Describes terms which:
In RPM, LTs choose an action to attempt in each moment of their lives. We say “attempt” rather than “perform” in respect to each such choice of action, because some external factor may prevent performance which the LT intended. What actually results depends upon both the LT's chosen action and everything else that may happen in the environment.
A name which we will sometimes apply to one of the living things in RPM, especially when we are conscious of using agent-based modeling. Now some readers may recall the use of “agent” in the principal-agent problem — but this is different for the most part. In our usage there is not generally any “principal” of which we are aware. Our agents act mostly on their own behalf, although they may choose to act as if bound by agreements or obligations.
agent-based modeling (or model), abbreviated ABM
Modeling which, while striving to explain community-wide effects which we observe as single accomplishments, focuses on the actions and powers of the individual agents (individual members of that community). The challenge is to design individual agents which, when placed into an environment together with other agents, act together to achieve given community-wide effects. Most agent-based modeling is done on computers, and thus becomes computerized agent based modeling CABM. But for our purpose in this book we resort, for the most part, to thought experiments as the platform in which we perform our agent-based modeling.
behavior pattern, abbreviated BP
A collection of actions (or behaviors) which displays a pattern. Such a pattern may appear in the choices made by a single LT, choices made that is during a span of time including many choices. Or, such a pattern may appear in the choices made by some set of LTs, choices made either in a single moment or in a longer span of time. There is an important correlation in RPM between resource patterns (RPs) and behavior patterns (BPs): The LTs in RPM, in order to continue living, must adopt BPs which enable them to exploit the RPs in their environment. Discovery of BPs, which conform well enough with RPs, is the challenge of the “brain” or whatever information processing exists either in a single LT or in a set of LTs. When we human modelers perceive a behavior pattern this usually means that we can predict future behaviors with some non-zero probability of success.
A bias serves to limit the range of choices from which a LT may choose an action in any given cycle. As such a bias is like a rule (see definition below) but is broader and less specific. A bias felt among members of a group of LTs may help that group work together to exploit a RP. As such a bias is often necessary for survival of a group.
Living things in RPM choose how to act. In each moment as life in the model goes on, each LT normally could act in one of many possible ways but will choose one of those options. This choice is the purpose of its calculating capacity or its "mind". Having choice does not necessarily imply that LTs have consciousness such as we humans experience. In basic models with simple computer programs acting as brains, a critter might choose randomly among possible acts, might decide by tossing dice so to speak. But still that critter is choosing in the sense that we outside cannot predict perfectly what it will do.
A set of agents or LTs in an instance of RPM. But, more specifically, this term may refer to the set of LTs whose combined activity exploits, or might possibly exploit, a RP. In Figure 2.5 the set of critters grouped roughly in line between the water and sugar make up a community which exploits that RP. Notice that the members of this community may have no awareness of the community; the critters have no such awareness because we have given them no capacity for such an observation. A community may be perceived only by an agent with an overview, an agent such as one of us human modelers.
computerized agent-based modeling (or model), abbreviated CABM
Agent-based modeling which is performed on a computer.
A pattern of behavior involving more than one LT. Cooperation is achieved when a set of LTs choose to follow rules which restrict and focus their behavior. Thus guided their collective action may exploit a large or complex RP which could not have been exploited without the cooperation. Cooperation in this context normally brings prosperity which would not be possible otherwise.
A living thing. In most uses this is a simple living thing, which can sense only a few aspects of its environment, can choose acts from among only a handful of options, as in the model of tabletop critters. This simplicity is important for RPM because it enables us human modelers to seek understanding of the minimal powers necessary in LTs to achieve cooperation. The critter is used in this book as the main example of a less-than-human LT.
A moment in the life of a critter. Cycle derives from the loop in a computer program. This cycle repeats itself, in the computerized agent-based modeling which may express RPM, for as long as a critter lives. During a cycle a critter performs all the primitive functions of its life in sequence. These primitive functions probably include: (1) sense the external environment and the critter’s own internal needs, (2) search memory for prior relevant experience, (3) calculate or “think” and decide upon an act to attempt, (4) attempt that act and remember the result.
To use a resource.
exploited resource pattern
A resource pattern which the LTs of the model have succeeded in exploiting through cooperation.
To take a resource from the external environment into a LT. Once imbibed a resource might be consumed immediately to maintain the life of the LT or might be placed into internal storage for later consumption.
