Practopoietic hierarchy

The key presumption of practopoiesis is that the properties of a given regulation mechanisms in adaptive system are being established often by operations of other regulation mechanisms of the same adaptive system. The latter operate at lower levels of system organization. In other words, cybernetic knowledge at one level is being extracted by activity of cybernetic mechanisms at another level. The trick is that operations of one cybernetic mechanism (or monitor-and-act unit), which already possesses certain general knowledge, result in a creation of another cybernetic mechanism, which then possesses another set of specific cybernetic knowledge.

For example, the operations of gene expression mechanisms (the genotype) create the anatomical structures (the phenotype). As anatomy is not 100% determined by the genome but also depends on the environment in which the genome operates, cybernetic knowledge is being extracted from the environment during the development—the created anatomical structure becomes a model of its environment (i.e., variable phenotype for the same genotype).

Importantly, the system as a whole can be adaptive only if the relation between general and specific knowledge is strictly uni-directional. One mechanism must create the properties of the other mechanism, but not the other way around. If this condition is satisfied, the cybernetic mechanisms are organized into a special type of hierarchy—a practopoietic hierarchy (see figure).

By definition, the mechanism that creates (A in the figure) is considered to be located lower on the organizational hierarchy than the one that is being created (B in the figure), which is located higher on that hierarchy.

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