How complex behaviour can arise out of seemingly simple rules? Is there anything special that causes emergent behaviour?

We see examples like

  • Ant simulations
  • Mold simulations
  • Community dynamics

Interesting to think about in context of single agents in multi-agent systems. How does consciousness arise? Is it just because of the rules itself (a reductionist approach) or is there something larger at play?

Gall’s law: simple alphabets produce behaviors. Even simple rules like Conway’s game of life can be Turing Complete!


Once a certain level of complexity is reached, there is a kind of qualitative leap where completely new sorts of physical laws can “emerge”—ones that are premised on, but cannot be reduced to, what came before

  • In this way, the laws of chemistry can be said to be emergent from physics: the laws of chemistry presuppose the laws of physics, but can’t simply be reduced to them.
  • In the same way, the laws of biology emerge from chemistry: one obviously needs to understand the chemical components of a fish to understand how it swims, but chemical components will never provide a full explanation.
  • In the same way, the human mind can be said to be emergent from the cells that make it up.

LLMs seem to exhibit this sort of behaviour.

Combination Problem

How do microlevel experiences combine to form macrolevel ones?

”Take a sentence of a dozen words, and take twelve men and tell to each one word. Then stand the men in a row or jam them in a bunch, and let each think of his word as intently as he will; nowhere will there be a consciousness of the whole sentence”

Panpsychist response

Mental properties belong only to genuine individuals, not to mere aggregates

Then, what is the boundary of the genuine individual? This is a problem of embodiment. To be a genuine individual is not simply to be a particular (as opposed to a conglomerate or universal) but also a system that has some kind of bounded organizational unity through autopoiesis — this is a body

Their own emergence problem: how do genuine individuals emerge from particular that aren’t individuals/subjects of experience? It doesn’t solve the problem of accounting for the place of consciousness in nature, it just relocates it

Cellular Automata


Mesmerizing video by Sebastian Lague on how complex (and beautiful) behaviour can arise out of simple rules. I’ve been wanting to get into experimenting with shaders and graphics stuff and this might just be the slight nudge I needed.