Homo Electronicus, Denizen of the Telecosmic Age
Leane Roffey Line, PhD c 2008
In 1980, Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy published a book by Sedlak entitled Homo Electronicus. As much as I could understand with my limited knowledge of the Polish language, it got me to thinking about the nature of the electronic man as early as 1993. Now, in 2008, I believe he is a reality of our times.
Sedlak maintained that the "electronic man" was not just an idealization, but based on a real foundation involving the electronic features of an organism's components, an electronic model of Homo Sapiens, which he referred to as Homo Electronicus. Over the years the nature of bioelectronics has changed somewhat, as we have integrated various aspects of engineering and hard science into biology, but Sedlak's assertion that further modeling could be done by comparing what is known about electronics vs. what is known about living systems is, I believe, still a sound proposition.
He maintained that proposals for future study would be evidenced on two fronts:
1. On experimental results of studies of organic compound masses based on their electronic semiconductive, piezoelectric, pyroelectric, and ferroelectric properties, and
2. On the comparisons of tasks and functions of electronic devices with living electronic and bioelectromagnetic systems.
He has been vindicated on both counts in many areas. Therefore it is worth my time to pick some of the more salient elements of his theory and write this short essay summarizing what he had to say and my take on it. He proposes an integration of such knowledge with consciousness studies by also looking at man from an evolutionary perspective.
The biological applications of magnetic resonance, for example, are legendary at this point in time. We only need consider the effect NMR has had on the health industry to see the truth of that statement.
In addition to bioelectromagnetics, the literature is rife with studies on bioacoustics, showing how sound is used in communication and echolocation.
In anthropology, Sedlak maintained information could be obtained by performing a comparative analysis of primitive vs. contemporary man. Changes in man's environment and how living systems were affected was an area rich in information -- entire sciences of physical and cultural anthropology have arisen to explain man's condition. Nature vs. Nurture. Both natural and induced changes (Global Warming is a presently a classic example), are producing future effects on humanity.
Sedlak, no doubt, was unaware of many of the problems humanity now faces (he died in 1993), but his subcategories of Psyche and Bios he used to describe information pathways are still very apt in modeling today's denizen of the Telecosm.
As an organism, man is a marvelous creation of Nature, produced through billions of years of evolution. Our electronic side is strongly evidenced in the semiconductor nature of organic compounds, mainly proteins and nucleic acids. Our consciousness is a factor that should also be considered, although it has no distinct anatomic organ, so that the psychophysical unity that is Man is maintained. Sedlak stated one should seek an order of magnitude for the modeling on which Bios and Psyche are One. Only quantum model of reality seems to fulfill this requirement. So, our direction for modeling Homo Electronicus takes on quantum dimensions.
Electronically, an interpretation of Bios and Psyche might take on the following appearance. In a living conscious system, organized elements are assembled. These elements form an integrated system made up of piezoelectric protein semiconductors, produced metabolically with an exchange of fresh, structural molecular elements. Sedlak refers to this system as "Soma." Within this system is contained the subsystem of the brain, able to steer and coordinate the whole through a network of electronic, photonic, and phononic information channels. This is the foundation for the electronic model. The brain differentiated into its current form through evolution, evolving by maintaining constant control of internal processes in response to the demands of the environment, consequently somatic and cognitive control centered in that organ. It is an integrated subsystem composed of billions of cells which operate on principles of coupling chemical and electronic processes in a piezoelectric medium of protein semiconductors. Certain brain tissues also contain magnetic substances, which enable other forms of information to be transmitted in the form of signals to the body. In this model, consciousness arises from the ability of the living system to react to the changes in the parameters of these energy mediums. It is not, part and parcel, a separate phenomenon from the body, but rather a functional analog.
Because of our own interference, there have been and will continue to be essential changes in the EM properties of living systems, and I believe we will see repercussions in genetics over time.Sedlak addresses an important point: Are modeling operations artificial by design? Such modeling operations as Homo Electronicus may appear to be, but all our attempts to learn about natural events are in a sense unnatural, because Nature did not present herself for our cognitive benefit. Modeling is an investigative necessity, and charges of methodological spuriousness retreat under further discoverance of fact. As an example, even a small broadening of one's learning impacts one's ability to understand the nature of what is being modeled.
Modeling occurs quite naturally to most human beings, who have a tendency to organize and process information. Nowhere is that more true than in the Telecosmic Universe in which we now live. Networking, the use of mobile connectivity, emphasis on video and audio, multi-media dimensionality have expanded even the most primitive awareness of three-dimensional reality.Homo Electronicus interprets as well as lives his reality. It is in his nature. The current biochemical model of man had its roots far back in the 19th century, and even that interpretation of man is now far beyond what the original predicators could have envisioned. Combining biochemistry with the notion of bioelectronics, we have a formidable tool set with which to analyze man's substance and explain his current condition. We are, part and parcel, electronic, and we create, from within ourselves, bits and pieces of that electronic universe (after naming it "electronic" of course) that reflect our nature. As we advance further, we will create greater technology that further reflects what we learn about ourselves.
