Note On The Colloquial Definition of Emergence / by Bryce Hidysmith

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In some piratical bar of the species of simulacra that ate my hometown, drinking a small-run rum called Triumvirate with a pair of temporarily Heisenmarried bright ones, one of them, C. Barnett made a point I want to reiterate, though paraphrased: "Emergence is just an acceptable woo term for things we can't understand at the moment."

I want to bolster this position. From a properly knowing position the barest Newtonian problem simplified in a 9th grade physics textbook is as emergent as the choreographies of ant colonies, the twists of the Lorenz Attractor, the machinations of an uninterpretable machine learning system, or the human mind or body. This is in contrast with the pseudo-humility of the colloquial, where emergence is still an acceptable kind of excuse where one can pretend to know the behavior of something by hand-waving its complexity as being insurmountable. There is a popular sense that there might be syndromes of the world that simply emerge out of a given system's configuration, rather than the process of said emergence being concieveably trackable. 

There is, of course, a frustratingly non-colloquial use of the word that reflects its definition on Wikipedia, which is the same way that I would use the term even though I know that many people might not really grok it. I would desperately like to popularize this version. 

To reiterate if you are not a clicker of links: there is the term emergence that refers to the process by which complex systems may arise from individuated simple processes. Still, even holding onto the sane and descriptive potential of that definition, there must exist a state of superior surveillance, perhaps at the physical scale that we might round out from our current perspective to omniscience, that contains a step-model of chain of ascendant causality, so that such systems which we presently describe as emergencies become a continuous plane of one cause followed by effect, rather than a discrete jump from which the simplicity we can track becomes a mystic "emergence." In an odd way, it's like the moment when you realize the truth that, in fact, y = mx + b actually is an AI for telling you the slope of a line. It's at least a system of automation, which is almost atomically similar at such low-levels of complexity. 

Perhaps for one who is capable of the humility to accept the limitations of a given intellect, it becomes clear which side of the chasm of understanding it is reasonable to bet contains the bulk of complexity, with the supposed emergence as an event horizon. Perhaps this is the emotional method by which one must confront the existence of even the smallest, most tolerable singularity. The truth of the matter is in the name. At the moment, it seems as though for my class and generation we have chosen to reject the truth even of the words we use. In our moment, shell-shocked and scared from the crises of the limits of Modernism, this is our emergency. This, I think, is key to what Mr. Gu Meant when he spoke of of what it meant to Reject Yourself. 

p.s. the Russians are Coming is still a great movie, go watch it.