“Knowing was a barrier which prevented learning. For a few moments he allowed himself merely to resonate, making no demands, asking no questions.”
Frank Herbert

Children of Dune

Ceptr: Emergence instead of Assembly

n

This post is a response and reflection on this video posted by Nicolas in the Ceptr General slack channel:

For me, Nicolas did a good job of framing the problem and creating a relatable visual presentation. My commentary starts around the 2:30 mark … at boostrapping. I resonated with the idea that there is one initial group which acts as a crystallizing seed. I did not resonate with the idea that it is a bootstrapping process. I would like to instead suggest that the initial group already exists. It doesn’t suddenly come into being, neither by casting a spell nor by applying organizational theory.

I will try to draw another picture, less generic and more specific to Ceptr. Still I want to emphasize this is just an example, I do not have all the information I would need to create a precise picture. Also, I feel that the two-dimensional visual language is too limiting to communicate a whole image, but it may be enough to at least shine light on another view.

Ceptr Emergence

Our story starts with two people – Arthur and Eric. It is both close to a real beginning and a simple example to demonstrate people coming together:

How did they come together? I would suggest that even that simple diagram is already flawed. Arthur and Eric didn’t come together in a void, they came together around something. For example, they may have come together aroud a field of alternative-currencies:

What is important here is that Arthur and Eric did not create the alternative currency center. It WAS already there, it was the beginning, it brought them together (The dimensions in this diagram can also be misleading. I do not think that Arthur and Eric are “larger” centers then alternative currency. If anything, alternative currency is more like a distant sun, while Arthur and Eric are like small planets or moons.)

As Arthur and Eric placed more attention and energy into the alternative currency center it became more alive … more concrete … and more specific … the MetaCurrency project:

Which had some latent centers in it.

In fact, I am convinced that those latent were already there in some way in the still “separate” Arthur and Eric fields. The MetaCurrency field created nourishing conditions for things which were already there to emerge. Just as MetaCurrency emerged from the more general alternative-currency field … so did these latent centers come into focus … they became more living centers:

And in each of these centers were already present other latent centers, that in a similar way went from being dormant to gaining more focus and life.

For example, Wealth Stewardship center … is that where Ceptr emerged?

And within Ceptr, similarly latent centers came into focus and being:

And one center is now getting more attention than others:

What is Latent?

What do I mean by latent?

A tree is latently present in a seed.

A handful pf sunflower-seed oil is latent in a single sun-flower seed. That seed is planted, it grows into a plant that grows more seeds that are pressed into oil.

You cannot press oil out of grains of sand … because the potential for it isn’t there.

Everything in the natural world comes into being in this way. Nature does not assemble pieces into wholes. Nature does not move trees around to become a forest, leaves are not attached to branches. Everything grows in place. Wholeness cannot be built, it can only emerge, unfold.

Expanding

It is possible to describe this process as zooming in, but that may turn out to be a misleading assumption kind of like sunsets. What is actually happening here is that as the smaller centers become better defined, more differentiated, more alive … the larger centers expand. Just as an embryo does not grow from “cells being added on” but from internal enhancement … so does Ceptr.

This kind of emerging / unfolding growth can be echoed all the way down to units and lines of code by making sure that every unit is always whole … it can always compile, everything can always produce results, never wrong … getting righter with every iteration.

Consider a simple expression:

if ( x == y) myVar = myFunc(arg1, arg2);

I start to type:

if (

but I don’t remember the names of the variables … so one option is to leave it there broken! and go seek … or I can first make it whole:

if ( true ) myVar = myFunc(

and again I don’t remember the function arguments … so either leave it broken .. or first make it whole:

if ( true ) myVar = 1;

then build up the condition … wholer:

if ( x == y ) myVar = 1;

then look up the function … initially with test values … wholer yet:

if ( x == y ) myVar = myFunc(1,4, ‘abc’);

then place in the correct variables … maybe even one by one … wholer and wholer:

if ( x == y ) myVar = myFunc(arg1,arg2, arg3);

An expression unfolds (as a seed becomes tree) … so can a function, a class, a module … you are creating a whole (you know what role a line plays in a function, a function plays in a module, a module plays in an application, an application plays in our gift to the world) … and when you work this way you can almost feel how every line of code is purposeful and (when created well) resonates throughout the project … expanding from the inside out.

