MLAI: Machine Life #1

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Bill DeWitt

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MLAI: Machine Life #1
« on: November 18, 2006, 08:08:44 pm »
1) Self Maintenance - The Agent is actively establishing itself. To avoid annihilation due to increased entropy the Agent needs to rebuild and repair itself by drawing materials from the environment. This process is sometimes called autopoiesis.

Autopoiesis is an adaptation of Homeostasis, one of the first tenets of traditional definitions of life. In homeostasis, the organism attempts to maintain its internal environment (which implies maintaining its structures), and growth/repair is considered elsewhere.

However, viruses show us that growth, healing and metabolism are not required for life. A virus gets by using the Allopoiesis of host cells to replace both growth and reproduction and cannot heal itself at all. In fact, the ability of a virus to adapt depends largely upon the failure of Autopoiesis, since it does not have any inherent way of changing its morphology directly.

Now there are those who claim that viruses are not truly alive, but they do it with a self-testing form of circular logic. ?Living things must have these things because living things do have these things therefore anything which does not have the things that living things have are not living things?.

Even if we allow that living biological things must use autopoiesis, you have shown no evidence that Machine life must. Allopoiesis is a much more likely scenario, since, until recently, non-machines did almost all of the machine building we know of, so that the broadest inductive reasoning definition of Machine Life would allow both and require neither.

All we can say with assurance is that while it may be a test for biological life, it is almost certainly not a test for machine life. Unless someone comes along and shows us several forms of machine life that require it, while proving that there are none that do not require it, we will have to discard it completely from the test.
So far, while you have made claims of systems of Machine Life that already exist, you have shown no evidence of Autopoiesis in any of them. I had hopes that you would haul out Tierra or Avida, but instead you used chatterbots, which contain neither homeostasis nor growth nor healing.


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