Virtual stability: Constructing a simulation model


  • This paper was submitted as an invited paper resulting from the “Understanding Complex Systems” conference held at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, May 2007.


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 an increase in its flexibility of behavioral response to environmental changes. A model designed to illustrate virtual stability 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. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity, 2009