Date and time: June 26, Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.
Location: Carlos Santamaría Building, Room B14.
Speaker: Miguel Aguilera (email@example.com)
Title: Integrated information and autonomy in the thermodynamic limit
Abstract: The concept of autonomy is fundamental for understanding biological organizationand the evolutionary transitions of living systems. Understanding how a system constitutes itself as an individual, cohesive, self-organized entity is a fundamental challenge for the understanding of life. However, it is generally a difficult task to determine whether the system or its environment has generated the correlations that allow an observer to trace the boundary of a living system as a coherent unit. Inspired by the framework of integrated information theory, we propose a measure of the level of integration of a system as the response of a system to partitions that introduce perturbations in the interaction between subsystems, without assuming the existence of a stationary distribution. With the goal of characterizing transitions in integrated information in the thermodynamic limit, we apply this measure to kinetic Ising models of infinite size using mean field techniques. Our findings suggest that, in order to preserve the integration of causal influences of a system as it grows in size, a living entity must be poised near critical points maximizing its sensitivity to perturbations in the interaction between subsystems. Moreover, we observe how such a measure is able to delimit an agent and its environment, being able to characterize simple instances of agent-environment asymmetries in which the agent has the ability to modulate its coupling with the environment.
Date: 5th of June, 2018
Location: Sala de Juntas (Batzar Aretoa). Faculty of Education, Philosophy and Anthropology (second floor) (UPV/EHU)
Harry Heft – Department of Psychology, Denison University (Ohio, USA)
Manuel Heras Escribano – IAS-Research Centre for Life, Mind, and Society, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU (Spain)
Lorena Lobo – Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Isabel I University (Spain)
Laura Menatti – UMR 5319 CNRS Passages, University of Bordeaux (France)
Mikel Subiza Pérez – Department of Psychology, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU (Spain)
Cristian Saborido – Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of Science, UNED, Madrid (Spain)
Info and program: https://ecologicalcognition.wordpress.com/
June 6-8 2018, University of the Basque Country, San Sebastián
Date: 3 – 4 May, 2018
Location: Carlos Santamaría Center (EHU – UPV), room A4
Opening: Arantza Etxeberria and Leonardo Bich (EHU – UPV)
Chairs: Argyris Arnellos (1), Alba Amilburu (2), Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo (3), Jon Umerez (4)
Speakers: Cédric Brun (Université Bordeaux Montaigne), Matteen Rafiqi (Bezmialem Vakıf University), Jan Pieter Konsman (CNRS – Université de Bordeaux) [in collaboration with Lynn Chiu, CNRS – Université de Bordeaux], Ezequiel Di Paolo (IAS- Research, Ikerbasque), Mark Canciani (IAS- Research, Universidad del País Vasco) and Derek Skillings (CNRS – Université de Bordeaux)
Program:IV Workshop Program (new)
Date and time: January 23, Tuesday, 11:15 a.m.
Location: Carlos Santamaría Building, Room B14.
Speaker: Xabier Barandiaran (UPV/EHU)
Title: Artificial Democratic Life: re-engineering the autonomy of the social
Abstract: New constraints and opportunities often give rise to the
emergence of new forms of life or their radical transformation. Such
is the case of administrative institutions, the emergence and
autonomization of economic life with capitalism or the emergence of
spread of academic life through peer-review journals, conferences and,
ultimately, the internet. This last infrastructure, the internet, has
made possible a profound transformation of many human and societal
forms of life. And Democracy is waiting its turn. In the era of
Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Governance, the combination of
corporate controlled social networks, big data analytics and political
cyberwar, the issue of how to build public infrastructures for
peacefull, deliverative and privacy-aware democratic life becomes
essential. Barcelona City Council is leading the project Decidim: an
online platform for participatory democracy, with thousands of users.
The platform is rapidly extending to other cities in Europe (Spain,
Italy, Sweden, France, etc.). Its sucess depends partly on the
capacity of the development team to include algorithms that maximize
democratic rights, minimize lobby-influence and favors
self-organization and social autonomy. Instead of applying AI
techniques (deep learning, machine learning) to user profiling and
other standard (ab)uses of corporate dominated social networks, the
challenge ahead lies on defining Artificial Life models that boost
Democratic Life. The goal of this talk is to review such posibilities
and explore the way in which Artificial Life can help improve our
democracies in an era of maximal inequality on digital power. With the
lessons learned during the rise of networked multitudinous identities
during the 15M we currently face the challenge of designing the
interaction dynamics within Decidim.Barcelona (the participatory
democracry platform of Barcelona City Council) so as to make possible
the emergence of both city-scale and social autonomous identities.
