Robert Rosen: Essays on Life Itself (1999)

15 July 2015, dusan

“In this collection of twenty-two essays, Rosen takes to task the central objective of the natural sciences, calling into question the attempt to create objectivity in a subjective world. The book opens with an exploration of the interaction between biology and physics, unpacking Schrödinger´s famous text What Is Life? and revealing the shortcomings of the notion that artificial intelligence can truly replicate life.

He also refutes the thesis that mathematical models of reality can be reflected entirely in algorithms, that is, are of a purely syntactical character. He argues that it is the noncomputable, nonformalizable nature of biology that makes organisms complex, and that these systems are generic, whereas those systems described by reductionistic reasoning are simple and rare.

An intriguing enigma links all of the essays: ‘How can science explain the unpredictable?'”

Publisher Columbia University Press, 1999
Complexity in Ecological Systems series
ISBN 023110510X, 9780231105101
x+360 pages

Reviews: Bruce J. West (Quarterly Review of Biology, 2001), Donald C. Mikulecky (c1999).


PDF (removed on 2019-10-30 upon request from Judith Rosen)

W. Ross Ashby journal (1928-1972)

25 April 2012, dusan

On Monday, 7th May 1928, while a 24 year old medical student at Barts Hospital in London, Ross started writing a journal. In it he recorded his thoughts, theorems, and goals that would eventually bring him recognition as a pioneer in the fields of Cybernetics and Systems Theory. 44 years later, his journal had 7,400 pages, in 25 volumes.

In 1972, shortly after Ross died, Stafford Beer wrote in his condolence letter to Ross’s wife, Rosebud, “Look after Ross’s papers. I have no idea what should be done with them, but they are very precious.” — For the next 30 years, only members of his family had access to his journals.

Eventually, scans were made of all original archive material, and in January 2003, Ross’s daughters gave the whole archive to The British Library, in London. Then, in March 2004, at the end of the W. Ross Ashby Centenary Conference, his daughters announced that they would make Ross’s Journal available on the Internet. Now, in 2008, the digitally restored images of all 7,400 pages and 1,600 index cards are available on this web site in various views, with extensive cross-linking that is based on the keywords in Ross’s original alphabetical index.

Ross Ashby on Wikipedia

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View online (Bookshelf view; HTML)
View online (Index view; HTML)
View online (Summaries view; HTML)
View online (Timeline view; HTML)