Introduction
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My experience in business enterprise modeling laid groundwork for analyzing how to model a city. This led to a discovery that from the governance perspective, cities are simply regional extensions of a broader nation-state entity. Additional study showed that the structural parts of a nation-state are its organizations and citizens. Since citizens are organisms made up or organs and cells, I concluded that a nation-state must be a higher-level living system, a superorganism. Further examination showed that cells, organisms, and superorganisms all have the same life-function design.


My Background
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Much of my career has been spent helping large companies implement a business modeling method that I developed. While working to improve that method, I made several discoveries, among them:
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Every Business Enterprise Has the Same Basic Architectural Structure 
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This realization made it vastly simpler to model a company's business. Using an improved Integrated Modeling Method, I started with a standardized business template and incorporated refinements to reflect the unique characteristics of the particular business. The result was a 90% reduction in the time required to develop a company's business model.
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Later, I was asked to try my hand at modeling a city and its government. I knew that some internal operations of a city resemble those of a business, but had no conceptual framework for understanding a city as a unified system.
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What is a City?
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From a modeling standpoint, the answer to "What is a city?" was not at all clear, and it led to several frustrating years of research into existing materials on the subject. No single branch of knowledge provided a unified concept of a city, so I worked at synthesizing ideas from multiple disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, biology, anthropology and systems theory. By recognizing these perspectives as different views of the same reality, one concept emerged that could integrate all these ideas within a single framework:
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 A Nation, with Its States and Cities, is a Living System 
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What are the Attributes of a Living System?
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Well-established definitions generally indicate that a living system is a life form that can survive autonomously for a time within its environment. From a living system’s view, everything outside its perimeter is part of that environment. A particular kind of living system is organized to live in a specific kind of environment, and is dependent that environment for its existence.
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To sustain its life and wellbeing, a living system must interact with its environment and carry out certain basic life functions. An individual living system has a limited life cycle (birth, reproduction, death), during which it produces offspring by creating a new entity based on its own design. Often, the reproduction process introduces small random variations into the new design. Some design variations improve a living system’s ability to survive in its environment, and some degrade that ability. At the species level, these conditions are subject to evolution through natural selection.
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It is easy to see how these generalities might apply to a wide variety of living systems. But what happens when you try to compare specific examples drawn from cells and organisms, with those drawn from superorganisms?
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What will a Living Systems Model Do?
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Early in my review of the literature, I noticed a strong similarity among the governance structures within human cells, organisms, and nation-state superorganisms. If governance structures are so similar, wouldn't the essential structures of all living systems also be similar? What if all three levels of living system had the same underlying architecture? Where would one obtain the information necessary to validate this idea? One way would be to develop a living systems model that is applicable to all living systems.
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The objective is to create a comprehensive model of living systems, their structure, and the way they function. Although most of the material here will focus on human organisms, the intent is for this model is to encompass all eukaryotic living entities, and validate the theory that:
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 Every Living System Has the Same Basic Architectural Structure 
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The method being used to develop a model is to reverse engineer the inherent design of living systems, building on existing knowledge. Assuming that well thought out ideas about living systems from different disciplinary perspectives are correct and useful in some way, the challenge is to synthesize a conceptual framework within which all viewpoints are represented. In this light, discussions that follow are concerned with structure, knowledge and terminology.
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Structure focuses on identifying the underlying architectural framework of living systems, both physical and conceptual.
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Knowledge refers to accepting the variety of established ideas about living systems as compatible views from different perspectives of the same reality.
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Terminology seeks to rationalize the relevant concepts and descriptions employed within relatively isolated disciplines.
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The Structure of this Presentation
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As shown in the sidebar, the living systems material is divided into two main parts: Living Systems Operation; and Living Systems Development.
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Living Systems Operation focuses on structural and purposeful characteristics of fully-developed, operating living systems. It examines where they came from, how they are constructed, what they are trying to do, and how they do it. It identifies the key life functions that must be performed for an adult living system to exist and operate within its environment.
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Living Systems Development shifts to a higher perspective to examine the life cycle of all living systems, from creation to death. It lays out the development sequence for living systems of different levels and complexities. This provides a framework for explaining the influences of both natural environment and culture as a human organism emerges and grows. A three-level perspective is used to show how higher- and lower-level living systems are constrained to develop in tandem, and how this has defined and determined the human organism's view of life and relationship with the world.


Living Systems Operation begins with Origin and Evolution which describes how living systems evolved from simple cells into a three-level cell-organism-superorganism structure.


©1995-2012 Ackley Associates    Last revised: 7/16/11
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