This glossary contains a vocabulary used by CPER concerning the overall site, regarding: meaning of scientific words, useful definitions, short explanations of some concepts, and references to reliable external sources of information on the Internet or on paper.
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The term adaptation is used in biology in relation to how living beings adapt to their environments, but with two different meanings. First, the continuous adaptation of an organism to its environment, so as to maintain itself in a viable state, through sensory feedback mechanisms. Second, the development (through evolutionary steps) of an adaptation (an anatomic structure, physiological process or behavior characteristic) that increases the probability of an organism reproducing itself (although sometimes not directly).
Generally speaking, an adaptive system is a set of interacting or interdependent entities, real or abstract, forming an integrated whole that together are able to respond to environmental changes or changes in the interacting parts. Feedback loops represent a key feature of adaptive systems, allowing the response to changes; examples of adaptive systems include: natural ecosystems, individual organisms, human communities, human organizations, and human families. Some artificial systems can be adaptive as well; for instance, robots employ control systems that utilize feedback loops to sense new conditions in their environment and adapt accordingly.
The Law of Adaptation
Every adaptive system converges to a state in which all kind of stimulation ceases.
Benefit of Self-Adjusting Systems
In an adaptive system, a parameter changes slowly and has no preferred value. In a self-adjusting system though, the parameter value “depends on the history of the system dynamics”. One of the most important qualities of self-adjusting systems is its “adaption to the edge of chaos” or ability to avoid chaos. Practically speaking, by heading to the edge of chaos without going further, a leader may act spontaneously yet without disaster.
Adaptation across levels of organization
A theory of how systems adapt across different levels of organisation is called practopoiesis. According to that theory, the purpose of an adaptation processes at each lower level of organisation is creation of the adaptation mechanism at the next higher level of organisation. For a living system such as an animal or a person, a total of three such hierarchical steps of adaptation are needed — and such systems are denoted as T3:
When an entire species is considered as an adaptive system, one more level of organization must be included: the evolution by natural selection—making a total of four adaptive levels, or a T4-system.
In contrast, artificial systems such as machine learning algorithms or neural networks are adaptive only at two levels or organizations (T2). According to practopoiesis, this lack of a deeper adaptive hierarchy of machines is the main limitation factor for their capability to achieve intelligence.
The term Adaptive is derived from the Latin verb
adaptāre, which is a combination of the prefix
ad- meaning "to; at" + verb aptāre meaning "to
Autopoiesis refers to a system that is capable of creating, maintaining and reproducing itself. Autopoietic mechanisms can operate as self-generating feedback systems.
The term was introduced in 1972 by Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela to define the self-maintaining chemistry of living cells. Since then the concept has been also applied to the fields of systems theory and sociology.
Autopoiesis was originally presented as a system description that was said to define and explain the nature of living systems. A canonical example of an autopoietic system is the biological cell. The eukaryotic cell, for example, is made of various biochemical components such as nucleic acids and proteins, and is organized into bounded structures such as the cell nucleus, various organelles, a cell membrane and cytoskeleton. These structures, based on an external flow of molecules and energy, produce the components which, in turn, continue to maintain the organized bounded structure that gives rise to these components.
An autopoietic system is to be contrasted with an allopoietic system, such as a car factory, which uses raw materials (components) to generate a car (an organized structure) which is something other than itself (the factory). However, if the system is extended from the factory to include components in the factory's 'environment', such as supply chains, plant / equipment, workers, dealerships, customers, contracts, competitors, cars, spare parts and so on, then as a total viable system it could be considered to be autopoietic. Thus, an autopoietic system is a closed topological space that continuously generates and specifies its own organization. It maintains this through its operation as a system of production of its own components, and does this in an endless turnover of components. Autopoietic systems are thus distinguished from allopoietic systems, which have as the product of their functioning something different from themselves.
A theory of how autopoietic systems operate is named Practopoiesis (praxis + poiesis, meaning creation of actions). The theory presumes that, although the system as a whole is autopoietic, the components of that system may have allopoietic relations. For example, the genome combined with the operations of the gene expression mechanisms create proteins, but not the other way around; proteins do not create genomes. In that case poiesis occurs only in one direction. Practopoietic theory presumes such one-directional relationships of creation to take place also at other levels of system organisation.
Many scientists have often used the term autopoiesis as a synonym for self-organization. An autopoietic system is autonomous and operationally closed, in the sense that there are sufficient processes within it to maintain the whole. Autopoietic systems are "structurally coupled" with their medium, embedded in a dynamic of changes that can be recalled as sensory-motor coupling. This continuous dynamic is considered as a rudimentary form of knowledge or cognition and can be observed throughout life-forms. Autopoiesis would be the process of the emergence of necessary features out of chaotic contingency, causing contingency's gradual self-organisation, thus leading to the gradual rise of order out of chaos.
