Computers, life and synthetic life: the logic of monsters - Ricard Sole

Monday, 9 September, 2013 - 09:30 to 11:00
Computation is an attribute of all forms of life. Every single living entity performs, at different scales, information processing involving both the external environment and the internal state. What defines life is actually deeply tied with the existence of such computational processes. To a large extent, evolution has been shaping computational levels on multiple scales and we can see that ants, cells and brains are capable of different levels of information processing and decision making. At the cell and tissue levels, the observed forms of computation remind us Turing machines or standard electronic systems. Are there other forms of computation beyond the standard engineering metaphors? Synthetic biology offers a unique possibility of exploring this question and even designing forms of computation that do not exist in nature. Here we consider the potential landscape of biocomputations and what might be beyond it.