Returning to Wholeness

“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.”

Robert Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

This is where I want to go back to Nicolas’ point of origin … what he called “bootstrapping”. Start with a group that is obviously there … though there may be a few, I would try to choose “the one” which is core-est. Identify what it does and who is a part of it.

For example … a beginning of Arthur and Eric working on Ceptr – the root do-op:

At one point a latent center appears … storytelling is needed because Arthur and Eric want to communicate with others and people are asking what is Ceptr?

That latent center acts as a kind of attractor … and Matthew and Ferananda appear on the horizon .. hovering around … still not quite a part of Ceptr.

Until the latent story-telling center comes to life … in which case Matthew and Ferananda join the do-op  (still a Ceptr do-op) … they are assimilated:

And as the work continues, the do-op starts to feel “too integrated” even a little crowded. A natural division forms … developers want to focus on development, story-tellers on narrative … staying too close together feels disruptive. The group decides to separate by forming a new do-op dedicated to story-telling. When they do this they are very much aware of their mutual existence and their relationship and cross-fertilization … but now, to create more clarity and focus they become two do-ops:

The separation causes an overall expansion of Ceptr. Already there is clarity regarding two spaces: one technical where the code is written and the about interfacing with the world. Additional latent centers may appear either in the Ceptr do-op or the StoryTelling do-op … those centers again becoming attractors for more people … who may gradually be integrated … lead to further growth and further separations and further expansions … on and on.

As more people join the project and more is happening in it, its gravitational pull may increase and people may start appearing around it … hovering … looking for a way to connect:

… and this may lead to a new vague center / field …

This field can be tricky. I believe it is imperative that the assimilation process continue as described above … allowing for people to join an existing center and being attentive to the emergence of new latent centers around which people can come together. Assimilation should be informed by the emergent internal needs of the project NOT by the externalities that hover around it (people,  projects or ideas).

This layer may become a fertile ground for other surprising kinds of dynamics. People may discover shared interests and form new groups around but not directly a part of Ceptr:

Maybe links may form with other projects …

It may tempting to think of this as an attempt to draw a line between internal/external … but though thay may be a consequence is it NOT the point. The point is, again, that growth does not happen by attaching parts from the outside, but by the formation of centers / needs / ideas on the inside … those ideas becoming attractors for other people who find their place INSIDE what already is.

Flat not Hierarchical

Finally I want to go back to the end of Nicolas’ presentation:

When a do-op / group does form:

  1. Recognize your co-creators … if a group has formed the finding should not be necessary.
  2. Identify your name – it is already present in your field.
  3. Yes, short summary of the group intention.
  4. Do not define, you may have an initial vague idea of such things  … birth the group and see what wants to be … discover what decision processes work for you, how you wish to communicate with internally and with other groups … do not spend energy on functions/roles … don’t make declarations … get to work … real functions and roles will emerge.
  5. YES … (please, please, please) get a website. But more importantly this implies that the work-spaces are not organized in a hierarchy but thay they are a flat list with interconnections (there are no sites within sites).

I’ve written a sample of an unfolding process that can guide us in forming do-ops (workgroups) in this way. The point of that sample process is to make growth and expansion an act of group-awareness (and not an act of copy-pasting a text template that anyone can do).

Posted in AltEco, Ceptr, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Paul Krafel: Sunset

n

“One evening I saw the Earth turning. Before that night, I had always seen the sun setting toward a stationary horizon. But when I saw the sun ,instead, as stationary, then I saw my horizon rising toward the sun … My mind must make an assumption. Shifting that assumption changes the world I see.

