Understanding Regularities 2: what is not a regularity?
I am arguing that regularities are a powerful framework for understanding the world of organisms. That said, it is important when we are exploring a new concept or framework that we try not to capture everything under the universe within it’s ambit. So what is not a regularity?
Mechanisms aren’t regularities. Consider the circulatory problem of trying to distribute nutrients and take away waste. We know that both nutrients and waste will scale as the volume of the organism; that is the regularity. The transportation problem could be solved by laying down pipes (as in humans) or diffusion through the entire cellular matrix in unicellular creatures, but these are mechanisms. They are not the regularities.
Algorithms aren’t regularities. I can solve the same information processing problem using multiple algorithms, but it is the problem itself, such as recovering depth from stereo, that defines the regularity.
Algorithms are to information that mechanisms are to physical transport. In other words, we are trying to understand information or energy flow, but abstracting away from the details.