Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Organism -> Artifact -> Artificial Organism

Man, they say, is a social animal.

Organism ...
The word "organism" may broadly be defined as an assembly of molecules that influence each other in such a way that they function as a more or less stable whole and have properties of life. Every time I look around, I find organisms galore. Of course, not every organism is created by nature. There are artifacts too. Some of these artifacts interest me; the properties of life are less obvious in them. An artifact may not be an obvious assembly of molecules; it may be an assembly of other artifacts too.

The big thing about an organism is that it is an ideal representation of Synergy; the Whole is greater than the sum of it's constituent parts. When you, or I for that matter, accidentally touch the steam-iron we don't wait a second and think "Oh! This is hot! I ought to move my hand away". The reflexes we exhibit as an organic whole , coupled with our ability to plan actions which rely upon the reflex makes us so effective at survival.

Here, Survival means we -

  • consume food

  • generate energy from the food consumed
  • use the energy either to procure more energy, OR to perform actions that benefit our person

The assignment I am working on now involves lots of such composite assemblies which together form a very impressive whole. This got me to thinking how similar such assemblies are to life... and yet how primitive. The analogy led me further to think seemigly intangible assemblies; for instance - an entity may exist only on paper. A similar example is a company; or to use it's more appropriate synonym - 'Organization'.

As an organic entity is conceived, born, lives... and dies, so too an organization may go from a conception, to birth, through life, and eventually Death. As with an embryo, an organization too must be well-protected in this stage. Similarly too, the protection must be maintained after birth whilst the baby learns [through survivable mistakes] of it's capabilities. Whilst it lives, the baby grows, consumes food, & makes it's existence known by performing some activities apart from consumption.

For an organization food is resources consumed ... brainpower, manpower, & electricity. Growth (+: needs no translation. Existential Activities,in this case, are actions towards translating the energy consumed from resources into revenue, into eventual Growth.