[Fis] Fwd: The 10 Principles

Christophe Menant christophe.menant at hotmail.fr
Tue Sep 29 18:57:04 CEST 2020

Dear Pedro,
Regarding top-down or bottom-up perspectives, the approach I propose is clearly a bottom-up one.  It is an evolutionary approach to meaning generation, from basic life up to human mind, based on internal constraint satisfaction. Artificial agents with derived constraints are, for me, part of that bottom-up approach (AAs have been created by human minds, and they did not exist at pre-human time).
We agree that the constraint "stay alive" is the essence of life (individual and species). This is why I feel it deserves to be at the core of a model of meaning generation that started with life.
Looking at pre-biotic times, most of us would agree that an inert far from equilibrium volume maintaining itself can introduce a process about the emergence of life from matter. And the constraint (if any) is “maintain status” (indeed a conatus principle, but different from the the Spinoza one, as I understand it). A question remains on the nature  of a possible self.
Your comment about evolutionary complexity growth lacking any top-down design for life can be extended to the whole story of our universe. There is a lack of top-down design in Big Bang energy =>matter =>life =>self-consciousness. The key questions are, for me, about the origin of the BB and the nature of the trend in increasing complexity (which comes in addition to natural laws).
Consequently, we can take life as introducing meaning generation in the evolution of the universe, but we should keep in mind that it is only a small segment in the overall story.
Still a lot of interesting subjects to look at....

 All the best


De : Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>
Envoyé : lundi 28 septembre 2020 14:54
À : Christophe Menant <christophe.menant at hotmail.fr>; 'fis' <fis at listas.unizar.es>
Objet : Re: [Fis] Fwd: The 10 Principles

Dear List,

Responding to Christophe, I was aware of the works of those research groups (some of my own country). Well, philosophically and theoretically it may be an interesting approach, but I fail to see a clear connection with the biomolecular themes that center my own research--not a single word on signaling systems, nor on the life cycle, nor on the information flow. I personally think cognition and meaning can also be approached differently, with a new "informational" interpretation closer to signaling science and systems biology. So to speak, those views are from the "top down", while my own preference is the "bottom up" accompanied by the exploration of a simpler, down to earth, conceptual apparatus. Actually, evolution has proceeded via "bricolage" (as François Jaconb put) and the innumerable interactions among living systems conducing to the evolutionary complexity-growth lack any top down design. The proposed constraint "to be alive" is but the very essence of life (together with reproduction), it means the "conatus principle" of Spinoza... So I respect those views but I do not share them.

About the other question, I see no objection to utilizing the constraint satisfaction in top-down designed artificial systems or agents. Then, my impression is that you can compare with the same tool both the artificial and the biological--but it is by using a "sanitized" top down version of the latter. Rather I voluntarily opted for "natural intelligence" in the 10 principles (the 9th one). As you well know, cognitive science and AI itself have had a serious conceptual trouble by following "the mind as a computer" metaphor, even potentially to be run in "any kind of hardware", and pretty soon downloaded in supercomputers (matrix style). Finally it is the substratum of tecno-utopism doctrines such as "transhumanism" and Kurt Wenzel "great singularity" ... Evidently you are not arguing in that direction, but I really see the need to take a separated stance.

Responding to Krassimir, I think my own position is very clear: information is contemplated from a biological perspective, with its (meaning&cognition) correlations associated to the advancement of a life cycle. But I do not deny a possible convergence with quantum information science new approaches. As Joseph and Karl have noted from very different angles, there are ways to explore further connotations of "adjacency", beyond the direct bio implications of molecular-recognition. (By the way, there was a great fis discussion session on "Molecular Recognition and the Fundamental Laws of Information<https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Ffis-mail.sciforum.net%2F1069.html&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cf4b98347cf58465c7d6608d863ad9689%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637368944484444871&sdata=xMj948g9kv9lNyx2wv68nuvjt8sjuJIosW8WvkkU4VU%3D&reserved=0>" by  Shu-Kun Lin. July 14, 2003). I often cite a quotation from Michel Conrad: "when we look at a biological system, we are looking at the face of the underlying physics of the universe."  About the loop you mention in the definition of information proposed in Principle 1, there is a very clear starting point: the origins of life.

