Equi-level interactions

Many of the monitor-and-act units within a practopoietic system will interact at the same level of organization. They will not organize into a practopoietic hierarchy. Interactions between such components are referred to as equi-level interactions.

Most of the equi-level interactions occur, not by direct causal interactions within the system (e.g., one neuron sending signals to another neuron), but indirectly, through the environment. For example, consider two neurons, one in the visual cortex and the other in the spinal cord. Likely, the two do not interact by directly sending signals to each other. Nevertheless, they may interact quite intensively through their individual interactions with the organism’s environment; If a spinal neuron contributes to a behavior of the organism, this behavior may change the image projected on the retina, which in turn then changes the inputs to the visual neuron. Thus, one neuron affects the other through its own contribution to the overall behavior of the organism.

This interaction is not practopoietically hierarchical because a similar interaction occurs also in the opposite direction: A moment later, the visual neuron affects the organism behavior, which in turn has effects on the inputs to the spinal neuron. This makes the interactions equi-level.

These interactions must be considered equi-level also because no generality-specificity relationship between cybernetic knowledge can be established. One monitor-and-act unit does not extract cybernetic knowledge for the other unit. Thus, an increase in the number of such interactions does not increase the number of traverses of the system. Nevertheless, these interactions are important as they contribute to the cybernetic variety of the system.

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