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Special Issue "Selected Papers from Symposium on Natural/Unconventional Computing and Its Philosophical Significance"

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A special issue of Entropy (ISSN 1099-4300).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 August 2012)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic (Website)

1 Department of Applied Information Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden
2 School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Computer Science Laboratory, Mälardalen University, Sweden
Interests: computing paradigms; computational mechanisms of cognition; philosophy of science; epistemology of science; computing and philosophy; ethics of computing; information ethics; roboethics and engineering ethics; sustainability ethics
Guest Editor
Dr. Raffaela Giovagnoli (Website)

Pontifical Lateran University, Vatican City
Interests: analytic philosophy (Frege and speech acts theory); normative pragmatics (Brandom, Habermas)

Special Issue Information

Summary:
The symposium addresses, but is not limited to, the following topics, grouped in two tracks:

(I) NATURAL COMPUTING/UNCONVENTIONAL COMPUTING
This track will address the emerging paradigm of natural computing, and its philosophical consequences with different aspects including (but not limited to):
- Theoretical and philosophical view of natural computing/unconventional computing with its philosophical significance (such as understanding of computational processes in nature and in human mind).
- Differences between conventional and unconventional computing.
- Digital vs analog & discrete vs continuous computing
- Recent advances in natural computation (as computation found in nature, including organic computing; computation performed by natural materials and computation inspired by nature)
- Computation and its interpretation in a broader context of possible frameworks for modeling and implementing computation.
It is important to bring philosophical reflection into the discussion of all the above topics.

(II) REPRESENTATION AND COMPUTATIONALISM
This track highlights the relevance of the relationship between human representation and machine representation to bring out the main issues concerning the contrast between symbolic representation/processing on the one hand and nature-inspired, non-symbolic forms of computation on the other-with a special focus on connectionism. We also welcome work on hybrids of symbolic and non-symbolic representations. Particular movements that papers may wish to address are:
- 'Embedded, Embodied, Enactive' approach to cognitive science (from Varela et al)
- 'Dynamic Systems' approach (from, say, Port and Van Gelder);
- Other representational possibilities that are clearly available: no representations or minimal representations;
- Process/procedural representations (e.g. from Kevin O'Regan).

