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by Keyword: Philosophy


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Song, S, Mason, AF, Post, RAJ, De Corato, M, Mestre, R, Yewdall, NA, Cao, S, van der Hofstad, RW, Sanchez, S, Abdelmohsen, LKEA, van Hest, JCM, (2021). Engineering transient dynamics of artificial cells by stochastic distribution of enzymes Nature Communications 12,

Here the authors develop a coacervate micromotor that can display autonomous motion as a result of stochastic distribution of propelling units. This stochastic-induced mobility is validated and explained through experiments and theory. Random fluctuations are inherent to all complex molecular systems. Although nature has evolved mechanisms to control stochastic events to achieve the desired biological output, reproducing this in synthetic systems represents a significant challenge. Here we present an artificial platform that enables us to exploit stochasticity to direct motile behavior. We found that enzymes, when confined to the fluidic polymer membrane of a core-shell coacervate, were distributed stochastically in time and space. This resulted in a transient, asymmetric configuration of propulsive units, which imparted motility to such coacervates in presence of substrate. This mechanism was confirmed by stochastic modelling and simulations in silico. Furthermore, we showed that a deeper understanding of the mechanism of stochasticity could be utilized to modulate the motion output. Conceptually, this work represents a leap in design philosophy in the construction of synthetic systems with life-like behaviors.

Keywords: Cell, Cell component, Enzyme, Enzyme activity, Membrane, Philosophy, Polymer, Stochasticity, Substrate


Arsiwalla, X. D., Freire, I. T., Vouloutsi, V., Verschure, P., (2019). Latent morality in algorithms and machines Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer, Cham (Nara, Japan) 11556, 309-315

Can machines be endowed with morality? We argue that morality in the descriptive or epistemic sense can be extended to artificial systems. Following arguments from evolutionary game-theory, we identify two main ingredients required to operationalize this notion of morality in machines. The first, being a group theory of mind, and the second, being an assignment of valence. We make the case for the plausibility of these operations in machines without reference to any form of intentionality or consciousness. The only systems requirements needed to support the above two operations are autonomous goal-directed action and the ability to interact and learn from the environment. Following this we have outlined a theoretical framework based on conceptual spaces and valence assignments to gauge latent morality in autonomous machines and algorithms.

Keywords: Autonomous systems, Ethics of algorithms, Goal-directed action, Philosophy of morality, Qualia, Theory of mind


Verschure, P., Prescott, T. J., (2018). A living machines approach to the sciences of mind and brain Living Machines: A Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 15-25

How do the sciences of mind and brain—neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence (AI)—stand in relation to each other in the 21st century? This chapter proposes that despite our knowledge expanding at ever-accelerating rates, our understanding of the relationship between mind and brain is, in some important sense, becoming less and less. An increasing explanatory gap can only be bridged by a multi-tiered and integrated theoretical framework that recognizes the value of developing explanations at different levels, combining these into cross-level integrated theories, and directly contributing to new technologies that improve the human condition. Development of technologies that instantiate principles gleaned from the study of the mind and brain, or biomimetic technologies, is a key part of the validation process for scientific theories of mind and brain. We call this strategy for the integration of science and engineering a Living Machines approach. Following this path can lead not only to better science, and useful engineering, but also a richer view of human experience and of relationships between science, engineering, and art.

Keywords: Convergent validation, Multi-tiered theories, Paradigms in cognitive science, Philosophy of science, Physical models, Reductionism