Chemo-ethology of an adaptive protocell

I joined Matthew Egbert and Ezequiel di Paolo on this paper exploring the emergence of viability boundaries on a simulated protocell and quantifying its behavioural adaptivity in relation to such boundaries. The paper addresses some key issues regarding the origins of norms and adaptive behaviour. It got published on the Tenth European Conference on Artificial Life, ECAL09, Budapest, September 13-16, 2009, Springer Verlag.



Abstract. The viability of a living system is a non-trivial concept, yet it is often highly simplified in models of adaptive behavior. What is lost in this abstraction? How do viability conditions appear in the first place? IIn order to address these questions we present a new model of an autopoietic or protocellular system simulated at the molecular level. We propose a measurement for the viability of the system and analyze the ‘viability condition’ that ecomes evident when using this measurement. We observe how the system behaves in relation to this condition, generating instances of chemotaxis, behavioural preferences and simple (yet not trivial) examples of action selection. The model permits the formulation of a number of conclusions regarding the nature of viability conditions and adaptive behaviour modulated by metabolic processes.

Matthew has posted some videos of the simulation on his website.

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