Regarding city-scale identity, and inspired on the way in which cells
become autonomous (after all it is in greek cities where autonomy was
born as a concept), Decidim makes possible the interaction between
bottom-up and top-down dynamics on the constitution of global
contraints (such as Municipal Action Plan or city wide regulations).
We see institutions as channeling collective energy and matter (human,
urban and economic) to produce meso and macroscopic constraints for
the production and reproduction of city life. Citizen interactions on
the other hand are equivalent to molecular interactions. When it comes
to political decision making, planing and policy making, Decidim is
designed to generate a dialectic between bottom-up (proposal
production and voting) and top-down (selection and result
construction) dynamics. The PAM (Pla d’Actuació Municipal, Municipal
Action Plan, 4 yearly strategic planning for the city) is a good
example of city-scale “identity” production through bottom-up and
top-down interaction dynamics. The second aspect of autonomous
identity generation mechanism we want to foster will soon be available
through citizen initiatives and enhanced horizontal communication
channels within Decidim.Barcelona. The newly aproved participatory
regulation makes possible for citizens to organize and create
different king of large scale interventions that can finally end up on
a public consultation. We consider that the perceived oportunity for
citizen initiatives to be institucionally channeled will create a kind
of energy gradient (like those found at the roots of physical
self-organized processes, such as Benard cells). Decidim.Barcelona is
currently been designed to facilitate social interaction on the
creation of citizen proposal for initiatives, their interaction
through social media, and the self-organization of public discussion
and coordination of communicative action to boost the emergence of
political collective identities. How can we foster a better democratic
life making use of the tools and principles of Artificial Life?
Date and time: November 14, Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.
Location: Carlos Santamaría Building, Room B14.
Speaker: Guglielmo Militello
Functional integration is broadly defined in life sciences as the causal interdependence among the subsystems forming an organism. However, this characterisation is vague and not able to describe the different degrees of functional integration in living beings (Pradeau 2010). From an organizational perspective, functional integration is interpreted as the mutual dependence of the constitutive constraints that collectively maintain the whole organisation (Moreno and Mossio 2015; Bich 2016). Therefore, organisational closure (i.e. the closure of constitutive constraints) implies functional integration (Moreno and Mossio 2015).
This talk aims to investigate some important organisational requirements for the functional integration of two (or more) symbionts.
Two case-studies will be analysed and compared: the first one is the endosymbiotic relationship between an α-proteobacterium (the ancestor of mitochondrion) and the proto-eukaryotic cell; the second one is the set of mutualistic relationships that mixotricha paradoxa establishes with its ectosymbionts (essential for the locomotion of mixotricha) and with its endosymbionts (crucial for the bioenergetics of mixotricha).
The analysis supports the thesis that a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for integrated symbionts is the ability of harnessing energy production (namely the synthesis of ATP molecules) through a number of metabolic and genetic constraints that are mutually dependent.
Date and Time: May 8, 10 & 12 (11:00 a.m.)
