School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM CoSy project CogX project

Title: On the origins of biological computations.
Part of the Meta-Morphogenesis project

Talk to School of Computer Science Lunch Seminar 14 Nov 2012

How can a cloud of dust containing only physical/chemical structures
produce musicians, mathematicians, metaphysicians, megalomaniacs,
monkeys, mice, microbes, music, mayhem, murder, munificence, marmite
and other wondrous products?
(DRAFT: Liable to change)

Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham.

Installed: 10 Nov 2012
Last updated: 10 Nov 2012
This file is:

Extended Abstract:

I'll try to explain why I don't think 'Natural selection' is an adequate
answer since
(a) natural selection needs a suitable medium in which to operate and some
    properties of the medium can be important
(b) some of the products of natural selection (and the medium) introduce new
    answers to the question.

Generalising Turing's ideas about morphogenesis: Meta-morphogenesis includes
forms of information processing that produce new forms of information
processing, though details are mostly still unknown.

One way to investigate this is to try to identify and understand mechanisms and
influences involved in transitions that have occurred in natural information
processing over billions of years, some summarised in this document (still under
development): Transitions in Biological Information-Processing

Example: what went on in the millenia before humans produced Euclid's Elements,
that led to the production of Euclid's elements? An introduction to some
conjectures about pre-Euclidean mathematics and ability to understand and use
affordances is here.

A readable book by a thoughtful physicist provides an introduction to
some of the problems:
    Paul Davies,
    The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life,
(don't be misled by the title: it isn't full of religious mush).

Short introduction to what is known about evolution (excluding
information-processing mechanisms and how they evolve):
    The Rough Guide to Evolution (Rough Guide Science/Phenomena)
    Mark Pallen (Birmingham)

Further related thoughts are here: evolution-info-transitions.html

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Partial index of discussion notes:

Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham