The Hidden Pattern of Community Growth
If you have ever felt the calling to channel your inner NERD (click on the link for the definition if you are unsure) this is the blog post for you. Even if you haven’t felt compelled to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Skolnick or Egon Spengler in the pursuit of esoteric knowledge influencing humanities existence, hopefully this piece still provides an interesting take on how the societal structures in our communities grow. Today is the exploration of the key to understanding how growth compounds. The hidden pattern of the universe humanity exists within.
Diving deep into the matrix of design of the universe, the structure of the fractal (link to definition) emerges from the smallest realms humans can comprehend and expands beyond what humanities most powerful telescopes can see. “A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales.” (Fractalfoundation.org pulled 7/8/2022). Fractals give us the key to understanding the frame the universe uses to grow and evolve, and therefore how humanities growth and existence can be understood. Before giving away the secret of the fractal, it is first important to review the concept of emergent properties in complex systems.
A complex system is defined for this paper as an interconnected network of beings or organisms that are capable of making their own decisions. These decisions are based on previous interactions with other decision-making beings, and the physical environment they are all interacting within. It can be assumed the decisions being made are intended to create a desired outcome or benefit in the current moment that being is within. This decision will be based on the culmination of all previous experience of that being, then judging what behavior needs to be used to create the intended outcome in that given moment and the given interaction occurring. Since each being is capable of making its own decisions, there is unpredictability in the outcomes. What seems rational to one, maybe outside the types of behaviors another would be willing to exhibit. Yet, when all of these behaviors are aggregated together, patterns can be found.
In our social structures, these patterns become a level of trust allowing humans to live in large groups. Sitting at an outdoor concert feeling safe enough to enjoy the event is one of the emergent properties of the complex system of human community. That is why when a tragedy occurs at one of these events, or on a smaller scale a robbery occurs at a local store, the trust is eroded. When that trust erodes, patterns change in the system, changed by the adapted behaviors and their future emergent outcomes. The unpredictable outcome from one being, changes the behavior patterns of many more beings and the pattern of behavior changes more and more of the interactions within the system.
There are many positive examples as well. A community installs an art installation that people gather at creating a destination location. Small businesses near it grow and others form around it. As more services and opportunities begin to aggregate, it becomes more of a destination for others to come and experience the place. The growth attracts growth. Other neighboring communities see the impact and use some of the same tools to create more vitality where they are. The pattern continues.
This is the secret, or the essence of the fractal. A pattern that from the highest level of view looks similar to the smaller parts that make it up. Nature is a series of fractals. From the smallest seashell to the galaxies that make up space. All follow the same patterns. Rivers, trees, watersheds, the human circulatory and respiratory systems, all use similar vein patterns to function. The figure at the right shows some examples from nature. The fractal is the essence of how reality as humanity understands it is constructed.
Fractals are also the tool to resolve the cognitive dissonance between the philosophies of predeterminism (the future is predefined by a creator or a predetermined outcome in design), and existentialism (the individual being free to make their own choices therefore determining their own outcome through the outcomes of these choices). Understand this isn’t a discussion of religion, philosophy, or metaphysics. Concepts from these thought constructs do provide the context and language to understand what growth patterns human community structures use to evolve.
Morality is intentionally excluded from this explanation of growth. The moral constructs of values, societal laws, and even down to localized customs influence the individual behaviors and therefore some of the emergent properties of the system, but no matter the value system implemented, the larger system will follow the same growth patterns. Even seemingly conflicting ideologies (think of all the religious wars, political ideology wars, and fight for territory and resources) will manifest into predictive patterns at higher scales of measurement at a large enough scale. Two warring nations can have significant depletion of population and resources for generations, but the population of the world continues to grow. If a catastrophic climate event or even a shortage of food depletes the human population quickly, it will grow again.
Nature’s fractal supplies the opportunity to model the predetermined outcomes. To understand humanity’s connection from the individual to the global body of humanity’s whole. Looking at the most local behaviors demonstrated will allow for prediction of outcomes at higher scales. It allows for the existential self to have agency, to determine self-destiny. This agency is the unpredictive behaviors in the moment that are hard to model. Between these two ideas, is the operating model of human civilization. Predetermined destiny and individual choice are not mutually exclusive binary choices in how one thinks of humankind’s existence. It is a scale to understand the individual choice, even if unpredictable in the moment will follow predictable patterns over time.
