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#3922 - 10/12/05 11:40 AM Can life exist in a computer?
RM Offline
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Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 560
Loc: London
If the perfect AI system was invented and a virtual world was created in which the inhabitants were as intelligent as us, would that actually count as life?

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#3923 - 10/12/05 04:10 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Uncle Al Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 540
Loc: Southern California
Life is metabolic. An artificial intelligence in silico would not be alive. An intelligent entity that does not share your need for biology would have very different moral standards, lusts, and ways of having at them. Are you concerned about ants you step upon?
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#3924 - 10/12/05 06:55 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Yet Another Crank Offline
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Registered: 05/31/05
Posts: 65
Loc: My secret island lair
Life means a state of persistence, a kind of quasi-self-sustaining system that postpones entropy by taking in nutrients, by using energy, and by reproducing.

Intelligence is not a definition of life. Lots of living things do not have intelligence. Life does not mean intelligence.

Likewise, intelligence does not necessarily mean life exists. You could conceivably create a computer program that learns and adapts from its environment. You could conceivably make that program recursively aware of its own existence as part of the environment from which it learns. That program would be true artificial intelligence, but it would not be life.
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#3925 - 10/12/05 08:18 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Rob:

Define death and I will define life.
Define life and I will answer your question.
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#3926 - 10/12/05 09:31 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Count Iblis II Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 375
Quote:
Originally posted by Rob:
If the perfect AI system was invented and a virtual world was created in which the inhabitants were as intelligent as us, would that actually count as life?
I would say yes. The virtual creatures perceive their virtual world in the same way as we perceive our world. The AI system is just their universe. They exist even if we don't simulate them but simulating it allows us to see them.

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#3927 - 10/13/05 02:56 AM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
DietAnthrax Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally posted by Count Iblis II:
Quote:
Originally posted by Rob:
If the perfect AI system was invented and a virtual world was created in which the inhabitants were as intelligent as us, would that actually count as life?
I would say yes. The virtual creatures perceive their virtual world in the same way as we perceive our world. The AI system is just their universe. They exist even if we don't simulate them but simulating it allows us to see them.
I agree. Consciousness trumps all other necessary conditions for the definition of life. A self-aware computer sitting blindly in the corner of a room would be every bit as alive as us.

Having said that, though, the more I think about the very nature of consciousness the more it puzzles me - it seems to me that, for various reasons, conscious free-will must by definition be an illusion.

Our brains are either deterministic or governed to some extent by randomness - both destroy the concept of free will and genuine choice in our actions and thoughts.
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#3928 - 10/13/05 03:31 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Yet Another Crank Offline
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How does consciousness trump everything else for something to be alive?

Trees and grass and bacteria and many undergraduates are all considered alive. But we wouldn't exactly consider them to be conscious.

Intelligence is not a prerequisite for life, and life is not a prerequisite for intelligence. Likewise, self-awareness is not a prerequisite for life, and life is not a prerequisite for self-awareness.

Life is pretty much what I said above. It needn't be organic, but it needs more than just the ability to learn and recursive self awareness.
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#3929 - 10/13/05 05:42 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
DietAnthrax Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally posted by Yet Another Crank:
How does consciousness trump everything else for something to be alive?

Trees and grass and bacteria and many undergraduates are all considered alive. But we wouldn't exactly consider them to be conscious.

Intelligence is not a prerequisite for life, and life is not a prerequisite for intelligence. Likewise, self-awareness is not a prerequisite for life, and life is not a prerequisite for self-awareness.

Life is pretty much what I said above. It needn't be organic, but it needs more than just the ability to learn and recursive self awareness.
I fail to see any logic in your post.

Obviously plants are considered to be alive.

In my view, consciousness trumps any other neccessary conditions for something to be considered alive. This in no way implies that something that isn't conscious cannot be alive.

Whether one would consider artifical intelligence to be truly alive is totally subjective. In my opinion it would be.

Something that's self-aware and can reason should be considered to be alive, even if it cannot reproduce and has no metabolism (in the usual sense). Self-awareness is the very pinnacle of life - the highest peak that has yet been obtained by biological entities. If something artifical attains it, it lives.
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#3930 - 10/13/05 07:20 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Yet Another Crank Offline
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Registered: 05/31/05
Posts: 65
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No.

Self awareness is something that some living things have acquired.

It does not necessarily follow that all things that are self-aware are living things.


Ah, it has now become apparent why you fail to see the logic of my post. May I recommend a freshman-level course on the subject?
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#3931 - 10/14/05 02:01 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
DietAnthrax Offline
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Registered: 10/11/05
Posts: 11
You don't seem to realize that the definition of life is subjective.

It's entirely possible that intelligent aliens exist in some far flung corner of our galaxy, or beyond, that bear absolutely no resemblance to life here on Earth, and would not be included in some definitions of life.

We haven't come across them yet, just as we haven't come across genuine artifical intelligence yet. When and if we do, in my view the definition of life should be updated.
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#3932 - 10/14/05 09:03 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
What *IS* life and why is it important?

IS life important?

Are there things that are important that are not life?

1. The intelligent alien scenario is a good one, I think. Although I'm skeptical we'll ever actually meet any intelligent aliens close-up, I think it's a good gedanken-experiment. Would we grant human rights to these entities? If they offered to stomp us like bugs otherwise, would that change our perception of the problem space?