Usually an individual living thing or critter. But if we postulate life-in-levels then an organization of LTs becomes more similar to an individual as that organization learns more modes of cooperation, since the organization has (internally organized) ways of choosing how to act based upon resources it can sense in its environment. Thus an organization becomes an individual, in our RPM view, an individual on a higher level.
initial condition
The starting condition in many thought experiments in the Resource-Patterns Model of Life (RPM). In this condition there is a population of Living Things (LTs) which barely survives, just above the level of starvation, by continual scavenging. So the environment provides—minimally—enough to support a thinly scattered population. But death by starvation is the biggest threat faced by most members of this population.
instance of RPM
A single, given experiment performed within the postulates of the resource-patterns model of life.
language-learning experiment, abbreviated LLE
An experiment using an agent-based model ABM to explore some aspect of learning a language.
Usually takes a meaning common in English, a not-perfectly-specified meaning in which external observers believe learning has occurred when a task is adequately performed. In RPM we are particularly interested in the learning necessary for a LT or an organization of LTs to exploit a resource pattern; this learning is usually accomplished by learning choice-restricting rules. In the simplest computer-modeled critter we say that learning has occurred when, in choosing how to act in given circumstances, the critter is either: more likely to repeat an act such as acts which have brought it success before in similar circumstances; or is less likely to repeat an act which has brought failure in similar circumstances.
A level of organizational complexity. Single cellular organisms are on a fairly low level as seen from our human-self-proclaimed highest level of evolutional complexity.
life in levels, abbreviated LiL
A theory that life advances in levels. Living things on a given level (for example eukaryotic cells) are composed of smaller LTs on a lower level (prokaryotic cells) and combine to form LTs on a higher level (multi-cellular organisms, humans). RPM adds a suggestion that such level-to-level advance entails learning rules of cooperation to exploit larger-scale resource patterns. While LiL adds a dimension to RPM, LiL is not necessary for RPM to produce significant insights on problems of coordination among LTs on a given level (LTs such as humans).
line of trade, or line of exchange, line of prosperity
The arrangement of critters along a path between the two essential resources in the model of tabletop critters. In this line, into which the critters have moved themselves, the critters thrive. Compared to their forebears who lived as hunter-gatherers the critters in this line find it relatively easy to satisfy their needs for the two essential resources; they face little danger of starvation for want of one of the essential resources; they reproduce more. The line of critters succeeds because and only if the critters in the line follow rules which govern their behavior in respect to resources they can obtain.
living system
The same as an organization. A living system, composed of one or more LTs, can be seen as a step in the increasing organization of life. The component LTs in a living system can cooperate in one or more ways, for instance by signaling or acting. But the degree of organization may still be simple: A living system has some degree of organization, but probably the component LTs of a living system have not achieved all the modes of cooperation which, taken together, would lead us humans to regard the living system as a LT on a higher level (remember the theory of life in levels).
living thing, abbreviated LT
The subject of most of our study in RPM. Living things can survive only if they obtain essential resources, and fortunately for their good we model them as existing in an environment which also contains those essential resources distributed in patterns. So the LTs can survive and even prosper if they prove capable of discerning and exploiting the patterns. LTs could be humans, and obviously have been included in RPM as placeholders for model-simplified human ambitions. A set of LTs which has learned to cooperate for mutual self benefit becomes what we conceive as an organization, and when an organization gets fancy enough it begins to look like a LT on a higher level.
One of us humans looking into or perhaps altering one of our models. This is a perspective which we humans sometimes need to see as clearly separate from, and probably “above”, the perspectives available to the agents in our models.
Usually means the same thing as cycle, although this more general term should remind us of our human experience: from moment to moment we humans sense, remember, think, and choose what action to attempt.
need for a resource
In RPM living things need to replenish some resources periodically because these resources are essential, are consumed by the process of living. Tabletop critters need both water and sugar to survive. In advanced uses of RPM some LTs may develop expensive tastes calling for non-essential resources. Such non-essential resources may be added to the model as needed, but this author does not expect to see such modeling in the near future.
A set of LTs which cooperate to exploit a resource pattern. Organizations come in many types. One way of classifying an organization into one of eight types requires answering three yes-or-no questions about the organization: (1) member-aware, are the member-LTs aware of the existence of the organization? (2) self-aware, does the organization have an authority or headquarters which can sense and make decisions on behalf of the whole? (3) encoded, is the way to create such an organization coded in script which aids reproduction? When all these answers are “yes” or when cooperation is sophisticated then the organization begins to appear – to an outside observer – to be a single acting entity, a single LT on a higher level. An organization in an advanced application of RPM might include non-living elements as well as LTs; non-living elements could be added as needed.
