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Artificial Life

Winter 2015, Vol. 21, No. 1, Pages 1-19
(doi: 10.1162/ARTL_a_00143)
© 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Characterizing Autopoiesis in the Game of Life
Article PDF (1.36 MB)

Maturana and Varela's concept of autopoiesis defines the essential organization of living systems and serves as a foundation for their biology of cognition and the enactive approach to cognitive science. As an initial step toward a more formal analysis of autopoiesis, this article investigates its application to the compact, recurrent spatiotemporal patterns that arise in Conway's Game-of-Life cellular automaton. In particular, we demonstrate how such entities can be formulated as self-constructing networks of interdependent processes that maintain their own boundaries. We then characterize the specific organizations of several such entities, suggest a way to simplify the descriptions of these organizations, and briefly consider the transformation of such organizations over time.