Sensory Awareness Sequence
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Once control action has been initiated and turned into physical work, the governance mechanism needs feedback to determine if the results meet expectations. This feedback is accomplished through collective sensory actions that begin with receptor biomolecules whose results are aggregated into higher-level sensory information at each level as they proceed upward through the hierarchy.


Summary
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When homeostatic imbalance causes governance to initiate corrective action, there must be a mechanism to indicate whether or not the resulting work has improved the situation. This third of three parts describes how sensory awareness is employed to provide feedback to compare actual results with the expected results of governance-directed work.
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Governance Control Perspective
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All living system action pertains in some way to the homeostatic balance that is necessary for life. Correspondingly, all governance-initiated action may be viewed as corrective in nature, and aimed at resolving an immediate or anticipated future imbalance. This corrective process will generally be carried through to completion, unless interrupted by unexpected pain or other urgent requirements. When a living system's governance mechanism initiates action, it follows this general sequence:
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    •  Initiate Corrective Action Scenario.
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    •  Sense Actual Results and Compare with Expected Results.
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    •  <if match> Initiate Next Action in Scenario Sequence.
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    •  <if no match> Find and Initiate Appropriate Action Sequence.
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                  (see scenario control unit diagram for details)
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Sensory Awareness Perspective
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Sensory Awareness, as described here, focuses on that portion of the total governance control sequence that senses actual results and compares them with expected results. The explanation of how it works begins with a question: Out of the myriad of sensory inputs, how does a governance mechanism identify and focus on those inputs that are relevant to carrying out its self-directed scenario? Part of this connection is accomplished through structural specialization of lower-level organization units and their living system components, and part takes place through the formation of matching linkages within the governance mechanism itself.
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Specialization for sensory information processing occurs at both the organization unit and component living system levels. For example, the system that provides sensory input for an organism's visual awareness involves a hierarchy of tightly structured, specialized kinds of work, produced first by biomolecule (opsin protein), then by organelle (retinal membrane), then by cell (photoreceptor), then by organ (eye), and finally by a portion of the organism's brain (occipital lobe).
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Linkages within the governance mechanism are formed by the establishment of interconnections between expected result patterns associated with the initiated work and the sensory indicators of actual results. Although they all perform the same basic function, there is a wide spectrum of mechanisms and techniques for actually comparing expected vs. actual results. Depending on the living system level and other factors, the comparison may be:
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    •   Simple and clear, or loose and ambiguous.
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    •   Direct, or requiring further information and analysis.
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    •   Immediate, or subject to time-delays.

At the cell level, homeostatic governance control mechanisms are hard-wired to respond directly to changing conditions with immediate sensory-directed action. In contrast, organisms and superorganisms have an additional decision-making step that evaluates certain kinds of sensory inputs to determine what action (if any) should be taken. In human organisms, the autonomic nervous system is essentially hard-wired in this regard, while many parts of the somatic nervous system are subject to the decision-making process that is involved in learned, self-directed, voluntary behavior. Superorganisms have capabilities for quick-reaction in the case of emergencies such as national disasters, as well as reasoned responses to more routine situations.
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There are situations where ongoing governance-initiated actions are interrupted by events in a living system's external environment. Within this three-part framework, such new sensory inputs can be viewed as "unexpected results" from currently running scenarios, indicating that initiation of new scenarios may be required.
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Sensory Awareness Sequence Chart
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This chart shows the sequence of sensory actions, working from bottom to top. The Fan-in Conveyance rows indicate the supportive kinds of information from lower-level entities that are involved in producing a higher-level perception.
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Key differences in complexity and capability are indicated by extra rows in the table. At cell, organism, and superorganism levels, additional "compare" and "take action" steps are added to show where decisions and immediate corrective action may be needed at the local level. Because of the market-driven aspects of many types of organizations, the two additional steps are also shown there.



Sensory Awareness Sequence
Hierarchy Level Control Unit Sensory Action



Superorganism: Administrator take action
Superorganism: Administrator control action needed?
Superorganism: Administrator compare with expected sensory pattern
Superorganism: Implementor produce superorganism sensory pattern
Superorganism: Implementor aggregate organization sensory patterns
Fan-in Conveyance: statistical indicators
Organization: sensory transmitter transmit organization sensory pattern
Organization: evaluator take action at this level?
Organization: comparator compare with expected sensory pattern
Organization: sensory producer produce organization sensory pattern
Organization: pattern aggregator aggregate organism sensory patterns
Fan-in Conveyance: status reports
Organism: Administrator transmit organism sensory pattern
Organism: Administrator take action at this level?
Organism: Administrator compare with expected sensory pattern
Organism: Implementor produce organism sensory pattern
Organism: Implementor aggregate organ sensory patterns
Fan-in Conveyance: neurological patterns
Organ: sensory transmitter transmit organ sensory pattern
Organ: sensory producer produce organ sensory pattern
Organ: pattern aggregator aggregate cell sensory patterns
Fan-in Conveyance: neurological patterns
Cell: Administrator transmit cell sensory pattern
Cell: Administrator take action at this level?
Cell: Administrator compare with expected sensory pattern
Cell: Implementor produce cell sensory pattern
Cell: Implementor aggregate organelle sensory patterns
Fan-in Conveyance: chemical patterns
Organelle: sensory transmitter transmit organelle sensory pattern
Organelle: sensory producer produce organelle sensory pattern
Organelle: pattern aggregator aggregate biomolecule sensory patterns
Fan-in Conveyance: chemical patterns
Biomolecule: sensory transmitter transmit biomolecule sensory pattern

Note that further corrective action may take place at any level of living system.

Note also that for human-based living system hierarchies, where organizations are market-driven, corrective action may also take place at the organization level.


The next section on Living Systems Development shifts the focus from the operational view of living systems to an explanation of how they have been created and developed. It begins with Life Cycle Framework.


©1995-2012 Ackley Associates   Last revised: 7/20/11
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