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Hypercomputer operation clarified through metaphors of engine design

Imagining Order as Hypercomputing (Part #10)

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Metaphorical use was made above of the recognized advantages achieved in the progression from a 2-stroke engine to multi-stroke engine configurations. The point made was that the relationship between successive strokes in the cycle is then smoother -- effectively less catastrophically traumatic in the psychosocial case. As a metaphor, an engine offers a degree of clarity of understanding, given the widespread familiarity with its operation.

This familiarity is however accompanied by recognition on the part of many users of engines -- most notably automobile drivers -- of how limited their understanding of its actual operation may be, especially if it breaks down and needs repair. Even more interesting is the nature of creativity in the innovative design of ever more efficient emgines -- possibly of greater simplicity or a reduction in emissions.

The previous section argued for recognition that the individual lines used in depictions of symbolic hexagrams -- such as the Star of David and the I Ching -- could be "re-cognized" as static 2D indications of what might be more fruitfully understood as dynamic 3D cyclic processes. Any conventional symbolic configuration of lines can then be understood metaphorically as a form of "information engine" -- as with a mandala. The schematic explorations of the previous section are then to be understood as "views" of the operation of an information engine -- indicative of a process potentially required for hypercomputing.

Given the argument made for analogy and meta-analogy in creative imagination, various indications are possible with regard to the design of information engines of different capacity and purpose. The amount and quality of thinking that has been devoted to engine design merits consideration with respect to its implications for information engine design as indicated by the following -- especially in the light of the thermodynamic insights susceptible to interpretation in information terms.

Variety of reciprocating engines suggestive of implications
for information engine design and operation and for styles of hypercomputing
(linking to descriptive entries in Wikipedia)
Type Bourke / Deltic / Orbital / Piston Pistonless (Wankel) / Radial / Rotary / Split cycle / Stelzer / Tschudi
Stroke cycles 2-stroke / 4-stroke / 6-stroke

Number of cylinders
Single cylinder Single / Split-single

Inline / Straight I2 / I3/ I4 / I5 / I6 / I7 / I8 / I9 / I10 / I12 / I14
Flat F2 / F4 / F6 / F8 / F10 / F12 / F16

V / Vee V2 / V3 / V4 / V5 / V6 / V8 / V10 / V12 / V14 / V16 / V18 / V20 / V24
W W8 / W12 / W16 / W18

There is every possibility that, with respect to processing information, civilization is currently constrained by technology corresponding to the simplest engines, as suggested by the following animations.

Combustion engine operations
with potential metaphorical implications for an information engine
2-stroke engine animation
(reproduced from Wikipedia)
4-stroke engine animation
(reproduced from Wikipedia)
A two-stroke, or two-cycle, engine completes a power cycle in only one crankshaft revolution and with two strokes, or up and down movements, of the piston in comparison to a "four-stroke engine", which uses four strokes. This is accomplished by the end of the combustion stroke and the beginning of the compression stroke happening simultaneously and performing the intake and exhaust (or scavenging) functions at the same time. A four-stroke engine (also known as four-cycle) completes a power cycle through four separate stkes of the piston within the cylinder. As indicated in the animation above, these are: 1 - Intake, 2 - Compression, 3 - Power, 4 - Exhaust. The right blue side is the intake and the left brown side is the exhaust. The cylinder wall is a thin sleeve surrounded by cooling liquid.

A single cylinder, 2-stroke design is clearly admirably represented by the classic I Ching symbols of a single line (whether broken or unbroken). It is also reflected in the understanding of a bit having a value of 0 or 1. This is fundamental to any indication of agreement or disagreement, and to the process of decision-making. It is also fundamental to recognition of "us" and "them". Configurations of 2 lines are already more of a challenge to comprehension

The six stacked lines of an I Ching hexagram, or the configuration of six lines in the Star of David, are indicative of a much more complex information engine design. However, through the incorporation of multiple lines into each "design", this is indicative of a mode of operation more reminiscent of conventional automobiles. This is especially the case when each "line" is indicative of two modes, and that line is in fact indicative of a "cycle" in engine operation. Thus in both hexagram configurations, there are 6 processes each alternating between two conditions through the cycle.

