So far in this blog we have seen an introduction to our model of life. That is, we have seen a list of assumptions to be made in the model, and we have seen two examples which use the model: Tabletop Critters and Mainstream Media. Now it is time to attempt a direct description of the model.
This model is going to need a name. It will not do to keep on calling it "our model of life" as in the first sentence above. Here is the name I propose: the Resource-Patterns Model of Life.
I sometimes abbreviate: Living Thing as LT, Resource-Pattern as RP.
Aside: Although I have written before about this model and its uses, I am groping into new territory as I proceed with this sequence of posts. I was struck this morning, for example, that I do not know for sure what is meant by a "scientific model", even though I have read perhaps eight books in the philosophy of science. Also I am unsure about what style of writing I should adopt. Does an aside such as this paragraph help my effort? Might I charm some readers with touches of my human experience? Or might I lose some readers by wasting their time?
Outline of the Resource-Patterns Model of Life
The previously-listed assumptions apply. As you may recall, the first assumption is Living Things exist in a Universe. Then there are several assumptions about the properties of Living Things. Finally there are assumptions about the properties of the Universe.
Living Things survive by finding and imbibing resources. If LTs don’t find enough resources their numbers will decrease. If LTs find abundant resources their numbers can and probably will increase.
In each increment of time each LT has a range of choices about how to act. Probably most of these possible actions will be useless in that these actions will not contribute to the effort to imbibe resources. So a LT needs to narrow its range of choices. This focusing of choices is the principal requirement of the LT's calculating capacity.
Any particular supply of a necessary resource must be finite, assuming that this supply has been discovered by LTs at a particular place and time. This supply can be exploited only until it runs out. Ongoing life therefore requires an ongoing discovery of new supplies of necessary resources.
Cooperation may help LTs to exploit some RPs. Consider three cases:
- Some resources are abundant but far away, too far away for a single LT to exploit. But such resources might be exploitable if a number of LTs combine in a linked network of trade.
- Other resources are near at hand but too difficult to extract without specialized tools or knowledge. Such resources might be exploited if specialized LTs cooperate.
- Some resources may be extracted only through an effort which continues during a span of time. It makes sense for individual LTs to participate throughout that span of time only if the environment is stable and predictable. The environment can become more predictable if the future behavior of other LTs becomes more predictable, if the LTs can somehow form rules of cooperation.
Thus, if a set of LTs can discover modes of cooperation, that set of LTs may flourish in an environment where a similar set of LTs, but without cooperation, would perish.