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A possible definition of life.

Bill House bhouse at dazsi.nospam.com
Fri May 2 11:34:08 EST 1997

Peter Bentley <ucacpjb at cs.ucl.ac.uk> wrote in article <336A2CBC.6276 at cs.ucl.ac.uk>...
> Life (as we know it, captain) passes on information about itself through the
> generations. If a piece of information (gene) increases an entity's liklihood of
> being successful, surviving, reproducing, or however you want to put it, then the
> information tends to survive, otherwise it is lost.
> Might not an alternative form of life (not as we know it, captain) only pass on a
> *requirement* that its children must be able to generate *from scratch* offspring
> also capable of generating new offspring..? It might be a sort of higher-order,
> highly varied form of life. For example, we evolved from scratch. We might create a
> clever computer program from scratch, which might create some obscure entity based
> around wierd unfathomable maths, which might create...
That's all very interesting, but how do you automate a mathematical entity to create
new mathematical systems? Talk about your meta abstractions!

However, I'm still wondering about the "evolution as the utility of self-replicating"
aspect of having progeny to begin with. Earlier, I supposed that, without the
possiblity of adaptive improvement, replication was of dubious utility. After all,
progeny compete with parents for available resources. In that light, the drive to
create progeny seems almost altruistic. 

OTOH, if you bring death into the picture, things change. If individual parents are
assured to die, then progeny become a kind of survival. This seems interesting in the
context of a-life, as the inevitability of age-related death depends on the program. I
wonder what would happen if one introduced age-related death into a genetic algorithm?

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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