Virtual Stability: Constructing a Simulation Model

Burton Voorhees, Department of Mathematics, Athabasca University, Canada

After a discussion of the importance of stability and instability for complex systems theory we define the concept of virtual stability as a state in which a system employs self-monitoring and adaptive control to maintain itself in a configuration that would otherwise be unstable. The energy expended in this gains the system a major increase in its flexibility of behavioral response to environmental change. Virtual stability is proposed as a general principle of complex adaptive systems. A toy model designed to illustrate virtual stability in a population context is presented, followed by a brief discussion of the evolutionary advantage this capacity provides. This leads to the suggestion that such advantage gives an argument both for the directionality of evolution and for the emergence of self-consciousness.