30 Years of Computational Autopoiesis:
A Review

Barry McMullin

Dublin City University

From Autopoiesis to Neurophenomenology: A Tribute to Francisco Varela
(FoilTeX Presentation)

Preamble ...

... I particularly remember a discussion over dinner one evening during the third ECAL (Grenada, Spain, in 1995), where he dazzled me not only with his ability to maintain three simultaneous conversations with different people, but to do so in three (or more?) different languages, switching continuously between them!



... the simulation rapidly provided the results our intuition had led us to expect: the spontaneous emergence in this artificial bi-dimensional world of units which self-distinguished by means of the formation of a `membrane', and which showed a capacity of self-repair.

The Minimal Model

Image fig1


In conclusion, it is evident that the system A, B, M could be extended to a three dimensional system. [However] it is judged that the implementation of a three dimensional model would involve difficulties which are not worth overcoming at this stage, as the extension of the proposed model to three dimensions would not involve any conceptual modifications. [Handwritten] In the three dimensional model the motion of the @ and M- particles would take place in a three dimensional space. The chains of M* [particles] would now become surfaces, with edges composed of M+ [particles] capable of ``capturing'' new M- [particles] allowing the surface to grow and close, enclosing the @ particle. The volume inside this ``spherical-membrane'' would become populated by M- particles, ready to repair the ``membrane'' at the points where it is destroyed [disrupted?] by disintegration of the M* particles.

-Varela & Maturana Protobio 1971 (?)

Elaboration (I)


Conjecture and Refutation


Image fig2

Protobio Re-discovered


... The non-computability of Autopoietic systems, as advanced here, apparently collides with the simulation results involving tessellation automatas. But new versions of this simulation show that the original report of computational autopoiesis was flawed, as it used a non-documented feature involving chain-based bond inhibition. Thus the closure exhibited by tessellation automatas is not a consequence of the ``network'' of simulated processes, but rather an artifact of coding procedures.

- Juan Carlos Letelier et. al. (J. Theo. Bio. 2003)

Lessons for Methodology?

Elaboration (II)

Elaboration (II)

Elaboration (II)

Related Developments

Varela the Scientist ...

Francisco Varela was, of course, a brilliant and original scientist. ...

... Varela the Man

... But my enduring memory is of Francisco the man: his enthusiasm, his infectious good humour, his idealism, and his sheer appetite for life. He is sorely missed.

Related Online Resources


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© 2003 Barry.McMullin@dcu.ie
Datestamp: 2004-06-15