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    1. #1
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      Digital Organisms

      Do you consider digital organisms, as in the ones in programs like Evolve 4.0, to be living?

      Why/ Why not?

      I, personally consider them to be living things because they evolve, have genetic code, reproduce, eat, and are made of cells.

      I've been playing with Evolve 4 for a while now, and I've seen some pretty amazing things with the little programs that evolve out of some of the simulations I've run. Such as an organism that avoided barriers by several cells, or an organism that actively searched for spores to fertilize.

    2. #2
      Antagonist Invader's Avatar
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      That's a great question.. I originally told myself that I wouldn't consider any machine alive, even if it possessed real self-awareness. My definition of life is generally restricted to organic compounds that have the ability to create more of themselves on at least the cellular level. I mean, imagine the concept of a ghost, or the idea of the undead. According to the myths, they are not considered alive, regardless of whatever feelings they may be capable of showing. Digital life, to me, was a simulation of real life. But what does that mean? Digital life would still follow rules not unlike our own, and to suggest that the reality presented to us through a program is "not real" opens up an entirely new can of worms.

      It's a very, very intriguing question. As of right now, I am undecided.

    3. #3
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      No, I wouldn't consider it real or not. It's a computer program.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Jorge View Post
      No, I wouldn't consider it real or not. It's a computer program.
      A computer program obeys rules that define the reality it encompasses.
      Our universe obeys rules that define the reality it encompasses. The program still exists inside our own reality, sure, much the same way our dreams do, but what is it about a program's reality that disqualifies it for harboring some form of life? What conditions must be met in order to sustain a life-form within a given reality? I don't have the answer to this question.

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      Quote Originally Posted by invader_tech View Post
      A computer program obeys rules that define the reality it encompasses.
      Computers are limited in that sense, because they can only work with the logical standard within which they process. A hypothetical system. Thus, it will not be a direct replicate, especially when it must process something from a non-linear domain.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Jorge View Post
      No, I wouldn't consider it real or not. It's a computer program.
      Yes, but these programs reproduce, they require energy, they have sensory perception, they eat and obey specific physical laws to their universe.

      I didn't say Organic LifeTM, I meant just living. They live inside of that program, where as you live inside of the universe. You require certain things to stay alive-- So do they.

      You reproduce, and so do they; You evolve-- So do they. They meet all of the requirements of life, they just aren't made of organic compounds. Oh, and they have a genetic program that comes with inherent limitations. And so do you.

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      Xei
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      To be honest it's just semantics really.

      I suppose it would be a little pretentious to say they can't be called life; who's to say that our universe isn't in fact a universal Turing machine?

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      It's more of an academic question, because simulators like Avida have been used in studying evolution, so if the programs being worked on can't be considered a form of life, then how can we study biological evolution with them?

    9. #9
      Xei
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      Well, life is just a word. It's a pretty iffy word too, when it comes to what makes one set of chemical reactions life and another not. I say it's a bit of a non-issue.

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      It's complicated. In a way I figure it can be considered life, but not organic life of that matter.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Well, life is just a word. It's a pretty iffy word too, when it comes to what makes one set of chemical reactions life and another not. I say it's a bit of a non-issue.
      So you consider digital organisms to be alive?

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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      Computers are limited in that sense, because they can only work with the logical standard within which they process. A hypothetical system. Thus, it will not be a direct replicate, especially when it must process something from a non-linear domain.
      Imagine then that you took one of these programs and gave it a physical body and sensory "organs" through which it could interact with our real world. Would this program's processing limitations be so much unlike our own? There are plenty of organic life-forms that process information in ways that make their perception of the real world different from our own (heat-sensing organs in snakes is one example). Other organisms are programmed to perform entirely unique functions as well (web-spinning, particular bird nests, mating rituals among fish, etc). So what exactly do you mean by being limited because of the logical standard within which they process? If you can give me a real example of "something from a non-linear domain", it'd help clarify what you're trying to say for me.
      Last edited by Invader; 02-17-2009 at 06:16 AM.

    13. #13
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      I would say such a thing is "alive" but not sentient.

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      Quote Originally Posted by invader_tech View Post
      Imagine then that you took one of these programs and gave it a physical body and sensory "organs" through which it could interact with our real world. Would this program's processing limitations be so much unlike our own? There are plenty of organic life-forms that process information in ways that make their perception of the real world different from our own (heat-sensing organs in snakes is one example). Other organisms are programmed to perform entirely unique functions as well (web-spinning, particular bird nests, mating rituals among fish, etc). So what exactly do you mean by being limited because of the logical standard within which they process? If you can give me a real example of "something from a non-linear domain", it'd help clarify what you're trying to say for me.
      A circuit cannot mirror the nonlinear domain, thus it is restricted to the linear. It can only do it hypothetically. Computers will never be able to emulate human life or human intelligence exactly, because human intelligence functions within the nonlinear field of consciousness (of greater dimension and power). A virtual reality would be limited to the paradigm of causality and logical programming.

      If that were to be implemented into a brain, it would hold a totally different purpose altogether.
      Last edited by really; 02-17-2009 at 11:13 AM.

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      Xei
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      So you consider digital organisms to be alive?
      I suppose so. But then another biologist may restrict life to that which arose via natural selection acting upon organic compounds: there is no universally accepted definition (hence the disagreement about viruses). It really doesn't matter what you call it, it is what it is.