perceived order
The name of this blog and a concept which will become important in RPM. To explain: the axioms of RPM assert that the universe contains real patterns of resources, and living things survive only if they exploit those patterns. So for life on any advanced level to continue, LTs must actively seek perceptions of those RPs (of orders). But one of the early insights provided by RPM is that LTs usually start out with no perception, or only poor perception, of an opportunity afforded by an unexploited resource pattern. LTs lack anything better to work with than their jury-rigged perception of a new pattern. Inevitably there will be many poor conjectures, that is erroneous perceptions. But the ongoing life of many organizations seems to prove that some perceptions are good enough to support resource exploitation. The reader may be interested to learn that “perceived order” was not the first choice of the author for a name for this blog. The author tried a handful of other names first but found those prior choices already claimed by other blogs on Blogspot.
A theory relating to something. This theory will exist either in the “mind” of a single LT or in a network of communications among LTs in an organization. Perception is commonly stimulated by recent sensory inputs, but may also come later as an afterthought. Perception relates to choice of action in that perception in the mind of a LT often bundles with it a suggestion for a way that the LT may act in response. LTs need perceptions of resources in order to survive, in order to exploit resource patterns.
primary need
The resource most wanted. To develop an example: A critter carries an internal store of both water and sugar, and the body of the critter consumes definite amounts of water and sugar in each cycle. So when the critter calculates how many cycles it will survive without replenishment, the critter will probably discover that it has less cycles-worth of one resource, either water or sugar; that will be the critter’s primary need.
A better standard of living, usually in comparison with poorer forebears, distant cousins, or neighbors. On the tabletop, prosperity is enjoyed by critters in a line of trade between the two essential resources; these prosperous critters live better than their kin which still survive as hunter-gatherers elsewhere on the tabletop. Prosperity enables a LT: to satisfy its needs for essential resources with fewer moments of attention dedicated to this gathering in, to reproduce more, to spend more moments in activities which do not promise early gain in essential resources but which might bring long-term or speculative rewards. An increase in prosperity for a set of LTs is probably accompanied by an increase in the population of that set, although this correlation is not definite.
Material or energy, needed or wanted by a LT, existing somewhere in the universe. Tabletop critters need only two resources, water and sugar. Humans need or want many more resources. One LT may be seen as a resource by another LT (may be consumed by that other LT) so resources are not limited to lifeless raw materials and energy.
resource pattern, abbreviated RP
A resource (or combination of resources) which exists in the universe in a pattern. Such a non-random configuration of the resource makes it possible for LTs to exploit the resource by following rules, by choosing actions appropriate for that exploitation. The challenge for LTs thus becomes how to learn the rules which will successfully focus their actions. A key postulate in RPM is that many resources exist in the universe which, with respect to a given population of LTs, are too remote or complex for those LTs acting alone to exploit. Many RPs can be exploited only by populations of LTs which have learned rules of cooperation.
Resource-Patterns Model of Life, abbreviated RPM
The model which is the subject of this blog. By emphasizing an often overlooked fact, that resources required by living things exist in patterns which in many circumstances can be exploited only through the cooperation of many LTs, RPM focuses our attention on how such cooperation might be achieved.
A constraint on the set of choices which a LT may make in particular circumstances. In each moment a LT might conceivably act in a large number of ways, almost all of which would not help it to achieve its intent to imbibe resources. By following rules a LT limits its choices of actions to those acts most likely to be helpful.
rule-guided coordination
A pattern of behavior involving two or more LTs. Hopefully this pattern enables those LTs to exploit a RP more successfully than could be achieved by the LTs acting separately without the coordination.
A synonym for prosperity.
The universe in the tabletop-critters application of RPM. Upon the tabletop are found both primitive living things, called critters, and resources, water and sugar, which critters must discover in order to survive. This sets the stage for thought experiments pertaining to learning rules for cooperation.
thought experiment agent-based modeling (or model), abbreviated TEABM
Agent-based modeling which is performed as a thought experiment.
unorganized critters
Critters still living as hunter-gatherers as in the tabletop's initial condition. These critters are not benefiting from cooperation within an organization to exploit a large resource pattern.
A concept which may enable a set of LTs to coordinate their actions to exploit a RP. Sometimes “we” indicates an existing organization, an established set of relations. But “we” also commonly implies relations which the speaker proposes or hopes might come to exist. In RPM we focus upon circumstances in which LTs have an opportunity to increase their numbers and prosperity – if those LTs learn new rules of coordination. In this context, one mode of new-rule-learning will use specialists, that is LTs which have special gifts or vocations. Of necessity these specialists will frequently say “we” because their survival as specialists requires cooperative interaction with others.
A synonym for prosperity.