Evolving Machine Codes: Tierra V3.13

John Woods eanv20 at castle.ed.ac.uk
Wed Jul 15 17:07:09 EST 1992


What's all this about `comparative biology'?  I keep hearing people
(even John Maynard Smith, who should no better) echoing this claim
that all of biology is based on `a sample size of one' --- i.e. life
on earth.  It is claimed that in order to study the properties of life
itself, rather than just that of life on earth, we can
	a) try and find some other interplanetary life (difficult)
	b) implement `life' on a computer system with, e.g. `Tierra'

Now I'd be the first to admit that Tierra is a wonderful program, but
I can't help getting the feeling that a logical point is being
overlooked here.  Is it not the case that Tierra `creatures' can only
be considered `alive' because they have what we might think of as
`life-like' characteristics?  And how do we define `life-like'?  I
think we're still left with a sample size of one!

				... John Woods

P.S. Are viruses alive or dead?  Just a thought.
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