Location: Carlos Santamaría Building, Room B14
Speaker: Charles T. Wolfe, Ghent, firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: The history and theory of vitalism, from Descartes to Canguilhem
Abstract: In this series of talks I try to reconstruct something like a vitalist conceptual tradition, present both in a subterranean form in the Scientific Revolution period, despite the fact that, as I suggest in the “Life” paper (text 1), there can be no ontology of Life in this period, and increasingly with the emergence of a science of biology in the late 18th century (and here I ask: what do we do with the growing obsession with ‘life science’ from the 1740s onwards, with people like Buffon and Diderot – Diderot who in his 1753 Pensées sur l’interprétation de la nature dismisses the mathematical sciences as somehow ‘done’ and asserts that ‘life science’ is a new revolutionary area (*)). In the late 19th century vitalism becomes something of a dogmatic concept, with people like Hans Driesch (**), but in the 20th century there is a new, less metaphysical form of theory of organism, sometimes with vitalist ambitions, culminating perhaps in the idiosyncratic theory of Georges Canguilhem, himself influenced by Kurt Goldstein (text 5 and see Ferrario and Bianco’s papers – on Goldstein and Canguilhem respectively, in Normandin and Wolfe eds., 2013, and Wolfe 2015). And in recent years it is possible to see a new kind of ‘organizational’ concept emerging in theoretical biology, eg in the work of Moreno and collaborators (***), discussed by the philosopher William Bechtel (text 6), which is light years removed from metaphysical vitalism, but is perhaps closer to what I have called the ‘functional vitalism’ of the 18th century Montpellier medical vitalists, with references to concepts such as the ‘animal economy’ (texts 2, 3, 4). I do not argue here that we need to be vitalists, or that mechanistic science (whatever that means) is bad, indeed there has been much good work on mechanistic explanations in recent years, sometimes with reference to biology (****). And perhaps we should reflect on ‘words’ themselves (text 7) and the problem of how vitalism has been treated and defined (texts 8, 9). But nevertheless, I believe a historico-philosophical investigation and evaluation of these episodes – are they are a tradition? a discontinuous tradition ? – helps us have a more diverse, less stubborn and dogmatic conception of the philosophy of biology and its orthodoxies and heterodoxies.
1. Charles Wolfe, “Why was there no controversy over Life in the Scientific Revolution?”, in V. Boantza & M. Dascal, eds., Controversies in the Scientific Revolution (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2011), pp. 187-219
2. Jean-Joseph Ménuret de Chambaud, ‘Œconomie Animale (Médecine)’, Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des arts et des métiers, eds. Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond D’Alembert, 35 vols. (Paris: Briasson, David, Le Breton & Durand, 1751-1780; reprint, Stuttgart/Bad Cannstatt, 1966), vol. 9, 1765, 360-366.
3. Charles Wolfe and Motoichi Terada, “The animal economy as object and program in Montpellier vitalism,” Science in Context 21:4 (2008), 537-579
4. Charles Wolfe, “Models of organic organization in Montpellier vitalism,” Early Science and Medicine (2017)
5. Georges Canguilhem, “Aspects of vitalism.” In Canguilhem, Knowledge of Life, translated by Stefanos Geroulanos and Daniela Ginsburg (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), 59-74. (First published 1952)
6. William Bechtel “Biological mechanisms: Organized to maintain autonomy.” In F. Boogerd et al., eds., Systems Biology: Philosophical Foundations (New York: Elsevier, 2007). PDF online :
7. Susan Oyama, “Biologists behaving badly: Vitalism and the language of language,” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32 (2010): 401-423.
8. Scott F. Gilbert and Sahotra Sarkar, “Embracing Complexity: Organicism for the 21st Century.” Developmental Dynamics 219 (2000): 1–9
9. Charles Wolfe, “Vitalism without Metaphysics?”, introduction to Vitalism Without Metaphysics? Medical Vitalism in the Enlightenment, special issue of Science in Context 21:4 (2008), 461-463
Sebastian Normandin and Charles Wolfe, eds., Vitalism and the scientific image in post-Enlightenment life science, 1800-2010 (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013)
Roselyne Rey, Naissance et développement du vitalisme en France de la deuxième moitié du 18e siècle à la fin du Premier Empire (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2000) (originally a PhD dissertation in 3 volumes, University of Paris, 1987)
Kurt Goldstein, The Organism: a holistic approach to biology derived from pathological data in man (1934) (translation reprint, New York: Zone Books / MIT Press, 1995)
Moritz Schlick, “Philosophy of organic life.” In H. Feigl & M. Brodbeck, eds., Readings in the Philosophy of Science (New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1953), 523-536.
Pascal Nouvel, ed., Repenser le vitalisme – Histoire et philosophie du vitalisme (Paris: PUF, 2011)
Charles Wolfe, “Was Canguilhem a biochauvinist? Goldstein, Canguilhem and the project of ‘biophilosophy’,” in Darian Meacham, ed., Medicine and Society, New Continental Perspectives (Springer, Philosophy and Medicine Series, 2015), 197-212
(*) Diderot, Pensées sur l’interprétation de la nature, § IV, in Diderot, Œuvres complètes, DPV, IX, 30-31. See for discussion Charles Wolfe, “Epigenesis as Spinozism in Diderot’s biological project,” in Ohad Nachtomy and Justin E.H. Smith, eds., The Life Sciences in Early Modern Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 181-201.
