Before turning to the interesting question of what happens with the considerable profits that hypercell organisms and businesses turn (the subject of Chapter 7), I would like to support my contention that the evolution of unicellular and multicellular organisms is seamlessly continued by that of hypercell organisms and business organizations. To our senses, the difference between plants and animals on one hand and gainfully employed persons and industrial enterprises on the other is so great that I wish to present a particularly important piece of evidence for my theory before broaching the delicate issue of man's position in this process.
As already mentioned at the onset of this book, Darwin considered it impossible to more precisely determine what features of a plant or animal species made that species superior to and ultimately capable of displacing another in the intricate web of ecosystems in nature. As long as we consider the material structures and behavior of living organisms to be the factors determining competitiveness, then it is, in fact, difficult to decide where to begin our investigation and where to set our measuring instruments. The bodies of multicellular organisms, the forms their organs take on and their behavioral repertoires are so complex that it would seem hopeless to search for common criteria that could universally determine selective value. Every biologist after Darwin shared this opinion. This is underlined by my argument that "many roads lead to Rome" as far as most vital capabilities are concerned. At best, examining a particular "road" can provide information on the effectiveness of that road; this, however, loses significance when in the same capability can be delivered better by other organs or behaviors. Perhaps in extreme environments, inhabited by only few species, we can draw conclusions as to which traits make one species superior to the others, much as we obtain certain insights into this problem when we transplant exotic animal and plant species from one part of the globe to another: some species turn out to be extremely successful in the new environment, while others fail miserably. Based on the above considerations, any claim that the competitiveness of all organisms can be measured using the same criteria, or that these quantifiable criteria are equally valid for the structures and organizations formed by humans, would have to be considered highly implausible.
On the other hand, viewing capability rather than the
material body or behavior as the crucial trait (as natural selection would
suggest) alters the picture. After all, the efficiency of capabilities
be measured. Moreover, the relevant criteria are very simple and valid
for all phenomena of life.
The three criteria of efficiency
I subsume these three criteria under the terms "cost", "precision" and "time required". Under cost I understand the average energy required to attain a particular capability. This is quantifiable in energy units or, in the case of hypercell organisms and businesses, with the financial effort required to attain that capability in a specific region. A certain discrepancy arises here due to the floating conversion rate between money and energy. This, however, does not affect competitiveness because every competitor is equally affected by the local conditions. I chose the term precision to define the quality and reliability of a capability: how often per hundred attempts does it deliver the sought-after capability, i.e. how often is it successful. This value can be determined statistically and expressed in percentages. Required time, the third criteria, involves the average time that a particular capability takes, a parameter that can be quantified in units of time.
It is not my intention to present a detailed account of efficiency theory here; this would by far exceed the bounds of this book. I do, however, wish to point out the underlying, inherent affinity of the various expressions of life with a few selected examples. I challenge the reader to take the next step and, depending on his/her knowledge and interests, to pick out additional examples from everyday life and to submit them to the above-mentioned efficiency criteria. Whether these capabilities lie in the realm of unicellular and multicellular organisms, hypercell organisms, or business organizations is of no import.
I will begin here with unicellular organisms and contend that the costs of vital capabilities determine the vitality and selective value of every species. As indicated earlier, energy is the cornerstone of the entire phenomenon of life. When animals feed, most of the consumed "raw" energy is lost in conversion processes, leaving only a minute fraction as "useful" energy available for necessary capabilities. This highlights the importance of a positive energy balance, especially in critical phases of the life cycle. If a shortage of food leads to a negative energy balance, then the animal can mobilize reserves and break down body tissue to remain alive; should the balance still remain negative, then the life process slows down and eventually grinds to a halt, resulting in death. This makes it vital for every animal, and more generally every living organism, to achieve its capabilities with the least expenditure of energy. If the capabilities of two competing animal species A and B are equivalent except that A can attain capability x with equal speed and proficiency yet much more inexpensively, i.e. with less energy consumption than B, then A is no doubt at a considerable competitive advantage. In hard times, this can decide over life and death for B.
