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How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies, Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics by N. Katherine Hayles [HOW WE BECAME POSTHUMAN]

[283-284]

By contrast pattern/randomness
is underlaid by a very different set
of assumptions.

In this dialectic, meaning is not
front-loaded into the system,
and the origin does not act to
ground signification.

As we have seen for multiagent
simulations, complexity evolves
from highly recursive processes
being applied to simple rules.

Rather than proceeding along a
trajectory toward a known end,
such systems evolve toward an
open future marked by contingency
and unpredictability.

Meaning is not guaranteed by a
coherent origin; rather, it is
made possible (but not inevitable)
by the blind force of evolution
finding workable solutions within
given parameters.

Although pattern has traditionally been the privileged term ...
randomness has increasingly been seen to play a fruitful role
in the evolution of complex systems.

... Although these models differ in their specifics, they agree
in seeing randomness not simply as the lack of pattern but as the
creative ground from which pattern can emerge.

 

Indeed, it is not too much to say that in these and similar models
randomness rather than pattern is invested with plentitude.

If pattern is the realization of a certain set of possibilities,
randomness is the much, much larger set of everything else,
from phenomena that cannot be rendered coherent by a given
system's organization to those the system cannot perceive
at all.

In Gregory Bateson's cybernetic epistemology, randomness is
what exists outside the confines of the box in which a
system is located; it is the larger and unkowable complexity
for which the perceptual processs of an organism are a metaphor.

Significance is achieved by evolutionary processes that ensure
the surviving systems are the ones whose organizations instantiate
metaphors for this complexity, unthinkable in itself.