Instead, Di Paolo offers a theory of what it is to operate according to potential future states. He writes,
Only of the subset of autopoietic systems that are not just robust but also adaptive can we say that they posses operational mechanisms to potentially distinguish the different virtual implications of otherwise equally viable paths of encounters with the environment. (Di Paolo, 2009, p. 14).By "robust" he means:
can sustain a certain range of perturbations as well as a certain range of internal structural changes without losing their autopoiesis. These limits are defined by the organization and current state of the system (ibid.)By "adaptive" he means:
a system’s capacity, in some circumstances, to regulate its states and its relation to the environment with the result that, if the states are sufficiently close to the limits of its viability,
1. tendencies are distinguished and acted upon depending on whether the states will approach or recede from these proximal limits and, as a consequence,
2. tendencies that approach these limits are moved closer to or transformed into tendencies that do not approach them and so future states are prevented from reaching these limits with an outward velocity. (ibid.)
Di Paolo, E. (2009). Extended life. Topoi, 28(1), 9-21.