Re: life vs. non-life

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Wed Jan 24 2001 - 22:31:19 MST

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> denis bider wrote:
> >
> > > associate different functional characteristics
> > > with "life" and "nonlife".
> >
> > Oh yes, another question. What would these different functional
> > characteristics be? Ie, how does 'life' differ from 'non-life', other than
> > by definition?
> Well, my usual definition of life is "Life is anything designed primarily
> by evolution, plus all processes which exhibit sentience." Mules are
> alive, biological viruses are alive, computer viruses are not alive, and
> artificial sentiences are alive by special clause.

Why do you judge computer viruses as less alive than biological
viruses? Neither can reproduce by itself. Both purloin the help of
other things to reproduce. Both can mutate over time. And what would
you do with ALife as far as your classification system goes?

> Societies are not alive. There is such a thing as memetic evolution but
> it is not the primary shaper of a society. Actually, I just find the

How do you know that mimetic evolution is not a powerful shaper of
society? What is your argument there?

- samantha

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