Best greetings

El 25/09/2020 a las 13:46, Christophe Menant escribió:
Dear Pedro,
It is true that using constraints relative to 3000 genes would bring in a level of complexity  difficult to manage. But the usage of the Meaning Genartaor System is with higher level entities where the constraints are of a generic type, like “Stay alive” and “Look for happiness”.  By the way, I’m not alone on that perspective. See https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-01198-7_6#aboutcontent<https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flink.springer.com%2Fchapter%2F10.1007%2F978-3-030-01198-7_6%23aboutcontent&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cf4b98347cf58465c7d6608d863ad9689%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637368944484444871&sdata=XTKWS4cMo1sgm%2Biyw1jNqCYZO3X5UwNiXCw4uegGv6w%3D&reserved=0> where different type of “control constraints” are introduced at basic life level, associated to “meaningful interpretation” and “significances”. Also, the  concept of constraint satisfaction as an entry point to cognition looks as accepted by the community (“a system is cognitive if and only if sensory inputs serve to trigger actions in a specific way, so as to satisfy a viability constraint” [Bourgine, Stewart 2004]).  So I don’t see very well why there is a reluctance to use a system approach on meaning generation for constraint satisfaction. What would be your position on that point?
An advantage of the system approach is to allow the modeling of meaning generation in artificial agents with derived constraints. Meaning generation in living entities and in AAs can then be compared with the same tool. This highlights some concerns relative to artificial life and artificial intelligence, with ethical components (https://philpapers.org/archive/MENTTC-2.pdf<https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fphilpapers.org%2Farchive%2FMENTTC-2.pdf&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cf4b98347cf58465c7d6608d863ad9689%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637368944484454866&sdata=KI3MQPg39GipunuvvJkU1UzU%2BOYeLpXei40%2BDm9po1Y%3D&reserved=0> ).
On that subject I do not see very well how the 10 principles are linked to artificial cognition, which is, I feel, an important item for principles of information in our world where artificial agents participate more and more to all components of our lives. Could you tell us more on that?
All the best
Bourgine, P. Stewart, J. (2004) ‘Autopoiesis and cognition’ Artificial life, Summer 2004, Vol. 10, No. 3, MIT Press Journals. http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/1064546041255557#.VJLBnCuG-UI<https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mitpressjournals.org%2Fdoi%2Fabs%2F10.1162%2F1064546041255557%23.VJLBnCuG-UI&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cf4b98347cf58465c7d6608d863ad9689%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637368944484464867&sdata=AXkwzDd1ysvN7ZboKkqllDRg0ggN%2BCzJ3jOw9r42E1Q%3D&reserved=0>

De : Fis <fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es><mailto:fis-bounces at listas.unizar.es> de la part de Pedro C. Marijuan <pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es><mailto:pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>
Envoyé : vendredi 18 septembre 2020 20:01
À : 'fis' <fis at listas.unizar.es><mailto:fis at listas.unizar.es>
Objet : Re: [Fis] Fwd: The 10 Principles

Dear All,
Thanks to Jose Javier for his comments. Regarding the loop you mention about distinction, you are right, but this is a very characteristic of life (see that Maturana and Varela already said something pretty similar in their Tree of Knowledge). In the other biological principles that follow (below)  I try to clarify that notion in several directions, particularly concerning signaling systems, a concept which was completely ignored until well in the 1990s. Your second comment may be partially responded looking at those further principles dealing with the symbolic communication via language and the social narratives, not far from what you have pointed. Thus I include the whole principles herein.

1. Information is distinction on an adjacent difference.

2. Information processes consist in organized action upon differences collected onto structures, patterns, sequences, messages, or flows.