The term Autopoiesis is derived from ancient Greek words auto- (αὐτo-) meaning "self", and poiesis (ποίησις), meaning "creation" or "production".
Book: Maturana, H., & Varela, F. (1992). The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding. Boston: Shambhala.
Cybernetics is the scientific study of how people, animals, and machines control and communicate information (for example, via feedback loops). Control mechanisms according to cybernetic principles, are also found in genetic evolutionary processes, as well as in the emergence and development of ecosystems.
Cybernetics investigates and describes the regulation and control in animals (including humans), in organizations, and in machines when they are viewed as self-governing whole entities, consisting of parts and their dynamic organization.
Cybernetics views communication and control in all self-contained complex systems as analogous. It differs from the empirical sciences (physics, biology, etc.) in not being interested in material form but in organization, pattern, and communication in entities. Because of the increasing sophistication of computers and the efforts to make them behave in humanlike ways, cybernetics today is closely allied with artificial intelligence and robotics, and it draws heavily on ideas developed in information theory.
Law of Requisite Variety
The total amount of cybernetic knowledge deposited within a
system is related to the total number of different states that
the system can assume while interacting with the environment.
This is referred to as the cybernetic variety of the system. The
demands on variety are determined by Ashby’s Law of Requisite
Variety (Ashby 1958; Beer 1974), which states:
Good Regulator Theorem
Cybernetic knowledge is necessarily subjected to Conant &
Ashby’s Good Regulator Theorem (Conant & Ashby 1970),
The concept of cybernetic was conceived by Norbert Wiener, who coined the term in 1948.
The term Cybernetics is derived from the Ancient Greek words kybernetes meaning "pilot", "governor"; or from kybernan = "to steer", "to govern".
Domestication is the process whereby a population of living
organisms is changed at the genetic level, through generations of
selective breeding, to accentuate traits that ultimately benefit
the interests of humans. A usual by-product of domestication is
the creation of a dependency in the domesticated organisms, so
that they lose their ability to live in the wild. Through
domestication a change in the phenotypical expression and in the
genotype of the animal occurs over generations. A
domesticated species is defined as "a plant- or animal-species in
which the evolutionary process has been influenced by humans to
meet the needs of mankind". Therefore, an important
factor on domestication is Artificial Selection by
Charles Darwin was the first to describe how domestication, selection and evolution are interlinked, and based on natural heritable variation among individual plants and animals. Today we know that such natural variation is caused by mutations in genes coding for these traits, and by new combinations of already existing genetic variation, based on earlier mutations. Darwin described how the process of domestication can involve both unconscious and methodical elements. Routine human interactions with animals and plants create selection pressures that cause adaptation to human presence, use or cultivation. Deliberate selective breeding has also been used to create desired changes, often after initial domestication. These two forces, unconscious natural selection and methodical selective breeding, may have both played roles in the processes of domestication throughout history. Both have been described from human perspective as processes of Artificial Selection. also called Extrinsic Eugenics.
The domestication of wheat
Wild wheat plants fall to the ground to re-seed themselves, when ripened. But domesticated wheat stays upright on the stem, for easier harvesting by man. For a wild wheat plant, this 'uprightness' may not be a clever way of dispersing its seed. There is evidence that this change was possible because of a random mutation that happened in the wild populations at the beginning of wheat cultivation. Wheat plants with this mutation (i.e. a long-lasting erect stem) were harvested more frequently by humans, and thus became the seed for the next crop. Therefore, without realizing, early farmers selected for this mutation, which may otherwise have died out. The result is domesticated wheat, which now relies on farmers for its own reproduction and dissemination.
The domestication of dogs
It is speculated that thousands of years ago, certain wolves which were tamer than the average wolf and less wary of humans, selected themselves as dogs over many generations. Most animals love their freedom or independence, and hunt for their own food. Some wolves may be sick or crippled in a fight, and have to find other ways to get their meal for the day. So they become opportunistic. These wolves were able to thrive by following humans to scavenge for food near camp fires and garbage dumps; this behaviour gave them an advantage over more shy individuals. Eventually a symbiotic relationship developed between people and these 'proto-dogs'. The dogs fed on human food scraps, and humans found that dogs could warn them of approaching dangers, such as large predators or other intruders. Some dogs could help with hunting, act as pets, provide warmth, or supplement the food supply of humans (!). As this relationship progressed, humans eventually began to keep these self-tamed wolves and breed from them the types of dogs that we have today.
