Virtual Talk: Structural and functional plasticity without genetic change: from bioelectric embryos to synthetic proto-organisms

Michael Levin
Tufts University

The highly robust and consistent outcomes of embryogenesis and regeneration in standard model systems obscure an important property of life: plasticity under novel circumstances. In this talk we will briefly review some examples of morphogenesis adjusting to perturbations of environment and internal composition, which highlights novel aspects of emergent morphogenetic control and the evolution thereof. We will show how AI-driven reconfiguration of embryonically liberated biological tissue can lead to new organisms that exhibit collective behaviors previously unseen in nature, such as kinematic self-replication. We will conclude by showing how these behaviors do not respect the human-created distinctions between genotype and phenotype, brain and body, and tape and machine."

Presentation (PDF File)

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