Natural Computation: Attempts in Reconciliation of Dialectic Oppositions
A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2017) | Viewed by 28909
Interests: philosophy of information and computation; philosophy and history of science and logic; foundations of physics and mathematics; mathematical formalization of scientific theories
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The term “nature” (as well as its adjective form “natural”) is equally elusive as “computation”, although the controversies over the former have much longer tradition in the philosophical discourse. At the first sight the concept of natural computation may seem even more difficult to grasp and to formulate in a rigorous, consistent way. Computation, whatever would be its understanding, refers to the fundamental function of computers, the ultimate artefacts frequently associated with the “virtual reality” in the direct opposition to nature or “natural reality”. However, in spite of their symbolic artefactual role, computers are objects within natural reality and they are subject to the laws of nature. Moreover, computational character of many natural processes (e.g., in living organisms or in humans) is commonly recognized. Thus, the study of that what is natural and what is artificial in computation may help in the reevaluation of this distinction. Similarly, artificial intelligence became a commonly used expression and typically it does not generate objections. However, the problem of feasibility of artificial intelligence is in the core of the natural-artificial opposition. A closer look shows a surprising inconsistency in the distinction as the involvement of intelligence in a creative act defines artefacts, but creations of artificial intelligence seem to be natural products.
This apparently fundamental, dialectical opposition or distinction of the natural and the artificial is only one out of several present in diverse contexts in which the concept of natural computation appears. All of them are entangled with misconceptions, misunderstandings and equivocations, and all of them are worth an extensive philosophical reflection and analysis.
We invite contributions to the Special Issue “Natural Computation: Attempts in Reconciliation of Dialectic Oppositions” that address the wide range of oppositions or distinctions identifiable in philosophy, theory and practice of computation in the context of nature or natural processes. Contributions may address in addition to the opposition of the natural and artificial the following list of the oppositions, distinctions and related to them topics:
- digital and analog computing;
- computing with or in natural phenomena;
- idealized (e.g., infinite memory) and realistic (e.g., finite memory) models of computation;
- natural dynamical processes and their computational simulation;
- modeling of natural systems with computation or computational simulation;
- pancomputationalism vs. restricted dynamics of information in computation;
- finitary vs. unrestricted methods (in logic, computation, mathematics, or other forms of inquiry);
- nature/life inspired computation vs. computation based on manipulation of physical states;
- computation in closed vs. open systems;
- artificial vs. autonomous computation;
- Church-Turing thesis vs. hypercomputing;
- Turing machine equivalent models of computation vs. models with non-traditional architecture.
The list does not pretend to exhaust all dialectic oppositions and distinctions involved in the concept of natural computation. We also invite papers related to other aspects of natural computing, those clarifying the meaning of only one side of the oppositions or distinctions, and those which defend the impossibility of their reconciliation.
Subject of this Special Issue was the main theme of the 10th International Workshop on Natural Computing held in Akita, 14–15 May, 2016, and the papers presented at the workshop which were not published and are not considered for publication elsewhere are invited with the great anticipation of submission. However, the call is addressed to everyone interested in contributing to the discussion of the subject. In the agreement with the spirit of Philosophies, a journal seeking methods of synthesis uniting philosophy, science, and cultural inquiries, we invite papers of diverse styles from philosophical essays to philosophically oriented scientific articles including those of a moderate level of formalization comprehensible to non-specialists. The main criteria for acceptance are quality, originality, clarity and discipline of presentation, and relevance to the subject of the Special Issue.
Prof. Dr. Marcin J. Schroeder
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- Natural computation
- Natural vs. artificial
- Conceptual conflicts in computation
- Computation with or in natural processes
- Digital and analog computation