The situation is no different for hypercell organisms and business organizations. Here, money pays for the necessary foodstuffs and materials, the bills for the work done by employees, and the fuel that powers the machines, whereby the competition is stuck with the same or very similar exchange rates for converting money into energy values. There is no need to dwell on the role of positive financial balances in the economic sector. Hard times separate the wheat from the chaff here as well. During economic downturns, the banks, the government or friends may pitch in with credit; nonetheless, should the balance books of a tradesman or business remain in the red, their commercial activities are bound to grind to a halt. The tradesman must close his shop or business, the business enterprise must file for bankruptcy.
In order to survive in the business world, cost reduction has become the catchword at every phase of operation. Again, if competitors A and B run head to head in every respect except that A has lower expenses than B in exercising an important capability, then A has a distinct advantage over B. Since total cost is the sum of the costs for each business organ and activity, "cost" as an efficiency criterion is valid not only for the hypercell organism or business as a whole, but also for each functional component (organ).
We have thus discovered an innate affinity between all unicellular and multicellular organisms, hypercell organisms and business enterprises; however, this universally acknowledged "economic principle" continues to elude our sensory apparatus. Nonetheless, every organism (a term that we continue to apply here to the capable entity formed by hypercell organisms and businesses), regardless of the how much it may differ in size or structure, is dependent on the efficiency factor "cost". This factor clearly also strongly influences the effectiveness of natural selection. Efficiency and survival at all levels, whether it be competition in animals and plants or in every business founded by man, involves achieving maximum gain while reducing cost to an absolute minimum. In other words, the universal strategy is to attain the same goal with the least expenditures.
Every component of these so very different entities, and the specifications of each component, is important here. Cutting costs at every opportunity without reducing the quality or speed of the overall capability is not only important, but vital. This can be achieved either by improving the organs in one way or another, or by providing the necessary capability by other means, i.e. other organs. Hypercell organisms and businesses have the decisive edge as far as the second strategy is concerned. While such improvements in uni- and multicellular organisms require changes in the genetic makeup and corresponding changes in cell activity and differentiation, our exchangeable additional organs allow suboptimal products to be replaced by those that help deliver equivalent capabilities at lower cost. Employees and hired services can also be replaced by others. These organisms are therefore much more flexible and adaptable.
Furthermore, it is irrelevant whether improvements are achieved by chance or through human intelligence. The result is all that matters. Improvements can clearly be accelerated if human intelligence is applied, and additional organs do allow progress beyond anything cell differentiation could yield. On the other hand, the human mind by no means guarantees that our activities actually lead to improvements: while the odds are considerably higher, it is the result rather than the production method that counts.
We can now turn to the second criterion of efficiency: precision. Its definition is much more complex than that of cost, which can be easily determined and compared. Precision as a criterion involves how often a capability is successful and how often attempts miss their mark. The organs and their activities, which work in concert to achieve a particular capability, must often fulfil a wide range of very different requirements. They can be compared to a key, which must have a certain configuration in order to open a particular lock. In the case of a key, the profile of the bit is decisive. It is shaped in such a way as to open the lock mechanism. Should one of the teeth be too long or too wide, then the key cannot turn the lock or open the lock mechanism. In this very sense, every organ must be built to meet every task put to it. Our eye, for example, must deliver an entire set of capabilities before the required overall task, namely providing us with an visual impression of our environment, is fulfilled. The lens must be as intact as the pupil, the light-sensitive eyeground equally functional as the muscles that move the eye. Should only one of these components be defective, then the consequences are the same as when one of the key's teeth are broken off and the lock remains closed: the eye cannot fulfil its function. A hammer turns out to be a much simpler key when viewed from the same perspective. Its task is to enable the human hand to drive in a nail. The flat, metal head and the handle, whose size must be adapted to that of the hand just as the flat surface of the head must fit the nail serve this purpose. To use the same analogy, this "key" therefore has much fewer "teeth". Nevertheless, without these few crucial teeth, it would also be unable to "open" its lock (i.e. fulfil the task of hammering in the nail). Let us examine a third case: the production department of a business that manufactures certain goods. It consists of many specialized persons (hypercell organisms), buildings, machines and tools, i.e. it is comparable to a key with many teeth, all of which must be present in order to fulfil the required task. As an efficiency criterion, precision shows how well the "fit" between a particular organism or its organs and the task at hand is. Just as security locks can only be opened with very special keys, there are tasks that can only be completed by very precise skills. Further criteria, such as proneness to breakdown, regenerability after damage, sensitivity to environmental influences, i.e. reliability in the broadest sense, play an additional role in this fit. If a facility produces 4% rejects when manufacturing a particular item, then its precision is 96%. Birds that pick at seeds and miss every second one have a mere 50% feeding efficiency.