Given the orientations of the cycles in the Star of David pattern presented above, especially suggestive is the firing order of a V6 engine (1-6-5-4-3-2) as the crankshaft is rotated through the 720â° required for all cylinders to fire. The advantage of the engine metaphor is that it offers clarity to understanding of the design possibilities in relating 6 cylinders, implying 12 stroke cycle phases -- for example.

The Star of David pattern is then especially indicative of how this configuration "drives" a central "crankshaft" of the information engine. The "crankshaft" can be compared with the "pivot" of the classic taoist quote.

"The Pivot"
(The Way of Chuang Tzu, interpreted by Thomas Merton London. Unwin, 1970)

Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or concentrate only on a partial aspect of being. Then clear expression also becomes muddled by mere word-play, affirming this one aspect and denying all the rest. Hence the wrangling of Confucians and Mohists; each denies what the other affirms, and affirms what the other denies. What use is this struggle to set up "No" against "Yes", and "Yes" against "No" ? Better to abandon this hopeless effort... The possible becomes impossible; the impossible becomes possible. Right turns into wrong and wrong into right -- the flow of life alters circumstances and thus things themselves are altered in their turn. But disputants continue to affirm and to deny the same things they have always affirmed and denied, ignoring the new aspects of reality presented by the change in conditions.â?

The wise man therefore... sees that on both sides of every argument there is both right and wrong. He also sees that in the end they are reducible to the same thing, once they are related to the pivot of Tao. When the wise man grasps this pivot, he is the center of the circle, and there he stands while "Yes" and "No" pursue each other around the circumference

It is then noteworthy that the cycles indicated by corresponding lines (parallels) in a Star of David configuration need to be in phase with one another. Understood metaphorically as the 12 "tribes of Israel", there is clearly an issue in the operation of the engine when the "tribes" are in unfruitful agreement or disagreement, as with the archetypal knights of any round table (Implication of the 12 Knights in any Strategic Round Table, 2014).

As noted, the engine metaphor is helpful in that it highlights the many problems of consensus and vulnerability which now characterize global civilization (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? Towards engaging appropriately with time, 2011). As declared on multple occasions at the time of writing, consensus on a peaceful outcome in the Israel-Palestine situation is held to constitute an impossible dilemma because the Palestinians are framed by the Israelis as operating "irrationally".

That situation bears considerable resemblance to an automobile stalled on the roadside with various people of different competence examining the engine. The questionable assumption is that they should all "agree" on how it should be fixed (The Consensus Delusion, 2011). In fact the information engine functions by multiple processes, counterbalancing each other through counteracting phases. The engine cannot work if the operation of all the cylinders is "in phase" -- on the assumption that it is some form of single cylinder, 2-stroke engine.

As with previously presented arguments for technomimicry, the engine metaphor is valuable as a template for configuring distinct attention processes. There is however clearly a major challenge to engaging imaginatively with the metaphor -- to the point of embodying and enacting it, as is presumably required for hypercomputing (and as illustrated by the particular skills demonstrated by Nikola Tesla)

It is appropriate to note the technical clarity of engine design in comparison with the indications offered by the many detailed metaphorical commentaries on the distinct conditions encoded by the I Ching hexagrams (Transformation Metaphors: derived experimentally from the Chinese Book of Changes (I Ching) for sustainable dialogue, vision, conferencing, policy, network, community and lifestyle, 1997). The contrast is effectively an indication of the manner in which the above description is called into question by the process it describes -- effectively as a 2-stroke description.

There is some irony to the fact that the so-called super-Turing computer, should have been associated with an "oracle" function -- given that the I Ching has been widely valued as a form of oracle through its use in divination processes.

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