Talk to School of Computer Science Lunch Seminar 14 Nov 2012
How can a cloud of dust containing only physical/chemical structures(DRAFT: Liable to change)
produce musicians, mathematicians, metaphysicians, megalomaniacs,
monkeys, mice, microbes, music, mayhem, murder, munificence, marmite
and other wondrous products?
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, 1999 (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) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rough-Guide-Evolution-Science-Phenomena/dp/1858289467 Further related thoughts are here: http://tinyurl.com/CogMisc/toddler-theorems.html http://tinyurl.com/CogMisc/meta-morphogenesis.html http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/ evolution-info-transitions.html
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham