I’ve written previously about the decentralization mega-trend that we’re in the midst of, and something has been nagging me. I used the metaphors that the big bang, and evolution were acts of decentralization, but the links were pretty tenuous, so it didn’t have the impact it could have. Well, my subconscious has been working on that, and I think I have a new metaphor that shows that decentralization is a built-in, integral part of everything in reality.

So, what is the biggest decentralized system ever? It’s something that all of us possess. Life.

For this we have to think of “Life” as a concept, like an organism in itself. I’m obviously not a biologist, so I’m probably butchering this, but we, and everything else that’s alive are made up of an unfathomable number of atoms, cells, gases, minerals, and much more that all work independently, carrying out their functions. Yet, when they’re configured in a certain order, Life is present.

All these different parts that make living things are interdependent, and in a constant state of recycling. I exhale, and you breathe in some of the gases that were part of ‘my’ body. It then becomes part of 'your’ body. You breathe out and a plant absorbs it. It goes on forever. This is happening in a trillion and one different ways, everywhere, all the time.

That means, even if you, I, or anything else dies, the constituent parts that make us up are constantly transferred, so Life “the organism” continues. It’s like a hyper-complex and resilient network that is forever shifting, and re-routing around any potential threats. Asteroid destroys most of the species on earth? No problem, 'most’ doesn’t mean all, so life continues. A nuclear war destroys all of humanity, plunging the world into nuclear winter? No worries, the cockroaches survive, life continues.

So yeah, that’s the idea. Life, eh? Who’d have thunk it? I hope you enjoyed this short brainfart. I know it’s only tangentially related to technology, but it was a revelation to me, and I thought some of you might enjoy it :-)