ENSO Seminar Series

Making Sense of Autopoiesis

Randy Beer

Feb. 8, 2018, 8 p.m. UTC // Feb. 8, 2018, 3 p.m. in America/New_York
Maturana and Varela's concept of autopoiesis and Varela's later generalization of it to autonomy is the foundation upon which much of the edifice of enaction rests. Yet this concept can be difficult to understand upon first encounter and its subtleties are far from settled. Using an artificial chemistry, I will develop a principled interpretation of autopoiesis in this talk. Specifically, I will demonstrate how persistent bounded spatiotemporal entities arising in a cellular automata model can be decomposed into sets of local processes that can be shown to form self-producing and self-individuating networks. Beyond its pedagogical value, this investigation represents the first step in a larger research program that uses the systematic analysis of toy models as a methodology for developing a theoretical framework for understanding organisms as integrated wholes.

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