Scaling Holds Us Back

We use scaling laws to help us bridge between single molecules and higher order architectures, but we encounter problems with our 'understanding.' Integration is an emergent property of all natural systems including bees and micro-devices. Be they biological or engineered, systems are not mere collections of their parts. If they were, these systems would be subdivideable, and they are not. A system's ontology depends on context that in some complex way uniquely 'defines' a system's components. Outside 'the' system the components have different meanings. If we remove components from a system, the system looses its original identity and changes to something else.

Because systems 'emerge' we cannot predict when 'system properties' arise from assemblies of parts, but we must realize our inability to 'understand' is not from our failure to comprehend but from these inherent 'systemic properties' brought about in part as interactions accumulate.

Because dissecting cannot reveal how a system works, we must redefine our ideas of 'emergent system' and 'understanding' to include modeling as a new way to obtain information. If we can 'simulate' a system, and our model or simulation arrives at the result we expect from the original system, we might then say we

'understand' the correlation between the initial state and the outcome in both.

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