School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM cncr

How could our minds and the rest of life have come from a cloud of dust?

A talk presented at The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution
16 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN 01225 312084
On Tuesday Evening 2nd April 2013

Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham.
(Retired philosopher in a Computer Science department)

A Protoplanetary Dust Cloud?
Protoplanetary disk
[NASA artist's impression of a protoplanetary disk, from WikiMedia]


How could a planet, condensed from a cloud of dust, have produced minds -- and
products of minds, along with microbes, mice, monkeys, mathematics, music, marmite,
murder, megalomania, and all other forms and products of life on earth (and possibly

I'll introduce the ambitious, multi-disciplinary Meta-Morphogenesis project, partly
inspired by Turing's 1952 paper on morphogenesis. It may lead to an answer, by
identifying the many transitions between different types and mechanisms of biological
information processing, including transitions that changed the mechanisms of change,
altering forms of evolution, development, learning, culture and ecosystem dynamics.
One of the questions raised is whether chemical information-processing exceeds the
powers of Turing machines and modern computers.

The talk will be highly interactive.

For more information about the meeting see the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific
Institution web site.

Slides prepared for this talk and another talk are now available online here (in PDF) format:
Also on (FLASH)

A video recording of a much longer, closely related, tutorial presentation at
AGI 2012, Oxford, is available on Adam Ford's web site:

For more information about the Meta-Morphogenesis project see:

This web page is
Also accessible as

A partial index of discussion notes is in

Installed: 12 Dec 2012
Last updated: 13 Dec 2012; 22 Mar 2013; 26 May 2013; 30 Jun 2013

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