Message from Terry Deacon

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        Re: [Fis] Steps to a theory of reference & significance
Date:   Fri, 9 Jan 2015 03:32:22 +0100
From:   Terrence W. DEACON <>
To:     Pedro C. Marijuan <>
References:     <> <>

This very brief reply should be routed to the FIS list please...

One response: My choice of autogenesis is motivated by ...
1. It is the simplest dynamical system I have been able to imagine that exhibits the requisite properties required for an interpretive system (i.e. one that can assign reference and significance to a signal due to intrinsic properties alone - that is these features are independent of any extrinsic perspective). A simple organism is far too complex. As a result it is possible to make misleading assumptions about what we don't account for (allowing us to inadvertently sneak in assumptions about what information is and is not - for example just assuming that DNA molecule are intrinsically informational). As I note when introducing this model, developing a simplest but not too simple model system is the key to devising clear physical principles. 2. Autogenesis is not the same as autopoiesis (which is only a description of presumed requirements for life) rather autogenesis is a well-described empirically testable molecular dynamic, that is easily model able in all aspects. Autopoiesis fit with the class of models assuming that simple autocatalysis is sufficient and then simply adds (by assertion) the (non-realized) assumption that autopoiesis can somehow be causally closed and unitary, whereas in fact autocatalytic systems are intrinsically dissipative* and subject to error catastrophe. More importantly, the assumption about coherent finite unity and internal synergy is the critical one, and so it needs to be the one feature that is explicitly modeled in order to understand these aspects of information. 3. The self-regulating self-repairing end-directed dynamic of autogenesis provides a disposition to preserve a reference target state (even when its current state is far from it). This serves as the necessary baseline for comparative assessment, without which reference and significance cannot be defined because these are intrinsically relativistic informational properties (there is a loose analogy here to the 3rd law of thermodynamics and the relativistic nature of thermodynamic entropy).

* PS: Autogenesis is also not a Maximim Entropy Production process because it halts dissipation before its essential self-preserving constraints are degraded and therefore does not exhaust the gradient(s) on which its persistence depends.

— Terry

On Thu, Jan 8, 2015 at 1:48 PM, Pedro C. Marijuan < <>> wrote:

   Dear Terry and colleagues,

   Thanks a lot for the opening text! It is a well crafted Essay full
   of very detailed contents. My impression is that the "microphysics"
   of information has been solved elegantly --at least at the level of
   today's relevant knowledge-- with your work and the works of related
   authors, one of them Karl Friston, who could be linked as a
   complementary approach to yours (in particular his recent "Life as
   we know it", Royal Society Interface Journal, 10: 20130475). His
   Bayesian approach to life's organization, coupled with (variational)
   "free energy" minimization principle, conduces to the emergence of
   homeostasis and a simple form of autopoiesis, as well as the
   organization of perception/action later on. Thus, quite close to
   your approach on autogenic systems. About the different sections of
   the Essay, the very detailed points you deal with in section 4
("steps to a formalization of reference") are, in my opinion, the conceptual core and deserve a careful inspection, far more than
   these rushed comments. In any case, the relationship
   Boltzmann-Shannon entropies has been cleared quite elegantly.

   However, for my taste the following sections have not sufficiently
   opened the panorama. And with this I start some critical
   appreciations. Perhaps the microphysics of information is not the
   critical stumbling block to me removed for the advancement of the
   informational perspective. We could remain McLuhan's stance on
   Shannon's information theory and von Neumann's game theory... yes,
   undoubtedly important advancements, but not the essential stuff of
   information. But in this list there are people far more versed in
   McLuhan's contents and whether the caveats he raised would continue
   to apply (obviously in a different way). I am also critical with the
   autogenesis model systems--wouldn't it be far clearer approaching a
   (relatively) simple prokaryotic cell and discuss upon its
   intertwining of the communication and self-production arrangements?
   The way a bacterium "sees" the world, and reorganizes its living,
   could be a very useful analysis. I think it leads to a slightly
   different outcome regarding reference/significance, and

   If we look at the whole view of the "information world" (human
   societies, behaving individuals, brain organization, cellular
   processes, biomolecules) and how a myriad of information flows are
   crisscrossing, ascending, descending, focusing, mixing and
   controlling energy flows, etc. we may have an inkling that this
   evanescent world paradoxically becomes the master of the physical
   world (the "fluff" versus the "stuff", Lanham 2006), and that is
   organized far beyond the rules of the micro-macro-physical world.
   But how? What are the essentials of this magnificent "castle in the
   air" (reminding Escher's engrave: )?

   In next exchanges I will try to ad some more specifics on the above
   "fluffy" comments, derided from a fast reading of the Essay. Thanks
   again, Terry, for providing us this discussion opportunity in the
   New Year.

   best  ---Pedro

Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley

Pedro C. Marijuán
Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA)
Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X
50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)

Fis mailing list

Reply via email to