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Über dieses Buch

This unique book offers a comprehensive and integrated introduction to the five fundamental elements of life and society: energy, information, feedback, adaptation, and self-organization. It is divided into two parts. Part I is concerned with energy (definition, history, energy types, energy sources, environmental impact); thermodynamics (laws, entropy definitions, energy, branches of thermodynamics, entropy interpretations, arrow of time); information (communication and transmission, modulation–demodulation, coding–decoding, information theory, information technology, information science, information systems); feedback control (history, classical methodologies, modern methodologies); adaptation (definition, mechanisms, measurement, complex adaptive systems, complexity, emergence); and self-organization (definitions/opinions, self-organized criticality, cybernetics, self-organization in complex adaptive systems, examples in nature).

In turn, Part II studies the roles, impacts, and applications of the five above-mentioned elements in life and society, namely energy (biochemical energy pathways, energy flows through food chains, evolution of energy resources, energy and economy); information (information in biology, biocomputation, information technology in office automation, power generation/distribution, manufacturing, business, transportation), feedback (temperature, water, sugar and hydrogen ion regulation, autocatalysis, biological modeling, control of hard/technological and soft/managerial systems), adaptation and self-organization (ecosystems, climate change, stock market, knowledge management, man-made self-organized controllers, traffic lights control).



Chapter 1. Life and Human Society: The Five Fundamental Elements

The aim of this chapter is to provide fundamental material about life and society (definition, evolution, etc), starting with a brief presentation of cell biology, DNA/RNA, protein synthesis, and a list of the principal discoveries about DNA and RNA. The meaning of “society” is discussed, followed by the life evolution on earth, and the evolution of human society (physical, vital, and mental stages). The common fundamental elements (pillars) of life and society which are studied in this book, namely: energy, information, feedback, adaptation, and self-organization are briefly introduced. As a supplement, this chapter includes a short outline of some purely societal fundamental elements which are encountered in humanity studies. These elements are: (i) pillars of democracy, (ii) pillars of fulfilled living, and (iii) pillars of sustainable development.

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Chapter 2. Energy I: General Issues

Energy is the basis of everything. It is the dominant fundamental element of life and society. Its movement or transformation is always followed by a certain event, phenomenon, or dynamic process. Energy is used by humans to acquire useful minerals from earth, and construct technological creatures (buildings, transportation systems, factories, machines, etc). The energy used by end users in our society comes from exhaustible sources (coal, fuel oil, natural gas), non-exhaustible (renewable) sources (hydroelectric, wind, solar) or from alternative sources (bio-alcohol, biodiesel, liquid nitrogen, hydrogen). In this chapter, we provide a historical tour to the energy and thermodynamics studies and developments, accompanied by an exposition of the fundamental aspects of energy. These aspects include the energy concept itself, the energy types, the energy sources, and the impact of energy generation and use on the environment.

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Chapter 3. Energy II: Thermodynamics

Broadly speaking, thermodynamics is the study of the relation of heat and other forms of energy (mechanical, electrical, radiant, etc), and the conversion of one form to another, as well as their relation to matter in the Universe. This chapter gives an overview of the major concepts, laws, and branches of thermodynamics that have been developed and studied over the years since the Carnot times. Specifically, this chapter defines the basic physical concepts of thermodynamics, with emphasis on the fundamental concept of entropy, and presents the four laws of thermodynamics. Particular aspects studied are the entropy interpretations (unavailable energy, disorder, energy dispersal, opposite to potential), the Maxwell demon, and the types of arrow of time (psychological, thermodynamic, cosmological, quantum, electromagnetic, causal, and helical arrows). This chapter ends with a number of seminal quotes on thermodynamics, entropy, and life that express the opinions of the founders and other eminent contributors and thinkers in the thermodynamics field.

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Chapter 4. Information I: Communication, Transmission, and Information Theory

Information is a basic element of life and society involved in all areas of human, scientific, technological, economic, and developmental activity. Information storage, flow, and processing are inherent processes in nature and living organisms. Information transmission and communication/networking techniques are contributing to the development of modern society, including social, economic, business, scientific, and technological operations and activities. This chapter covers at a conceptual level the following issues of information: definition, historical landmarks of its manifestations, communication models, modulation/demodulation, computer networks, multimedia, informatics/telematics, Shannon’s information entropy, source and channel coding/decoding, and theorems of information theory. The above set of information/communication models, techniques, and technologies are affecting, and will continue to increasingly affect the social, economic/business, and developmental activities of people in the short-term and long-term future.

