Systems – LST

The OSS Foundation is focused on facilitating research and solution development pertaining to multidisciplinary work in key areas of human endeavor that pertain to our sustainable capacity, and the living systems of Earth.

Living Systems Theory is a means of identifying system components within systems. From that it becomes easier to identify needs within the system based on the health of the interactions between subsystems.


The 20 Critical Subsystems of a Living System (Dr. James Grier Miller)


  • 1.    Reproducer, the subsystem which carries out the instructions in the genetic information or charter of a system and mobilizes matter and energy to produce one or more similar systems.
  • 2.    Boundary, the subsystem at the perimeter of a system that holds together the components which make up the system, protects them from environmental stresses, and excludes or permits entry to various sorts of matter-energy and information.


  • 3.    Ingestor, the subsystem which brings matter-energy across the system boundary from the environment.
  • 4.    Distributor, the subsystem which carries inputs from outside the system, or outputs from its subsystems around the system to each component.
  • 5.    Converter, the subsystem which changes certain inputs to the system into forms more useful for the special processes of that particular system.
  • 6.    Producer, the subsystem which forms stable associations that endure for significant periods among matter-energy inputs to the system or outputs from its converter, the material synthesized being for growth, damage repair, or replacement of components of the system, or for providing energy for moving or constituting the system’s outputs of products or information markers to its suprasystem.
  • 7.    Matter-energy storage, the subsystem which places matter or energy at some location in the system, retains it over time, and retrieves it.
  • 8.    Extruder, the subsystem which transmits matter-energy out of the system in the forms of products or wastes.
  • 9.    Motor, The subsystem which moves the system or parts of it in relation to part or all of its environment or moves components of its environment in relation to each other.
  • 10.    Supporter, the subsystem which maintains the proper spatial relationships among components of the system, so that they can interact without weighting each other down or crowding each other.


  • 11.    Input transducer, the sensory subsystem which brings markers bearing information into the system, changing them to other matter-energy forms suitable for transmission within it.
  • 12.    Internal transducer, the sensory subsystem which receives, from subsystems or components within the system, markers bearing information about significant alterations in those subsystems or components, changing them to other matter-energy forms of a sort which can be transmitted within it.
  • 13.    Channel and net, the subsystem composed of a single route in physical space or multiple interconnected routes over which markers bearing information are transmitted to all parts of the system.
  • 14.    Timer, the clock, set by information from the input transducer about states of the environment, which uses information about processes in the system to measure the passage of time, and transmits to the decider signals that facilitate coordination of the system’s processes in time.
  • 15.    Decoder, the subsystem which alters the code of information input to it through the input transducer or internal transducer into a “private” code that can be used internally by the system.
  • 16.    Associator, the subsystem which carries out the first stage of the learning process, forming enduring associations among items of information in the system.
  • 17.    Memory, the subsystem which carries out the second stage of the learning process, storing information in the system for different periods of time, and then retrieving it.
  • 18.    Decider, the executive subsystem which receives information inputs from all other subsystems and transmits to them outputs for guidance, coordination, and control of the system.
  • 19.    Encoder, the subsystem which alters the code of information input to it from other information processing subsystems, from a “private” code used internally by the system into a “public” code which can be interpreted by other systems in its environment.
  • 20.    Output transducer, the subsystem which puts out markers bearing information from the system, changing markers within the system into other matter-energy forms which can be transmitted over channels in the system’s environment.

Additional Concepts

  • System dynamics: interaction between systems and subsystems.
  • System States: measuring the health of a system in general terms.
  • General systems theory
  • Macro to micro to macro: chicken and the egg, quantum understanding of influences.