Operators, as both conceptual and physical entities, are found throughout the world as a common feature of human mind, nature and society. As a reflection, operators are the basic tool in physics, quantum chemistry and genetics, playing an important role in other sciences. Operators, and what they operate, their substrates, targets or operands, have a wide variety of forms, functions and properties. We systematize and study operators which range from the most abstract formal structures and symbols in mathematics and standard logic to real entities, human and non-human, and are responsible for effecting changes at both the individual and social level. The emphasis of this paper is on the analysis and characterization of relations between natural operators and operators in science. This allows us to explain the success of the operator approach in physics. By focusing on the nature and properties of operators in science and technology, we also acquire a possibility to achieve a more rigorous logical discussion of cognitive processes in the knowledge-centered information society. In this paper, we build an extensive classification of operators, demonstrate abundance of natural operators, explain how information operates in nature, analyze operators as a theoretical tool and describe to what extent a machine can be an operator. Studying self-operation, we explicate common features of several important phenomena, such as self-organization, self-regulation and self-management. Among our conclusions, we conjecture that the natural-social operator split provides a key criterion for determining what entities may be considered autonomous, morally responsible agents.
Comments: 45 Pages.
[v1] 2012-04-12 21:49:32
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