Acquisition of Autonomy in Biotechnology and Artificial Intelligence

In S. Hashimoto N. Callaos (ed.), Proceedings of the 11th International Multi-Conference on Complexity, Informatics and Cybernetics: IMCIC 2020, Volume II. Winter Garden: International Institute for Informatics and Systemics. pp. 168-172 (2020)
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This presentation discusses a notion encountered across disciplines, and in different facets of human activity: autonomous activity. We engage it in an interdisciplinary way. We start by considering the reactions and behaviors of biological entities to biotechnological intervention. An attempt is made to characterize the degree of freedom of embryos & clones, which show openness to different outcomes when the epigenetic developmental landscape is factored in. We then consider the claim made in programming and artificial intelligence that automata could show self-directed behavior as to the determination of their step-wise decisions on courses of action. This question remains largely open and calls for some important qualifications. We try to make sense of the presence of claims of freedom in agency, first in common sense, then by ascribing developmental plasticity in biology and biotechnology, and in the mapping of programmed systems in the presence of environmental cues and self-referenced circuits as well as environmental coupling. This is the occasion to recall attempts at working out a logical and methodological approach to the openness of concepts that are still to be found, and assess whether they can operate the structuring intelligibility of a yet undeveloped or underdeveloped field of study, where a “bisociation" and a unification of knowledge might be possible.

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Philippe Gagnon
Université Catholique de Lille


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