Traditional avenues of thought must be modified if we wish to apply the term precision to those forms of energy gain that involve exchange processes. A manufacturer's source of profits is the demand for the products or services that he/she delivers: the lock that must be opened is the wishes of the customer. The closer a product mirrors the desires and needs of the public, the closer the fit, i.e. the more precise the purchase becomes. Any product that meets 80% of the customers' wishes has a competitive advantage over those that only attain a value of 50%. A company that advertises an opening for a new production manager must consider a wide range of skills. Among the many applicants, the person who most closely fills the outlined duties will ultimately be chosen. In the business world, one refers to a job profile that should match a certain performance profile as best as possible. The teeth of such a key can be very different indeed: technical skills, character, family status, distance of commute between home and workplace, etc. When examining any organ of an animal or plant, or in scrutinizing any functional component of a hypercell organism or a business, we must always ask: what demands are placed on these units and what tasks must they carry out? From this we can deduce the features and capabilities that the particular unit must have. In each case, the degree of fit provides information about the degree of precision. This can generally only be determined based on empirical values or quantified a posteriori. The fact remains: the better an organ is adapted to its task, the greater the advantage to the organism it serves. In the business word, a poor fit is known as "internal friction" or "poorly invested capital". Regardless of whether the unit is a unicellular, multicellular or hypercell organism, a business or the government itself: the precision with which it fulfils its task is no less important than the associated costs.
As an efficiency criterion, precision just like cost is equally valid for the overall organism and for its individual components. The better a business or a hypercell organism is adapted to its customers' wishes and to the environmental conditions, the greater its selective value, i.e. its ability to persevere in the struggle for survival. The better plants or animals are adapted to energy and material sources and other critical environmental conditions, the greater their precision and the respective selective value.
My primary concern is to use a broad spectrum of examples to draw the reader's attention to the fact that the colorful world of animals and plants on the one hand, and the no less colorful diversity of the human-based hypercell organisms and their organizations on the other hand, have much more in common than first meets the eye. Thus, the two efficiency criteria of precision and cost are equally important in determining the competitiveness of all expressions of life. It is ultimately unimportant whether the units under consideration are the tiniest functional component of a cell, the building material of some additional organ, the highly complex ganglion networks in animals and humans, the blueprints of an assembly line in a factory, or ultimately even a government legislature: in all of the above, the criterion "well or less-well adapted" reflects the precision with which the task at hand is accomplished, much like the criterion "highly or less cost-effective" is decisive for a particular capability that is being pursued.
