The Escher Cycle as part of evolution

A nice story here that illustrates again how The Escher Cycle operates as part of the evolution of life on Earth.

The article, reported on both and Quanta Magazine, describes examples of how species that we tend to think of as separate actually inter-breed. Grizzly and polar bears are one example, as are some species of butterfly, and the five big cats: lions, leopards, tigers, jaguars, and snow leopards. And they do this more often than we thought.

At first sight we might think this inter-breeding is detrimental to the ‘pure’ gene pool of the species. But actually the behaviour is useful because it allows each species quickly to share genes back and forth between their populations. This helps them quickly to avoid evolutionary ‘blind alleys’ and reverse trait changes that later turn out to be non-beneficial owing to changes in the environment. For example, polar bears faced with climate change can benefit by adopting genes from grizzly bears that enable them to prosper in warmer climates. Some genes are lost, but the genes that have turned out to be most useful survive. And if the climate had moved in the other direction then grizzly bears could have benefitted too.

The inter-breeding is useful to both populations and increases the stability and survivability of the whole.

What this means, in the words of one researcher, is that:

“The boundaries between species are now known to be less rigid than previously thought.”

And this in turn means that life on Earth is

“a web of life, rather than a simple bifurcating tree of life.”

We can describe and explain this in Escher Cycle terms by seeing each species as a distinct ‘process’, ‘business’, or ‘way of organising’ life.

The traditional view is to see each species as being distinct. Each is a life ‘process’ operating at varying levels of ‘distinctiveness’:
(See Chapters 3 and 7 of The Escher Cycle.)

To describe the evolution of life in Escher Cycle terms, we rename the process improvement or adaption phases of “Understand, Design, Implement, and Operate” to become “Breed / Mix Genes”, “Gestation and Birth”, and then “Interact with the Environment”.

The traditional view of evolution then sees each species evolving separately. New plants or animals are formed from interactions with the environment that make some genes more or less successful (the arrow from right to left) or by ‘mistakes’ being introduce in the process of combining genes through sexual reproduction (the arrow from left to right). Either route leads to a new animal or plant, which then interacts with its environment, turns out to be more or less successful, and these successes are then fed back into the next breeding cycle:

What these articles in Wired and Quanta describe is that exchange of genes also happens between species, the vertical arrows here. And we draw them on the left and the right, because this mixing involves interaction with the environment and sexual reproduction:

In this way, all of life on Earth becomes a ‘pool of genes’: “a web of life, rather than a simple bifurcating tree of life.”

We can imagine this as a series of ‘Escher Cycles’ between closely-related species, which together form one larger Escher Cycle that has evolved from the Last Universal Common Ancestor to become the variety of inter-related forms we see today:


Gregory Bateson taught us that the unit of evolution is not a species but an ecosystem: faster gazelles create faster leopards, and so on.

These articles show us there is another mechanism by which the ecosystem as a whole evolves together.

(See also inter-species evolution in genetically-modified species.)

Research shows bodily RNA can transfer into sexual reproduction


The publishers of this article lie outside the mainstream, but the article is well-referenced.

New research has found that changes to bodily RNA can be transferred to spermatazoa and hence to offspring. This “[collapses] the timescale necessary for the transfer of genetic information through the germline of a species (e.g. sperm) from hundreds of thousands of years to what amounts to ‘real time’ changes in biological systems.”

For me it would explain, for example, how human beings have managed to evolve such varied racial features in different parts of the planet, although under classical models of evolution there has not been enough time for this to happen since homo sapiens left Africa only about 200 thousand years ago and spread across Asia only 75 thousand years ago.

The findings also reinforce the view simply that we are all part of one large interconnected organism. This organism has become increasingly differentiated over the past 3.5bn years (when the first differences appeared in the Last Universal Common Ancestor or LUCA that once covered the planet), but it still co-evolves as a single interlinked organism, via an interconnected Escher Cycle of different mechanisms, of which these new findings are merely part, and the sexual reproduction we are more familiar with is another part.


You can read the full article here:

Experience Changes Biology

The research increasingly shows that even at a genetic level our experience (ie the actions we take) shape the design contained within our genes, in an Escher Cycle that started before we were born and continues throughout our lives:

“A cell is a machine for turning experience into biology.”

What Business Cycles Can Teach Us About Evolution (and vice-versa)

We often hear how businesses need to learn from nature. But have you ever stopped to wonder how evolutionary theorists might learn from business?

The Escher Cycle revealed the seven core activities that drive business advantage, and showed how the last of these, the Escher Cycle, provides a self-reinforcing cycle of business advantage.

Here is a longish piece I have just had published that describes how the same pattern explains how life emerged from non-life, how that life then evolved into all the millions of species we see around us today, how progress works, as well as how that same pattern also shows and explains how Toyota-Lexus and Volkswagen are the largest automotive manufacturers in the world today.

I’ll be interested to hear your feedback.

Continue Reading >

The rise in network thinking

Social_Network_Analysis_VisualizationA nice article here in the Scientific American, on ‘How Networks Are Revolutionizing Scientific (and Maybe Human) Thought’.

“Modern research in sociology, psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology is showing that… what we are like as individuals critically depends on how we are linked socially and emotionally with others, in relational networks reaching far and wide.”

For example, we have historically tended to think of people as being part of races, nationalities, ethnic groups, societies, or cultures. But then network thinking shows us that we are connected to anyone else in the world by only six degrees of separation.

This way of thinking collapses the world immeasurably, and creates many more possibilities than the old worldview.

For example, it influences the way ideas spread. The networks we are part of are partly driven by ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so on, but everybody is linked to everybody else within six degrees of freedom.

This makes complete sense using The Escher Cycle. Continue Reading >