Welcome to the Blue Oak Mountain Technologies website.
Artificial Life Technology Architectures that are Fundamentally Different
Blue Oak is reinventing itself to focus our business on our patented Artificial Life (AL) technology, also known as “digital biology” to some researchers. What is digital biology?
We are developing new architectures for Artificial Life (AL) as an on-going process, but we are using ideas that are very different from Artificial Intelligence (AI) designs in the state of the art. As you read these pages, you will discover that we think differently about both AL and AI, much differently than most others in these fields. And while our ideas do fit into the broad category of digital biology, you may find they are quite unlike anything else in that field because our focus is goal-directed biological behavior as a conditional system of proactive interaction between an organism and its environment and its specific habitat. A system that is conditional in the sense that out simulated organism must proactively maintain its own future existence like a real organism does.
Our ideas may seem new or even strange to you. But study and think about them carefully, and we think you will find our thinking is part of a cohesive, wider system of ideas that has the potential to change AL in many positive ways. You may find our views differ from those of many others as follows:
- As explained on succeeding pages, we think of both biology and our simulations in terms of layered conceptual abstraction models. Each layer is its own causal context, and the layers only communicate with each other and the outside environment through standard interfaces in a manner analogous to how the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) models works for computer network systems. The analogy is not perfect, but still very useful to understand how these systems interact. This approach has many benefits, as will be explained later. What is the OSI model?
- We think of life processes as primarily biological, not mechanistic above the molecular organic chemistry level of action. More biological ideas must be included in AL for life simulation systems to more accurately mimic organisms. Biology as it applies to the lives of organisms is the study of goal-directed, proactive relational processes that are a constant part of all living action. Each organism is inseparably related to its environment at every level of the model, but in different ways. This is true even for an organism's own internal system processes because even its internal processes also indirectly impact its survival. It is easy to see that there are many, many relationships involved in all the interactions, both between the layers in the model and the environment outside, which is the unique habitat that is the ultimate cause of the existence of the organism in the first place. Focusing on the systemic functions of an organism alone, without constantly including its constant connection to environmental interaction, is an ineffective strategy. This approach is not effective because doing so implicitly ignores the inherently relational nature of life processes. The internal identity and processes of the organism become the focus, and their environmental causes and constant interactions tend to be forgotten or at least de-emphasized. So we spent many years studying a new way to think about life that provides better conceptual models and a bigger and more mathematically precise picture about how organic system logic works in general, as well as the crucial aspects of how organisms relate to their environments.
- Biology may be based on the mechanisms of bio-chemistry, but the processes of organisms are proactive in relation to their environment. Proaction" is a form of goal-directed action that is different from mechanistic "reaction." After each proaction, the organism reacts in complex ways according to the identity of its internal processes to register changes in its environment and compare them to its survival needs. Then the organism proactively does something to fulfill its needs using self-generated energy to do so. These are all specific, limited, quantitative processes. And if the organism survives, then it gets to act again to cause its own future survival --- indefinitely (either until if fails to survive a proaction or it simply wears out). There is a system logic to this cycle that is not the same as the mechanistic system logic of computer systems, but rather a form of active system logic we call "teleologic," or goal-directed logic. A relational, quantitative, goal-directed logical system is just as valid as a mechanistic logical system because it operates by the same Law of Identity and Law of Causality as mechanical logic does, but is simply different in the way it works. If you keep reading, you will find out why that is the case and how teleologic systems work to keep life processes in existence.
- We think differently about causality too. Why is this important? The answer is that there are many apparent contradictions between both biologically automatic and free-willed goal-directed action and the way we think about mechanistic system logic. These ideas about living actions seem to contradict many state of the art ideas such as mechanical determinism, or the so-called "random chance" that is assumed to govern both mechanical and living processes. Neither accounts for the differences between living and mechanical processes as active systems. We have concluded that these apparent contradictions are the result of a faulty concept of causality that few people question. After investigating the logic of goal-directed action we now seriously question the traditional idea of causality as it is usually applied to life processes of simply two events in a sequence, like billiard balls colliding. With the new causal concept we use any apparent contradictions can be resolved, as is explained in our work and references. We think this new concept of causality if used in conjunction with layered models will lead to more progress in AL systems design. Our view is that causality is not merely an event-action, "billiard ball" type process. The world or environment consists of entities and other existents (including organisms), each with a specific set of properties in specific amounts. And all these things have specific, quantitative relationships to each other. There are not simply sequenced events occurring one after the other even with mechanical cause and effect, but rather, all the information relating to two things interacting (including quantities) is part of the overall context of causality for each cause and effect instance that occurs. This view is our concept of causality, what we call identity-interaction causality, which is an inherently quantitative, relational process that much better explains the causal interactions of both non-living and living things in our opinion. This new concept better explains causality because it includes the full context of how things relate and interact. Each instance of cause and effect becomes a quantitative transaction that occurs in a specific context, not merely two events in a simple temporal sequence of one after the other.
- With identity-interaction causality, what a thing is determines what it can do according to the following generalization: Identity determines action capacity. By using that principle in our AL system designs, we have been able to find much more effective ways to simulate life processes.
- Even life processes like sensory perceptual and conceptual consciousness can be more clearly understood with identity-interaction causality as a natural, biological, quantitative, causal process of organisms relating to their environment. Our subsequent pages explain how the concept of identity-interaction causality can be used to better explain the relational nature of biological processes in general, and how this new understanding can be used to improve AL simulation system designs. We hope you enjoy reading them.
If you find these ideas interesting, feel free to read more, including our book and white papers. These documents will introduce you to a whole new way to think about AL and how to design new systems with much wider capabilities.
Our technology architectures are patented and must be licensed to users. We will offer licenses to those who want to utilize our technology architectures for AL projects of their own. But to do so requires that you grasp many new ideas first. For those interested, we suggest you read on to learn what you need to know, then email us your questions about how to move forward.