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Emergence in Living and Non-Living

Emergence in Living and Non-Living Systems

Photo: Katunchi, wikicommons

How do we harness emergence of complex behaviour?

The phenomenon of emergence – interactions among simpler entities which leads to new properties or behaviour – cuts across numerous complex systems in physics, economics, ecology, sociology etc. The Emergence in Living and Non-Living Systems program will explore the phenomenon from a developmental biology perspective, examining how the collective behaviour of individual cells leads to the emergence of complex systems.

It will link these principles to advanced non-living machines that can adapt and evolve. Imagine machines composed of “programmable matter” that can form dynamically-changing physical structures, buildings which adjust their structure in response to the geometry of their location, or re-configurable robots which can self-direct themselves to adapt their shape and configuration for different tasks.


  •   Peter Zandstra is l’Anson Professor of Tissue Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering at the University of Toronto.
  •   Hiroaki Kitano is head of the Systems Biology Institute and a professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.

Find out more about the other short-listed Global Call proposals

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