Cells perform Data Stream Analysis?
Evolutionary advantage of Info Analysis & Choice
IMPs: Building Blocks of Data Streams, Senses & Behavior
IMPs provide Building Blocks of Images – Our Brain’s Patterns
Life’s Image Overlay Process: Identifying & Assigning Value to Data Streams
IOP enables Perception of Time, hence Meaning & Purpose
From IMPs to Multicellular: Autonomic & Somatic Nervous System
Significance: IMPs provide Building Blocks of ID System
What kind of relationship exists between Attention and the sensory-motor network of the IMPs? Strict materialists might say automatic stimulus-response. Under this mindset, living behavior is exclusively reactive rather than interactive. All behavior is propagated by innumerable subroutines that have been developed through the process of random mutations that ultimately enhance the chances of survival.
The ongoing evidence provided by field work with living organisms require biologists to take a different stance. Life, including the single celled bacteria, seems to first monitor and then adjust to a dynamic environment. The monitoring phase surely must include analysis. For instance, a single solitary cell, like the paramecium, needs to coordinate the organized behavior of billions upon billions of molecules. To achieve this end, the cell must somehow find a method to make the incoming data provided by the IMPs useful to the organism.
“Like humans, single cells analyze thousands of stimuli from the microenvironment they inhabit. Through the analysis of this data, cells select appropriate behavioral responses to ensure their survival.” (Bruce H. Lipton: The Biology of Belief, Hay House, Inc., 2008, p.7)
In the case of the single cell, the IMPs provide data streams of information regarding a specific receptor/effector site. Can biologists identify the part of the cell that performs the analysis of these IMP-generated data streams?
As their reactions are virtually instantaneous and certainly automatic, the individual reflex-like IMP switches are not functionally equipped to perform any analysis or make any decisions.
But does the organism really need the ability to perform analysis and decide between alternatives? Indeed, some biologists believe that neither analysis, nor decisions are required for an organism to survive. Instead they argue that all behavior can be explained in terms of bio-chemical reactions. Perhaps.
The fact that many behaviors can be attributed to purely biochemical reactions does not logically imply that all behaviors are governed by purely biochemical reactions. The single cell clearly exhibits purposeful decision-making behavior that appears to lie beyond the exclusively biochemical. Striking the delicate balance between potentially competing subroutines, as well as responding to unforeseen contingencies, are both behaviors that imply some more sophisticated decision-making capabilities.
Rather than the individual IMPs, it is more likely that cellular intelligence involved with data analysis and decision-making is associated with the collective Attention of hundreds of thousands of IMPs. Could it be that it is cellular Attention that analyzes myriad data streams before making a holistic decision as to which action to take? What kind of relationship exists between the cellular intelligence associated with Attention and the data streams generated by IMPs? Why might this relationship enhance the cell’s chances of survival?
We now understand that IMPs provide cellular life with ongoing data streams. What evolutionary advantages are derived from a cell’s relationship with this information?
Let us perform a thought experiment. What should a cell need to be able to do with information in order to maximize its utility? Clearly the point of an evolutionary advantage is its usefulness in enhancing the ability of the organism to survive and reproduce.
There are those who argue that cells behave like atoms – reacting in law-governed ways to external stimuli. However, the ability to gather information about the external world is what distinguishes the behavior of a cell from the behavior of an atom. Cells gain the ability to react intelligently to their environment by organizing the information contained in data streams. How might the cell intelligently utilize its informational abilities?
Would an exclusively mechanistic stimulus-response sort of behavior best enhance the organism’s ability to survive? What if it had the ability to organize information? Wouldn’t survival be enhanced by the ability to filter out noise, generate analytics, and determine correspondences?
The organism must be able to filter out noise in order to detect the meaning contained a particular data stream. Wouldn’t this ability to distinguish between ordered and random data streams be a useful evolutionary tool in this regard? The organism must be able to detect pattern(s) in a particular data stream in order to adapt its behavior accordingly. Wouldn’t this ability entail generating analytics of information flow, e.g. making projections about future directions of data stream content? And finally, the organism must be able to relate multiple data streams to each other in order to enhance the survival of the entire organism. Wouldn’t this ability entail generating ongoing correspondences between different types of dynamic information? If these three abilities to manipulate information are key to the cell’s survival, then the information-based behaviors of living systems can be understood by employing a mathematical language.
In order for the cell to make use of the information, it must detect meaningful patterns contained in potential data streams. The biochemical info of 10 thousand IMPs must somehow capture the interpretative context of space and time. The organism must be attempting to detect relevant info regarding its spatial relationship with its environment. Yet this relationship is ongoing and therefore must be understood as phenomena that occurs over time. The organism must possess some innate tendency – some ability to order data streams in relationship to time and space.
