Minimum Viable Hyperorganism


Excerpt from Andrew Keener’s upcoming book: Continuous Experimentation 

Our definition of a physical “organism” is closely related to our definition of “living” itself. From a single-celled plankton to the human body, the ability to maintain cohesion, protect a semi-permeable boundary between self and environment, sustain its own existence, and reproduce are the difference between a complex system and living system.  Our understanding of an organism is tied to what it means to act as a minimum viable living system, regardless of the subsystems necessary to reproduce this “atomic” sovereignty.

Because we want to apply this organic scaling strategy to our socioeconomic systems, we can now ask a much harder question – how do we create a complex adaptive system, made up of human workers, ideological and socioeconomic constructs, machines, and information systems that can maintain their long-run viability. In other words, how can we use Organic Leadership to build a corporation, nation, or global economy that cannot die? We have seen throughout history many nations – and several empires – rise and fall, economic systems falter and crumble, and multiple millions of for-profit ventures fail to survive. If such constructs are the essential scaling pattern of human socioeconomic behavior, how do we create one that can come alive, and survive eternally?

We are creating an entirely new construct, then.  Just as a tesseract represents the construct of a fourth-dimensional cube – a “hypercube” what we are defining is a socioeconomic construct that is not merely considered a legal entity, it comes to life and does not die (for a very long time). We will call this construct a hyperorganism.

A hyperorganism is a quasi-eternal system and we establish our corporations as a legal entity that perpetually exists. Some of today’s corporations are very likely to evolve into the first hyperorganisms. A hyperorganism is made up of human workers, ideological and socioeconomic constructs, machines, and information systems, and many of our largest corporations are aspiring to this level of interdependent complexity. In fact, the primary shortcoming of today’s corporations is their apparent inability to maintain their long-run viability. The evolution increasingly sophisticated, super-intelligent information systems will resolve this problem, moving us toward empirical process control and long-run rational economic decisions. This will be sufficient to create the ability to maintain cohesion, because the survival of continuously-updated reliable information will temper the inconsistencies of human cultural and sociopolitical oscillation.

As our legal, financial, and ideological systems grow to answer new questions in response to the evolving hyperorganism, they will build out increasingly more complex systems of negotiation and governance, allowing it to protect a semi-permeable boundary between self and environment – in fact, through competition, emergencies, distrust, and litigation, an ever-stronger boundary of the hyperorganism will be inevitable. By gaining self-awareness as an emergent construct, developing increasingly resilient multi-fractal scaling patterns it will sustain its own existence, creating sophisticated value streams that test without running dry. Once the first hyperorganism emerges, it cannot help but reproduce – leaving risk to its next generation despite living in millennia.

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