The Universe Grows Decision-Making Structures

Jim Mason
3 min readAug 3, 2022

We humans provide the most complicated example that we know of so far

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Out of the fundamental force fields described by our physical theories, more and more elaborate structures have grown in the universe that we know, including atoms, molecules, and biological structures such as neural networks, as well as larger structures of planets, stars, galaxies, and galaxy clusters and networks. The weak and strong nuclear forces and electromagnetic forces account for rapid changes in those structures, and the gravitational force accounts for most of the longer-term stability of the larger structures.

Decision-making structures are branching structures that constrain interactions of the fundamental forces — that is, structures that restrict such interactions into finite sets of discrete alternatives — what we describe as “choices”. The most subtle ways in which such choices are actually resolved — what we call “decisions” — are described by our theories of quantum phenomena, but at the scale of our individual human existence, decisions are just somehow ultimately made. Some decisions — like the outcome of rolling dice — are random, as far as we can understand their causes, but others — like our decisions to roll dice — are deliberate, again as far as we can understand their causes.

Our brains are our most complicated known structures for making decisions as individuals. But our communication capabilities and technologies, combined with our brains, are even more-complicated structures by which we make decisions as human groups, or supra-organisms. And those structures are capable of making decisions that lead to the construction of even more elaborate structures for communication and decision-making.

Since the time when our human brains and communication capabilities reached a certain level of complexity — one can mark that time as when written languages were invented — the process of growth of decision-making structures here on earth has accelerated to the point — now with the internet — at which those structures are global in scope and almost instantaneous in speed of operation. Decisions made by our individual brains can result in communicative events that can quickly affect each others’ brains, resulting in further decisions and actions in feedback cycles that can become…

Jim Mason

I study language, cognition, and humans as social animals. You can support me by joining Medium at