Peter Bentley Viewing Systemic Computation

symposium 1

In an attempt to provide a common language that describes form and function in biology and computer sciences (as well as all other sciences), Peter Bentley created a model known as "systemic computation". The model relies on notions such as embodiment, circular causality, and homeostasis to explain how information flows and is transformed by interacting systems, whether biological or artificial. To date, a systemic architecture, language and compiler has been produced, enabling us to model evolving systems, neural systems (or indeed anything else). The next step in this research is to develop ways to visualise the hugely complex interactions and flow of information. It's a hard task, for many of these complex systems have relationships that cannot be shown using two or three dimensions. If successful, the visualisations would allow us to see what the flow of information in evolution looks like, and to compare this "complex systems sculpture" with those corresponding to neural networks or immune systems.

Peter is both a popular science author and a scientist. In his books he writes for a general audience, so in addition to the research he performs, he is always trying to find better ways to communicate scientific ideas. In the second part of the talk, he explores how this can be achieved.