Debate What is life?


The Hairy Wookie
Reaction score
Hometown of George Eliot
Ethnic group
I started a thread on whether an artifiacl intelligence could have a soul. That has made for some very interesting posts. But with this one I want to avoid any metaphysical or theological arguments about whether AIs have a soul, on this thread I want to find out whether an artifical program or machine could be considered alive. The reasoning goes along the following lines. Nowadays we can program machines to responed to various stimuli. J-bot is an example of this It has been programmed to responed to questions, but also has a learning abilitiy and memory built into it (Well done Thomas). There are now computers that have a limited intelligence. Not the AI we see in films, but along the lines of insect intelligence. The question is could they be considered a lifeform or just a robot. After all an insect is hardwired to do its set task and nothing else, same as your basic robot. You can effectivily switch off a cockcroach by putting it into a fridge or freezer, but then revive it several hours later. You do this with a computer ever time you switch it off or put it on to stand by. Robots can be programmed to learn a route through a maze, same as rats and octopoda. Does it then constitute the basics of life?
I could argue about computer viruses, but nobody is really sure whether biological viruses can be a type of life. The point is as computers and robots get more and more complex is there any real difference between a biological lifeform and an artifiacl one?
let`s see

i`ll try to recall some attributes of "life systems"
1. It replicates itself (even viruses, they just have to find a cell to run its own program)
some programs are able to replicate themselves

2. It evolves, undergoes some mutations, gains new functionality, members of a body and so on
not sure about programs, but something rings a bell, that in some way they do evelove on their own (speaking about multi-agent systems)

3. it changes the enviroment during all its life, making it more convenient for itself
just wonder, how far can the programm go :D

4. it is able to restore its condition after being unbalanced
can`t say that much about a program code (maybe programed models of neural nets)

5. i am almost running now out of ideas. But one thing that program can`t do
for sure. Although it is called intellectual, it has nothin to do with it. Because human intellect creates second nature - which is Culture. Program codes. no matter how complicated, are unable to make such a world.

johnny 5 was alive, dude!

he was ahead of his time!
Well to answer your question I think if AI gets to a point where its intelligence is learning and growing from the effects of its environment then yes I would say it is now a living entity. It may have the advantage of being able to develop intelligently without the physical restraints that we humans or living organisms have ie old age, disease, death. Now would an artificial intelligence ever feel the need to have any metaphysical or theological discussions for its existence, yeah probably not. It would just be machines carrying out functions now if they had the ability to, would they choose to stop carrying functions out if all humans died out?
Life is an understanding not only of what surrounds you, but also of what is inside each of us. Life is given to everyone for a reason. A person must leave some kind of mark after himself, it can be anything that can benefit the future generation.

This thread has been viewed 8018 times.