I would like to take a moment at this point to deliver Sedlak's definition of bioplasma based on what he understood. He maintained that in the blastula stage of development the homogenous molecular mass of piezoelectric semiconductors, i.e. the proteins, was subject to metabolism that intensifies. At the same time, in that mass, all the electrons that were energetically excited in the electronic processes comprise a second homogeneous mass that interacts with the original mass and its electrons. Although organic molecules are spatial units of the biologic mass, they act jointly with the sigma electrons making up molecular orbitals, and the mobile pi electrons delocalized on many bonds in molecules. Such molecules determine the chemical characteristics, and the electrons provide the requirements for the electronic properties these molecules possess. This energetically excited mix of electrons together with ion radicals that result from transient products of chemical reactions (which in turn are combined with protons and quasi-particle photons) form bioplasma. This bioplasma comes complete with quantum jolts of the molecular net resulting in things like phonons.
Within that electrical mixture, differentiation occurs. This substance reforms into the ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm. By the third week of fetal life, the primitive nerve and nervous channel that gives rise to the brain manifests as two informational channels that will become the circulatory and the nervous system. In both these systems, and this is important, there will remain electrical potential in the form of so-called action currents of the nerves and in the magnetohydrodynamic action of the arterioles. These channels then become part and parcel of the electrical mass, and are capable of transmitting impulses of information to the most distal parts of the body. Blood vessels deliver electrons on yet a third carrier, Oxygen, also essential for life.
Attempting to limit the mechanisms of information and its transmittal to strict anatomic structures leaves us at a disadvantage. A strictly biochemical model prevents us from falsifying hypotheses (the effective criterion of any scientific investigation) that will broaden both understanding and future modeling.
What about consciousness? I believe it is a quantum reality. It is, as Sedlak puts it (if I understand this rightly), the electronic system's response to external and internal information. In this type of model, it is electromagnetic in nature, an energetic factor which melds complexity into a functional unit. In the course of Electronicus' life, the physiological differentiation of receptors and/or abstract characteristics of reflection are the results of nurture rather than nature. There is a quantum paradox in this: Consciousness does not have to be conscious.
What then is the function of consciousness? For one thing, it takes in the information delivered by sensory observation...it is the variability of the energy system's balance as it is influenced by the fluctuations in it's environmental parameters. There is a limit to the scope of information that can be perceived by the sensory organs, perception has become more limited to the EM impulses received, perhaps over time. Picture instead two parallel channels, one consisting of metabolic processes and the other of mental experience. Sedlak characterized bioelectronics as the middle ground between the molecular and the mental, an area of electronic processes which take place precisely in the molecular part of the semiconducting proteins and nucleic acids, and other types of molecules that comprise biosystems.
We have "Bios" channels and "Psyche" channels. Information is reflected, much like in a hologram, from the mental channel into the Bios channels. This occurs via electronic signalling, or tracing. This is a more efficient reflection of how information is moved/processed than attempting to map it directly out of chemical reactions into the world of experience. By the time the chemical reaction occurs, the signal has already been sent and processed.
Psyche in a sense can be thought of as a dematerialized (or at least, not currently visible) part of Bios. Bioelectronics provides a definition for it without having to go beyond the material. Substance without mass. The substance is composed essentially of electromagnetic and quantum acoustic field effects in somatic semiconductors and piezoelectrics. Electrons, when treated as waves, may be considered to be "without mass". Consciousness itself may be actually defined as an n-dimensional result of a three-dimensional process. Keep in mind we cannot really "see" the quantum world, merely its afterimage.
This model is all about an electromagnetically integrated system of protein semiconductors working as an electronic aggregate. It proposes an integrated system, having energy fed by metabolic processes, visible in three-dimensions, but having effect in a greater universe. A fragment cannot be removed from the aggregate. We see this reflected now in the current telecosm, as fragments begin to coalesce into networks. We are left only with the illusions of separateness, which I believe we will evolve away from in the coming decades.
The chasm between Bios and Psyche on the level of anatomy and physiology disappears when brought down to quantum dimensions. New concepts of what life is are emerging, things seem to be obvious and yet are still unknown in hard fact. We are after all still modeling. We have consciousness of death besides that of life, but still know little about either. As Sedlak says, discovery of unknowns is the reward of lengthy creative work, and is a privilege of few. Ability to extract and understand the unknowns is the ability to learn. This is different from knowledge, which is based on gathering data and relying on known facts. It could be, that in showing that the biosphere we inhabit is really part and parcel of the greater whole, that Man, as he moves through his own bandwidth range, evolves beyond Electronicus, but into "what" remains to be determined.