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The whole universe is learning and evolving. How about you?

By Charlie Badenhop

This article is a broad perspective look at the topic of evolution, and how it relates to you and me. All of life is intelligent, all of life is learning and evolving, and all of life is adapting to change. It is quite fascinating to think about how the learning that you do is not all that different than the learning of an ecosystem, or a baby bird.

I find it invigorating to consider how creativity, and the ability to learn and adapt, is a natural capacity built into all living systems. The ability to learn is an instinctive and primary trait that is a sign of life itself. Human beings, companies, forests, the ocean, the entire environment of earth, and the solar system. All are living systems, all are intelligent, all are learning, and all are adapting to life... And in the process of all this "living" each system will radically change over time.

It might just be me, but as human beings it so often seems that what we want to be able to do is adapt and change, WHILE staying the same. A feat that is indeed impossible. Learning, evolution, and change, go hand in hand. We can't have one, without the other two. In regard to the natural world of living organisms and ecosystems, evolution is learning on a grand scale. Evolution is nature learning. Species and ecosystems adapt, radically change, and evolve over long periods of time. Nature "learns" what to do in order to maintain a certain stability, which invariably means adapting to the change in the status quo.

When we take a broad perspective and view the ongoing process of the evolutionary change that takes place all around us, it is clear that nothing stays the same, and also that no one organism or no one "aspect" of the natural environment changes on its own. All of life is involved in a marvelous swirl of co-evolution. Co-evolution is an integral part of adaptation, an integral part of the relationships we share with other life forms, an integral part of you and me. All the learning done by any one species, individual, or ecosystem, is always done in relationship to the learning of "others". All of life spurs on the innovative process of change and learning in all of life. The system known as "universe" is never static.

The likelihood of any organism or environment surviving and perhaps even thriving, over the long run, depends on the ability to adapt to adverse conditions, new patterns of interaction, and ever changing rules. Evolution is a conservative game of trial and error. All systems, all organisms, (including human beings) are in a constant state of evolution, and thus we are never complete as we are. Evolution is progressive. All of life evolves from the simple to the more complex. The learning and change involved in evolution does not take place in a linear manner, but rather in a highly complex manner where change in any one aspect of a complex system, in some way begets change in all and every other aspect of the system.

In the ongoing process of evolution (be it biological evolution or economic evolution) the environment both causes and selects the characteristics that are most necessary for successful adaptation. You might ask yourself "How does 'the environment' cause and select the characteristics that lead to successful adaptation?" A very interesting question to ask! With all of the competition, with all of the seeming chaos, with all of the never before experienced circumstances, how does the system itself stabilize and protect itself in order to evolve and survive? Nature manages to rebalance itself within certain limits that foster its preservation, the economic landscape invariably does the same and "you" of course are also evolving in much the same way. There is an intelligence doing the deciding, it just is not an intelligence that we can honestly say is "me" or "you". In every living system, excess leads to moderation and deficit leads to short term proliferation. Information is constantly being exchanged and adapted to. The whole universe is learning and evolving. How about you?!

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