A possible definition of life.

Bill House bhouse at dazsi.nospam.com
Wed Apr 30 17:04:27 EST 1997

Mark Siddall <msiddall at umich.edu> wrote in article <3367B35C.5F31 at umich.edu>...
> The metaphysical answer to the metaphysical question is less
> straightforward.  I will leave it to metaphysicians.  I am a scientist.
What's so metaphysical about a computer program that exhibits self-replication, energy
transformation to create order, and adaptive evolution?  

In the biological sense, perhaps the DNA/RNA answer is sufficient, but only for
taxonomical reasons. In the not-metaphysical-but-logical-abstraction sense, DNA/RNA is
just a medium for encoding the program that operates the cellular machine. 

Us computer types call that a meta-abstraction (not to be confused with a metaphysical
or religious concept) -- DNA is not life itself, but information about life. Life
itself is what happens when the information is acted on by the machine (or
cell/virus/whatever) to actually perform the behaviors so encoded.

Bill House
Note: my e-mail address has been altered to
confuse the enemy. The views I express are
mine alone (unless you agree with me).

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