Biological Computation

Context: Workshop: Do living things compute?

More fascinating collaboration from the Santa Fe Institute. In short and in gestalt: it all seems to invoke a form of computation that is neither particular or distributed but is both simultaneously; that is not finite or discrete in the sense of having easily-defined or simply-encapsulated boundaries; and it’s raison d’être is the iterative and recursive refinement of algorithmically optimal methods of iterative and recursive refinement of scale-independent information and energy processing. The worst thing we could do is to be prescriptive and define such computation purely in terms of our own current level of technical and technological sophistication; not recognising it, we often enough dismiss out-of-hand many things which are of value as sources of substantive, useful information and education.

In what ways do our own teleological language(s), logical conventions, and variegated cognitive grammars constrain the intelligible limits of what we might understand pattern, symmetry and computation to be. Natural (information and energy-processing) systems appear unconstrained in ways that the culture and conventions of science and philosophy are not. Asserting structure and meaning requires boundaries but what (necessarily) slips through the net?

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