Re: [-empyre-] emergence, embodiment, biology

when-ever i see a-life
when-ever i think i'm looking at life
when-ever i think i'm interacting with a-life
when-ever i am immersed in a work that simulates life
when-ever i find myself coming out of that moment
i realise
just how complex and vaste
life really is

Hi Komninos - long time! nice shirt BTW

Yes - that sums it up.  Almost all the people I know working in the
alife field have remarked that their respect/regard/awe of real life
has improved significantly as a consequence of their work.  Phil
Husbands was a session musician then studied engineering then went
on to do the UK's first PhD in genetic algorithms at Edinburgh and
is now Assoc. Dean of Informatics and co-director of the CCNR at
Sussex (see my last post).  He once told me that after finishing at
Edinburgh he though that all that was needed was a soup of 0's and 1's
and a few billion machine cycles and something would emerge from
the binary "slime", shake his hand and say "G'day mate".  Fifteen
years later he's now a bit more conservative and a major aspect of the
CCNR research is into real life analysis.  His work on Gas Nets -
neural nets that simulate the effects of nitrous oxide as a
neurotransmitter are providing new insights on the visual cortex -
where neurons are closely packed and nitrous oxide plays a major

My favourite example is the Monarch butterflies.  They spend several
generations flying north from Mexico to Canada then, in a single
generation fly back to Mexico.  I don't know but suspect they have maybe
250,000 neurons in their brain (a small fraction of the 100 billion that
us apes have).  How do they do it?  Some ants in the Namibian desert
(where they can't rely on pheromones like ants elsewhere to navigate)
have neurons in their brain that are magnetic compasses. Life is
mind boggling.

And apropos your comments about Hollywood soaps proving something or
other - did you see that Australian researchers have discovered a
lost race of Hobbits in Indonesia?

Meanwhile here in the real world (the news is on the teevee behind me)
some respect for life in Fallugia would be in order right now.

Paul Brown          PO Box 413, Cotton Tree QLD 4558, Australia  
mob 0419 72 74 85                           fax +1 309 216 9900
Visiting Fellow - Birkbeck

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