Publication 2079

McMullin B. & Varela F. J. (1997) Rediscovering computational autopoiesis. In: Husbands P. & Harvey I. (eds.) Fourth European Conference on Artificial Life. MIT Press/Bradford Books, Cambridge MA: 38–48. Fulltext at
This paper summarizes some initial empirical results from a new computer model (artificial chemistry) which exhibits spontaneous emergence and persistence of autopoietic organization. the model is based on a system originally presented by Varela, Maturana, and Uribe. In carrying out this reimplementation 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 realization of the autopoietic phenomena. This required interaction was rediscovered only following careful examination of (unpublished) source code for an early version of the original model. The purpose of the paper is thus two-fold: 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).


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