("What Bodies Think About: Bioelectric Computation Outside the Nervous System" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18736698 )
The work coming out of his lab seems to me to indicate that intelligence is ambient in living tissue, with the corallary that living systems are designed by intelligence: their own.
I think of it as a hydroelectric power plant. Hydrogen atoms are water, the electrochemical gradient is gravity and the enzyme is the turbine.
“The city wasa, wasa, wasa wossname. Thing. Woman. Thass what it was. Woman. Roaring, ancient, centuries old. Strung you along, let you fall in thingy, love, with her, then kicked you inna, inna, thingy. Thingy, in your mouth. Tongue. Tonsils. Teeth.”
I think cities are clusters of cells, and just like clusters of cells in the body, they perform functions that could, in turn, categorize them as "organs", because there is a dominant industry in that city, and the buildings in that city serve specific functions that get exported out to the rest of the cities in the country or the world.
I think the paper's analysis is interesting, but I also think the starting point for the analysis should be function and not hierarchical structure, which is mostly static.
The wards each have a population of a few hundred thousand people, and some take top spots in the list of biggest cities in Japan. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Japan
The city has been run like this for decades, and it seems to work out for Tokyo pretty well.
Arguably the Bay Area is something similar, and I would further argue would be much better off if it were closer in governance and self-concept to Tokyo or New York than it is in fact.
Fun fact: Manhattan contains both the largest and fourth largest business districts in the US, Midtown and Downtown respectively.
Flushing, which is more on the outskirts, has grown rapidly very recently and has some massive development planned.
The city is definitely moving in the direction of decentralization, but that could just be because the center is saturated. Will be interesting to see what it looks like in the next decade.
I think the the combination of geography and state boundary politics makes NYC hard to actually become multi centered, but it wold be interesting to be proven wrong. Certainly we should strive to see Long Island, North Jersey, and West Connecticut have better rail and be less car-dominant.
> $8B estimates for the Rockaway Beach Branch
That one still makes my blood boil. There's plenty of reasons why it might be low benefit, but it certainly shouldn't be anywhere near as high cost.
Flushing is mostly meds and retail, which is fine for a shopping district but is not indicative of a greater jobs market trend. Manhattan's tyranny is largely due to its geography; it is the only place with fast, reliable mass transit access to all of the metropolitan area, and companies don't want to limit their labor pool. It is a pain in the ass to travel within Queens on mass transit (say, Rochdale to Flushing), let alone travel from some place like Westchester or New Jersey to Flushing. Flushing is no Shibuya or Shinjuku.
"As a result of strong job growth in the outer boroughs, Manhattan’s share of private sector employment has declined, from 64 percent in 1990 to 59 percent in 2018. Brooklyn’s share
increased the most, rising from nearly 13 percent to 17 percent. The shares in the other boroughs edged up slightly, with Queens"accounting for more than 15 percent, the Bronx
for less than 7 percent, and Staten Island for
less than 3 percent."
Would be interesting to look
NYC is not being buffeted by a major trend that wouldn't also affect every other business district in the US.
Other than that, each ward has its own downtown, its own suburbs. It really feels like Tokyo is not a city at all but a place where different cities decided to stick together, and administratively, it is. Shinjuku would be closest to a capital but not everything centers around it, in fact, it is not even where the "Tokyo" station is.
"Am I in San Jose or Los Gatos?"
"Is this Mountain View, Palo Alto, or Los Altos?"
37°24'15.38"N 122° 7'4.09"W
"Are we in San Jose, Saratoga, or Cupertino?"
