Important News!

The best works could be published, after peer-review, in the journal of Complex Systems, indexed in several databases, including SCOPUS (for more information, click here).




14:00 – 14:20

L. Damiano, P. Stano, Y. Kuruma

Univ. of Messina, Univ. of Salento, ELSI Tokyo

Welcome and Introduction to the SB-AI Theme


14:20 – 14:45

P. L. Luisi (Univ. Roma Tre and ETH Zurich)

Autopoiesis, Homeostasis, and Synthetic Biology


14:45 – 15:10

D. Nesbeth (University College London)

Challenges and opportunities in building bio-artificial intelligence (BI)


15:10 – 15:30

A. Roli (University of Bologna)

Attractor landscape as a bridge between

robotics and synthetic biology


15:30 – 15:50

Coffee break


15:50 – 16:15

A. Moreno (University of the Basque Country)

On Minimal Autonomous Agency: Natural and Artificial


16:15 – 16:35

F. Bianchini (Univ. of Bologna)

The problem of prediction in AI and SB


16:35 -  17:00

L. Bich (University of Bordeaux)

Interactive Models in Synthetic Biology: From Protocell Colonies to Synthbionts


17:00 – 17:30

General Discussion















Fourth Edition


What can Synthetic Biology offer

 to Artificial Intelligence?

SB-AI 2017


Monday 4th September, 14:00 – 17.30



Satellite Meeting of  ECAL 2017

4-8 September 2017, Lyon, FR


Organized by

Luisa Damiano – Yutetsu Kuruma – Pasquale Stano

Univ. of Messina – ELSI Tokyo – Univ. of Salento


Sponsored by ELSI Tokyo





The emergence of the “embodied approach” in the cognitive sciences and AI increasingly focuses the investigations in these fields on the role(s) played by the body’s self-production and bodily interactions in cognition. This re-integration of the biological body in the scientific study of cognition, directed towards overcoming the Cartesian dichotomy characterizing classical cognitive science and AI, is progressing while significant advancements in the biological sciences are taking place.


One of the most notable is the development of Synthetic Biology (SB), a research area dedicated to the synthesis and assembly of biological parts, systems and/or processes to modify extant biological cells, or, in the most ambitious cases, to build synthetic cells. The constitution of this new field offers to the scientific community a new way of exploring the role played by the body in cognitive process: extending AI research within the domain of experimental biology, i.e., assigning to SB the task of building and experimentally studying minimal synthetic models of cognitive systems and processes.


The workshop “What can Synthetic Biology offer to Artificial Intelligence? SB-AI 2017” follows the first three editions, hold in Taormina, IT (ECAL 2013), New York, US (ALIFE 2014), and York, UK (ECAL 2015).

SB-AI 2017 is directed towards the creation of an highly interdisciplinary community able of critically discuss, fruitfully correlate and programmatically improve the emergent research programs involving cooperation between SB and AI in the exploration of cognitive processes. The main idea is that of promoting the interaction between experimental research and theoretical and/or epistemological reflection, and the emergence of a strongly interdisciplinary front line in SB, AI, philosophy of science and related fields that cooperatively tackle issues as the following:


  • Can SB constructively explore the embodied cognition and intelligence through the constitution of biological systems and phenomena? If yes, how? In which conditions and in what ways could this exploration positively contribute to AI research? That is: What can SB offer to AI?
  • Which are the groundings, the procedures, the expected results and the impacts of current research programs involving SB in AI research?
  • Can SB support the structuring process of an effective Embodied Approach to the cognitive sciences and AI? Why and how?
  • Can we at the present time plan concrete collaborations between computer science, robotics and SB in the scientific study of natural forms of intelligence? How?
  • Can SB contribute to the development of new forms of cognition alternative to the ones we know?


This fourth edition of the SB-AI workshop intends to bring together contributions related to these questions, and investigating one or more aspects of the (possible/actual) relationships between SB and AI. The workshop will be divided in two parts: a first part dedicated to the presentation of these contributions, and the second one dedicated to a structured discussion, aiming at constituting a productive dialogue among the different specialists involved, in order to allow them to cooperate in the critical improvement of the projects and the ideas presented during the talks.



Call for Abstracts

We are accepting abstracts for presentation at the workshop. Submissions will be peer reviewed by members of the Program Committee. Please submit via e-mail ( a short abstract (around 800 words, minimum 600 words, maximum 1000 words) as pdf file.



Please visit the ECAL 17 conference registration web page


Important Dates

·        Paper submission: July 31st 2017

·        Author notification: August 15th 2017

·        Registration: please visit the ECAL 2017 website

·        Workshop Date: Monday 4th September, 14:00 – 17:30



  • Luisa Damiano; ESARG (Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial Research Group), Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations, University of Messina, Italy; and CERCO (Centre for Research on Complex Systems), University of Bergamo, Italy (
  • Yutetsu Kuruma; Earth and Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan (
  • Pasquale Stano; Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Lecce, Italy (