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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      A circuit cannot mirror the nonlinear domain, thus it is restricted to the linear. It can only do it hypothetically. Computers will never be able to emulate human life or human intelligence exactly, because human intelligence functions within the nonlinear field of consciousness (of greater dimension and power). A virtual reality would be limited to the paradigm of causality and logical programming.

      If that were to be implemented into a brain, it would hold a totally different purpose altogether.
      I don't think 'linear' means what you think it means.

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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      A circuit cannot mirror the nonlinear domain, thus it is restricted to the linear. It can only do it hypothetically. Computers will never be able to emulate human life or human intelligence exactly, because human intelligence functions within the nonlinear field of consciousness (of greater dimension and power). A virtual reality would be limited to the paradigm of causality and logical programming.

      If that were to be implemented into a brain, it would hold a totally different purpose altogether.
      So... we just make a computer-brain. Will that make a difference? Is there something in our brain that makes us different?
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    18. #18
      Xei
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      I don't think so. There's nothing 'intelligent' about carbon and hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and sodium etcetera.

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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      A circuit cannot mirror the nonlinear domain, thus it is restricted to the linear. It can only do it hypothetically. Computers will never be able to emulate human life or human intelligence exactly, because human intelligence functions within the nonlinear field of consciousness (of greater dimension and power). A virtual reality would be limited to the paradigm of causality and logical programming.

      If that were to be implemented into a brain, it would hold a totally different purpose altogether.
      How can a circuit not be nonlinear?

      What did you think a logic circuit was?

      If this, then that, else, this other thing. That isn't linear.

      I would say such a thing is "alive" but not sentient.
      Why not?

      In my ALife program I've been working on, each organism has the ability to 'feel' everything around it using a simple collision system. With this, an organism could recognize and respond to stimuli, i.e. Another organism near it

      That's what sentience is.

      I suppose so. But then another biologist may restrict life to that which arose via natural selection acting upon organic compounds: there is no universally accepted definition (hence the disagreement about viruses). It really doesn't matter what you call it, it is what it is.
      Okay; do you consider them to be alive in the same sense that you would take a bacteria to be alive?

      I'd really rather not get into a discussion about definitions...
      Last edited by A Roxxor; 02-18-2009 at 12:57 AM.

    20. #20
      Xei
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      Okay; do you consider them to be alive in the same sense that you would take a bacteria to be alive?

      I'd really rather not get into a discussion about definitions...
      But that's all this whole thread is; a discussion about the definition of life. How can you ask if a digital organism is life or not if you don't want to talk about what counts as life?

      Your new question is no different from your old question and my answer is still the same.

      Bacteria meet pretty much all of any of the suggested criteria of life.

      If you include a new criterion than life must be made of organic matter then digital organisms are not life. If you don't then they might be.

      This is really the same argument as whether or not viruses are life or not. Fact is there is no real answer, it just depends on how you want to define life. Some people include in the definition of life, 'is made of cells', and therefore discount viruses. Others do not. It doesn't make a difference to anything.

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      No, this isn't a discussion of what universally constitues life, this is about whether you see the two as the same.

      Hence,

      do you consider them to be alive in the same sense that you would take a bacteria to be alive?
      Obviously this involves altering the 'definition' of life, but that's not what I'm talking about. I am asking whether or not you see them as alive in the same way you would see a bacteria or something to be alive.

    22. #22
      Antagonist Invader's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      A virtual reality would be limited to the paradigm of causality and logical programming.
      I was under the assumption our universe worked according to the same principles? Can you explain the difference? Hmm, by ream example I meant that I wanted some kind of situation that a program might not be able to work with. I know very little with respect to computer science, to be quite honest.

      Quote Originally Posted by A Roxxor

      Why not?

      In my ALife program I've been working on, each organism has the ability to 'feel' everything around it using a simple collision system. With this, an organism could recognize and respond to stimuli, i.e. Another organism near it

      That's what sentience is.
      I believe sentience implies self awareness, something that no program has reportedly achieved.

    23. #23
      Xei
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      I see a bacterium as life because it satisfies all of the common criteria for life.

      Whether or not I consider a digital organism life would depend on which criteria we are using. If it satisfies them, I will, and if it doesn't, I won't.

      It sounds to me like you're attatching some sort of mystical significance to 'life'. It's just a word, used to describe certain sets of chemical reactions. Words don't have consequences or objective reality. Who cares? It makes as little difference to the nature of a digital organism as deciding to call it Fred.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I see a bacterium as life because it satisfies all of the common criteria for life.

      Whether or not I consider a digital organism life would depend on which criteria we are using. If it satisfies them, I will, and if it doesn't, I won't.

      It sounds to me like you're attatching some sort of mystical significance to 'life'. It's just a word, used to describe certain sets of chemical reactions. Words don't have consequences or objective reality. Who cares? It makes as little difference to the nature of a digital organism as deciding to call it Fred.
      Holy shit, dude. I'm asking you if you're brain identifies digital organisms in the same way it identifies with what you know as living things. This about how you see things, not definitions.

      When you see a digital organism, do you think "alive" or "not alive"?

      That's the question. It's a very simple one. Yes or No will do.

    25. #25
      Xei
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      I have no idea what you are talking about. You seem to be completely lost in semantics.

      What on Earth does alive 'look like'?? I mean if we were talking about a patch of moss, alive would 'look like' a green splodge.

      You can't tell if something is alive by looking at it because living things look completely and utterly different from one another. It might be big, small, different colours, moving, still; I see digital organisms moving about my screen, but I also see leaves being blown by the wind. I might even be watching a video of some random pixels moving about, how would I tell the difference?

      And who cares anyway?

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