University of York, UK, 20-24 July, 2015 — MEW is a special session of

    *** Accepted papers will be published in the ECAL proceedings by MIT Press ***


    This special session aims to promote and expand a recent field of research called “Morphogenetic Engineering”, which explores the artificial design and implementation of autonomous systems capable of developing complex, heterogeneous morphologies. Particular emphasis is set on the programmability and computing abilities of self-organization, properties that are often underappreciated in complex systems science–while, conversely, the benefits of self-organization are often underappreciated in engineering methodologies.

    Traditional engineered products are generally made of a number of unique, heterogeneous components assembled in complicated but precise ways, and are intended to work deterministically following specifications given by their designers. By contrast, self-organization in natural complex systems (physical, biological, ecological, social) often emerges from the repetition of agents obeying identical rules under stochastic dynamics. These systems produce relatively regular patterns (spots, stripes, waves, trails, clusters, hubs, etc.) that can be characterized by a small number of statistical variables. They are random and/or shaped by boundary conditions, but do not exhibit an intrinsic architecture like engineered products do.

    Two salient exceptions, however, strikingly demonstrate the possibility of combining pure self-organization andelaborate architectures: biological development (the self-assembly of myriads of cells into the body plans and appendages of organisms) and insect constructions (the stigmergic collaboration of colonies of social insects toward large and complicated nests). These structures are composed of segments and parts arranged in very specific ways that resemble the products of human inventiveness. Yet, they entirely self-assemble in a decentralized fashion, under the control of genetic or behavioral rules stored in every agent.

    How do these collectives (cells or insects) achieve such impressive morphogenetic tasks so reliably? Can we export their precise self-formation capabilities to engineered systems? What are principles and best practices for the design and engineering of such morphogenetic systems?

    Past Editions

    This special session is the 5th Morphogenetic Engineering Workshop or Special Session (MEW) of its kind. It follows:


    If you have any comment or question, feel free to contact the organizers. Thank you for your interest.