The third criterion of efficiency, time required, is also instrumental in influencing the selective value of the functional units that propagate life, although not always and everywhere. For example, no selective advantage is involved when a particular organ within the animal completes its task at twice the speed that the interplay of the other organs requires. The same holds true for the assembly line worker who completes his or her task much faster than required by the overall production pace. The essential factor is the coordination of all natural and additional organs. This does not only mean that one organ should not block or otherwise disturb another; rather, the temporal coordination, the concerted activity, is crucial. Wherever a particular function lags behind, a bottleneck arises, a weak link in the chain develops. This manifests itself in animals and plants as well as in the human body when we become ill or some organ becomes injured. The repercussions are no less grave in businesses, in industry or in governments when an important organ or key process breaks down. In this respect, the efficiency criterion "time required" is also a factor in the internal processes of living organisms: they should proceed neither too quickly nor too slowly.
As far as gaining energy and repelling enemies is concerned, the criterion time required plays exactly the same role in hypercell organisms and businesses as it does in uni- and multicellular organisms. "The early bird catches the fly" is an old proverb. When plants sprout from the ground in spring, those individuals that grow quick enough to lift their leaves above those of the competition are at an advantage. In the business world, the same advantage is garnered by those who can recognize and satisfy a newly developing market before others do. Animals that move faster than their competitors will not only be better equipped to outrun their prey, but will also be able to flee faster. Throughout the course of history, states whose armies were able to occupy strategically important locations more quickly than those of other states won the upper hand.
Finally, efficiency requires a balance between the criteria of cost, precision and time required. The greatest advantage would clearly be gained if a task could be completed quickly, inexpensively and at a high level of precision. This is rarely the case in nature. The correlations between the three efficiency criteria are thus all the more crucial.
Wherever speed is the key objective in a particular form of business or function, then this is almost inevitably linked with lower precision and higher costs. The home-builder who wants his or her house to be completed within one year instead of the projected three years can be accommodated; however, he or she must pay considerably more and accept the risk of shoddy workmanship and architectural shortcuts. Those who require greatest precision, such as in military operations or other high-risk projects, cannot afford to cut any costs and must be in a position to patiently wait for the right moment. Whenever the main priority is to keep costs down, then patience is also a virtue and certain flaws will have to be accepted. As in all facets of life, the correct balance is crucial.
In the business world, the term "quality" is often used in the same sense as my definition of the word "precision". While this may be entirely justified in some cases, it remains problematic in the sense of a clear terminological distinction. In business, after all, quality is used to describe optimal customer satisfaction. This often (justifiably) entails making certain that the product is not overly expensive and that delivery and potential maintenance is speedy. In this light, "quality" may in fact encompass all three of the above-mentioned criteria precision, cost and time required in effect defining the optimum as the perfect balance between these three. For this reason, and because "quality" is saddled with overtones that are inappropriate for biological organisms, which are not created by an act of will, I continue to prefer the term "precision".
I first published this framework for evaluating selective
values and competitiveness, which I hold to be equally applicable and valid
in every level of evolution, in 1970, albeit in abbreviated form. Since
then I have presented it to the public in university courses, lectures,
and business seminars. I cannot recall a single instance in which inconsistencies
cropped up or serious objections were raised. If anything, I had the impression
that this evaluation scheme, whose components are common knowledge and
accepted truths, was regarded as being too simple to help yield new insights.
I often get the impression that particularly complex and bewildering diagrammatic
representations are gaining favor in management consultancy, and that greater
weight is attached to those that skirt comprehensibility. I was thus all
the more pleased that Hans-Dieter Seghezzy, professor at the School of
Economics at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, and prominent expert
on quality, introduced the factors quality, money and time as the crucial
"triangle of business-related forces" in his book "Qualitätsstrategien".
This concept is further expanded upon in the same book by Roland Berger,
who stressed the applied level under the title "Time-Cost-Quality-Leadership".