2. What if we created a robot with sentience in some way equivalent to that of a human being - a thing that didn't just reason, but felt and dreamt and had a will to live and be happy? (Again, I don't think this is likely to happen in my lifetime, but it's just a thought experiment.)

3. What if we created a perfect replica of a human being from scratch, molecule by molecule? (Not in my lifetime.) Could we treat such a thing as property? Could we own it? Experiment on it as we chose?

(Now we *could* of course. But you understand what I'm getting at is *should* we.)

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#3933 - 10/17/05 02:33 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
RM Offline
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Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 560
Loc: London
I heard that Nikola Tesla was doing experiments with teleportation towards the end of his life. Do you believe, as a scientist, that humans can structure individual atoms into an object or human? If this IS possible, we will have achieved immortality. (but only if they are the EXACT same atoms)

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#3934 - 10/17/05 02:39 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
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1. I don't believe Tesla was teleporing.

2. I'm not a scientist, though I do work with a lot of scientists.

3. I think we're approaching the day when we can place individual atoms in very specific places; however, that doesn't mean we can put any atom in any place.

4. I don't agree with the logic. It isn't the individual atoms that make 'me,' at least I don't think it is.

I think what makes me is the circuitry in my brain. If we could get a substantially equivalent set of neurons and synapses and configure that system with the same potentials existing in my brain, we will have duplicated me.

In my way of thinking, *I* am not my atoms, or my molecules, or even my particular collection and arrangement of neurons, but of the potentials and arrangement of neurons and synapses.

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#3935 - 10/18/05 09:49 AM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
RM Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 560
Loc: London
I disagree. There can only ever be one true *you* and everything else will be copies of you. If a duplicate of you were to be made whilst you were still alive, you would still be *you* as an individual and your copy would be themselves as an individual. If you were to die, your copy may think, act and look like you, but your mind wouldn't suddenly jump into his (hers) body. *You* would be dead, and an exact copy of you would be alive. Hope you can follow that without trouble.

P.S. For future reference, are you male or female?

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#3936 - 10/18/05 02:21 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Count Iblis II Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 375
A ''mind'' independent of the physical structure of the brain doesn't exist. If such a thing did exist then physics at the level of atoms would be incomplete.

According to Quantum mechanics all particles of the same type are identical. Your electrons don't carry the label: ''use only in Rob's body'' Consider this thought experiment. A surgeon is operating on you. He will repair injuries in the usual way, but he may also do some experiments:

1) He will remove some uninjured body parts and then put it back, if done perfectly this shouldn't have any effect.

2) Remove uninjured body parts, copy them and put the copied body parts back. This can't be any different from 1).

3) So, if he just removes all of your body parts and replaces them by copies then you would still be the same.

In fact, such replacements happen all the time at the molecular level. The atoms you consist of are being replaced continuously.


Quote:
Originally posted by Rob:
I disagree. There can only ever be one true *you* and everything else will be copies of you. If a duplicate of you were to be made whilst you were still alive, you would still be *you* as an individual and your copy would be themselves as an individual. If you were to die, your copy may think, act and look like you, but your mind wouldn't suddenly jump into his (hers) body. *You* would be dead, and an exact copy of you would be alive. Hope you can follow that without trouble.

P.S. For future reference, are you male or female?

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#3937 - 10/18/05 02:32 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
I suppose I don't really have an opinion on whether the new thing is a copy of me or, well, a 'real' me. For all practical purposes I think we should consider it a real me - particularly if no one could tell the difference.

But here's the context of what I was talking about. It was hinted that we might just dump human consciousness into a computer. My argument is that I'm not sure that's possible. We'll probably be able to augment human consciousness with computers. We can surely move data to the computer. But will we be able to move ME into the computer? I'm guessing not.

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#3938 - 10/18/05 02:39 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Count Iblis II Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 375
Quote:
Originally posted by TheFallibleFiend:
It was hinted that we might just dump human consciousness into a computer. My argument is that I'm not sure that's possible. We'll probably be able to augment human consciousness with computers. We can surely move data to the computer. But will we be able to move ME into the computer? I'm guessing not.
I think it is possible in principle, but it may never happen because it's too difficult to do.

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#3939 - 10/19/05 09:06 AM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
RM Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 560
Loc: London
Count Iblis II,
i agree about the body parts. But if your brain were to be replaced, you would no longer be yourself.
Do you realise that 'you' have only been living for a very short time. what you percieve as 'you' is actually a copy of an older version of you.
say every atom in the world has it's own individual adress. A copy of you, would definitely not be 'you'! Even though they may act exactly like you.

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#3940 - 10/19/05 10:11 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
Chris Maxwell Offline
Member

Registered: 10/10/05
Posts: 26
Loc: UK
what a load of bull life cant exist in a computer for 1 reason AI & Physics Programming . you can program AI bot or robot to follow commands or set a pre set them TRough a command line with the a "Physics engine" but this is only a Simulation . the word (life) ONLY should be used on organic orgisms like humans , plants etc , not in artificial scripted programs.

what makes you people think of such crap seriously?.

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#3941 - 10/19/05 11:37 PM Re: Can life exist in a computer?
TheFallibleFiend Offline
Megastar

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 1940
Loc: http://thefalliblefiend.blogsp...
What makes you think you're thinking?

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