Rediscovering Computational Autopoiesis

Barry McMullin Francisco J. Varela
Santa Fe Institute LENA--CNRS URA 654
1399 Hyde Park Road Hopital del la Salpetriere
Santa Fe, NM 87501 47, Blvd. de l'Hopital
USA 75651 Paris cedex 13

April 1997
Presented at ECAL-97, Brighton, UK July 1997.


This paper summarises some initial empirical results from a new computer model (artificial chemistry) which exhibits spontaneous emergence and persistence of autopoietic organisation. The model is based on a system originally presented by Varela, Maturana and Uribe [11]. In carrying out this re-implementation it was found that an additional interaction (chain-based bond inhibition), not documented in the original description by Varela et al., is critical to the realisation of the autopoietic phenomena. This required interaction was re-discovered only following careful examination of (unpublished) source code for an early version of the original model. The purpose of the paper is thus twofold: firstly to identify and discuss this previously undocumented, but essential, interaction; and secondly to argue, on the basis of this particular case, for the importance of exploiting the emerging technologies which support publication of completely detailed software models (in addition, of course, to conventional publication of summary experimental results).

Keywords: Autopoiesis, Artificial Life, Artificial Chemistry, Origin of Life.

Copyright © 1997 All Rights Reserved.
Timestamp: Tue Apr 22 22:10:03 GMT 1997