In this connection it is perhaps interesting to note that, as of 1975,
many very large business enterprises in Japan such as the automobile-maker
Toyota have oriented their production according to the target hierarchy
of quality, cost and time. This orientation stems from a Japanese philosophy
of life termed "kaizen", which places priority on the pursuit of perfection
Fig. 4: Twelve criteria that determine the efficiency of organisms. Since the efficiency of every organism is the product of the capability of its organs, each organ can in principle influence overall selective value. Three main criteria, quantifiable as mean values, determine the capability of each organ: a) the cost of that organ to the organism, b) the precision with which it fulfils its function (how many times out of one hundred is it successful) and c) the time that the function requires. A is the organ's period of growth and B its period of activity, which comprises alternating functional and quiescent phases. This is accompanied by dormant phases in which the organism reduces its organ complex to a minimum. During the growth period and the three phases of the active period, the criteria cost, precision and time required lead to different values that can influence selective value (1-12). Correlations, which must also be taken into consideration, exist between all these values (see text for details).
Note that this scheme is valid not only for the organs, but for each
organism as a whole (unicellular organism, multicellular organism, hypercell
organism, business enterprise). This provides strong evidence for the affinities
of all organisms and their organs.
The invisible framework of values
My publication of 1970 specifically drew attention to the fact that the selective value of living entities could be quantified more exactly if the efficiency criteria precision, cost and time required are analyzed separately in the various periods of their existence. Logically, each organ can only fulfil its function once that organ has been completed. This holds true for both an automobile tire and the blood vessels in our bodies, for the organelles of unicells and for every production department of an industrial complex. For some organs, the function is an active one, as in the legs of a beetle, our kidneys or the locomotive of a train. In others this function is passive, as in the armor plates of a warship, the skeleton of a vertebrate, or the foundations of a building. The function of the organ we term "book" is to make information available in the form of a handy package. The organ "chimney" is designed to conduct smoke into the air. The organ "actor" has the task of assuming a particular role in film or theater. The organ "President of the United States" functions in governing that nation. Life avails itself of an extremely broad range of organs. The feature common to all of them, however, is that they only become functional once they have become completed and are positioned at the required site. This allows us to distinguish between a build-up period and an active period in every case.
The build-up period ends when the independent function kicks in. The subsequent active period can be further subdivided into three phases that are critical for the selective value: first, in the phases of their specific functional activity; second, in quiescent periods in which the organ is not functional; and third, in transitional phases in which the organ becomes dormant or is transformed to assume functions other than the original one. I contend that we can determine the selective value of organs even more exactly when we investigate the efficiency criteria cost, precision, and time required in each of these phases separately (Fig. 4). This looks more complicated than it actually is.
The cost of building up an organ is an important factor in determining its selective value. If the two competitors A and B face off, and their capabilities are identical except that A forms or acquires a vital organ with less energy expenditure than B, then A is clearly at an advantage. The same holds true for precision. If the losses in building up an organ amount to 15%, then this can translate into a considerable disadvantage vis-á-vis competitors capable of acquiring that organ more efficiently. The time required also turns out to be a significant factor. Especially when the energy supply is subject to fluctuations, waiting for the right moment becomes critical. Then, the speed with which an organ becomes available can be decisive. These correlations and a host of others can be demonstrated in all organisms, regardless of how different their shape or how divergent their circumstances.
In the subsequent active period, the average costs of the individual functional acts play an important role; they must be viewed separately from the build-up costs. Thus, building up an organ may be inexpensive, its operation more costly, or vice versa. The crucial element for every organism is its energy balance: it represents the sum of the energy balances of all the component organs. Unfavorable conditions often prove to be a limiting factor here. Should the energy balance of a uni- or multicellular organism or the energy/financial balance of a hypercell organism or business organization become negative, then the organisms can mobilize stored reserves, while the hypercell organisms and businesses can rely on credit from banks, friends or the government to remain operational for a certain period. The inevitable consequence of an ongoing negative balance, however, is death or, in the case of hypercell organisms or businesses, bankruptcy, which is an equivalent fate from the evolutionary perspective.
It is beyond the scope of this book to delve further into efficiency theory. Rather, my intent is to demonstrate how certain general laws apply equally to the evolution of plants and animals as they do to the capable entities formed by humans. The efficiency criterion precision, for example, is clearly also at work in the active period of every organism. The better an organ fulfils its functional task, the better it serves the overall entity of which it is a part. The same holds true for the time required.
