024 The most general specification of a self organizing system

It is possible to characterize a self organizing system (in the sense of giving instructions to an artefact maker) at a very general level indeed. To do so we note that C(t) can be realized by any system, or material, the states of which satisfy the topological postulates for type I habituation set out by Ashby [22]. Moreover, assignment of different inertial parameters in Ashby’s system clearly gives rise to different Ψ Functions. We thus combine a system called the ›environment‹ m which embodies M, and a system which embodies the topology already mentioned, through an interface. The interface is such that nucleation can occur, and where it has occurred, competitive ›elements‹ will exist [23]. We can then say that for a given Ψ and an M which determines the payoff functions of essential non-zero sum games (for the given Ψ and the decision rules or transfer functions of the elements) there is a U* such that a self organizing system will arise at the interface.

The important point is that the required combination of characteristics can be realized as an artefact — indeed — in a vast number of different artefacts. Our assertion determines, precisely, those environments in which a specified self organizing system can be expected to survive (Diagram I3).