Recursion: The wonder of “Strange Loops”

by Limbic on November 29, 2008

Kevin Kelly explores a topic I also find fascination – recursion:

In 1978 Douglas Hofstadter wrote an mind-boggling book about recursive forms, called “Godel, Escher, Bach” after his three favorite geniuses who reveled in recursiveness. The award-winning book explored the nature of systems which bend their output back into themselves to make something new. GEB conjured with these “strange loops” with such wit and appropriate playfulness that is hard to imagine another book on the subject ever topping it.

The Technium is shaped by these same recursive forces. As Hofstadter showed, computer programing is founded on the notion of strange loops and regression, the most extreme representation being the infamous circular “infinite regress” of bad programming. Technology, like biology, is governed by feedback circuits. Up and down its being, technology will find itself looping back to create some weird strange loop of influence, and in that strange circuit some new force is launched into the technium. Recursive loopiness is thus the prime engine for bootstrapping and self creation.

Progress, intelligence, and life itself are all fueled at the fundamental level by bootstrapping, self-creation, autopoeis, auto-genesis — all names for recursive organization.  [Kevin Kelly — The Technium]

From the comments:

“Cybernetics is the study of systems and processes that interact with themselves and produce themselves from themselves.” Louis Kauffman

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