A great number of correlations that affect selective value exist between the above parameters and other parameters treated later. The critical reader is called upon to come up with further examples from his/her own field of interest or experience and to examine them in the light of my theory. It no doubt comes as a surprise to our set way of thinking that solid comparative measures exist for such an enormous number of entirely divergent organs, but this is precisely the case. Competitiveness and the selective value, rather than being governed by external appearance, are determined by an invisible framework of values; these values decide which functional units come out on top in the "struggle for existence" and ultimately contribute to evolution by bringing forth a steady stream of new species.
The dormant phases, which interrupt the functional activity of virtually all organs in more or less regular intervals, become particularly important when they involve ongoing maintenance costs. The shorter these phases, the better. The reason our innate sleep drive forces us to regularly interrupt our activity is based on the specific needs of the ganglia cells in our brain. Machines and tools also require corresponding care and maintenance. In cases where environmental conditions necessitate lengthier dormant phases (seasonal business operations or organisms whose metabolic balance is positive only during certain seasons of the year), two options are available to ensure that reserves are tapped economically: either temporary dormancy or a shift to other tasks. Examples of the former include seasonal trade in the business world; here, employees may be fired in order to reduce operating costs to a minimum. In the animal kingdom, this is illustrated by species that hibernate or form resting stages. The other strategy involves long-term restructuring of functionless organs so they can assume other tasks that help support the organism. Examples here include the coal merchant who sells ice cream in summer or machines that are reprogrammed to carry out other tasks.
The same efficiency scheme is valid not only for all organs,
whether they be formed by cell differentiation or directly from environmental
materials, but also for every known organism: uni- and multicellular organisms,
hypercell organisms and business organizations. Moreover, this "hidden
communality" (to use the language of Goethe) behind all these living entities
is expressed on a third level as well. Virtually every organ is itself
composed of subordinate functional units. Our eye, with its lens, pupil
and eyeground the latter composed of a great number of light-sensitive
cells is a classic example. These cells themselves are again composed
of subordinate functional units arranged into a hierarchic structure. The
situation is no different in the assembly plant of an industrial complex.
Here as well, the machines and the hypercell organisms operating them are
subordinate units, which themselves are composed of further subunits. As
anyone is free to verify, the same efficiency criteria at work in these
and similar units are valid for all independently operating and reproducing
living entities along with their manifold organs. Taken together, this
is convincing evidence for the thesis that evolution has by no means run
its course with the advent of man. Rather, it has found its direct continuation
in the capable entities formed by man hypercell organisms and business
At this point I wish to briefly point out some underlying correlations that provide a wealth of evidence for the tight functional affinity between uni- and multicellular organisms on the one hand and hypercell organisms and business enterprises on the other.
My line of argumentation has been based on the premise that an organ fulfils only a single function. Although this may be true in most cases and over considerable periods of time, evolutionary progress involves changes in the capabilities exhibited by organs and their interactions. When such changes occur, efficiency must be calculated anew because a spectrum of correlations will be affected. While the previous argumentation remains valid for every individually assessed situation, it fails to consider the overall course of evolution and the altered selective values when structural features or behavior control mechanisms are improved.
My earlier publications have treated shifts in function in detail. I therefore restrict myself here to a brief description of the interrelationships and to presenting clear-cut examples for the affinity of all organisms, including hypercell organisms and business organizations. The reader will immediately recognize that humans, rather than representing the zenith of evolution, are embedded together with all their achievements in the overall evolutionary process (see Fig. 5).
