Definition of LIFE

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Deagels

Deagels

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Define life.

Most people (including me) will agree that life has to be capable of reproduction. As such viruses are not considered to be alive. They contain only blueprints for their own structure and needs a host capable or reading and executing the RNA code to produce new units. I believe no one knows where viruses initially came from.
If that is the only requirement for life though then a robot capable of building a replica of itself would be considered alive. Does life then have to be organic? I refuse to add this condition to the definition with the intention of excluding the robot without a properly good reason. I also refuse to consciously look for a good reason In order to exclude it.

Another condition is to be able to respond to stimuli. I will assume the definition of stimuli to be "a change in the environment". Give the robot sensors and a well written software to avoid hurting nearby "softer" forms of life and I think we effectively passed this one. Letting the robot respond to commands either electronic or vocal in any way we wish is no feat for today's technology.

I want you to give your own definition, comment mine, add or remove anything you would like to. But please explain why you do so. This topic was not supposed to be related to any anime or manga but I suddenly recall the relevance in Ghost In The Shell and Time of Eve.

Side note: I told the Religion and Science board I considered creating a thread about difficult ethical questions, If I come up with some good Idea, that thread will be posted in this board.
[EDIT]: The thread has been posted in General Discussion "Difficult ethical questions."

I will never see through all of the scans I have...

  • Jan 10, 2011

angelxxuan

angelxxuan

ぬいぐるみ !

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with religion aside (as I believe every thing is a living organism) I don't really consider something created by "man" to be a real organism, certain viruses were created by man and it now replicates and adapts so that just when a cure is found it will mutate and become something else, in a way I would consider that a living organism. but I don't really consider things like nanobots to be real, it was created by mankind (to make note this means both males and females just shortened for typing this all the time) thus not being real, same with androids and robots. when they make an AI successfully that will probably be the day I unplug my laptop, venture high into the mountains and shoot and ask questions later because that will be the day chaos will come about. we are close and probably won't see it or maybe just the tip of it but I want nothing to do with it, once it creates it's own rational thoughts it still won't be a living organism unless it contains organisms which make it real, computer parts are not real, human organs or other sorts of organs it isn't real to me.

p.s. just for the record this is my opinion

BuBbLeS!


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kyosuke2

kyosuke2

Lazy People Gather All The World

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@angelxuan: here u did refer life to having soul. cz nanobot and AI were created by human, they may have no soul. but can todays tech really prove that we have soul here? how about thing made by angel, are they also can be considered as alive?

I know everyone is lazy, but none would admit it. Needs big bravery to admit I am lazy, yet I would do it. Let's start a campaign of laziness, let's everyone just sleep enough everyday, without any moron jobs. Hell yeah, sleep is da best. It's lazy democracy, from lazy people, for lazy people, by lazy people, ya know!!!

UsagixKitsune

UsagixKitsune

nsɐƃıxʞıʇsnuǝ

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Lets see.

I like your robot, it's a good start. Lets say we programmed it with instruction on how to build more robots. So that's reproduction. We gave it sensors so it can be stimulated. For example the robot senses that it is raining and therefore seeks shelter as a response. I suppose we'd have to tell the robot why it is bad to get wet or let this robot rust and die and have the information that rain results in death be passed on to the next robot it creates. Now the robot may be walking and it finds a cat in its path and steps on it. We can program some sort of moral code or conscience to tell it that that was wrong.Or some kind of empathy system where the robot will understand that if a giant metal foot stepped on its head it would be destroyed so therefore the robot should not do this to the cat. That is some kind of emotion I guess. Next the robot finds a dog in its path. The robot remembers what happened with the cat and therefore attempts to avoid the dog and not step on it. The robot has therefore learned something.

I don't doubt that we can program a robot to do all this and that in its self is more "alive" than some animals.

You wouldn't argue that this robot or animals like it are human so what makes us human or "intelligent" is something else. We can create a thought such as "I will now put my right hand in the air". We can then lift our right hand and hold it in the air; for no reason at all. Animals can also do some unpredictable and pointless things too, I'm sure YouTube has plenty of examples. I'm only a student but I really don't see a way of giving an AI this kind of "intelligence". This then expands into creativity and art. In the end of the day machines only do what they are told to do. We can make a machine sufficiently smart so you can tell it to add 3 and 5 and 7 and it will place those numbers and operations into a stack and do it's RPN thing and give you an answer. What wont happen is you tell it to add 3 and 5 and 7 and it doodles a picture of a bunny or a fox in the corner of its notebook instead, like *some* humans might.

