Objectual filosis

8.4 Natural information processing systems

Unlike the abiotic material systems, which show a passive behavior at the variations of the environmental conditions, there is also a class of MS - bio-systems - which reacts actively, sometimes, even with anticipation, by modifying its internal and external state depending on the environment conditions, so that the effect of the external variations on the inside to be as low as possible.

The bio-systems existence, as well as of any other MS, is not possible under any environment conditions, but only under favorable conditions. The term of favorable conditions must be momentarily understood as an union of admitted intervals for the attributes of the external medium which are able to allow the existence of an already developed bio-system (we are not talking about the environmental conditions which have led to the bio-systems occurrence). These conditions refer to the environment’s physical-chemical parameters, such as the pressure, temperature, chemical reactivity (pH), concentration of useful and/or harmful substances, or to its biological parameters, such as the presence of other bio-systems in the proximity, bio-systems which can be either a source of food or danger. For being able to survive (to avoid the unfavorable conditions which might shorten their life, which is limited anyway) and to exert their characteristic functions, the bio-systems are able to unfold specific processes, which are not found at the abiotic systems.

Such a process is the information acquisition and processing, process which alongside other processes (feeding, excretion, reproduction etc.) make-up the group of the fundamental processes (model-like) of the bio-systems classes (described in the annex X.11). This process is achieved by a specific part of the bio-system, called information processing system (IPS). The information processing system was possible due to the occurrence of an internal specialized class of systems (material as well), whose structure (configuration) is direct and univocally dependent on the external environmental conditions, more exactly, on the distribution of the external fluxes density on the bio-system’s RBS. The state of these systems which are specialized in the storage and transport of the information perceivable by certain components of IPS is named internal information, and those systems are named internal information support systems (ISS).

The environment conditions are very important in order to achieve the functions which are specific to the bio-systems, as it was previously mentioned. The bio-systems must avoid as much as possible the unfavorable conditions and to initiate the feeding and reproduction processes if these are favorable conditions. For achieving this goal, the bio-systems have the capacity to make the difference between a present state of the environment and a previous state of the same environment. It is clear that the comparison operation of two different environment conditions, assessed in two different moments, may be reduced to the internal comparison of the structure (configuration, state) of the two internal systems which carry the information received in those particular moments. As a result of this operation (information comparison), another ISS arises, whose state represents the difference between the two compared information. The information contained in this latter ISS, together with the reference information stockpile, shall determine the reaction, the modification of the internal and external state of the bio-system against the new environment state. Similarly with the abiotic systems, where the modification of the internal state as a result of the penetration of a flux Y shall be referred to as the action of the flux Y on the system, we may also call the bio-system’s reaction to the new environmental conditions as the action of the information flux on the bio-system. Do not confound the information action (produced by the stimulus), with the physical action, produced by the external energy fluxes on the bio-system’s abiotic support. As I have mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, this external modification of the bio-system’s state as a result of the action of an information flux is known under the more generic term of behavior. This obviously means the “visible” (external) state modifications from the outside, observed by another bio-system; the internal state modifications which occur before the external ones, are not perceptible from the outside, because they are found in the extremely complex domain of the bio-system’s internal fluxes.

Based on the knowledge gathered by the mankind so far, we know that the bio-systems61 comprise two IPS types:

For the purpose of the present section, we are only interested in the relational IPS (more exactly, the one which maintains external relations outside the bio-system) because it is responsible for the perception of the fluxes deployed in the external medium of the bio-system’s real bounding surface. As for this type of natural IPS and for an advanced class of bio-systems (with neuronal IPS), its basic components are given below:

  1. Sensory organs, which are responsible for the receiving of the external fluxes, differentiated according to the flux type, therefore by types of transmissible attributes;

  2. The ensemble of neurons which make-up the information processing units coming from the sensory organs;

  3. The ensemble of nerve endings which controls the effector organs (muscular system and the organs with internal and external secretion);

  4. The ensemble of nerve fibres (nerves) which makes the connection between the sensory organs, neurons and the effector organs, ensemble which represents the internal communication system (of IPS);

Besides all these well-known components which may be found in the current scientific references, we may add the internal IPS medium made-up from the set of internal ISS, which are systems considered as the objects of the internal information fluxes (even intracellular ones), which store the information and which run through the internal communication system.

As any other MS, the natural IPS (the neuronal one) has a RBS which separates inside the bio-system the parts which are involved in the structure of the above-mentioned IPS from the rest of the bio-system’s components. Otherwise speaking, the internal ISS fluxes are forced to remain (are closed) inside this RBS. The only access “gates” for the input or output fluxes are the sensory organs (for the input fluxes) and the nerve endings (for the output fluxes). The external sensory organs have a section of their bounding surface which is common to the bio-system’s RBS, making-up a specialized RBS section which has an outstanding property - its permeability is different from zero only in case of a specific flux type, and the value of this permeability may be controlled by IPS. For example, the tactile sensors are sensitive at kinetic stochastic fluxes (pressure), the thermal ones are sensitive to thermal photon fluxes, the visual ones are sensitive to photon fluxes from the visible domain, the gustatory, olfactory and pheromonic ones are sensitive to molecular fluxes, and the acoustic sensors are sensitive to sound fluxes (pressure waves) etc.

The flux type to which the specialized RBS is permeable defines the property of external MS to which that particular organ is sensitive to. Inside the sensory organ, the conversion of the intensity and spatial distribution of the immergent flux through RBS takes place on the structure of the internal ISS, that is a conversion which is repeated at certain regular time intervals. This process occurs simultaneously for all the elementary information channels which are found within the biotic IPS (all the sensory cells belonging to all the sensory organs from the bio-system’s “endowment”). Inside IPS, a specific structure of ISS, generated at a certain moment by a specific sensory organ, is perceived by the bio-system as a certain sensation felt by the specialized domain of that particular organ.

The total amount of the inner information stored on ISS provided by the sensory organs is processed afterwards into specialized units - neurons - a parallel and synchronic processing within the set of the neurons which make-up the central nervous system. This processing operation is also focused on the set of internal ISS, any operation performed on the information contained inside them representing an intervention on the structure (configuration) of these ISS. One of the most frequent processes of information processing which was previously mentioned is represented by the comparison between the ISS structure associated to the current state of the external medium (barely provided by the sensory system) and the ISS structure associated to a previous state of the same medium, which is also provided by the sensory system and memorized (stored) within a spatial position adjacent into the ISS neuron input medium. The result of this comparison, which is materialized on an ISS as well, but on an ISS with another structure, shall represent the final information (difference between the medium’s states), information which will determine (as a result of other processing operations) the reaction, bio-system’s behavior modification, through the output ISS flux sent to the nerve endings which control the effector organs. We do not insist on the information processing operations, because we are only interested in the composition, structure elements of biotic IPS, by making a special remark: any information processing operation takes place on the internal ISS structure when some of them remain non-altered (as much as possible) during the entire bio-system’s lifetime (by making-up its so-called “life experience”, the informational reference), and the others shall be used within temporary processing operations by considering that reference as a comparison standard.

61 We are talking about the advanced bio-systems which own a neuronal system. In case of the cellular bio-systems, the differentiation between the two IPS is not clear yet, but we certainly know that the intracellular information processing systems are also at the basis of the neuronal processing systems.

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