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Living machinesA handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems$
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Tony J. Prescott, Nathan Lepora, and Paul F.M.J Verschure

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199674923.001.0001

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(p.55) Chapter 5 Self-organization
Living machines

Stuart P. Wilson

Oxford University Press

Self-organization describes a dynamic in a system whereby local interactions between individuals collectively yield global order, i.e. spatial patterns unobservable in their entirety to the individuals. By this working definition, self-organization is intimately related to chaos, i.e. global order in the dynamics of deterministic systems that are locally unpredictable. A useful distinction is that a small perturbation to a chaotic system causes a large deviation in its trajectory, i.e. the butterfly effect, whereas self-organizing patterns are robust to noise and perturbation. For many, self-organization is as important to the understanding of biological processes as natural selection. For some, self-organization explains where the complex forms that compete for survival in the natural world originate from. This chapter outlines some fundamental ideas from the study of simulated self-organizing systems, before suggesting how self-organizing principles could be applied through biohybrid societies to establish new theories of living systems.

Keywords:   self-organization, adaptability, evolvability, Baldwin effect, evo-devo, biohybrid society

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