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Biological Life Cycle

Since the systems approach initially developed with examples of complex biological systems, then part of its terminology remains from those times. Biologists wanted to find approaches to discuss such complex objects as a flood meadow with all its interconnected hundreds of plant and animal species, and seasonal changes— but there were no words for this discussion. They came up with these words, for example, "life cycle." Here is a liver fluke's life cycle. This parasitic flatworm goes through its life in different states (eggs, larvae, cysts, adult worm), undergoing metamorphoses (complete restructuring of its internal structure) during its lifetime. No one invents or designs the worm system, there is no such stage in the life cycle. Evolution did this, it is impersonal and purposeless. No one also manufactures a completely documented worm system in its DNA: all these manufacturing stages occur without human intervention, that is life. Moreover, everything repeats, starting from the worm's eggs.

In engineering/activities/practices in creating systems of various scales, everything is not the same:

  • Target systems do not grow or undergo metamorphoses themselves, they are invented, designed, manufactured, operated, modernized, systems for creating withdraw them from operation, that is, people with their means of production. This means that there is no life in the systems themselves, the life cycle appears not to be vital, systems for creating guide the target system through its cycle, and it does not advance through its states by itself.
  • Target systems do not lay eggs, do not give birth, do not reproduce vegetatively. This means that the life cycle does not close, does not repeat. That is, this is not a cycle.

The life cycle for inanimate systems turned out to be not alive and not cyclical, but the term remained, and it gradually changed its meaning. The problem is that many of these "historical" meanings are still used today, alongside modern meanings, creating confusion when discussing projects for creating and modernizing various systems.

Furthermore, even for living systems (bacteria in a bioreactor, a herd of cows on a farm, a field of genetically modified wheat, a hectare of forest), the creator's thinking is also applied (bioengineer, farmer, agronomist, forester) and his target system and how the creator creates his target system. No one today assumes that there is a life cycle of a cow that it goes through independently without a farmer, generation after generation living in the forest. And the forest - the forester looks after it, if we are improving the forest.

The life cycle in fact means what happens to one organism, that is, it does not include a discussion of mutations. If you include another time scale, evolution, in which monkeys evolved into humans, and dinosaurs into birds, then this will no longer be called a "life cycle," but will be called evolution/development. Techno-evolution/technological development has a different nature than Darwinian evolution: the main knowledge about the structure of both the target system and the creator is not in these systems themselves (genome: the set of hereditary material), but in the creator systems (meme: the set of material with "project documentation," although here too it can be further divided into memetic evolution of human culture, where the meme is stored in books, brains, and material culture in the form of "templates of things," and technical evolution, where the meme is specifically in project documentation, texts of technical standards, engineering textbooks). We will rarely consider the development of living systems in the course of Darwinian evolution, but we will often consider the development of systems in the course of techno-evolution. Therefore, we will abbreviate: not say "technological development," but just say "development," but in the case of evolution, we will still call a specific case of techno-evolution based on the designed meme.