3. Information flows are essential organizers of life's self-production process –the life cycle– anticipating, shaping, and mixing up with the accompanying energy flows.

4. Proto-phenomena of meaning, knowledge, and cognition (& intelligence) emerge via signaling systems of living cells, fully developed in the action/perception cycle of central nervous systems.

5. Information/communication exchanges among adaptive life-cycles underlie the complexity of biological organization at all scales.

6. It is symbolic language what conveys the essential communication exchanges of individuals —and constitutes the core of human "social nature."

7. Human information can be transformed into efficient knowledge by following the "knowledge instinct", further enhanced and delimited by collectively applying rigorous methodologies.

8. Human cognitive limitations are partially overcome via "knowledge ecologies", where knowledge circulates and recombines socially in a continuous actualization that involves "creative destruction" of theories, practices, and disciplines.

9. Narratives become encapsulated forms of “natural intelligence”, tailored to capture collective attention and memory, and essential for the cohesion of social, political, and economic structures.

10. Information science proposes a new, radical vision on how information and knowledge surround individual lives, with profound consequences for scientific-philosophical practice and for social governance.

Briefly referring to the other discussion track (Christophe), I quite agree with situating the origins of (genuine) meaning with living beings, but have some trouble with "constraints" when generally applied to biological cognition. I think they may be more useful in other fields (originated in kinematics, they become more and more volatile as used in Dynamic Systems Theory, and similarly weakened when going from AI to biological cognition). For instance,  given 3,000 genes in Ecoli, organized in mixed clusters of fiendish complexity, how do you establish meaningful constraints? Or can even attribute separate "functions"? You may see in DOI: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2015.07.002<https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.researchgate.net%2Fderef%2Fhttp%253A%252F%252Fdx.doi.org%252F10.1016%252Fj.pbiomolbio.2015.07.002%3F_sg%255B0%255D%3DnH-ziIzFNlPKAqMszwKA9aJSdUF_He_Rfcal3jUKXaF_lvDrbTWXcTEDtf5uNRaHZMzJ0MFczgM3J-aub54-p6oiQA.Vi1baoaYqIl4vlby-pQVd58ob8urom6m0dhZo1yJ26_NjwihWirad9bxSivcVUymzy-vS1FcL9dD4ZQ7UDtz_w&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cf4b98347cf58465c7d6608d863ad9689%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637368944484464867&sdata=YmR5%2BuGVsmvGF7M0OhIDZf%2F7rp6pc1wUmaSWZjzNx8Y%3D&reserved=0>   the very dimensions of this ontology problem.

Regarding Marcus' comment on life as imprecisely defined (and whether viruses or Gaia are 'alive'), the fundamental issue in natural sciences is "explaining" rather than defining. And fortunately the advancement in our explanations of life in last decades has been fantastic. Life can now be characterized in every basic aspect with amazing depth. One cannot give a precise definition of life, but one can provide a list of essential characteristics, and at the center are the informational ones. Empirically, the point is that information appears to be so ingrained in the molecular organization of life that scores of new bio-disciplines have been recently launched around it: bioinformatics, bioinformation, biocomputation, all the "omic" fields, signaling science, etc. Biosemiotics could be included too, but Hélas, most biosemioticians continue to "read" the DNA meaning via the genetic code, rather than exploring the "signals" abduced from the environment and "distinctionally worked out and transcribed in genes--from which ultimately "meaning" emerges. About viruses concretely, they have been essential in the origins of eukaryotic complexity and in the dynamic balance of marine and terrestrial ecosystems... irrespective on how we consider their degree of "aliveness". And finally "non comment" about some (baiting?) expressions in your previous reply.

I see right now the careful "review" by Loet: better for a next occasion!


PS. The Three Messages per Week are counted following the international business week (from Monday to Sunday included).

Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group

pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es<mailto:pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>

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Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group

pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es<mailto:pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es>
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