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Chapter 5. Information II: Science, Technology, and Systems

This chapter is devoted to three modern subfields of information, namely information science, information technology, and information systems. These fields have an enormous impact on modern society and its development. Information science is generally concerned with the processes of storing and transferring information via the merging of concepts and methodologies of computer science, linguistics, and library science. Information technology (IT) or “infotech” covers all methodologies and technologies which are used for the production, storage, processing, transmission, and dissemination of information. Information systems use information science and information technology concepts and tools in the everyday operation of enterprises and organizations that needs the cooperation (symbiosis) of technology with human-controlled processes and actions. This chapter starts with a discussion of the fundamental general issues of information science including several classification schemes (knowledge maps), and continues with a guided tour to computer science, computer engineering, internet/www, and web-based multimedia. Finally, this chapter provides a general discussion of information systems which include their fundamental concepts, general structure, types, and development.

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Chapter 6. Feedback and Control I: History and Classical Methodologies

Feedback and control, the third fundamental element of life and society, is inherent in any stable and successfully operating system in the natural, biological, technological, and societal world. It is the fundamental mechanism which assures the achievement of system equilibrium and homeostasis. Very broadly, we can say that feedback is any response or information about the result of a process which is achieved via the available sensing elements. This chapter starts with an outline of the “feedback’’ concept, illustrated by a set of biological examples, and followed by an exposition of the historical landmarks of feedback and control which includes the achievements made from the ancient times to the present. Then, an overview of the classical control methodologies is provided in a convenient simple flowing way. Specifically, the following concepts and methods are discussed with minimum mathematical detail: basic negative feedback loop, stability, time domain specifications, root locus, Nyquist, Bode and Nichols plots, frequency-domain specifications and stability criteria, compensator design in the time and frequency domains, and nonlinear systems analysis via the describing functions and phase-plane concepts. Actually, this chapter offers a good review of the field which allows the reader to see the role of feedback as a pillar of life and society, and can be used as a quick reference source for all scientists interested in the field of feedback and classical control.

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Chapter 7. Feedback and Control II: Modern Methodologies

Modern control has decisively contributed to the human society development providing the means for successful control and efficient and safe operation of complex technological and non-technological systems such as computer-based systems, aircrafts, robots, automation systems, managerial systems, decision support systems, economic systems, etc. It is based on the concepts of “system state vector” and “state-space models” which are applicable to time-varying, multivariable, and nonlinear systems in both continuous-time and discrete-time representations. In this chapter, we present the fundamental concepts, principles, and methodologies covering most developments at an introductory level. Specifically, the following topics are considered: state-space modeling, Lyapunov stability, controllability and observability, optimal, stochastic, adaptive, predictive, robust, nonlinear, and intelligent control. Also, the following classes of dynamic models, that cover a wider range of natural and man-made systems, are briefly discussed: large-scale, distributed-parameter, time delay, finite state, and discrete event models. The field of modern control is still expanding offering new challenges in research and real-life bioengineering and technological applications.

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Chapter 8. Adaptation, Complexity, and Complex Adaptive Systems

Adaptation is inherent in all biological organisms and societal systems, and provides the means for assuring the fitness and survival of any biological species or society in a given environment. It was of primary concern by biologists and scientists over time and produced strong debates about its nature and impact on life evolution. Complexity is also an inherent property of life, human society, and technology. It is due to the interrelationship, interdependence, and connectivity of elements and entities in the interior and the environment of an organism or system. Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) have the general properties of complex systems, but they also exhibit several higher level features. In this chapter, an overview of this field is provided including biological, hard science, soft science, and computer science issues. This chapter starts by introducing the concept of adaptation, its manifestations, and its basic properties and mechanisms. The adaptation measurement aspect is also examined. Then, the concept of “emergence”, which again is one of the most difficult philosophical concepts strongly connected with delicate questions of life existence and evolution on Earth, is examined. This chapter includes a short historical note highlighting the results and opinions of workers that have initiated and expanded the adaptation, and emergence scientific field.

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Chapter 9. Self-organization

Self-organization is an inherent process of life and society that refers to the capability of biological, natural, and society systems to change their structure by their own during their operation, such as to show more order or pattern without the help of external agents. This chapter starts with the ontological question “what is self-organization” and provides representative alternative answers given by eminent workers and thinkers in the field. It continues by discussing the four fundamental mechanisms of self-organization observed in nature viz. synergetics, export of entropy, positive/negative feedback interplay, and selective retention, followed by an examination of the concept of self-organized criticality (edge of chaos). Then, this chapter discusses the contribution of cybernetics to the study of self-organization, and the relation of self-organization with “complex adaptive systems (CAS)” providing a description of five self-organization features that are transferred to CASs. This chapter continues with the presentation of six examples of natural and artificial self-organizing systems, namely ecological systems, magnetization, convective instability cells, linguistic systems, knowledge networks, and self-organizing neural network maps. The conclusions provide some additional remarks about complexity and the future of man-made self-organizing systems.

