Mark Ward

The Underlying Theory Behind Life, the Universe, and Everything

Thomas Dunne Books 2001

pg 76

Keywords: Universality - fractals - degree of organisation - systems: classified by the number of dimensions they possessed -

"self-similar" systems - systems must be open - energy or information must be able to flow across their boundaries - millions of interacting units - "self-similar" systems - self-similar structures - fractals - Sierpinski carpets, Koch snowflakes, Menger sponges and Cantor dusts - seemed to be between dimensions -

power laws (The defining mark of both fractals and systems that display 1/f noise is the power law that expresses the relationship between events or structures of different magnitudes) -

dynamics of self-similar systems (systems made up of thousands, if not millions, of interacting units managed to maintain themselves along the critical boundary) - interaction drives a system to self-organise - self-organised criticality - critical point - self-organised around its critical point - origin of all the systems where 1/f noise and fractals were apparent (at the critical point the properties of the individual elements cease to matter and the interactions take over. Order emerges. Life begins.)

Vastly different systems can, in some circumstances, exhibit exactly the same degree of organisation. When systems were classified by the number of dimensions they possessed, which defines how order can spread through them, it became obvious that there were only a few categories or classes that separated them.

pg 97
Keywords: Cellular Automata - Universality - at critical points and phase transitions the properties of the parts of the system stop mattering. Instead it is the interactions and organisation that matter -

John Horton Conway - Game of Life - one-dimensional cellular automata (1-D CA) - Stephan Wolfram - Chris Langton - Alife - creating synthetic organisms - cellular automata as toy universes into which they unleash a variety of software creatures to relive and retrace evolution - Fractal patterns - phase transition - critical point - Universality - "edge of chaos" - at the critical junctures complex structures emerge and persist. Persistence, staying alive, demands the ability to process information about your surroundings and use it - dynamics of information - order and structure - organisational principle of all living things

Mark Ward

Pan Books 1999
pg 8

Keywords : artificial life - artificial life research - information - life is all about insuring information is passed on while at the same time preventing entropy from corrupting the message - ALife is showing how the dynamics of information can come to dominate over the properties of the material living things are made of - phase space - Chris Langton -

...Artificial life research encompasses software simulations, robotics, protein electronics and even attempts to recreate the Earth's first living organism. It is less concerned with what something is built of than with how it lives. It is concerned with dynamics and just how life keeps going. All you, I and everything else need is information.

pg 11

INFORMATION: ... Life keeps going using information. The relationship between information and entropy was first discovered by Claude Shannon, an engineer who worked at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey during the 40ies. Shannon is investigating what prevents information being transmitted across a channel or telephoneline. He found that fault lay with the hard to define quality that all this seemed to be increasing whenever information was lost. Shanon never witnessed a decrease in this quality in all the experiments he performed. He called this slippery quality entropy.

pg 72
Keywords : Conway's Game of Life - unpredictability - a complex world that derives from simple premises - Von Neumann's cellular automaton - emulate any self-replicating machine - act like a universal Turing machine - By picking the right rules Conway believed that he was, in some less complicated way, rerunning a process that takes place in our own universe. At some point (perhaps Planck time) everything was set up, the rules were established and the whole thing was left to run. The same rules determined what happened to new generations of organisms in our universe. - CA - living organisms are physical systems made up of elements operating to a set of rules -some cells in the body act like computers and process information - Ed Fredkin - Stephen Wolfram - Wolfram declares himself frustrated by the slow progress of biology to reveal how living processes are organized and the way they work. He has strong opinions and is contemptuous of most of biology, seeing it as mere naturalism rather than an investigation into fundamentals. 'What we call life is something that is defined more by its history and heritage than its properties,' he says. The problem with life is that it is hard to know what is important and what is not. Wolfram says that while models of living systems can be built, typically they have not been very successful, usually because they are over-complicated. Wolfram thinks that CAs may be a way to investigate those properties and gain a much better understanding of how life is organized. Wolfram says that by analysing CAs 'one may, on the one hand, develop specific models for particular systems, and, on the other hand, hope to abstract general principles applicable to a wide variety of complex systems. - one-dimensional CA - CAs can be divided into four different classes. The first sort of rule sets prodoced patterns that quickly died out. The second class found a stable form and reproduced it for ever. A third type produced chaotic patterns that keep growing. The patterns produced are fractals. Patterns that look the same at different scales. The fourth sort produced patterns that never settle down and grow and contract irregularly. - Fractal patterns - Chris Langton - the order goes I, II, IV, III - The most interesting systems on Earth, the living ones, are a tricky mixture of both complexity and chaos - lambda value - critical phase transition - universality - life uses information to maintain itself in the critical phase transition region

pg 146
Keywords: Mind-Body Problem - Descartes - Thought - Human Thought - top-down - Intelligence - grounding - thinking machines - symbol manipulation - world model - situatedness - embodiment - meaning

pg 272 : Alife - informational bases of life - dynamics of information - cellular automata - artificial chemistry - organization - ALife movement - life is a dynamic, self-organizing process that relies on information to keep it intact and developing - consciousness - brains - thoughts - electrochemical processes - thinking can be explained by its relation to physical activity - physical metaphors - intelligence