A possible definition of life.

Peter Bentley ucacpjb at cs.ucl.ac.uk
Thu May 1 13:21:40 EST 1997

> > Must all self-replicating entities be complex?
> > Will all forms of life transform energy? (Would artificial life?)
> > Must all self-replicating entities evolve, and is the occurance
> > of evolution a requirement of life? (Must all life evolve?)
> ...which is why I like mine: "Life is the phenomenon associated with
> the self-replication of self-coding informaitonal systems":
> NO requirement for complexification
> NO requirement for energy use / transduction
> NO requirement for evolution
>                      Ed Rybicki, PhD

Hmmm... Suppose I wrote a computer program that was capable of creating
another program that was capable of creating another... and so on. Say it
uses genetic programming to evolve its children from scratch.

This is replication of 'the ability to replicate', and not self-replication
(the parent only passes the ability to replicate to its offspring, never any
information about itself). This would be replication without the passing on
of genes/information about the parent. It would also be replication without

Would such an entity be alive? If so, then 'self-replication' and 'self-coding'
would be superfluous to life.

(I suspect this entity may be impossible - I'm having trouble thinking of a
fitness function capable of guiding GP to generate an entity capable of
generating an entity... and so on.)


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