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Hi, I'm Maël Montévil.

I am a theoretical biologist working at the crossroads of experimental biology, mathematics, and philosophy. I also work on the Anthropocene, among many other interests.

I work in IHPST, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne and in Institut de Recherche et d'Innovation.

Key concepts: historicity, organization as closure of constraints, anti-entropy, symmetry changes, biological measurement, disruption


Latest Publications

  1. Il faut qu’il y ait en informatique théorique un symbole tel qu’il empêche de calculer

    Prendre Soin de l’informatique et Des Générations


    Pour progresser sur la question du rapport entre l’informatique et le calculable, je propose de réinterpréter l’objet de l’informatique théorique puis de faire un détour par la biologie théorique où la question d’un symbole qui empêche de calculer se pose. Enfin, je reviens vers l’informatique en...

    Abstract

    Pour progresser sur la question du rapport entre l’informatique et le calculable, je propose de réinterpréter l’objet de l’informatique théorique puis de faire un détour par la biologie théorique où la question d’un symbole qui empêche de calculer se pose. Enfin, je reviens vers l’informatique en transférant de manière critique certains concepts issus de mes travaux en biologie théorique.

    Citation
    Montévil, Maël. n.d. “Il Faut Qu’il y Ait En Informatique Théorique Un Symbole Tel Qu’il Empêche de Calculer.” In Prendre Soin de l’informatique et Des Générations, edited by Anne Alombert, Victor Chaix, and Maël Montévil. Fip
    Manuscript Citation Full text
  2. Entropies and the Anthropocene crisis

    Entropies and the Anthropocene crisis

    AI and society


    Entropy is a transversal notion to understand the Anthropocene, from physics to biology and social organizations. For the living, it requires a counterpart: anti-entropy.

    Abstract

    The Anthropocene crisis is frequently described as the rarefaction of resources or resources per capita. However, both energy and minerals correspond to fundamentally conserved quantities from the perspective of physics. A specific concept is required to understand the rarefaction of available resources. This concept, entropy, pertains to energy and matter configurations and not just to their sheer amount.
    However, the physics concept of entropy is insufficient to understand biological and social organizations. Biological phenomena display both historicity and systemic properties. A biological organization, the ability of a specific living being to last over time, results from history, expresses itself by systemic properties, and may require generating novelties The concept of anti-entropy stems from the combination of these features. We propose that Anthropocene changes disrupt biological organizations by randomizing them, that is, decreasing anti-entropy. Moreover, second-order disruptions correspond to the decline of the ability to produce functional novelties, that is, to produce anti-entropy.

    Keywords: entropy, anti-entropy, resources, organization, disruption, Anthropocene

  3. Disruption of biological processes in the Anthropocene: the case of phenological mismatch


    Biologists increasingly report anthropogenic disruptions of both organisms and ecosystems, suggesting that these processes are a fundamental, qualitative component of the Anthropocene crisis, seemingly generating disorder. Nonetheless, the notion of disruption has not yet been theorized as such in...

    Abstract

    Biologists increasingly report anthropogenic disruptions of both organisms and ecosystems, suggesting that these processes are a fundamental, qualitative component of the Anthropocene crisis, seemingly generating disorder. Nonetheless, the notion of disruption has not yet been theorized as such in biology. To progress on this matter, we build on a specific case. Relatively minor temperature changes disrupt plant-pollinator synchrony, tearing apart the web of life. Understanding this phenomenon requires a specific rationale since models describing them use both historical and systemic reasoning. Specifically, history justifies that the system is initially in a narrow part of the possibility space where it is viable, and the disruption randomizes this configuration. Building on this rationale, we develop a formal framework inspired by Boltzmann’s entropy. This framework defines the randomization of the system and leads to analyze its consequences systematically. Notably, maximum randomization does not lead to the complete collapse of the ecosystem. Moreover, pollinators’ robustness mostly increases viability for low randomizations, while resilience enhances viability after high randomizations. Applying this framework to empirical networks, we show historical trends depending on latitude, providing further evidence of climate change’s impact on ecosystems via phenology changes. These results lead to an initial definition of disruption in ecology. When a specific historical outcome contributes to a system’s viability, disruption is the randomization of this outcome, decreasing this viability.

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Forthcoming Talks

  1. Theorizing biological disruptions: the case of endocrine disruptors


    The notion of disruption is used broadly in the scientific literature to describe anthropogenic, detrimental effects on living beings, from organisms to ecosystems. However, this notion is missing a proper theoretical and conceptual elaboration. Why do living beings display specific vulnerabilities…

Latest videos

  1. Historical origins and the theoretical definition of objects in biology


    In the structure of the main theories of physics, origins play a limited role. For example, the Noether theorem, the fundamental theorem to understand the connection between conservative quantities (for example, energy) and symmetries (for example, time translations), requires a starting point, but…

  2. Science in the storm: GMOs, agnotology, theory


    Private interests sometimes indulge in disrupting scientific knowledge. The study of these strategies with human sciences’ methods is called agnotology. In today’s event, we will discuss this matter from the perspective of scientists who were directly confronted with this kind of practice. We will …

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Recent links

  1. screenshot of Philosophy World Democracy

    PWD avatar PWD

    Philosophy World Democracy


    Il ne s’agira pas d’une démocratie mondiale, car il faut que les peuples se composent et se disposent.Mais nous affirmerons une essence démocratique du monde : peuplé par tous les vivants et par tous les parlants, tout entier configuré par leurs existences et par leurs paroles.

  2. screenshot of Groupe cardano

    Cardano

    Groupe cardano


    Nous sommes un groupe de mathématiciens qui dénonçons une mathématisation du monde orientée vers le contrôle, le quantitatif et le réductionnisme plutôt que vers l’invention et la construction de compréhensions.

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