Authors
James Shapiro
University of Chicago
Abstract
Forty years’ experience as a bacterial geneticist has taught me that bacteria possess many cognitive, computational and evolutionary capabilities unimaginable in the first six decades of the twentieth century. Analysis of cellular processes such as metabolism, regulation of protein synthesis, and DNA repair established that bacteria continually monitor their external and internal environments and compute functional outputs based on information provided by their sensory apparatus. Studies of genetic recombination, lysogeny, antibiotic resistance and my own work on transposable elements revealed multiple widespread bacterial systems for mobilizing and engineering DNA molecules. Examination of colony development and organization led me to appreciate how extensive multicellular collaboration is among the majority of bacterial species. Contemporary research in many laboratories on cell–cell signaling, symbiosis and pathogenesis show that bacteria utilise sophisticated mechanisms for intercellular communication and even have the ability to commandeer the basic cell biology of ‘higher’ plants and animals to meet their own needs. This remarkable series of observations requires us to revise basic ideas about biological information processing and recognise that even the smallest cells are sentient beings. Previous article in issue
Keywords Computation  Sensing  Regulation  Cybernetic  Evolution
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Reprint years 2007
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2007.09.010
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
The Eighth Day of Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Biology.[author unknown] - 1980 - Journal of the History of Biology 13 (1):141-158.

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Citations of this work BETA

Autopoietic Enactivism, Phenomenology and the Deep Continuity Between Life and Mind.Paulo De Jesus - 2016 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 15 (2):265-289.
Natural Agency: The Case of Bacterial Cognition.Fermín C. Fulda - 2017 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (1):69-90.
Normativity, Agency, and Life.James Barham - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):92-103.

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