Development Requirements
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All living systems must go through a development sequence that provides them with the capabilities necessary to live and reproduce within their external environment. A dependent living system's external environment is provided mainly by its higher-level living system's internal environment, as part of their contractual arrangement. A dependent living system's development sequence must therefore provide the additional capabilities necessary to perform specific work for its higher-level living system. This involves specific structural and/or neurological specialization of its work capabilities.


Dependent Living Systems Have Additional Requirements
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Once they have grown and developed, all living systems must perform a set of life functions to sustain their existence within a given external environment. A representative list of these functions was shown on the Subsystems and Functions page. The ability to perform these life functions can be interpreted as a basic design and development requirements specification for all living systems.
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The three-level hierarchy's contractual relationships make the execution of life functions more complicated. They introduce major changes in the way a dependent living system's life functions are carried out. These changes appear as additional dependency-related operating requirements, which must also be reflected in corresponding development requirements.
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Additional Operating Requirements for Dependent Living Systems
Interact cooperatively with peer-level living systems.
Receive nourishment and energy from a higher-level living system's structure.
Develop specialized capabilities to perform work for the higher-level living system.
Embed within an organization unit that determines what work needs to be done.
Perform specialized work as demanded by the higher-level living system.
Reproduce to provide additional workers needed by the higher-level living system.
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How the Additional Requirements Are Developed
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Within their individual life cycles, dependent living systems are able to fulfill their additional requirements through three mechanisms: basic structure, developmental specialization, and operational adaptation. In cells and simple organisms, structure and specialization are essentially hard-wired from birth, allowing no individual adaptation capability. In human organisms, all three mechanisms play major roles.
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Basic Structure: All living systems are created with a foundation of fixed structure and inherent capabilities. Organisms also have built-in propensities that can be externally imprinted and/or programmed for specialization and adaptation.
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Developmental Specialization: As dependent living systems develop, they react to their current environmental conditions, which tailors their capabilities to perform the specialized work needed by their higher-level living system's life functions.
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Operational Adaptation: Some organisms have the ability to relearn their specialized work capabilities in response to changes in their superorganism's needs.
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Basic Structure
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In a new cell, the basic structure is provided through binary fission, where a mother cell replicates its DNA and divides into two identical daughter cells. This cell structure is fixed, and does not change during a cell's lifecycle.
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In an organism, development of the basic structure begins when a male germ cell (spermatoza) joins with a female cell (oocyte) to produce a fertilized ovum. The ovum contains a new genome, which results from a synthesis of the male and female cells' genomes. As it develops, the new organism's basic structure is genetically predetermined, although current research may soon allow some degree of genetic redesign within a living system's lifespan.
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In a superorganism, the basic structure emerges when a group of organisms integrates together for mutual benefit, forming a common meme-pool. This meme-pool embodies the basic structure of behavioral constraints that create a higher-level superorganism's aggregate structure. As the group grows larger, and members have opportunities for specialization, properties of the new superorganism emerge and it becomes self-organizing. In an ant colony, the meme-pool design is fixed, being based on ant components that are not capable of learning new behavior. In a nation-state superorganism, the meme-pool-based structure is more fluid, being based on citizen components who learn their cooperative behavior within an evolving culture.
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Developmental Specialization
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A common feature of dependent living systems is the requirement to develop specialized work capabilities in support of their higher-level living system. During development, a dependent component is guided on where, when and how to work with others to collectively produce the higher-level life functions.
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For a dependent cell, this specialization is imprinted by specific conditions during initial development within its growing organism. The cell's specialized structure does not change thereafter during its life cycle.
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For a dependent organism, a more flexible specialization occurs at various stages of its development, allowing changes to occur as it ages and/or as its superorganism's life function requirements change. Ants, although hard-wired, are born with alternate specializations, allowing them to switch roles based on ant colony signals or environmental conditions. Humans, being capable of learning, are able to adjust to new superorganism requirements, based on directives, market changes, or meme-pool cultural changes.
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Operational Adaptation
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For a dependent cell, once specialization has occurred it is fixed for the life of the cell. Although the basic cell structure remains fixed, interconnections between cells may change over time. For example the learning that takes place within an organism's brain is made possible when new synapses are formed among existing neurons.
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For a dependent organism, some adaptability is inherent in its design. As a superorganism adjusts to its own changing environmental conditions, its dependent organisms may be required to perform different kinds of work. Storm damage may force an ant colony to shift many of its ants from food gathering to nest repair. An external threat may force a nation-state to shift many of its citizens from performing their daily work to defending their country. Less dramatic shifts in organism work occur on a continuing basis as a superorganism seeks to maintain its internal homeostasis within a changing environment.


Actual development to meet these dependency requirements does not always occur as a neat sequence within a living system's life cycle. Development Sequence shows how and where development occurs for different levels of living system.


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