Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 19 January 2007

Model 19

The Non-Linear Systems Model

There are quite a few people who believe this is the ultimate theory of creativity. Its scope is enormous–the origins of the universe, the origins of life itself, the origins of Darwin’s natural selection process (which invented human beings among myriad other life forms), the origins of artificial life forms that humans design, and so forth (Casti, 1991; Davis, 1987; Axelrod and Cohen, 1999; Bak, 1996; Bailey, 1996; Schelling, 1978; Schon and Rein, 1994). I believe a more ultimate (and simpler one) the Adjacent Beyond model exists (it is number 23 in this model of 42 models).

The non-linear system model perhaps comes from personal computing becoming widely and inexpensively available. For the first time in history, direct non-linear models of phenomena could be built and analyzed, the calculations handled by personal computers. Linear simplifications were no longer necessary. Non-linear models could handle dynamics–the evolution of situations through time. As soon as non-linear modeling became available, people discovered very powerful things. For example, simulations of simple hunter gatherer societies through millions of simulated years showed the appearance of banking, currency, and interest rates without any individual “human” in the simulation designing or planning them. These institutions simply “emerged” from local people interacting over myriad years.

The concepts of non-linear systems models–phase space, trajectories in phase space, attractors that pull trajectories together, strange and periodic attractors, catastrophes that switch trajectories from going towards one attractor in phase space to going towards another, the butterfly effect of trajectories vanishingly close together at start ending up at entirely different attractors–have percolated throughout society and each academic discipline at the end of the 20th century. Neural nets, genetic algorithms, simulated annealing, I-sing models, boolean nets and other particular techniques of non-linear modeling are included. In all of them, results can suddenly emerge that no one element in the system planned, designed, or intended. Interactions on one scale can lead to entirely unexpected results on other size scales. This is “automatic” creativity of a powerful sort, that makes it look like immense creations might arise without the need for particular “genius” humans to invent them. Interaction patterns left on-going for long enough might be enough to “invent” and “create” banking, machinery, and electrical systems. I want to emphasize how abstract, general, powerful, and mysterious this new model of creativity is. It differs in all these regards from all the other models in this model of 42 models (save a few, dealt with in this “systems” section).


  1. […] Possibly, so there is one from each Type: 19 or 23, 25 or 30 […]