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Project ID: IST-2000-29225
Funded under: FP5-IST
Country: Italy

Growing up: Emerging complexity in living being

Biological systems live and grow. Many aspects are inherent to the concept of living, such as the adaptation, the interaction with the environment, and the ability to deal with limited resources. Living systems present multiple levels of organization, with elements at one level interacting and aggregating to create more complex behaviour at a higher level. In recent years, many new techniques used to investigate the spatio-temporal activity in living being have demonstrated the presence of features common to the behaviour of self organizing dynamical systems.

Thus a question arise: is this chaos useful to model living beings? The answer is very difficult to find. Many experimental data support the dynamic chaotic modelling of living systems. Complex behaviours such as perceiving, intending, acting, learning, and remembering arise as metastable spatio-temporal patterns of brain activity that are themselves produced by the cooperative interactions among neural clusters.

In this paper we present and discuss that question, and we try to give indication for a possible answer, with the aim of defining the basic features of a behavioural kernel for living artefacts.

In the paper some analysis on the literature on self-organization in living being has being done. Living organisms displayed dynamic phenomena that are essential aspects of self- organization such as self-maintenance, self-transformation and self-transcendence. Many studies showed that living organisms show chaotic behaviour when they create new structures and new patterns of behaviour.

Every living system functions as a whole, manifesting properties that are not evident in its parts. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. A human being is something more than just a conglomerate of carbon, oxygen, and water, mixed in with a few other minerals. A human is even more than a conglomerate of cells and tissues.
Emergent phenomena have features that are not previously observed in the complex system under observation.

This novelty is the source of the claim that features of emergent phenomena are neither predictable nor deducible from lower or micro-level components.

This overview suggests that Nature has many advantages using chaotic processes. Chaos seems to be essential for this creation of information. It may have an important neurological function: some researchers have speculated that it could provide a flexible and rapid means for the brain to discriminate between different perceptual stimuli.

Some experiments showed that chaotic processes allows a certain level of elasticity during the recognition and the learning phases.

Unluckily chaos models are very difficult to be treated. The numerous tentative of building chaotic Artificial Neural Networks, even if were very fascinating, were really difficult to be trained. Any way all the self organizing phenomena found in nature suggest that Dynamic Chaotic Models show characteristic essential to explain and build emergent behaviours and growing up in living artefacts.

Contact

Giovanna MORGAVI, (Head of Unit)
Tel.: +39-010-6475203
Fax: +39-010-6475200
E-mail
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