What perceptual (cognitive?) framework do cells employ to deal with ongoing data streams supplied by their IMPs? Recall that IMPS, the protein-based receptor/effector complex embedded in the cellular membrane, provide the essential connection between the interior and exterior of the cell. In this crucial capacity, they are associated with cellular intelligence and Attention. How do cells deal with this ongoing flow of critical information?
Humans have developed the language of mathematics to accurately and precisely characterize natural law. Mathematics has the power to articulate phenomenal patterns, particularly those occurring over space and time. While the cell does not perform mathematical computations upon a data stream, we suggest that the method we have to best understand the cell’s patterning methodology is through the use of language of mathematics.
What type of mathematical system is the best candidate for understanding the cell’s relationship with ongoing and open-ended data streams provided by the IMPs? Calculus? This mathematical language was not designed to deal with ongoing and open data streams, but rather closed systems based upon fixed initial conditions. Probability? This mathematical approach was designed to analyze the nature of static data sets, not the open and ongoing data streams of living systems.
We propose that Data Stream Dynamics (DSD) is a mathematical language that more effectively addresses the unique nature of Life’s myriad data streams. DSD, the mathematics of our ID system, was deliberately designed to address open and ongoing data streams. We humbly suggest that DSD is ideally suited for this task.
Of course, the vast majority of living decisions are based upon automatic algorithms developed over billions of years. However, sometimes a reflex-like response is unable to adjust rapidly enough to abrupt changes. This is when a deliberate adjustment based upon appropriate analytics is required.
DSD is a simple natural computational system derived from Life’s innate image-overlay process. It provides analytics, noise filters and correspondences. Rather than automatic reactions to an unstable eco-system, these analytics enable Life to make informed decisions to adjust to specific situations in order to survive and reproduce. These decisions must take the collective well-being of the entire organism or cell into account - a coordinated response is required.
The IMPs that connect the inside and outside of a cell’s membrane provide the biological substrate that supplies the cell with binary data streams. Most of the time, the cellular response to this data is governed by autonomic subroutines. Yet not all cellular responses fall into this category. There are occasions when the survival or well-being of the cell depends upon a more sophisticated response to changes in the data stream. Appropriate cellular responses in these cases requires an ability to recognize and analyze these significant changes of the patterns within data streams.
It seems impossible that individual IMPS can provide this sort of sophisticated analysis. If the individual IMP proteins can’t possibly provide the holistic intention required for survival, then where does this inner ‘executive’, this collective Attention exist? Is it located in some undiscovered part of the cell? Or could it be instead an immaterial component that is inherently connected with the Cell’s ID system? Could it be an innate feature of Life’s Realm of Attention? (For more, see Notebook #40.)
Prior sections illustrated that Attention and data analysis are significant features of living systems. Recall that Integral Membrane Proteins (IMPs) provide the connection between the interior and exterior of the cell. It seems unlikely that the individual IMP proteins provide the holistic Attention required for survival. Lacking a holistic perspective, it is equally unlikely that the IMPs perform the data stream analysis that enables pattern recognition with its innumerable benefits to the entire organism. Why then have we spent so much verbiage on IMPs?
There are multiple reasons. On the most basic level, IMPs provide the material substrate for Attention, i.e. Life’s purposeful, ongoing relationship with information. While serving this vital function, they are not the only sort of building block Attention requires.
The IMPs react in a deterministic manner and make Attention possible. However, Attention must also engage in purposeful decision-making that is beyond the capacity of the individual IMPs. To make these decisions, cells must analyze countless data streams. To perform this task, cells have an Information Digestion (ID) system ( according to our model). The IMPs provide the fuel for the ID system that cellular intelligence (Attention) employs to digest information.
In such a way, the IMPs are essential for the operation of the ID system. While providing this system with fuel/food, i.e. data, the IMPs are not a processing part of the ID system. In like fashion, gas provides the fuel but is not an actual part of a car’s machinery.
The IMPs provide both the material substrate for cellular intelligence (Attention) and the fuel for Life’s ID system. Recall that IMPs include receptor and effector proteins. Receptor IMPs provide the building blocks of the senses, and effector IMPs provide the building blocks of living behavior. Let us see how.
In a previous section, we showed how IMPs provide the material substrate for Attention. What is the relationship between the IMPs and Attention’s ID system?
As the cell membrane’s IMPs turn on and off in response to environmental activity, they generate an ongoing data stream of 1s (on) and 0s (off). The cellular intelligence analyzes these ongoing data streams to make up-to-date decisions. The primal bacterium provided the first IMP data streams, the building blocks of all future data streams. These data streams are the fuel for Life’s ID system.
