Altricial self-organising information-processing systems ∗

It is often thought that there is one key design principle or at best a small set of design principles, underlying the success of biological organisms. Candidates include neural nets, ‘swarm intelligence’, evolutionary computation, dynamical systems, particular types of architecture or use of a powerful uniform learning mechanism, e.g. reinforcement learning. All of those support types of self-organising, self-modifying behaviours. But we are nowhere near understanding the full variety of powerful information-processing principles ‘discovered’ by evolution. By attending closely to the diver- sity of biological phenomena we may gain key insights into (a) how evolution happens, (b) what sorts of mechanisms, forms of representation, types of learning and development and types of architectures have evolved, (c) how to explain ill-understood aspects of human and animal intelligence, and (d) new useful mechanisms for artificial systems.
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