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Artificial life

Artificial life, also known as Alife is currently the study of life through the use of human-made analogs of living creatures. If these experiments are successful, then the term will refer to human-made (or otherwise artificial[?]) lifeforms.

Alife researchers are divided into two main groups:

  • The strong alife position states that "Life is a process which can be abstracted away from any particular medium." (John Von Neumann). Notably the position of Tom Ray[?] who declared that his program Tierra[?] was not simulating life in a computer, but was synthesizing it.
  • The weak alife position denies the possibility of generating a "living process" outside of a carbon-based chemical solution. Its researchers try instead to mimic life processes to understand the appearance of single phenomena. The usual way is through an agent based model[?], which usually gives an "as simple as" possible solution. That is: "we don't know what in nature generates this phenomenon, but could be something as simple as..."

The field is a meeting point for people from many other more traditional fields, notably: linguistics, physics, mathematics, philosophy, computer science, biology...

The field is particularly well defined by the tools it uses, which include evolutionary algorithms (EA), genetic algorithms (GA), genetic programming (GP), artificial chemistries[?] (AC), agent based models[?], and cellular automata (CA). Of interest has also been the application of co-evolution to Lindenmayer systems.

Related fields and other subfields include:

Open problems:

  • "what is life?"
  • "when can we say that a system, or a subsytem, is alive?"
...

This fascinating field has received both positive and negative remarks: "practical theology," "the science with no facts," etc.

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