The concept of self-organization originated in the early years of
cybernetics. In an attempt to understand the complexity of our brains,
experiments by Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts introduced idealized
neurons represented by binary switching elements. Massive numbers
of these elements were tied together in random fashion to produce
highly complex networks. During simulation, to their great amazement,
they discovered that after a short time of random flickering, some
ordered patterns would emerge in most networks. This spontaneous emergence
of order became known as 'self-organization'.
In some form or another the principles of self-organization can
be used to describe almost every living system, from the living
cell to the 3 pound fiber bundle we call our brain.
This humble Flash assembly of a mere 42 switching elements is an
infinitesimal simulation of actual self-organizing systems, yet
patterns and strange behavior can still be seen in it's execution.