It's kind of hard to think about a subject like this since we, or at least I, have no idea where humans came from or how the universe started or why we are here. If we did "evolve" then it shouldn't be impossible to recreate this process in code so that robots can follow it, assuming we know ALL he factors involved with this "evolution" process. If God created us then it might not be impossible to replicate his work, maybe. If there is a third alternative then we don't have much hope of recreating "life" huh? ^_^;

Sorry I kind of went off track. Recreating life or more precisely, humans fascinates most people I think. I'm not particularity opinionated about stuff like this I think I just go with whatever everyone else agrees is "life" i.e. Trees, cats, dogs are alive, the Earth, the Sun, this inanimate glass bottle are not alive. In the end of the day words are useless unless we agree on a meaning.

Deagels

Deagels

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You might want to read this: ribonucleotides

Viruses mutate not with the intention to bypass a hosts immune system or a drug, but simply because its code may allow some deviation or its host cell might create an imperfect replica of it. Some viruses mutates faster than others and that relies heavily on the code embedded within it. Compare a virus to gossip or rumors, what are the differences? They both spread and change slightly in the process.

A cell I hope you all agree is alive. So far it passes my (our?) two conditions. It is capable of reproduction and it responds to stimuli. A tree is alive. It is capable of reproduction and it responds to light and temperature. We can't have a requirement for intelligence or neurological structure as that is a unique product of the animalia kingdoms Chordata group. In my opinion one should not count "free will" as a condition either as that would also exclude most non animalia life forms.

I will never see through all of the scans I have...

  • Jan 11, 2011

UsagixKitsune

UsagixKitsune

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Well I'm sorry; AI is more my thing than microscopic creepy crawlys =3=

So how do these viruses respond to stimuli?
Alot of chemical elements react with each other without the presence of "life".

honeycomb

honeycomb

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I don't think there is no definite defintion for 'life' .life is just the way we live with the choices we make.

Deagels

Deagels

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Quote by UsagixKitsuneSo how do these viruses respond to stimuli?

Viruses don't react to the environment other than purely chemical as far as I know. Cells do react to the virus on the other hand by dissolving its membrane, reading and executing the genetic code it contains. A virus is simply a passive container of genetic information.

[EDIT] In Ghost In The Shell Motoko's mind merges with the Puppeteer in the net. The possibility of pure software to be considered alive is effectively muted by the requirement of hardware to execute the code. Exactly like a virus in other words. That is the reason malicious executable software is called virus.

On the other hand if the very software we did not consider to be alive was the one giving my previous robot the ability to replicate itself, do we have two non-living components merging to a living one?

I will never see through all of the scans I have...

  • Jan 11, 2011

UsagixKitsune

UsagixKitsune

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So in that case a virus isn't alive per our definition?

Deagels

Deagels

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Quote by UsagixKitsuneSo in that case a virus isn't alive per our definition?

Correct. That is also the mainstream view of today's biologists.
You might have missed this in my first post.

Quote by DeagelsAs such viruses are not considered to be alive.

I will never see through all of the scans I have...

  • Jan 11, 2011

awkwardusername

awkwardusername

(」・ω・)」うー!

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Asking what life is, is just like consigning a cat to a limbo.

XD

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Then what role am I to play in this farce? Should I be the slave? The villager? The knight? The protagonist? No, I am them all! A hero who’s role is to consume everything in sight, dancing while tearing the theater apart. A drama. A drama whose audience is the drama itself.

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To define life, I try to think, very much deep. I can't. For you who manage i am very much amaze. They say life takes many kind of different form, its somehow impossible for me to conclude as different form as the same form. I've been asked once 'what is life' in the end the only answer i manage to hear 'open the dictionary'( simpler version) and 'open your dictionary' (harder version).

merged: 04-19-2011 ~ 10:43pm

Quote by awkwardusernameAsking what life is, is just like consigning a cat to a limbo.

XD

In a way, agree. Especially when everyone is a philosopher. I mean, we all are, do have our own definition.

merged: 04-19-2011 ~ 10:45pm

Quote by honeycombI don't think there is no definite defintion for 'life' .life is just the way we live with the choices we make.

Yup...'choices we make', thats called for the concept of free will. I do believe, living things posses that.

  • Apr 19, 2011
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I use to think that life was meaningless. But now...I don't know anymore

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