(**) see the papers in F. Burwick & P. Douglass, eds.,The crisis in modernism. Bergson and the vitalist controversy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), including on Bakhtin’s critique of Driesch.
(***) see the many excellent papers by Moreno, Etxeberria, Ruiz-Mirazo et al., and also A. Moreno and M. Mossio, Biological Autonomy. A Philosophical and theoretical enquiry (Dordrecht: Springer, 2014).
(****) P.A. Braillard, C. Malaterre, Explanation in Biology (Dordrecht: Springer, 2015)
Noiz: Apirilak 4, Asteartea, 11:00 a.m.
Non: Carlos Santamaría Liburutegia, Gela B14
Hizlaria: Ramiro Frick (email@example.com)
Izenburua: Comunicación biológica: hacia una perspectiva organizacional
Ejemplos de comunicación biológica (CB) ocurren entre diferentes organismos multicelulares de las misma o diferentes especies, entre diferentes células de un mismo organismo multicelular, entre diferentes organismos unicelulares, e incluso entre distintas partes de una misma célula. El estudio de la CB, por tanto, es un área de investigación altamente interdisciplinaria, donde convergen elementos teóricos, metodologías, énfasis e intereses muy diversos (D’Ettorre & Hughes 2008). Esta situación, por un lado, puede ayudar a explicar el “caos semántico” y la escasa nitidez conceptual en el estudio de la CB (Maynar Smith & Harper 2003, Hurd & Enquist 2005), y por otro lado, plantea la necesidad de un análisis filosófico (Scott-Phillips 2008).
Respecto de cuestiones tales como ¿qué es la CB? ¿en virtud de qué un cierto proceso es un proceso de CB?, hasta el día de hoy no existe consenso ni suficiente claridad. No obstante, en la literatura científica y filosófica es posible distinguir dos grandes aproximaciones: aquellas que conceptualizan la comunicación en términos de transmisión de información (e.g. Seyfarth et al. 2010), y aquellas que rechazan una caracterización informacional en favor de una concepción de la comunicación basada en nociones como manipulación o influencia adaptativa (e.g. Dawkins and Krebs 1978; Rendall et al. 2009).
En esta presentación i) se examinaran críticamente las dos grandes aproximaciones a la CB, atendiendo al significado y rol explicativo que en estas aproximaciones desempeñan los conceptos de información e influencia, respectivamente; ii) se señalaran distintos tipos de problemas de estas aproximaciones, muchos de ellos derivados de confundir dimensiones últimas con dimensiones próximas del fenómeno de la comunicación, y en particular, de un compromiso con la noción etiológica de función; y iii) se mostrará cómo una aproximación organizacional a los fenómenos biológicos permite articular una concepción de la CB libre de estos problemas.
Dawkins, R., & Krebs, J. R. (1978). Animal signals: information or manipulation. Behavioural ecology: An evolutionary approach, 2, 282-309.
D’Ettorre, P., & Hughes, D. P. (2008). Sociobiology of communication, Oxford University Press.
Hurd, P. L., & Enquist, M. (2005). A strategic taxonomy of biological communication. Animal Behaviour, 70(5), 1155-1170.
Maynard-Smith, J., & Harper, D. (2003). Animal signals. Oxford University Press.
Rendall, D., Owren, M. J., & Ryan, M. J. (2009). What do animal signals mean?. Animal Behaviour, 78(2), 233-240.
Rendall et al (2009) “What do animal signals mean?” Animal Behaviour 78: 233-240.
Scott-Phillips, T. (2008). Defining biological communication. Journal of evolutionary biology, 21(2), 387-395.
Seyfarth, R. M., Cheney, D. L., Bergman, T., Fischer, J., Zuberbühler, K., & Hammerschmidt, K. (2010). The central importance of information in studies of animal communication. Animal Behaviour, 80(1), 3-8.