What do cells do with this data? Are these thousands of bits of information merely fed into some automated programs? Or do the cells analyze at least some environmental data streams in order to make decisions that facilitate survival? While on autopilot most of the time, we suggest that the cell and indeed all living systems must regularly shift from auto to manual due to dynamic and unpredictable environmental circumstances.
“Like humans, single cells analyze thousands of stimuli from the microenvironment they inhabit. Through the analysis of this data, cells select appropriate behavioral responses to ensure their survival.” (Bruce H. Lipton: The Biology of Belief, Hay House, Inc., 2008, p.7)
After analyzing the IMP data streams, the cellular intelligence chooses which reflex to trigger, or more appropriately which collection of reflex triggers (the moment) or which sequence of triggers (over time). The first entails a coordinated action for the moment, like a frog catching a fly with its tongue; the second represents sustained behavior over time, like the survival dance between the lion and the deer.
No matter which choice the cellular intelligence makes, it is choosing a set of preset behaviors that are hardwired into the IMP effectors. These predetermined actions are on autopilot. The cellular intelligence merely chooses which type of effectors to trigger, e.g. fight or flight.
Gradually over time, hardwired behavior patterns become ever more complex. But they all derived from the original IMP effectors embedded in the very first bacterium’s membrane. In such a way, the IMP effector proteins are the building blocks of living behavior.
Employing similar reasoning, we can safely say that the IMP receptors are the building blocks of our senses. With evolution, the composite senses became ever more sophisticated. However, these senses, e.g. sight, derived from the original IMP receptor proteins.
Both of these building blocks have a biological correlate in the brain, human as well as other species. The hypothalamus is a repository for sensory input, while the pituitary gland is responsible for triggering action.
“Think back to the cell membrane’s stimulus response mechanism, the receptor-effector proteins – the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands are behavioral equivalents. Similar to the role of receptor proteins, the hypothalamus receives and recognizes environmental signals; the pituitary's function resembles that of the effector protein in that it launches the body’s organs into action.” Lipton p 118
In other words, the two types of IMPs evolved into essential physiological features of living systems – a strong indication of their building block status with regards to our sensory-motor network.
The prior section illustrated that IMPs provide both 1) the data streams that cells analyze to enhance the possibility of survival and the foundations of our sensory-motor network – our senses and behavior. As if these features are not enough, the IMPs also provide the foundation of images.
Images? Why are images important?
On a physiological level, neuroscientists, such as the esteemed Damasio, believe that our brain is constructed of stacks of environmental images. These physiological images are not necessarily a visual representation, but could instead be any type of pattern, i.e. auditory or motor. For instance, an image could be a combination of sight, sound, smell and emotions from childhood – the delicious fragrance of night-blooming jasmine when walking down a familiar street with a good friend at twilight.
Images are built into the IMP proteins. Each receptor is a nearly exact image of environmental stimuli. In fact, there is a unique receptor ‘image’ for every situation. These images were intact in the very first bacterium 4.1 billion years ago and have been refined ever since. Over evolutionary time, living systems built upon these microscopic images to generate ever more complex renditions of reality. Eventually our hypothalamus takes all our sensory input to create an image of a thing or person, perhaps your mother.
From the hundreds of thousands of signals generated by the IMPs, cellular intelligence (Attention) forms an image – dynamic model of the environment. These images are overlaid upon top of each other with each collective on and off of the IMP switches. The effectiveness of the model including response is recorded (in the cell’s connective tissue?) as a working memory for similar interactions in the future.
The ultimate evolutionary manifestation of this imaging process is in the neural networks of our brain. Damasio even links image formation to the biology of the mind.
In addition to the brain’s physiology, images are also an incredibly important component of our Information Digestion model. According to our ID model, all living systems digest data streams (ultimately supplied by IMPs) via an Image Overlay Process (IOP). Let us review this incredibly important process.
According to our model, the IOP is the system that living systems must use to digest the data streams that are supplied by the IMPs. Note that this digestion process and all that it entails and implies must occur on some level regardless of whether Life is a mindless, purposeless automaton, as some notables maintain, or a purposeful decision-making creature.
In order to regulate the cell’s many essential processes with its myriad inter-dependent metabolic pathways, something must first identify the content of the IMPs data stream in order to assign a value to it. For instance, even the single celled prokaryotic bacteria can learn to avoid toxic environments. To accomplish this seemingly simple task, the bacterium must be able to recognize the identity of the potentially poisonous signals and then must assign a negative, as in potentially lethal, value to the data stream in order to avoid it. This ability to identify and assign value is independent of whether the bacterium is on automatic or manual.
