We are used to the availability of big data generated in nearly all fields of science as a consequence of technological progress. However, the analysis of such data possess vast challenges. One of these relates to the explainability of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning methods. Currently, many of such methods are non-transparent with respect to their working mechanism and for this reason are called black box models, most notably deep learning methods. However, it has been realized that this constitutes severe problems for a number of fields including the health sciences and criminal justice and arguments have been brought forward in favor of an explainable AI. In this paper, we do not assume the usual perspective presenting explainable AI as it should be, but rather we provide a discussion what explainable AI can be. The difference is that we do not present wishful thinking but reality grounded properties in relation to a scientific theory beyond physics.
Self-organization can be broadly defined as the ability of a system to display ordered spatio-temporal patterns solely as the result of the interactions among the system components. Processes of this kind characterize both living and artificial systems, making self-organization a concept that is at the basis of several disciplines, from physics to biology to engineering. Placed at the frontiers between disciplines, Artificial Life (ALife) has heavily borrowed concepts and tools from the study of self-organization, providing mechanistic interpretations of life-like phenomena as well as useful constructivist approaches to artificial system design. Despite its broad usage within ALife, the concept of self-organization has been often excessively stretched or misinterpreted, calling for a clarification that could help with tracing the borders between what can and cannot be considered self-organization. In this review, we discuss the fundamental aspects of self-organization and list the main usages within three primary ALife domains, namely "soft" (mathematical/computational modeling), "hard" (physical robots), and "wet" (chemical/biological systems) ALife. Finally, we discuss the usefulness of self-organization within ALife studies, point to perspectives for future research, and list open questions.