A particularly important process in the course of evolution is an organs ability to add new capabilities above and beyond its original task a process that I have termed functional expansion (Fig. 5a). The roots of land plants are a good example. Their primary function was to acquire water and nutrients, but in taller species they must support and anchor the plant and are correspondingly dimensioned. In automobiles, the water in the radiator initially served to cool the motor. Later, it took on the added function of heating the car's interior. The fan-like, feathery gills of tube-worms that live firmly attached to the sea floor also serve in feeding. Much like an expanded net, they capture organic particles suspended in the water and convey them to the mouth with cilia. Today, many tools and machines are designed such that exchanging certain parts or installing different software can allow new functions to be carried out. The circulatory system in vertebrates is a particularly impressive example of extended functionality. Its original task was to supply every cell with the necessary nutrients. In the course of evolution, it assumed the task of removing accumulating metabolic wastes and transporting gases for respiration. It also became the "postal system" for hormones, the transportation route for the white blood cells and antibodies that function as the "internal police", the medium of a "central heating" system that keeps warm-blooded animals alive, and in certain species even serves the erectile tissue of the genital organs. Every new function typically requires an additional structure; the excretion of metabolic wastes, for example, necessitates kidneys, while the delivery and removal of gases requires lungs. This strategy is ultimately much less costly for the organism and can be achieved much more simply via mutation and selection than developing a separate in- and outflow system, i.e. such as that developed for gases by insects (the trachea). A comparable example in hypercell organisms and business enterprises is the powerlines that supply of electricity to factories. Their original function was to provide light and to power machines; once they were installed, however, they took on other duties such as operating loudspeakers, radios, hot plates and electric hair dryers for employees, to name but a few applications. Just as creating a separate duct system to transport hormones or to supply the erectile tissue of the genital organs would have been uneconomical, the employees hot plates and hair dryers alone would never have justified connecting the factory to the main lines. Once strong selective pressure has led such distribution systems to be installed, however, they became available for additional tasks. Such functional expansions are promoted above all by the development of new behavior control mechanisms, as I explicated earlier in the book. Two prime examples are the human hand in the realm of multicellular organisms, and humans themselves in the realm of hypercell organisms: additional motion control mechanisms in the former enable it to fulfil a thousand different functions, while the latter can probably carry out an even greater number of functions through various trades and businesses.
Fig. 5: The six most important possibilities for functional shifts of organs. The organs (O) are represented as triangles, their functions as arrows originating at the tip (a-x).
A: Functional expansion: the organ O1 is capable of only a single function (a), but then also gains further functions (O3a-e).
B: Functional partition: By taking on ever more numerous functions, these functions can mutually hinder and disturb one another and lead to functional overload. The solution is functional partition. In the figure, O4 takes over the functions a, b, d, while O5 takes over c and e. This process is identical with the clearly discernible differentiation in all complex organisms, especially multicellular organisms and business organizations. The result is an increasing division of labor.
C: Functional shift: As in A, an organ (O6) takes on an additional function (O7b). This then becomes the main function, while the original function often degenerates completely. This indirect route led to new functions in all four groups of organisms (uni- and multicellular organisms, hypercell organisms, businesses), functions that often would have been unattainable through mutation and recombination.
D: Functional partnership (symbiosis): The two organs O9 and O10 combine to form a partnership (O11); each gains advantages through the partner.
E, F: Several organs (O12 to Ox) combine to form a larger organ. When
such combined organs retain the same functions, we term this a functional
amalgamation (E); if the original organs had different functions and
the new entity has a new function, we term this a functional concentration
The key here is that these processes, which are important for evolutionary progress at all levels, are clear evidence for the uniformity of evolution in the living world.
Functional expansions can, however, lead to functional overload, which decreases selective value. The more functions an organ fulfils, the greater the danger that the functions hinder one another or that precision is reduced. In multicellular organisms, as well as in hypercell organisms and business enterprises, this leads to functional partition, i.e. an ever increasing differentiation and division of labor (Fig. 5B). This process is common knowledge and need not be illustrated with examples. The essential point is that we are dealing with a further, systematic evolutionary process that is equally valid for natural and additional organs. It considerably improves selective values in all four major organismic levels (unicellular and multicellular organisms, hypercell organisms, businesses).