Scientific research on artificial selection
In recent times, selective breeding may best explain how continuing processes of domestication often work. Some of the best-known evidence of the power of selective breeding comes from the Farm-Fox Experiment by Russian scientist, Dmitri K. Belyaev, in the 1950s. His team spent many years breeding the domesticated silver fox (Vulpes vulpes) and selecting only those individuals that showed the least fear of humans. Eventually, Belyaev's team selected only those that showed the most positive response to humans. He ended up with a population of grey-coloured foxes whose behaviour and appearance was significantly changed. They no longer showed any fear of humans and often wagged their tails and licked their human caretakers to show affection. Their behaviour was more 'childlike' as if they were mentally stuck in a youngster-phase, but with an adult body (This is called Pedomorphosis: the retention of juvenile characteristics in the adult body). These foxes had floppy ears, smaller skulls, rolled tails and other traits commonly found in dogs. Domesticated foxes had less pronounced stress hormones (cortisol, adrenalin) and higher serotonin levels. It took Belyaev's team some 10 to 30 generations of artificially selecting fox offspring, to wilfully 'steer' the evolution of behaviour in their desired direction!
Selection of animals for visible "desirable" traits may make them unfit in other, unseen, ways. The consequences for the captive and domesticated animals were reduction in size, piebald colour, shorter faces with smaller and fewer teeth, diminished horns, weak muscle ridges, and less genetic variability. Poor joint definition, late fusion of the limb bone epiphyses with the diaphyses, hair changes, greater fat accumulation, smaller brains, simplified behaviour patterns, extended immaturity, and more pathology are a few of the defects of domestic animals. All of these changes have been documented in direct observations of the rat in the 19th century, by archaeological evidence, and confirmed by animal breeders in the 20th century.
Other negative aspects of domestication have been explored. For example: Man substitutes controlled breeding for natural selection; animals are selected for special traits like milk production of passivity [e.g. child-friendly Golden Retriever dog], at the expense of overall fitness and nature-wide relationships. Though domestication broadens the diversity of forms (that is: increases visible polymorphism, for example, the many kinds of sizes and colours dogs have today) it undermines the crisp demarcations that separate wild species. And it cripples our (i.e. modern citizens) recognition of the species as a group. Knowing only domestic animals dulls our understanding of the way in which unity and discontinuity occur as patterns in nature, and substitutes an attention to individuals and breeds. The wide variety of size, colour, shape, and form of domestic horses, for example, blurs the distinction among different species of Equus that once were constant and meaningfully adapted to natural surroundings.
The term Domestication is derived from the Latin word domesticus meaning "of the home".
http://10e.devbio.com/article.php?ch=23&id=223 (Fox breeding).
Second Law of Thermodynamics
According to the second law of thermodynamics the entropy of an
isolated system never decreases. An isolated system will
spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium, the
configuration with maximum entropy.
The idea of "irreversibility" is central to the understanding of
entropy. Most people have an intuitive understanding of
irreversibility (a dissipative process): if one watches a movie
of everyday life running forward and in reverse, it is easy to
distinguish between the two. The movie running in reverse shows
impossible things happening: water jumping out of a glass into a
pitcher above it, smoke going down a chimney, water "unmelting"
to form ice in a warm room, crashed cars reassembling themselves,
and so on.
Entropy as energy dispersal
Entropy can also be described in terms of "energy dispersal" and the "spreading of energy", while avoiding all mention of "disorder", "randomness" and "chaos". In this approach, the second law of thermodynamics is introduced as: "Energy spontaneously disperses from being localized to becoming spread out if it is not hindered from doing so."
This explanation can be used in the context of common experiences such as a rock falling, a hot frying pan cooling down, iron rusting, air leaving a punctured tyre and ice melting in a warm room. Entropy is then depicted as a sophisticated kind of "before and after" yardstick: Measuring how much energy is spread out over time as a result of a process such as heating a system, or how widely spread out the energy is after something happens in comparison with its previous state, in a process such as gas expansion or fluids mixing (at a constant temperature).
The equations are explored with reference to the common experiences, with emphasis that in chemistry the energy that entropy measures as dispersing is the internal energy of molecules.
The second law of thermodynamics, states that a closed system has entropy which may increase or otherwise remain constant. Chemical reactions cause changes in entropy and entropy plays an important role in determining in which direction a chemical reaction spontaneously proceeds.
Systems ecology and Negentropy
Nowadays, many biologists use the term 'entropy of an organism', or its antonym 'negentropy', as a measure of the structural order within an organism.
The term entropy was coined in 1865 by the German physicist Rudolf Clausius, who stated that: “The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum.”.
Unlike many other functions of state, entropy cannot be directly
observed but must be calculated. Entropy can be calculated for a
substance as the standard molar entropy from absolute zero
temperature (also known as absolute entropy).
The arrow of time
Entropy is the only quantity in the physical sciences that seems
to imply a particular direction of progress, sometimes called an
arrow of time. As time progresses, the second law of
thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system
never decreases (but rather will increase). Hence, from this
perspective, entropy measurement is thought of as a kind of clock
(an isolated system has low entopy in the past, and high entropy
in the future).
