The evolution of synergy
Very interesting, short video on how evolution relies on synergy, the forming of new organisms by teaming up with others. It also applies to how synergy leads to social organization. An enticing quote: “It outlines a path for completely new organisms to evolve which does not rely on natural selection for increased complexity. In fact, just the opposite. It relies on relaxed selection and degradation” (9:15).
A point of debate is the tension of synergy and autonomy. The presentation highlights a loss of autonomy for the parts in a synergy. But it doesn’t address the new autonomy created for the parts given their interpenetrating symbiosis. By uploading some of the responsibilities required to maintain autonomy at the lower level onto the system, this frees up that energy to direct in more innovation explorations for those parts. Something lost, something gained.
Something biologically synergistic is, by definition (?), very fitness-enhancing, on average for the organism(s) involved. I’ll look at this and probably mostly agree. Except that what ultimately judges whether any new association or developmental novelty (e.g., environmentally induced) is synergistic? What process tunes it to be even more synergistic? Answer: Natural Selection. — PJW