Publication 6303

Beer R. D. (2014) The cognitive domain of a glider in the Game of Life. Artificial Life 20: 183–206. Fulltext at
This article examines in some technical detail the application of Maturana and Varela’s biology of cognition to a simple concrete model: a glider in the game of Life cellular automaton. By adopting an autopoietic perspective on a glider, the set of possible perturbations to it can be divided into destructive and nondestructive subsets. From a glider’s reaction to each nondestructive perturbation, its cognitive domain is then mapped. In addition, the structure of a glider’s possible knowledge of its immediate environment, and the way in which that knowledge is grounded in its constitution, are fully described. The notion of structural coupling is then explored by characterizing the paths of mutual perturbation that a glider and its environment can undergo. Finally, a simple example of a communicative interaction between two gliders is given. The article concludes with a discussion of the potential implications of this analysis for the enactive approach to cognition.


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