Aug 31, 2023

Michael Levin: Cognition and diverse intelligence in non-neural cellular collectives

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, information science, neuroscience

Consciousness is usually ascribed to a specific set of mechanisms and functional capabilities of the complex brain. Importantly, those mechanisms (ion channels, electrical networks, neurotransmitter machinery) long pre-date the evolutionary innovation of nervous systems. Moreover, the algorithms and competencies such as memory, decision-making, and information integration likewise have an ancient evolutionary origin: before they controlled moving the body through 3D space, electrical networks moved body configurations through anatomical morphospace. In this talk, I will describe how we view the morphogenesis during embryonic development and regeneration as the behavior of a collective intelligence, which has many problem-solving capacities. I will describe the tools we have developed, paralleling neuroscientists’ attempts to read and write mental content by control of electrophysiology, to decode and re-write the pattern memories of the body. This has significant implications not only for biomedicine and evolutionary biology, but also for questions about consciousness and the scaling of coherent Selves from agential materials. I will conclude with some conjectures about what this new field offers the science of consciousness, in the form of new embodied living creatures that are outside the natural evolutionary stream of Earth, and the quest for theories of consciousness.- Participate in our online research survey-Survey on Diverse intelligence- (takes 9 minutes). Thank you.

Edited by Emilio Manzotti.

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