Artificial Life: From life-as-we-know-it to life-as-it-could-be, in Life As We Know It

Moshe Sipper, Nakdimon Umiel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

“He wanted to dream a man: he wanted to dream him with minute integrity and insert him into reality.” This was the goal of the silent man who came from the South, in Jorge Luis Borges’s short story The Circular Ruins. From Pygmalion, Frankenstein, and the Golem to Star Trek’s Lieutenant Commander Data, the dream of administering the breath of life has fascinated mankind since antiquity (Sipper,2002). This question moved from the realm of science fiction to that of science withthe advent of the field known as artificial life (ALife). The term was coined by Christopher G. Langton, organizer of the first artificial life conference, which took place in Los Alamos in 1987 (Langton, 1989).
“Artificial Life,” wrote Langton (in the proceedings of the second conference),“is a field of study devoted to understanding life by attempting to abstract the fundamental dynamical principles underlying biological phenomena, and recreating these dynamics in other physical media—such as computers—making them accessible to new kinds of experimental manipulation and testing.” (Langton et al.,1992) While biological research is essentially analytic, trying to break down
complex phenomena into their basic components, artificial life is synthetic, attempting to construct phenomena from their elemental units, as such adding powerful new tools to the scientific toolkit. This is, however, only part of the field’s mission. As put forward by Langton, “In addition to providing new ways to study the biological phenomena associated with life here on Earth, life-as-we-know-it, Artificial Life allows us to extend our studies to the larger domain of the ‘bio-logic’ of possible life, life-as-it-could-be, whatever it might be made of and wherever it
might be found in the universe.”
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLife as We Know It
EditorsJoseph Seckbach
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Pages707-733
Number of pages27
Volume9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4020-4403-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-4020-4403-8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

Publication series

NameCellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology
PublisherSpringer
Volume9

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