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"However, the environment of a system A itself consists of evolving systems (say B, C, D...), which are in general undergoing the same asymptotic increase of variety towards their trade-off points. Since B is in the environment of A, and A in the environment of B, the increase in variety in the one will create a higher need (trade-off point) in variety for the other, since it will now need to control a more complex environment. Thus, instead of an increase in complexity characterised by an asymptotic slowing down, we get a positive feedback process, where the increase in variety in one system creates a stronger need for variety increase in the other (cf. Waddington, 1969). This self-reinforcing interaction is an illustration of the "Red Queen Principle" (Van Valen, 1973), which says that a system must continuously develop in order to merely maintain its fitness relative to the systems it co-evolves with. The net result is that many evolutionary systems that are in direct interaction with each other will tend to grow more complex, and this with an increasing speed.
As an example, in our present society individuals and organizations tend to gather more knowledge and more resources, increasing the range of actions they can take, since this will allow them to cope better with the possible problems appearing in their environment. However, if the people you cooperate or compete with (e.g. colleagues) become more knowledgeable and resourceful, you too will have to become more knowledgeable and resourceful in order to keep up with them. The result is an ever faster race towards more knowledge and better tools, creating the "information explosion" we all know so well."
- "The Growth of Structural and Functional Complexity during Evolution", F. Heylighen, J. Bollen & A. Riegler (eds.) The Evolution of Complexity (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht), p. 17-44.
File Name: evolution_complexity_summary.htm
Post Date: August 14, 2004 at 11:05 AM CDT; 1605 GMT