Fence after Fence

Alan Kay's Turing Award Lecture ends with a demo that shows the drive-a-car thing – a fascinating exploration of object oriented programming, a fulfillment of his expression that "everything is an object."

YOUTUBE aXC19T5sJ1U Alan Kay Turing Lecture

Meta abstraction

He talks about classes as being horizontal, not hierarchical, all independent of each other – an aspiration perhaps not fully achieved in Smalltalk. There, classes were nested like Russian dolls. (vs. Sea of Objects)

See Messages and Fences.

> […] "wow, it's all about messages." The reason it's about messages and not about objects so much is that the messages are the abstractions. We spend far too much time in our field worrying about what the objects are.

One of his most interesting comments was that "meta is safe if you allow fence after fence after fence after fence."

> This notion of sideways composition also goes back to PARC. Back then in the '70s, it was called "aspects," but that word means something somewhat different now. So when you look at these various things, you can see "oh, the thing is a collection," it's got stuff about its colors and borders and other kinds of things here. And here's one that says "as object." Now, in an inheritance system, the object would be way up at the end of the inheritance system, but in the Sideways Composition object system, it's going to be one of the Traits we're looking at. It's a view of the object as object, and we tried to think about what would be an interesting way of showing this idea of "meta," so here's one where what I'm going to do is suppress all the costumes on all of the objects, and I think this will help you see that everything is sort of abstractly the same here. > > Okay, so basically, I just turned off the costume mechanism. I have this interesting problem with getting back... [laughter] but that's why I left my mouse here, so this is the guy who did it, so I'm going to click the little caret here, which I know is there, to make it false, and then hit the exclamation point to turn everything back on again. So... see, I'm talking about ... basically, "meta" is safe if you can allow fence after fence after fence after fence.

His idea of a fence seems to be closely aligned with Alexander's concept of boundaries that is found in his 15 properties, That Which Emerges.

>**Property 3: Boundaries** In nature, we see many systems with powerful, thick boundaries. The thick boundaries evolve as a result of the need for functional separations and transitions between different systems. They occur essentially because wherever two very different phenomena interact, there is also a ‘zone of interaction’ which is a thing in itself, as important as the things which it separates.

15 Properties

Boundaries are one of the three properties of "wholeness" for each element in his Natural Order – his description of the essential characteristics defining vital, autopoietic systems:

* Strong Center (intention) * Boundaries (responsibility) * The Void (whitespace - ma)

These concepts align with Friston's concept of Markov Blankets, explored in a paper _On Markov blankets and hierarchical self-organisation _ which states:

>Biological self-organisation can be regarded as a process of spontaneous pattern formation; namely, the emergence of structures that distinguish themselves from their environment. This process can occur at nested spatial scales: from the microscopic (e.g., the emergence of cells) to the macroscopic (e.g. the emergence of organisms). In this paper, we pursue the idea that Markov blankets – that separate the internal states of a structure from external states – can self-assemble at successively higher levels of organisation.

The authors of this paper go on to state: >These simulations are offered as a proof of concept that hierarchical self-organisation of Markov blankets (into Markov blankets) can explain the self-evidencing, autopoietic behaviour of biological systems.

By aligning core concepts from Kay, Alexander, and Friston, we sense insight into what Kay was talking about what he was calling for a 'higher level of thinking', something we have have been struggling to name, first calling it quantum thinking then renaming it Lambda Thinking, now wondering, after the experience of Finding Loops, if it might be better generalized as 'Metathinking' as we seek to explain this essential concept to others within the context of Thought Blankets.

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