Parallel processing in computer usage: distinction between serially carrying out operations one-at-a-time (with mainframe or supercomputer) and carrying out pieces of operations in parallel by many smaller units simultaneously. (see network and rhizome)
A serial computer algorithm is very suseptible to disturbance. A small change will probably stop it. On the other hand, a distributed parallel algorithm (see genetic algorithms) may be more robust.
Biological: Genome as as kind of computer underlying the ontogeny of each individual--central directing agency. Can be reprogrammed and fragile to variations. Versus "parallel-processing genetic regulatory network which can exhibit self-organized buffered behavior." (Kauffman, Origins of Order, p.13)
" Bottom up" research believes that the "general architecture" of the brain does matter. For neurophysiologists and computer connectionists the characteristic features of the brain that are important for AI are: large numbers of simple processors, operating in massive parallelism, that are unprogrammed and adaptable. In the "swarm" model, a multitude of simultaneous actions form collective patterns which are far more important than a series of critical individual actions.
For Marvin Minsky, human understanding functions by running multiple representations in parallel through agencies he calls the "society of mind." Thus, "If you understand something in only one way, you do not really understand it at all. If something goes wrong, you will be stuck with a thought that just sits in your mind with nowhere to go. The secret of what anything means to us depends on how we have connected it to all the other things we know. If you have several different representations, when one approach fails you can try another. Well-connected representations let you turn ideas around in your mind, to envision things from many different perspectives, until you find one that works for you." (from Scientific American, October 1994) (cf metaphor)
For Gilles Deleuze, science displays a peculiarly serial, ramified time...resulting in a completely different pace of scientific progress (What is Philosophy?, p. 124) marked by bifurcations and ruptures. The goal of a scientist's work is to spare us going down the same path again. "We do not work through a named equation, we use it" Manuel De Landa argues that the most important model for serial industrial production in the nineteenth century was ammunition and military spare parts, and that the need for absolute similarity and exchangibility came out of the requirements of warfare, not out of developments in the economic sector.