Many world religions explain this understanding as the will of their God(s) being manifested by the end of time, and the individual’s choice in daily circumstances to align with the values of the religion or fall away. An attempt to bring predictability to a social system with shared behaviors in a seemingly chaotic world. The values and subsequent behaviors create social trust in a shared existence. The individual agency of choice being the core action at the hyper-local level. The values allow the common beliefs to emerge outcomes in the social system that benefits the people within it. This achieves a goal or benefit that is related to the higher good or predestined outcome. Even if an individual has no theistic proclivity in their daily existence, the pattern of growth remains the same. Local behaviors aggregate into predictable outcomes in the bigger system the behaviors are influencing. Using standard deviations and percentages of individuals exhibiting similar behaviors can create the predictability models of the emergent outcomes. This will be covered in a future post using the E.M. Rogers Diffusion of Innovations model. A good video to understand the concept is Simon Sinek’s TED Talk from a few years ago. How Great Leaders Inspire Action
Having no understood shared values in a system will not cause the system to cease to exist. Systems do not entirely collapse. Even if life on planet Earth as humanity has experienced it is destroyed, the system of Earth would continue. As the individual system of oneself ends, the system of humanity continues and evolves. The fractal continues, no matter the scale the fractal is being viewed at. A forest does not explicitly share values as it forms and evolved over time, yet even if it can’t be predicted whether an individual tree is going to be standing 500 years in the future, if the land is free from human development pressure, it can be assumed a forest ecosystem of some type will be there in the future. Schools of fish and herds of animals do not communicate a shared value system, yet behaviors align for outcomes and the survival of the species. The gift to humanity is our ability to adjust the outcomes of systems through shared values. Our understanding of the mathematical formulas for predictability and understanding of time allows for change to occur in the environment we live within when humanity aligns around a shared value system. Even understanding many environmental factors are not controlled by humans, the species has the ability to use tools to adapt. The application of the tools within shared goals, or lack thereof of shared goals will create emergent outcomes. The shared values can focus the emergent outcomes if there is alignment.
No matter if values based, or seen as simply chaos randomly interacting, the more individuals exhibiting a behavior, the more resilient a specific outcome is going to be in the constant changing nature of the system the individuals exist within. Behaviors are going to occur that evolve a system, whether one without a sophistical communication system humanity has, like forests or herds, or the systems humans have constructed onto the natural surrounding systems and lives within. The human adaptation of values allows for management of the process for some predetermined benefit for humankind. Values align behaviors, managing the behaviors creates some predictability in outcomes, the outcomes allow for a capacity to build in the system, the more capacity created, the more resiliency to unpredictable extraneous influence to the system level being understood. The confluence of process management, creating capacity, and building resiliency creates the structure for focused community growth. Using the fractal patterns of nature creates connections to any scale or size of human civilization it is applied to. The key is the change starts at the lowest level of the fractal. It is you in the human scale system.
As the structure of the leaf is the structure of the tree, the action of the individual is the actions of the society. The exact pattern in a single point is unpredictable, the overall structure one that can be replicated to many magnitudes. The existence of a predetermined pattern allows for the individual growth to occur. It is one in the same when taken to the next scale of the system it operates within. This principle is why the stock market is the largest tool for investment of individuals. Even though the rise and fall in a given moment, or the growth or bankruptcy of a single business is unpredictable, the knowledge of the long-term growth always being predictable keeps the trust. The model this is based on is the central limits theorem, but that is a story for another post. For now, understanding the universal principle of the fractal gives a tool for understanding the natural growth structure in the universe.
Understanding how a values system or shared ideas can focus these outcomes gives people in a scale from a local community of one to a global civilization the tool to create outcomes that are decided as beneficial. Even if some behavior in the system doesn’t align in the moment, the system, if focused around shared values, will see outcomes aligned over time. If the outcome doesn’t align, the question becomes, was the right question asked to begin with, and were the proper measurements of behaviors in place to achieve the intended outcomes? The system will always create an outcome, an emergent property based on the decisions or behaviors of its parts. It does not care if the outcome seems desirable to any of the individuals within it. It just produces outcomes. If the outcomes seem counter to the desire of the organisms within it, then the change lies with them to alter the emergence. For our human community, as stated, the foundation of the fractal is you. Each of us is the first example of what our culture is, and what it could be in the future. Our behaviors aligned can become the shared values of the future, no matter what humanity decides they should be as civilization evolves.