The Power of Patterns…

Patterns of Thought

“Mathematics is the science of patterns, and nature exploits just about every pattern that there is”

- Ian Stewart

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way”

- Edward de Bono

The world we inhabit is full of patterns.

Pythagoras[1] saw patterns in nature like harmonies[2] of music arising from numbers.

Empedocles[3] anticipated Darwin’s[4] evolution through combinations of basic building blocks for organism structures[5].

Plato’s Theory of Forms[6] (natural universals) presented the world as imperfect copies and forms of our ideal reality.

In attempting to make sense of the systems we inhabit, we have embraced abstractions such as causation and correlation.

Essentially, uncovering new types of information that have the causal power to build new knowledge, mitigate uncertainty and unbundle complexity.

In such a world, logic, causation and new knowledge became the foundations for Science, a catalyst for The Age of Enlightenment[7] and The Age of Reason.

The Scientific Revolution[8] saw the emergence of modern Science, where the developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology and chemistry transformed our views of society and nature.

It resulted in the emergence of industrial machines, calculating devices, telescopes, barometers, air pumps and steam engines.

It changed the nature of our materials, construction and even our aesthetics.

It led to new Scientific developments such as how we see the Universe, the workings of our Human Bodies and the embracement of the Scientific Method.

It enabled the emergence of electricity and transformed how we use energy as the core fuel for production & our prosperity.

It even in some cases reframed the role of Religion in our lives, separating the Church and State[9] and reorganising our societies.

By the 1940s, Mathematical formal & symbolic logic and Science had shaped a Theory of Information (Claude Shannon)[10] and developed the Turing Machine (Alan Turing) [11].

They combined to drive Digitisation, Classical Computing and sowed the seeds for the Information Age[12].

The rise of the internet, increasing abundance of digital data and exponential growth in processing power & memory saw these “top-down” logic machines beginning to be turned upside down by the 2000s.

“Pattern recognition and association make up the core of our thought. These activities involve millions of operations carried out in parallel, outside the field of our consciousness. If AI appeared to hit a brick wall after a few quick victories, it did so owing to its inability to emulate these processes.”

— Daniel Crevier [13]

Inductive “bottom-up” logic emerged based on multivariate statistics and correlations.

It is essentially uncovering patterns in data through Machine Learning and Neural Networks.

This alternative prism of reality providing new tools for Human Sensemaking [16].

Combining logic, Science & causation with patterns, statistics & correlation.

What if, given the complexity, uncertainty and limitations of human perception (human condition), we move from absolute truths (binary) to probabilistic truths?

What if, through the emergence of these increasingly powerful pattern recognition machines, we can increasingly unbundle complexity to make sense of the world?

What if their adoption made Human abstraction, contextualisation, reasoning & meaning more important than ever?

A shift in Human decision making from Aristotelean Logic to Hegelian Synthesis where the Sciences (Natural & Human), the Humanities & Patterns become the inputs for Human Sensemaking.

In the 1700s, Isaac Newton[14] disrupted the world by embracing mathematical logic.

Universal Gravitation, Calculus and the Laws of Motion followed, providing the foundations for Modern Physics, the explosion in Science and the Industrial Revolution.

It disrupted our knowledge, questioned our truths, challenged our beliefs, mitigated uncertainty and unbundled complexity.

Will computational pattern recognition, the possible emergence of even exponentially more powerful Quantum Machines (N²)[15] and Human Sensemaking[16] do the same in the 21st Century?


[1] — Pythagoras —

[2] — Pythagoreanism —

[3] — Empedocles — empedocles

[4] — Darwin: From Origin of Species to Descent of Man — origin-descent

[5] — Powers, Structure, and Thought in Empedocles —

[6] — Plato: A Theory of Forms —

[7] — Enlightenment — enlightenment

[8] — Scientific Revolution Scientific-Revolution

[9] — The Secular Enlightenment —

[10] — A Mathematical Theory of Communication —

[11] — Turing Machines — turing-machine

[12] — Information Age —

[13] — A Smart Look at Artificial Intelligence —

[14] — Isaac Newton — newton

[15] — Quantum AI —

[16] — Sensemaking, the core skill for the 21st Century… —




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store