplification is arbitrary

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