The only way the amazing bacterium can identify and value a data stream is if it can in some way experience the info sequentially. We suggest that ‘experience’ must of necessity consist of an IOP, whereby successive data bits supplied, of course, by the IMPs are experienced and valued by the organism.
Let us call each data bit an image, which indeed they are. Recall that IMPs are virtually exact images of environmental signals, whether chemical, electromagnetic, or as some suggest, even mental. In order to identify and value these signals, the cellular intelligence (Attention) must experience not just one, but rather a sequence of signals. Further there must be a certain translucency between each signal. The most recent signal/image is the most urgent, hence has the greatest impact upon the organism. The impact/importance of prior images/data bits decays over time.
Put another way, the string or stack of images has an opacity which is less than 100%. In such a way it is possible for the organism to ‘see’ through the images to experience in diluted form what went before. As living systems, we experience the most recent image overlaid upon what went before. This IOP, as we shall see, provides both a sense of time and space, hence the possibility of assigning value and meaning.
In contrast to living systems, there is complete 100% opacity between successive bits of information for inanimate systems. Hence, they have no ability to sense/experience past data, hence have no experience of identity, time, value or meaning.
Even the primal bacterium from 4 billion years ago must have had the ability to identify and value environmental signals in order to assess nutritious from poisonous. There could not have been 100% opacity between data bits supplied by their IMPs. There must have been some translucency (opacity < 100%), even if only 99% between signals. At that point when the opacity dropped below 100% for the first time with the first bacterium, the IOP came into being.
The LA is the mathematization of this process. The Decay Factor, D, represents how much each successive data point decays in impact upon the organism. Inanimate matter’s Decay Factor = 1 (Opacity = 100%: Translucency = 0%). For all living systems, the decay factor D is greater than 1 (Opacity < 100%: Translucency > 0%). (Note: We could have called the Decay Factor the Translucency Factor, but we didn’t. Besides ‘trans-lu-cen-cy’ has too many syllables.)
In addition to enabling an organism to both identify and assign a value to a data stream (talents that are crucial for survival), the IOP also enables our sense of time. Let us see how the IOP performs this critical function.
The organism’s perception is linked to the collective Attention of hundreds of thousands of IMPs – each generating a single image, which merge into composite images. The perception of the prior images layered behind the current image is the step that transforms inanimate molecules into an integrated unit with a purpose. Individual IMPs do not have this ability – any more than a motorcycle can drive itself.
How does the cell perceive the past? What sense organ? None. The perception of the past occurs through data stream analysis. As mentioned, cells are first and foremost mathematical creatures. By reading the data, the cells can ‘see’ the past. In similar fashion, scientists can ‘see’ the inside of the Earth by analyzing seismic data.
Data analysis implies a memory of results – a cognizance of the past. What better way than the translucency of the Image Overlay Process (IOP) of our Information Digestion system (ID)? The IOP allows the organism to perceive the past.
The microscopic cellular scientists read the data streams supplied by the IMPs to create models of their environment. They test their models in action. Successful models are passed on to offspring. Unsuccessful models die with the organism.
What are these models based upon? Calculus? Probably not. Too automatic, closed to new data, not flexible enough.
Data Stream Dynamics? A perfect fit for the hundreds of thousands IMP data streams that bombard the cell’s collective intelligence, its microscopic mind. The evidence indicates that cellular scientists employ DSD, or some facsimile, to analyze these data streams.
By taking prior data into account, this analysis provides a sense of time that is a necessary ingredient in memory, identity and meaning. DSD also supplies a way to both transmit content, process and the relationship between the two.
Nature/Evolution built upon the systems of the single celled prokaryotes (bacteria) to generate ever more complex physiological systems in the multi-cellular organisms. Even though made up of countless cells of myriad types, the systems of multi-cellular organisms serve equivalent functions as the single celled systems from which they evolved.
Our sophisticated nervous system reflects these principles.
The behavior of a single cell is a combination of reflexive and intentional (at least according to our ID model). Most cellular behavior is on auto pilot (reflex). However, even the single cell has the potential to guide or shape the behavior upon which Attention is focused (Intention).
The cell’s microbiology exhibits these two functions. The cell’s IMPs are reflexive – stimulus-response. In contrast, the collective Attention that emerges from the IMPs has an intentional component – monitor and adjust.
Evolving from the single cell, the complex human nervous system exhibits these same two functions. Our nervous system has two parts – central and peripheral. The peripheral nervous system can also be divided into two parts – autonomic and somatic.
