Science, Biology, and the Brain as Emergent Systems:
From the Active Inanimate to Model Builders to Story Tellers
(a story about information)

Paul Grobstein
Rutgers University, Camden
24 March 2005

A starting point: the game of life
  • local interactions, no blueprint, no conductor
  • order from randomness
  • infinitely generative
  • formally not predictable except by iteration
  • emergent stability
  • "potential information"
    (non-random distribution of elements, "decodable")
  • missing elements
    • continuing indeterminacy (contrast to Wolfram)
    • internal information storage

Broadening the scope: emergence on a cosmic scale
Biological evolution - model makers

  • internal information acquisition and storage ("hill climbing")
  • stability enhancement through ability to anticipate change
  • exploratory enhancement through sexual reproduction
Cultural/scientific evolution - story tellers
  • new forms of both internal and external information storage
  • stability enhancement through predictive capabilities
  • exploratory enhancement through counter-factuals (beyond random change and "hill climbing")

Biological evolution - the strengths and limitations of model-makers

Cultural evolution - the emergence of the bipartite brain and story telling

Science as story telling: exploration/creation rather than discovery

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