Aworkshop was held August 26–28, 2015, by the Earth- Life Science Institute (ELSI) Origins Network (EON, see Appendix I) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. This meeting gathered a diverse group of around 40 scholars researching the origins of life (OoL) from various perspectives with the intent to find common ground, identify key questions and investigations for progress, and guide EON by suggesting a roadmap of activities. Specific challenges that the attendees were encouraged to address included the following: What key (...) questions, ideas, and investigations should the OoL research community address in the near and long term? How can this community better organize itself and prioritize its efforts? What roles can particular subfields play, and what can ELSI and EON do to facilitate research progress? (See also Appendix II.) The present document is a product of that workshop; a white paper that serves as a record of the discussion that took place and a guide and stimulus to the solution of the most urgent and important issues in the study of the OoL. This paper is not intended to be comprehensive or a balanced representation of the opinions of the entire OoL research community. It is intended to present a number of important position statements that contain many aspirational goals and suggestions as to how progress can be made in understanding the OoL. The key role played in the field by current societies and recurring meetings over the past many decades is fully acknowledged, including the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) and its official journal Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, as well as the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL). (shrink)
In important ways, Clark's (HPM) approach parallels the research agenda we have been pursuing. Nevertheless, we remain unconvinced that the HPM offers the best clue yet to the shape of a unified science of mind and action. The apparent convergence of research interests is offset by a profound divergence of theoretical starting points and ideal goals.
Synthetic approaches to social interaction support the development of a second-person neuroscience. Agent-based models and psychological experiments can be related in a mutually informing manner. Models have the advantage of making the nonlinear brainenvironmentbrain system as a whole accessible to analysis by dynamical systems theory. We highlight some general principles of how social interaction can partially constitute an individual's behavior.
Social presence, or the subjective experience of being present with another existing person, varies with the interaction medium. In general, social presence research has mainly focused on uni-directional aspects of each exchanged message, not on bidirectional interactions. Our primary purpose is to introduce such bidirectional evaluation by quantifying the degree of social presence with a few statistical measures. To this end, we developed a software called “TypeTrace” that records all keystrokes of online chat interactants and reenacts their typing actions and (...) analyzed the results from different chat conditions, mainly focusing on the characterization of bi-directional interactions. We also compared the chat interaction patterns with the patterns from phone call datasets to investigate the difference of live communication in different media. The hypothesis of the experiment was that either richness or concurrency of communication is important for organizing social presence. Richness is defined by the variety of information at a time in communication and the concurrency is the number of temporal thread being processed at the same time. Our results show that when we merely increase the richness of information by presenting the typing process, the cognition of others' presence does not significantly increase. However, when the information concurrency is augmented by introducing the transmission of realtime text, we found that the transfer entropy between the interactants becomes considerably higher, and the social presence and emotional arousal, intimacy increased. High transfer entropy was also observed in the phone call dataset. This result shows that the mere augmentation of information richness does not necessarily lead to increased social presence, and concurrent communication is another critical factor for fostering vivid conversation in digital environments. (shrink)
We explore the understanding of conscious states in terms of spatio-temporal dynamics through modelling a mobile agent. Conscious states are associated with an agent's spontaneous and deterministic fluctuation between attachment to and detachment from the surroundings. It is because of this fluctuating nature, we argue, that an agent can perceive structure in the world. Perception requires a conscious state in physical devices. This is a central concern of this paper, and we examine it by simulating a mobile agent equipped with (...) an interconnected Fitz-Hugh-Nagumo (FHN) neuron network with delayed signal transmissions. The agent can move around a space by sensing the environment pattern through the input neurons and computing the motor outputs via the FHN network. The agent shows a variety of motion styles and a spontaneous selection of motion styles responding to the surroundings. Such a phenomenon is named embodied chaotic itinerancy (ECI), as an extension of chaotic itinerant dynamics, which is known to be a typical dynamic with a high degree of freedom. We take this selective mode of response to be significant, particularly those interacting with spatial pattern, as an inevitable property of conscious states. (shrink)
The Bird Song Diamond project is a series of multifaceted and multidisciplinary installations with the aim of bringing contemporary research on bird communication to a large public audience. Using art and technology to create immersive experiences, BSD allows large audiences to embody bird communication rather than passively observe. In particular, BSD Mimic, a system for mimicking bird song, asks participants to grapple with both audition and vocalization of birdsong. The use of interactive installations for public outreach provides unique experiences to (...) a diverse audience, while providing direct feedback for artists and researchers interested in the success of such outreach. By following an iterative design process, both artists and researchers have been able to evaluate the effectiveness of each installation for promoting audience engagement with the subject matter. The execution and evaluation of each iteration of BSD is described throughout the paper. In addition, the process of interdisciplinary collaboration in our project has led to a more defined role of the artist as a facilitator of specialists. BSD Mimic has also led to further questions about the nature of audience collaboration for an engaged experience. (shrink)
A new design principle is discussed for making a sufficiently complex cell for the creation of the first wet artificial life in the laboratory. The current approach is to attempt a minimal cell, which consists of a liposome that contains a minimal metabolic cycle for self-maintenance and self-replication. Given the lack of success with the minimal cell to date, the authors suggest it is possible to take an alternative approach to building the first wet artificial life form that they have (...) called the first cell. In this article, the concept of the first cell versus the minimal cell is discussed. The new design principle is supported by the following observations that are examined and developed from an Origins of Life perspective: That human development shows a U-shaped curve where the skills and developmental patterns of human infants are proficient at the first phase then decline and subsequently recover to a qualitatively better level. A review of spatial temporal dynamics using cellular automata studies shows that complexity generated at both the initial states and the time evolution dynamics can synthesize rich evolutionary processes. A chemical experiment exhibiting self-organizing dynamics results in the emergence of a self-propelling oil droplet that demonstrates the self-sustaining properties of a non-equilibrium state. Finally, the important design question Is life a contingent or deterministic phenomenon? is examined which asks whether a life form is a dynamic product of its surroundings or whether it is the inevitable outcome of prior events, and is discussed making reference to the characteristics of an art installation The Way Things Go. This contemporary masterpiece, which exhibits a long-lasting chain of unrelated causal events, serves as a theoretical model for discussion of evolutionary processes, suggesting that when it comes to designing wet artificial life forms in the laboratory, both contingent and deterministic processes should be taken into account. (shrink)
Simple chemical agents with lifelike properties can be termed a protocell, meaning the earliest form of a natural living cell. These agents are not necessarily alive but are examples of living technology, namely technology that possesses lifelike qualities. Given that the protocell can respond to environmental cues with directional and controlled movement it can be thought of as being able to make decisions whilst navigating through a complex environment. In this way a mobile protocell agent can be considered to exhibit (...) a form of computation. The development of smart protocell agents can be used as experimental model systems for the investigation of abstracted living processes that can subsequently be physically and chemically manipulated to produce architectural design outcomes. (shrink)
Memory dynamics need both stable and unstable properties simultaneously. Hence memory dynamics cannot be simulated by chaotic itinerant dynamics alone, with no real world correspondence. Memory dynamics are constrained by both semantics and causalities in the embodied cognition.
The dynamical category uses the sensory-motor coordination to do categorization. If categories are inevitably grounded in sensory-motor coordination, sharing categories may also share the same sensory-motor coordination. Concerning this aspect, we discuss the color category as a dynamical categorization. Additional to the converging effect of a category by communication, we discuss the diverging effect of communication that creates new categories.