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FRAME Dynamics: a theory of general evolution

“FRAME Dynamics: a theory of general evolution” was published in the Springer Nature journal Foundations of Science in June 2022[i].


About FRAME Dynamics

FRAME Dynamics is founded on the notion that nothing in the universe can exist in and of itself, only as a constantly changing manifestation that arises from interactions between systems of smaller systems, in a continuous chain of systems of systems of systems, from sub-atomic particles at one end of the scale to entire super-cluster complexes of galaxies at the other.


What I discovered about the different interactions we observe in nature is that they all appear to conform to the same five progressive phases, with corresponding principles of general evolution by natural selection that apply equally to non-living systems as living ones. The five phases can be described as follows:


  1. Fluctuation – Interaction causes a disturbance to a system’s stable energy state. For a system to sustain over time it must be sufficiently receptive to interactions that provide essential energy or other resources and sufficiently resistant to those that might prove harmful. We can think of the collective ways a system achieves this as its Gatekeeping Functions.

  2. Resonance – The disturbance gives rise to a vibration or oscillation that either helps or hinders a flow of energy. Successful systems must have a way of facilitating the flows of useful resources and breaking down or eliminating incompatible flows. Since this is all about spatiotemporal operations, we can think of the collective ways a system achieves this as Timekeeping functions.

  3. Apotheosis – The operation culminates in the conversion or production of useable energy (resources) and non-useable energy (waste)   Successful systems must have some way of regulating the production of resources and waste so as to sustain over time by remaining within an appropriate range in terms of capacity and tolerance. We can think of these as Storekeeping Functions.

  4. Metamorphosis – The resources are used within the system, causing structural change, while the waste is set aside or recycled. Successful systems must have a way of optimising resources and self-organising in a way that maintains overall balance. We can think of the faculties as Bookkeeping Functions.

  5. Emergence. The distribution of resources concludes the interaction and acts as a catalyst for new encounters. Successful systems must have a way of promoting regenerative sustainability both internally and externally. Since these faculties serve to maintain stability, we can think of them as being the system’s Peacekeeping Functions.


These five phases give us the FRAME acronym and also offer us principles that provide a blueprint for how organisms processes information, regardless of whether they have a brain or not.


In order to survive and reproduce, all living organisms need to be able to locate food and other resources while, at the same time, they must avoid becoming some other organism’s food, which means that they must have some way of acquiring and responding to information about their environment. This means that:


  • As part of its Gatekeeping Functions, an organism must be able to detect signal fluctuations and respond selectively.

  • As part of its Timekeeping Functions, the organism must have the capacity to interpret signal sequences and adapt accordingly.

  • As part of its Storekeeping Functions, the organism needs to be able to identify object sets and selectively categorise them according to their quality as a resource or a threat.

  • As part of its Bookkeeping functions, the organism has to be able to organise sets into schemas and selectively prioritise responses according to needs.

  • And as part of its Peacekeeping functions, the organism needs to be able to consolidate systems, selectively integrating that which is functional to a particular schema and disintegrating that which is not.


To demonstrate this concept in the real world we’re going to look at The Venus Flytrap, a carnivorous plant that gets the nitrogen it needs to survive from insects and arachnids which it traps in its leaves. When a bug or spider collides with one of the hairs on its leaves, the movement of the hair opens a pore that causes the release of calcium that floods the leaf, causing it to contract. The challenge for the plant is that it needs to be able to differentiate between something insignificant like a drop of rain and something significant like a nice juicy bug, otherwise it may waste its energy by closing unnecessarily. If a second successive tap on the leaf hairs occurs within approximately 20 seconds of the first, the accumulation of calcium reaches the threshold necessary to cause the leaves to close, whereas if it’s more than 20 seconds the first blast of calcium begins to disperse and the threshold isn’t reached.


So, having detected signals and interpreted differing signal sequences, the plant is then able to identify and categorise different sets of signal sequences as representing food or not food. But there’s still a selection problem to overcome because the plant’s digestive processes are slow and energy sapping, so it needs to ensure that any food is going to be nutritious enough to be worth the effort. By not closing fully it allows enough space for smaller creatures to escape, resulting in the selective organisation of a schema of sets according to their value, which in this case is based on nutritional potential. If the plant continues to detect stimuli on the leaf hairs, the additional calcium causes the leaf to close completely, which then triggers the digestion process, but if the creature has escaped there will be no further stimulus, so the calcium dissipates and the leaves open again, providing the plant with an either-or system that enables it to act appropriately based on information relating to the situation. Even though the plant doesn’t have a brain or any other faculties to make a conscious decision, it has everything it needs to survive and reproduce perfectly well without them by:


  • Detecting signals

  • Interpreting signal sequences

  • Discerning and discriminating between different sets

  • Organising sets into schemas

  • Consolidating the process into a system


in order to have any form of agency and act selectively, Every species, must have some way of doing these five things regardless of whether or not it has a brain so it follows that the brain’s core operating algorithm would follow this exact same process, and that the reason brains evolved at all was to deal with more complex interactions and response options.

FRAME Dynamics provides the scientific foundation that underpins the mindFRAME project. 

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