… the word ‘sunset’ channeled my perception … We become what we practice and I began to practice living  on an unmoving, passive world with change happening ‘out there’ beyond my world …

How would our culture change if we practiced watching our Earth turn so that each ‘sunrise’ or ‘sunset’ reminded us daily that we live on a spinning, round, and therefore finite world?

… what other surprises fill this ‘known’ world, hiding behind unconscious assumptions at this very moment?”

Paul Krafel – Seeing Nature

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | Tagged | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

What is Ceptr Part 2: Receptors

n

The biology I lean on in this post is inspired by the work of Bruce Lipton. His famous talk Bruce Lipton’s The New Biology is still the most inspired presentation I’ve encountered about biology. Then there is this meeting of Bruce Lipton and Rupert Sheldrake where I got the fundamental idea for this post.

I also want to mention that I am deeply inspired by Rupert Sheldrake’s work (even more than Bruce Lipton’s) however I am less inclined to point to it directly. On the one hand his work underpins much of my world view. On the other hand, his work is theoretical (mostly because his core ideas tend to ask tough questions of science itself, causing the scientific community to keep at a safe distance from his propositions) and so it is not yet grounded like Bruce Lipton’s work. If you want to get a taste of Rupert Sheldrake I recommend his fairly recent conversation with Charles Eisenstein.

Cells: Nucleus and Membrane

If you were indoctrinated by a basic biology education similar to mine then you were taught something about the structure of a cell that looks like this:

And, like it was to me, it may have been insinuated to you that the nucleus, where the DNA is, is like “the brain” of the cell. When I ingest it, the brain metaphor creates two echos:

  1. The first is like an echo across scales: that there is subtle and profound underlying pattern which manifests both in a single-cell organism and in a complex organism like a human being that is made up of trillions of cells.
  2. The second is an assumption of center-ism: just as the brain is the center and controller of the body, so is the nucleus the center and controller of a cell.

Well, it seems that that there indeed may be an underlying pattern here, and that there are parallels between the nucleus-membrane & brain-skin BUT that the center-ism is not as straightforward as we may think it is, neither in the cell nor in a human body.

According to Bruce Lipton it is possible to remove the nucleus from a cell and the cell will continue to function as it normally does. It won’t be able to regenerate and it won’t be able to multiply. How is this possible? The answer seems to lie in the little poop-chutes (titled “vesicles”) you see in the diagram above. Let’s look at another diagram:

This diagram focuses on the membrane of the cell (I chose it because it doesn’t even mention the nucleus). For me this diagram has two prominent features:

  1. The membrane is no longer a thin line but a thicker area … it is a place not just an edge. It seems to be made of at least 3 distinct layers: an inner surface, an outer surface, and an insulating layer in between.
  2. The membrane has openings in it. These acts as ports that can let molecules into and out of the cell.

This diagram starts to pull attention outwards and away from the center. In a nucleus-centered view the cell can be seen as that which is encoded in the DNA. In a membrane-centered view the cell is the sum of its interactions with the world around it, it is defined by what it takes in and what it puts out. This diagram (probably a bit out of context because I borrowed it) suggests that these ports exist but does not explain how they open and close. It needs another piece … and I could not find a good diagram to demonstrate this in a whole way… so I settled on this one:

The missing element is the receptor. The receptor acts as a sensor that protrudes from the inside of the cell and reaches out like a biological antenna. It will respond only to a specific molecule. The receptor activates a lock, and the molecule that activates it acts as a key. When a matching key is inserted into the receptor-lock, the receptor responds by unlocking the port associated with it and allowing something into the cell.

What really defines a cell is therefore not its nucleus nor its ports but its receptors. Without receptors nothing can get in. Without receptors the cell cannot sense and respond to its environment. It may as well not exist. It can live without a nucleus, it cannot live without receptors.