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Natural/Unconventional Computing and Its Philosophical Significance
Entropy 2012, 14(12), 2408-2412; doi:10.3390/e14122408
Received: 31 October 2012 / Accepted: 1 November 2012 / Published: 27 November 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (139 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this special issue we present a selection of papers from the Symposium on Natural/Unconventional Computing and its Philosophical Significance, held during the AISB/IACAP 2012 World Congress in Birmingham (UK). This article is an editorial, introducing the special issue of the journal [...] Read more.
In this special issue we present a selection of papers from the Symposium on Natural/Unconventional Computing and its Philosophical Significance, held during the AISB/IACAP 2012 World Congress in Birmingham (UK). This article is an editorial, introducing the special issue of the journal with the selected papers and the research program of Natural/Unconventional Computing. Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle Life as Thermodynamic Evidence of Algorithmic Structure in Natural Environments
Entropy 2012, 14(11), 2173-2191; doi:10.3390/e14112173
Received: 3 September 2012 / Revised: 29 October 2012 / Accepted: 30 October 2012 / Published: 5 November 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (316 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In evolutionary biology, attention to the relationship between stochastic organisms and their stochastic environments has leaned towards the adaptability and learning capabilities of the organisms rather than toward the properties of the environment. This article is devoted to the algorithmic aspects of [...] Read more.
In evolutionary biology, attention to the relationship between stochastic organisms and their stochastic environments has leaned towards the adaptability and learning capabilities of the organisms rather than toward the properties of the environment. This article is devoted to the algorithmic aspects of the environment and its interaction with living organisms. We ask whether one may use the fact of the existence of life to establish how far nature is removed from algorithmic randomness. The paper uses a novel approach to behavioral evolutionary questions, using tools drawn from information theory, algorithmic complexity and the thermodynamics of computation to support an intuitive assumption about the near optimal structure of a physical environment that would prove conducive to the evolution and survival of organisms, and sketches the potential of these tools, at present alien to biology, that could be used in the future to address different and deeper questions. We contribute to the discussion of the algorithmic structure of natural environments and provide statistical and computational arguments for the intuitive claim that living systems would not be able to survive in completely unpredictable environments, even if adaptable and equipped with storage and learning capabilities by natural selection (brain memory or DNA). Full article
Open AccessArticle Unconventional Algorithms: Complementarity of Axiomatics and Construction
Entropy 2012, 14(11), 2066-2080; doi:10.3390/e14112066
Received: 20 August 2012 / Accepted: 19 October 2012 / Published: 25 October 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (194 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we analyze axiomatic and constructive issues of unconventional computations from a methodological and philosophical point of view. We explain how the new models of algorithms and unconventional computations change the algorithmic universe, making it open and allowing increased flexibility [...] Read more.
In this paper, we analyze axiomatic and constructive issues of unconventional computations from a methodological and philosophical point of view. We explain how the new models of algorithms and unconventional computations change the algorithmic universe, making it open and allowing increased flexibility and expressive power that augment creativity. At the same time, the greater power of new types of algorithms also results in the greater complexity of the algorithmic universe, transforming it into the algorithmic multiverse and demanding new tools for its study. That is why we analyze new powerful tools brought forth by local mathematics, local logics, logical varieties and the axiomatic theory of algorithms, automata and computation. We demonstrate how these new tools allow efficient navigation in the algorithmic multiverse. Further work includes study of natural computation by unconventional algorithms and constructive approaches. Full article
Open AccessArticle Programming Unconventional Computers: Dynamics, Development, Self-Reference
Entropy 2012, 14(10), 1939-1952; doi:10.3390/e14101939
Received: 23 August 2012 / Revised: 8 October 2012 / Accepted: 9 October 2012 / Published: 17 October 2012
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (514 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Classical computing has well-established formalisms for specifying, refining, composing, proving, and otherwise reasoning about computations. These formalisms have matured over the past 70 years or so. Unconventional Computing includes the use of novel kinds of substrates–from black holes and quantum effects, through [...] Read more.
Classical computing has well-established formalisms for specifying, refining, composing, proving, and otherwise reasoning about computations. These formalisms have matured over the past 70 years or so. Unconventional Computing includes the use of novel kinds of substrates–from black holes and quantum effects, through to chemicals, biomolecules, even slime moulds–to perform computations that do not conform to the classical model. Although many of these unconventional substrates can be coerced into performing classical computation, this is not how they “naturally” compute. Our ability to exploit unconventional computing is partly hampered by a lack of corresponding programming formalisms: we need models for building, composing, and reasoning about programs that execute in these substrates. What might, say, a slime mould programming language look like? Here I outline some of the issues and properties of these unconventional substrates that need to be addressed to find “natural” approaches to programming them. Important concepts include embodied real values, processes and dynamical systems, generative systems and their meta-dynamics, and embodied self-reference. Full article
Open AccessArticle Quantum Theory, Namely the Pure and Reversible Theory of Information
Entropy 2012, 14(10), 1877-1893; doi:10.3390/e14101877
Received: 19 June 2012 / Revised: 20 September 2012 / Accepted: 25 September 2012 / Published: 8 October 2012
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (498 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
After more than a century since its birth, Quantum Theory still eludes our understanding. If asked to describe it, we have to resort to abstract and ad hoc principles about complex Hilbert spaces. How is it possible that a fundamental physical theory [...] Read more.
After more than a century since its birth, Quantum Theory still eludes our understanding. If asked to describe it, we have to resort to abstract and ad hoc principles about complex Hilbert spaces. How is it possible that a fundamental physical theory cannot be described using the ordinary language of Physics? Here we offer a contribution to the problem from the angle of Quantum Information, providing a short non-technical presentation of a recent derivation of Quantum Theory from information-theoretic principles. The broad picture emerging from the principles is that Quantum Theory is the only standard theory of information that is compatible with the purity and reversibility of physical processes. Full article
Open AccessArticle MENS, an Info-Computational Model for (Neuro-)cognitive Systems Capable of Creativity
Entropy 2012, 14(9), 1703-1716; doi:10.3390/e14091703
Received: 2 August 2012 / Revised: 30 August 2012 / Accepted: 5 September 2012 / Published: 7 September 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (368 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
MENS is a bio-inspired model for higher level cognitive systems; it is an application of the Memory Evolutive Systems developed with Vanbremeersch to model complex multi-scale, multi-agent self-organized systems, such as biological or social systems. Its development resorts to an info-computationalism: first [...] Read more.
MENS is a bio-inspired model for higher level cognitive systems; it is an application of the Memory Evolutive Systems developed with Vanbremeersch to model complex multi-scale, multi-agent self-organized systems, such as biological or social systems. Its development resorts to an info-computationalism: first we characterize the properties of the human brain/mind at the origin of higher order cognitive processes up to consciousness and creativity, then we ‘abstract’ them in a MENS mathematical model for natural or artificial cognitive systems. The model, based on a ‘dynamic’ Category Theory incorporating Time, emphasizes the computability problems which are raised. Full article
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