The original computer model of a minimal autopoietic system was first described by Varela, Maturana and Uribe in 1974 . This presented experimental data from the model showing both the spontaneous formation and ongoing repair of an autopoietic system embedded in a two dimensional, discrete space. This was accompanied by both a qualitative description of the artificial chemistry realised by the model, and a more detailed algorithmic account of their simulation program.
A number of technical difficulties with interpreting that original algorithm, and apparent discrepancies between the algorithm and the experimental data, have been discussed in a previously published working paper . That paper also incorporates, as an appendix, the FORTRAN-IV code of a version of the original program used by Varela et al. Careful study of this code has allowed the identification of an additional interaction that was not explicitly identified in the original description of the model.
In this paper we present experimental results from a completely new implementation of the qualitative chemistry described by Varela et al. which suggests that this additional interaction is, indeed, critical to the realisation of the autopoietic phenomena; and that, conversely, provided this additional interaction is included, the autopoietic phenomena are not dependent on any particular details of the original program or algorithm, but may be expected in any system sharing the same qualitative chemistry.
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Timestamp: Wed Feb 5 21:58:53 GMT 1997