The term Entropy is derived from the Ancient Greek word
entropía (ἐντροπία) meaning “a turning
In biology, epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological traits that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence. Epigenetics describes the study of stable, long-term alterations in the transcriptional potential of a cell. Some of those alterations are heritable. Unlike simple genetics based on changes to the DNA sequence (the genotype), the changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype of epigenetics have other causes, thus use of the term epi-genetics.
The term also refers to the changes themselves: functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of mechanisms that produce such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA. These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell's life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently.
One example of an epigenetic change in eukaryotic biology is the process of cellular differentiation. During Morphogenesis, totipotent stem cells become the various pluripotent cell lines of the embryo, which in turn become fully differentiated cells. In other words, as a single fertilized egg cell – the zygote – continues to divide, the resulting daughter cells change into all the different cell types in an organism (including neurons, muscle cells, epithelium, endothelium of blood vessels, etc.) by activating some genes while inhibiting the expression of others.
The term Epigenetics is derived from the ancient Greek prefix epi (επί-) meaning "over, outside of, around, on top of" and the word genetics from genesis (γένεσις) meaning "origin", "source", or "birth".
Eugenics is also called Eugenetics.
Eugenics is the theory and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population. It is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of human genetic traits through the promotion of higher reproduction of people with desired traits (positive eugenics), and reduced reproduction of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics).
CPER propagates the fundamental human right of Positive Intrinsic Eugenics (PIE), which belief is based on the following conditions:
Some examples of possible improved outcome (as perceived by the
procreating partners) of intrinsic positive 'breeding'
CPER's definition of PIE (within
Future evolution of mankind:
The term Eugenics is derived from the ancient Greek words eu- (εὖ), meaning "good/well", and -genes (γένος), meaning "born" or "race".
Biological Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins. All life on Earth is descended from a last universal ancestor that lived approximately 3.8 billion years ago. Repeated speciation and the divergence of life can be inferred from shared sets of biochemical and morphological traits, or by shared DNA sequences. These homologous traits and sequences are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used to reconstruct evolutionary histories, using both existing species and the fossil record. Existing patterns of biodiversity have been shaped both by speciation and by extinction.
Charles Darwin (12 Feb. 1809 – 19 Apr. 1882 †) was the first to formulate a scientific argument for the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. Evolution by natural selection is a process that is inferred from three facts about populations:
Thus, when members of a population die they are replaced by the
progeny of parents that were better adapted to survive and
reproduce in the environment in which natural selection took
place. This process creates and preserves traits that are
seemingly fitted for the functional roles they perform. Natural
selection is the only known cause of adaptation, but not the only
known cause of evolution. Other, non-adaptive causes of evolution
include mutation and genetic drift.
Members of CPER differ in their belief system about Biological Evolution from mainstream scientific agreements, in the following way: CPER acknowledges that, when an intelligent animal species emerges from millennial evolutional processes in nature, this species (at the moment: Human Being) can manipulate the outcome of evolutional tendencies. This way, the 'humanimal' starts giving accelerated direction to Progressive Evolution of its own life form, and eventually of future life in general.
The term Evolution is derived from the Latin word ēvolūtiō, meaning "unfolding" or "unrolling".
Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are "fed back" as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop. The system can then be said to "feed back" into itself. The notion of 'cause-and-effect' has to be handled carefully when applied to feedback systems: Simple causal reasoning about a feedback system is difficult because the first system influences the second and second system influences the first, leading to a circular argument. This makes reasoning based upon cause and effect tricky, and it is necessary to analyze the system as a whole. In this context, the term "feedback" has also been used as an abbreviation for:
Positive - Negative
The terms positive and negative feedback are defined in different ways within different disciplines:
Fields of Application
In biological systems such as organisms, ecosystems, or the
biosphere, most parameters must stay under control within a
narrow range around a certain optimal level under certain
Biological systems contain many types of regulatory circuits,
both positive and negative. As in other contexts, positive and
negative do not imply that the feedback causes good or bad
effects. A negative feedback loop is one that tends to slow down
a process, whereas the positive feedback loop tends to accelerate
Feedback is also central to the operations of genes and gene regulatory networks. Repressor (see Lac repressor) and activator proteins are used to create genetic operons, which were identified by Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod in 1961 as feedback loops. These feedback loops may be positive (as in the case of the coupling between a sugar molecule and the proteins that import sugar into a bacterial cell), or negative (as is often the case in metabolic consumption).
On a larger scale, feedback can have a stabilizing effect on
animal populations even when profoundly affected by external
changes, although time lags in feedback response can give rise to
In psychology, the body receives a stimulus from the environment or internally that causes the release of hormones. Release of hormones then may cause more of those hormones to be released, causing a positive feedback loop. This cycle is also found in certain behaviour. For example, "shame loops" occur in people who blush easily. When they realize that they are blushing, they become even more embarrassed, which leads to further blushing, and so on.