Functional expansion can lead to yet another significant step forward, namely functional shifts (Fig. 5C). In animals and plants as well as in human technologies and organizations, later functions commonly develop into main functions, while the original function degenerates entirely. Thus, the ovipositor of some insects developed into a poisonous sting, while the unpaired pineal eye of reptiles became the pineal gland in mammals, where it helps control the day/night rhythm. What equivalents can we find in humans? Some buttons, for example, have long served to decorate rather than fasten. The differential gears in automobiles were originally invented for the weaving machine. In plants, the leaves gave rise to tendrils and thorns, to the traps of pitcher plants, as well as to the stamens and pistils of flowers. Goethe, who discovered this, wrote to Herder in 1788: "From front to rear, a plant is merely leaf". Primeval fishes were unable to develop a swimbladder a crucial organ to help control buoyancy via mutation and recombination. Their descendants conquered land, where their gills dried out and lost their function. Initially, the roof of the palate, which was richly supplied with blood vessels, took over the necessary gas exchange, even if only suboptimally. At this point, mutation and recombination led to folding, which increased the surface area and gave rise to a sac-shaped structure that later became the lung of terrestrial vertebrates. Some early fishes or amphibians or whatever name we wish to give these transitional stages returned to the sea with these sac-like structures, which then served as swimbladders. The selective advantage of the newly evolving species with such buoyancy organs (all modern bony fishes) was so great that they displaced the primeval fishes. Only a few groups such as sharks and rays were able to survive until today without a swimbladder. In ancestral sharks, the body scales grew longer around the margins of the mouth and developed, through a functional shift, into teeth. Their descendants that conquered land gradually lost the scales on their bodies, but the teeth remained. In the human embryo, the teeth still develop just like the placoid scales of the shark. The same holds true for the gill slits that characterize primeval fishes: on land, these became useless and were reduced, whereby, as described earlier, the rudiments of the gill arches developed into hearing ossicles.
Still another form of functional shift is the functional partnership, which helps cut unnecessary costs and in which each partner gains an advantage through the other (Fig. 5D). When different organs within an organism carry out the same function, then this functional amalgamation into a larger common organ can increase competitiveness (Fig. 5E). This is standard procedure in business enterprises and is reflected in central repair shops, common vehicle fleets and other combined facilities. As outlined earlier, this strategy was limited in multicellular organisms because the cell, as a highly organized building material, did not lend itself to such rigorous changes with the modest means of mutation and recombination. On the other hand, some functions are known to profit considerably from decentralization. A further opportunity to boost capability involves merging several organs with different functions into one larger unit, yielding an organ with new capabilities (Fig. 5F). This is no doubt what Konrad Lorenz meant with his term "fulguration". In earlier publications I termed this functional shift a functional concentration. Haken's "synergistic effect" probably also fits in here.
Note that, as was the case in the efficiency criteria, the same systematic correlations exist not only for all organs, but also for every organism. Two examples suffice. As we saw, symbioses in uni- and multicellular organisms, which are analogous to the functional partnerships mentioned above, play an equally important role as mergers between large businesses and industries do. In a process analogous to functional concentration, Homo proteus gave rise to hypercell organisms and to business organizations like the Volkswagen company and the USA.
Finally, virtually every organ requires corresponding
control mechanisms to function properly. These must also be developed and
exhibit phases of activity, dormancy and potential change. Here as well,
the three efficiency criteria (cost, precision, time required) provide
input that affects selective value. The fact that these control mechanisms
are often separate from the organs that are being controlled is inconsequential.
Arms and legs or additional organs are of little use to us if they cannot
be effectively controlled. Throughout the living world, all the efficiency
criteria that pertain to control mechanisms are also decisive for the selective
value and competitive ability. This is further evidence that somatic organs
and the "works" of man are ultimately components of one and the same evolutionary
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