School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM CogX project Turing Centenary

The meta-morphogenesis of virtual machinery with "physically indefinable" functions
Abstract for invited presentation at this workshop THE INCOMPUTABLE
Workshop themes:

Location: Kavli Royal Society International Centre Chicheley Hall: 12 - 15 June, 2012
(Workshop funded by Templeton Foundation.)

Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham.

Installed: 5 Jun 2012
Last updated: 5 Jun 2012; 20 Jun 2012; 14 Dec 2013
This document is

A partial index of discussion notes is in

The meta-morphogenesis of virtual machinery with "physically indefinable" functions

I use "meta-morphogenesis" to refer to the mechanisms and processes by which
morphogenesis, especially morphogenesis of information processing functions and
mechanisms, changes -- over evolutionary, developmental and social time scales.
I shall give a brief presentation of some of the ideas, including conjectures
about how the development of virtual machinery in biological organisms can be
compared with some of the complex, often unnoticed, developments in computing
systems over the last six or seven decades including production of virtual
machinery with complex internal causation as well as external and "downward"
causal connections. Some of that virtual machinery has functions whose
description requires language, e.g. talk of "wanting", "trying". "believing",
"inferring", "introspecting", that cannot be translated into the language of the
physical sciences (as currently understood). This fact could cause intelligent
machines to become puzzled about their own consciousness and mind-brain
relationships in the same ways as human philosophers and scientists have.
In both cases well-designed tutorials in systems engineering may (for some
individuals) help to remove the puzzles. For more information see:
    Abstract also accessible as:

Abstract also available as:
A. Sloman,
The Meta-Morphogenesis of Virtual Machinery with "Physically Indefinable" Functions
in Arnold Beckmann, Barry Cooper, Benedikt Löwe, Elvira Mayordomo, Nigel Smart (eds.).
Acts of the programme "Semantics and Syntax".
Isaac Newton Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, January to July 2012. Page 205

A draft paper on the creativity of evolution is here:

An expanded version of my PDF slides (likely to go on being modified) can be found

A thought about our planet provoked partly by reflecting on the workshop is here:

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