37°18'11.21"N 122° 1'3.23"W
I think what one really had ought to take from the cellular analogy is that humanity is inadvertently creating systems in the natural world that mimic evolutionary and biological systems - that the emergent forces of the mind and society are automatically following the very same patterns that selected them. Or perhaps even being forced into that range of development through a limit of range of the function leaving development what is only a handful of viable options. Obversely, we're given the same challenges as any other organism: for example signalling - at first we've a very slow inaccurate system kin to chemical messengers, it's improved upon us, and quite suddenly we've the telegraph and the telephone, it's improved further with coaxial transport. Perhaps we've even improved on the system with the use of light. I do suppose though there is some research in biology that points to quantum phenomena being leveraged by organisms. I don't know that this conception is applicable practically - you won't be able to do anything other than project the trends of evolution of society and probably quite badly but it is interesting food for thought.
tl;dr we tend to talk about cities in heirarchical, enclosed terms, as having "limits", "neighborhoods", "blocks", "plots", and so on. This can be modeled as a tree, in the maths and computer science sense.
But it's more accurate to model these systems as semilattices. Thus a city isn't multicellular (the cells being the enclosed units of the tree model) nor super-cells (which sort of punts on the internal structure, while still enclosing the city in a sort of membrane which even a walled city doesn't resemble), but a thing distinctly itself.
For those interested in mathematical approaches to architecture and spatial systems I recommend the research work and books of James Hillier and Julienne Hanson:
Social Logic of Space, Hillier & Hanson
That's the first time I've seen order theory used to describe hierarchical structures like a city. Continuing the analogy, what would the join of a nonempty finite subset of parts of a city be? Say the set was an apartment block, road and grocery store, would the join of all these concepts be the "local neighborhood" that makes up part of a town?
Open to counter-arguments though!
My feeling is that it's not really fruitful to describe "real life" phenomena in terms of abstract algebraic mathematical structures.
It's more of a gut feeling than anything else, but I think there are two points that one can make here:
* Generally, it's better to first observe a phenomenon, understand it, and try to find a good vocabulary for it, mathematical or otherwise, rather than take an out-of-the-box fancy sounding math concept and try to make it fit your phenomenon.
* It seems as soon as you try to describe a phenomenon with an algebraic object, you'll soon get stuck trying to make sense of your functions/axioms: what's the meet? what's the join, is there a bottom element, etc.
If you rather work with a more “geometric” notion (graphs, metric spaces,…) you don't have as many things to match, and you can focus on studying your objects.
To be clear, I don't have any strong point here, it's mostly gut feeling/rumblings.
I disagree, however I don't think you're enterily wrong. We just need a physical theory to bridge the abstract mathematics with the real world. as a starting point it occurs to me to wonder what does throwing a ball have to do with F = ma
also, the whole point of math is to do everything with such a level of abstraction that you can apply the abstractions to many things.
Which is funny in a way, because people involved in the city-making business (for lack of a better term) have tried to do just that (i.e. imposing city limits) for centuries (at least).
The medieval city walls are a prime example of that, with anything that stood behind the walls treated as being part of the city and everything that was outside the walls seen as non-city, with non-city dwellers many times being required not to spend the night inside the city walls.
More recently, just the other day I was reading a transcript from a Romanian Communist party meeting from the late 1980s where the Romanian dictator Ceausescu (I'm Romanian and live in Romania myself) was complaining that cities have been let to grow indefinitely and with impunity, without respecting the city limits that had been set in law.
So you've got a late 20th communist dictator and Middle-Age burghers all trying to delay what I personally see as inevitable, i.e. the extension of the city by all means possible.
A little OT, but imo slightly related to this, there was a urban theory that was regarding as "proper" cities only those places with clear limits, for example the European Middle-Age towns, while the places with no clear limits set (many of those places located in the present Middle-Eastern Countries or in Northern Africa) were most of the times seen as "bigger villages", not as proper cities/towns. That was kind of a orientalistic/colonizing way of looking at things which I think stood behind the late 19th-most of the 20th century effort to make those Middle-Eastern cities look like their Western counter-parts, i.e. with clear limits set and with a clearer and more easily readable road structure.
Perhaps the authors spent more time tuning the AI they used to write the article than studying the fundamentals of urban geography?