Our minimal cognitive systems approach provides a good starting point to analyze emergent high level properties. We just published in the MIND collection an article:
we propose a bottom-up approach to higher-level mental states, such as emotions, attention, intention, volition, or consciousness. The idea behind this bottom-up approach is that higher-level properties may arise as emergent properties, i.e., occur without requiring explicit implementation of the phenomenon under examination. Using a neural architecture that shows the abilities of autonomous agents, we want to come up with quantitative hypotheses concerning cognitive mechanisms, i.e., to come up with testable predictions concerning the underlying structure and functioning of an autonomous system that can be tested in a robot-control system. … our network does not only show emergent properties on the reactive level; it also shows that mental states, such as emotions, attention, intention, volition, or consciousness can be observed, too. [For example] … the property of global availability, which means that elements of the procedural memory can be addressed even if they do not belong to the current context.
Citation: Cruse, H. and Schilling, M. (2015), “Mental states as emergent properties. From walking to consciousness”. In: Open Mind. Metzinger, T., Windt, J. (eds.); Frankfurt/M.: MIND Group Frankfurt/M.