Receptors and the chemical signals to which they are sensitized are the communication infrastructure the trillions of cells in your body use to coordinate and become you. What can our cells teach us about organization?

Co-operation

How then do cells “communicate”? I’d like to propose that they don’t. Consider this diagram:

There are two narratives in this supposedly scientific diagram, one is empirical, the other imaginary. It may be (I can’t authenticate this information, only refer to it metaphorically) empirically true that a secretory cell emits a hormone that is absorbed into the blood stream and reaches another cell who’s receptor responds to it.

What isn’t true is the path of arrows that lead from the secretory cell, through the blood vessel and into the cell labeled as “target”. There is no path and there is no target cell. The cells do not have a direct awareness of each other. They cannot, unlike us, look into each others eyes and address each other. Each cell is functioning autonomously:

  1. The secretory cell is sensing its own environment and responding to what it senses by producing and excreting a hormone. If the cell’s environment changes (certain signals cease reach it or new signals arrive) it may cease to produce the hormone or may produce more of it.
  2. The hormone enters the blood stream without a destination address. It is carried with the flow of blood. It does not press a button or pull a cord to get the stream to stop so it can get off at its destination station. It flows.
  3. When the blood flows past a cell that has receptors keyed to that particular hormone, those cells are activated and the hormone is “received”.

There is no higher power coordinating all this (it may be a whole other fascinating conversation how this came to be!). If each individual cell does what its supposed to do … co-operation emerges. There is no central processor or controller that directs hormones along a specific path. This is an imaginary construct that we create.

True to form, this is also how we modern humans shape most of out existence, our own collaborations. We pretend that there are paths and processes and structures that if we follow will lead to predictable outcomes. We do that KNOWING that it rarely works (in a world of living human beings, it works to some degree, with a lot of effort, in mechanical constructs such as physical machines or software).

What if we could tap into the wisdom that is built into the organic world WE ARE, where there is superior coordination without any direct communication lines?
What would relationships looks like, how would communication work, how would we coordinate?
What would we become if we embraced the wisdom of individual cells wrapped in the wisdom of their receptors, sending out signals and responding to others signals?

Ceptr is modeled after receptors. So, though we still don’t understand what Ceptr is, we do have some sense of its origins.

Posted in Ceptr, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

My Father, in body for 70 Years

n

and, turs out his original Hungrian name Gyurika means farmer … I thought I was born to an engineer, turns out I was born to a “tsaran” – a peasant – a man of the earth

Posted in About, Myself | You are welcome to add your comment

What is Ceptr Part1: Being Together

n

This is an attempt on my part to try to assimilate and internalize the Ceptr narrative. It is my wish to be able to grap Ceptr well enough to share with others who are asking me about it. It does not necessarily represent Ceptr.

In order to keep my own writing energy flowing I am going to adopt open and organic expression:

  • I am not going to wait for contents to mature to “perfection”.
  • I am going to publish posts as soon as I can so that I don’t get bogged down … I am trying to stay connected to an inspiring flow of expression.
  • Early publication will make it possible for others inside and outside Ceptr to relate … suggest, correct, ask …
  • I am going to freely update and change them … I will add an indication at the beginning of each post of when it was last updated.

This is a work game in progress.

Being Together

Ceptr addresses what is, in my mind, one of the most systemic challenges of our time: how can we, human beings, better coordinate and collaborate? How can we act more as an integrated being?It is tempting to believe that we have figured out something so fundamental, otherwise how do you explain this rich world we’ve built?

I have been in very few situations where I witnessed / experienced or participated in a group where people were able to have a coherent, pleasant, focused conversation that lead to better understanding and decision making. Yet there is a world out there and somehow … I can own a car that I can fill with fuel and  drive safely … into the city and park in a shopping mall where I can use a small plastic card with embedded electronics in it to buy things that were made all over the world … it is quite an achievement.