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Chapter 10. Energy in Life and Society

This chapter is concerned with the use and impact of energy on life and society. All activities of life and society are energy-based and energy-handling processes. The energy for all life on Earth comes from the Sun. Living organisms consume the available high-quality energy and return lower quality energy as specified by thermodynamics. Nonliving entities also consume energy over time, but life processes are more efficient in consuming energy. The three dominant stages of energy domestication in human societies are the survival stage, the stage of increased energy depletion, and the present stage of more efficient use of Earth’s energy resources (exhaustible and non-exhaustible). This chapter starts with a discussion of the three primary biochemical pathways, i.e., full series of energy-handling chemical reactions that take place in living organisms, namely, photosynthesis, respiration, and metabolism (catabolism, anabolism). Then, it examines the energy flow (food chains, food webs) in ecosystems including the efficiency of this flow. This chapter continues with a number of issues of the energy role in human society, namely the evolution of energy resources, the relation of energy with economy, the management of energy such that to achieve energy saving, the demand management which leads to “peak demand” minimization, and the use (consumption) of energy including relevant statistical data for the different parts of the Earth. The above issues and problems show the critical role of energy both for the life and the society, by providing the fuel needed for their existence, activity, and sustainability.

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Chapter 11. Information in Life and Society

Information is present in all natural, living, and technological systems, and is recognized as the third basic universal quantity after energy and matter. For this reason, information manifestations in both natural and man-made systems have attracted the interest of humans through the historical evolution of the humankind. On the life and biological side of information there are two axes of study, namely: (i) the study of the underlying natural/biological mechanisms of storing, processing, and transmission of information from cells to entire organisms, and (ii) the use of biological mechanisms of computation in the design and implementation of new types of man-made computational systems. On the technological side, information and communication technology (ICT) is increasingly entering to the “heart” of large-scale competitive policies, due to its capacity as a key player in the ongoing human growth, development, and modernization. This chapter is concerned with the role and application of information to life and society. Regarding the life side the issues of the substantive role and the transmission sense of information in biology, the natural information principles, and biocomputation, are discussed. On the society side, the application of IT to office automation, power generation and distribution, computer-integrated manufacturing, robotics, business and electronic commerce, education, medicine, and transportation, is investigated. This chapter ends with a look at the issues of social networking, and ethics of IT (infoethics).

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Chapter 12. Feedback Control in Life and Society

The aim of this chapter is to illustrate the role of feedback, negative and positive, in biological and societal systems and applications (technological, behavioral). Feedback, the third fundamental element of life and society, is a process which is based on energy, and exploits the information existing or generated in each particular case. The mathematical analysis of feedback is more easy to be made successfully for well-defined simple or complex man-made systems, and more difficult or incomplete for living and society systems. For the convenience of the reader the material of this chapter is presented via a number of selected biological, societal, and technological examples. These examples demonstrate that both negative and positive feedback is present and efficiently used by living organisms and human societies. Negative feedback offers the means for achieving stability and the goals of each case. Positive feedback is used whenever a purposeful oscillatory behavior is the desired goal. Negative feedback biological examples considered in this chapter are: temperature regulation, water regulation, sugar regulation, and hydrogen ion (pH) regulation. Positive biological feedback is illustrated by autocatalysis and auto-reproduction chemical reactions. Mathematical models and controllers in biological systems are provided for enzyme operation, biological rhythmic movement, insulin–glucose balancing, and cardiovascular-respiratory system. On the societal side, this chapter discusses four technological (hard) systems (process control, manufacturing systems control, air-flight control, and robotic systems control), and two types of soft systems, namely management control and economic system control. In hard systems, the control means include prime movers and end effectors, whereas in soft systems, the means of control are regulation laws and rules posed by rulers, managers, and government.

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Chapter 13. Adaptation and Self-organization in Life and Society

The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate the role of adaptation and self-organization in life and society. The range of adaptation is very wide and includes, among others, animal physiology adaptation, immigrant adaptation, animal fertility adaptation, emotional adaptation, adaptation to stress, etc. Self-organization is an intrinsic process taking place in both biological and societal systems. In both cases, the rules of self-organization are determined on the basis of local information only, without information from a global level. Examples of self-organizing biological systems or patterns include a raiding column of army ants, a termite mound, pigmentation patterns on shells, etc. This chapter illustrates the presence of adaptation and self-organization through a number of representative examples, namely: adaptation of animals, adaptation of ecosystems, adaptation of immune systems, adaptation of socio-ecological and general societal systems, self-organization of knowledge management, and self-organization of technological and man-made systems (traffic lights control, WWW, multiagent robotic systems, bio-inspired systems). The above examples demonstrate clearly that adaptation and self-organization are fundamental processes for the survival of living organisms and societies, and the optimal operation of hard and soft man-made systems.

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