Fractal genes


Fingernails are a small but remarkable part of the human features. Over the years, I've been noticing repeating patterns of fingernails, distributed seemingly randomly among individuals. There are maybe a half-dozen types of fingernail shapes, and individual hands exhibit instances of these types, with feature details more or less emphasized. Individual hands can sometimes even exhibit combinations of different types.

Similarly to morphological features, we can discuss psychological features using patterns. One of the famous pattern systems is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator based on earlier work by Carl Jung, which proposes four basic axis to human behaviour (named the four dichotomies):

  • Extraversion vs. Introversion
  • Sensing vs. iNtuition
  • Thinking vs. Feeling
  • Judging vs. Perceiving

The simplest representation for this system is a 4-bit word, each bit representing one of the dichotomies, 0 representing an arbitrary feature in each dichotomy and 1 its opposite. We can obtain 2^4 = 16 combinations that supposedly represent all possible human behaviours, with sufficient abstraction.

However, this is a strongly bipolar system that does not allow for shades of grey between extreme behaviours. We can replace each 2-bit with a richer n-bit (fuzzy) "genome" to capture all the combinatorial possibilities of behaviour. We start getting into harmonic analysis instead of discrete algebra.

But instead of attempting to capture all the possible details at just one level of detail, we can consider a hierarchical model where each feature can itself be represented by a set of sub-features, each with its specific "genome". The relationship between values of the assembly of sub-genomes and the parent genome is at least a statistical one: clusters are found in the combinations of sub-genomes, where each cluster is identified as a parent feature, which itself has a description (i.e. is distinguishable) and a bitwise encoding of its pattern.