The autonomic nervous system is based in reflex, i.e. automatic responses to stimuli. In this sense, it can be likened to the IMP’s (inanimate Matter’s) stimulus-response mechanism. The somatic nervous system is based upon Attention’s (Life’s) ability to monitor and adjust to environmental circumstances. Inanimate Matter does not have this capacity.
Our autonomic nervous reflects the automatic behavior of the individual IMPs. Our somatic nervous system reflects the intentional behavior of the collective IMPs – Attention. In such a way, our nervous system reflects the much simpler functions of the single cell.
Let us examine the relationship between the somatic nervous system and Life’s ID system. Recall that the engine of our ID system consists of a Synergy that includes Attention, Feelings, Mind (the Executive) and Intention. Rather than free-floating, the ID system is inextricably tied to the Body.
It all begins with Attention (our sensory apparatus). Recall that Attention does not focus upon things, but rather upon data streams. Feelings assigns value to these data streams. Mind can choose the focus of Attention, i.e. which data stream. This ability is incredibly important as all behavior is on automatic except the data streams where Attention is focused.
Under this schema, Mind the Executive (decision-maker) can choose to focus Attention upon the data streams associated with the muscles controlled by the somatic nervous system (arms and legs), but not those data streams associated with the systems controlled by the autonomic nervous system (circulatory and reproduction).
After ‘monitoring’ environmental data streams via Attention and considering biological context, Mind directs Body, i.e. the musculature, to ‘adjust’ to circumstances. For instance, Mind can direct Body to procure food, avoid enemies, or seek out sexual partners.
Mind has other alternatives. In addition to directing the Body, Mind can choose both the focus and duration of Attention. Responding to competing urges or appetites, Mind can choose the appropriate data stream for Attention’s focus.
Further, the Executive Mind also has the ability to: 1) sustain Attention for sufficient duration upon a data stream to generate a meaningful Experience; 2) abandon the data stream for a more significant data stream; 3) shift Attention to a new data stream once the old one has generated an Experience. These possibilities can be performed automatically or with intention.
What is the significance of IMPs for my Info Digestion Model?
To have any validity, my admittedly dogma-challenging ID model must be tied to scientific facts. IMPs provide a biological substrate for Attention. Attention is a key component of the ID system – probably the most important.
Why so important? Attention provides the interface between Mind and Body and is associated with mental energy and image formation, hence Experience. Linking Attention to the IMPs provides some biological facts with which to bind my model.
All of the ID system’s components are indispensable. Feelings drive the ID system; Attention senses; Mind analyzes and decides; and Intention executes.
However, only Attention is indisputable. Grounding my model in the indisputable provides some necessary solidity, especially since the other components of the ID system are questioned by some. Feelings, Mind, Intention, mental energy and even Life are disputed by a significant group of philosophers and scientists. As we speak, multiple conferences have been organized with the express purpose of discussing whether Consciousness exists – pro and cons of myriad subtle positions. The educated have even written books about this bizarre topic.
Although Attention is never questioned, no one really knows what it is or how to define it – nothing satisfactory yet. Similarly, scientists know a lot about what energy does, but no one knows what it is. Having a biological foundation (the IMPs) grounds Attention in the body.
Although IMPs provide the basis of Attention, they are not it. Attention is linked to a Life Force, time’s vertical dimension and Life’s ID system with its IOP. None of these features apply to the IMPs, as they belong to the deterministic Material Realms.
However, IMPS are the building blocks of senses, behavior, images. Producing the original images, IMPs also provide the original data streams, the fuel of the ID System. As IMPs and Attention are linked, so is Attention linked to these significant aspects of Human Experience. As the building blocks of all these living features, the IMPs are also linked to the formation of Self, Mind and Consciousness. This is why IMPs are so exciting to me.
While these bi-polar proteins do not belong to the ID System, they are the physiological bottom – where Matter interacts with Life. No more searching. We have arrived at the foundation of senses, behavior, images and data streams.
No more speculating about the nature of the primal data streams. Each IMP switch generates a unique image stream – turning on and off when the appropriate environmental stimulus triggers the receptor protein images. Rather than numbers, the images are distinct material reflections of reality.
No more need to discuss ambiguous beginnings. The IMPs of the very first bacterium generated the very first data streams. This incremental stream of information enables the Image Overlay Process that is analyzed by Mind with DSD.
This biological foundation eliminates certain questions and focuses our mental energy upon other, sometimes more subtle, issues. For instance, is there any evidence for mental energy? What is the relationship between evolution and Life’s ID system? What is the behavioral significance of our ID model? Or what is the nature of the holistic force associated with Attention (the topic of our next article).