I can also, with a tiny device I can hold in my hand access a vast communication network where I can access to an infinite amount of information in which I can find in seconds what it is that I am looking for. What I’ve discovered doing that is that behind the world of unparalleled convenience, lies another world full of inconvenient truths. We are paying a dear price for living the privileged life we have. I don’t want to give up the privileged life I live and so I am left asking myself: can we do better?

Can we have everything that we have (and more) without the downsides? I realize it may sound like a naive question, but I don’t think it is. In the past the downsides were isolated to places in the world that were far enough away for me to ignore (places I may have never heard about if it wasn’t for that vast communication network), but that is no longer possible. Climate change and wealth concentration (to name a couple) seem to know no borders. Challenges are becoming more shared and connected and so it is reasonable to expect that if there are solutions, they too will be of a more shared and connected nature.

So how do we do this? How can we connect and collaborate better then we’ve been able to do so far? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone knows. I have witnessed it a very few times within small and tightly knit groups – and I have it disintegrate when those groups tried to grow. Ceptr doesn’t know either. Ceptr is a strong intuition (with a lot of vested research and work in it) about what may be possible if we were to change some core assumptions.

To give you a idea of what Ceptr is asking, take a look at the leading edge of one of your finger-nails … seriously … look … closely … and consider this: if biological cells were beholden to Dunbar’s number (a widely cited and accepted limit for the effective size of a group of people) that edge of your fingernail could not exist! But there it is, and there you are … looking at it.

What can we learn from that?

Technology & Currency

Ceptr assumes that technology is a key ingredient because of the potential it has to connect us. For many of us this is already obvious – we have and rely on technology in so many ways already. But the kind of connectivity that Ceptr envisions goes (potentially) way beyond what we currently have. Imagine going back 100 years when “fast communication” was a written paper carried on train or horseback and explaining communication via sms or email. That is what its like to describe Ceptr today.

Ceptr is coming into being at a time when a certain kind of technology has surfaced and is getting a lot of attention. I am referring to blockchain and the systems built on top of it, the two notable ones being Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is inevitable that if you hang out around Ceptr you will come across references to blockchain and alt-coins. I am going to hold off on touching on these subjects because:

  1. The Ceptr view on these subjects is very different and comparisons can be misleading and detrimental to understanding.
  2. Alt-coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum portray distributed/decentralized computing AND currency as joined at the hip. This is not a god-given truth nor even a necessity, but rather a choice, possibly a poor choice. Regardless, that choice is not helpful for understanding distributed computing nor for understanding currency.
  3. A faulty understanding of currency is at the heart of many of the problems we are facing and a good understanding of currency is at the heart of possible solutions. So it is critical to be able to focus on money without the added burden of its relationship with blockchain (and it is critical to understand that decentralized computing does not have a direct relationship with currency).

Inspiration: Nature

Ceptr is  inspired by nature. How is the growth of a pasture or a forest coordinated? Or even better, how are you possible? A human body has way more cells (trillions) then there are humans on the planet (billions)? How do those cells (a primitive and simple form of life compared to a human being) coordinate to become you? If the cells that make up your body coordinated like human beings cordinate, you would at best be a very sick creature.

It is worth noting that the underlying metaphor there hints at what Ceptr is trying to do: to create a means for groups of people to become social organisms that are able to coordinate and collaborate as effectively as the cells in our bodies have been doing for millions of years.

As I reflect on this metaphor, which profoundly informs the making of Ceptr, I realize it may also become a trap. It assumes that our understanding of nature is shared and mature. I have a feeling that as I try to unfold this metaphor we may arrive at some unconventional ideas about nature itself. I believe this is not a coincidence. So while I do look forward to leaning on nature as a crutch in explaining certain ideas, I also expect that crutch may need some reinforcement before we can put our full weight on it.

Do cells communicate? collaborate? organize? make decisions? Do trees? Do bacteria? Do fungi? What is communication? What is organization?

Where do we begin? Maybe brains and skins?

 

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