Publication 5047

Rocha L. M. (2000) Syntactic autonomy: Why there is no autonomy without symbols and how self-organizing systems might evolve them. In: Chandler J. & Van de Vijver G. (eds.) Closure: Emergent organizations and their dynamics. New York Academy of Sciences, New York: 207–223.
Two different types of agency are discussed that are based on dynamically coherent and incoherent couplings with an environment, respectively. I propose that until a private syntax (syntactic autonomy) is discovered by dynamically coherent agents, there are no significant or interesting types of closure or autonomy. When syntactic autonomy is established, then, because of a process of description-based selected self-organization, open-ended evolution is enabled. At this stage, in addition to dynamics, agents depend on localized, symbolic memory, thus adding a level of dynamic incoherence to their interaction with the environment. Furthermore, it is the appearance of syntactic autonomy that enables much more interesting types of closures among agents sharing the same syntax. To investigate how we can study the emergence of syntax from dynamic systems, experiments with cellular automata leading to emergent computation that solves nontrivial tasks are discussed. RNA editing is also mentioned as a process that may have been used to obtain a primordial biological code necessary for open-ended evolution.
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