Living Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Anticipation

pp 1-31

Date: Latest Version

Anticipation in MES – Memory Evolutive Systems

  • Andrée EhresmannAffiliated withFaculté des Sciences, Mathématiques LAMFA, Université de Picardie Jules Verne Email author 


The aim of this chapter is to study anticipation in autonomous adaptive systems, such as biological and social systems, which have a multilevel multi-agent organization and develop a robust though flexible long-term memory. The problem is to find the characteristics allowing the system, through some of its agent(s), (i) to enhance its comprehension of the nature and role of anticipation (what Riel Miller (Futures J Policy Plan Future Stud 39:341–362, 2007) calls “Futures Literacy”) and (ii) to use this knowledge to search for possible procedures and virtually evaluate their impact on behavior, decision-making, and/or future action. The present study concerns open systems during their ongoing evolution. Thus it is different from Rosen’s anticipatory systems in which anticipation results from the existence of an internal predictive model of the invariant structure of the system.

The study is done in the frame of the Memory Evolutive Systems (Ehresmann and Vanbremeersch, Bull Math Bio 49(1):13–50, 1987; Memory evolutive systems: hierarchy, emergence, cognition. Elsevier, 2007), a mathematical approach to “living” systems, based on a “dynamic” category theory incorporating time. The main characteristic making these systems capable of developing anticipatory processes is identified as a kind of “operational redundancy” called the Multiplicity Principle. MP allows the progressive emergence, in the memory, of multifaceted dynamical records of increasing complexity which are flexible enough to adapt to changes. In social systems, a group of interacting people can develop a shared higher-level hub of the memory of the system, its archetypal pattern, which acts as a motor in the development of anticipatory processes. An application is given to the “Futures Literacy” program of Riel Miller, with a comparison of its three phases with the three types of creativity distinguished by Boden (The creative mind; myths and mechanisms, 2nd edn. Routledge, 2004).


Anticipation Category Future literacy Memory Memory evolutive system