Artificial Life or the Alife, ethic concerns and what could we achieve?

What is artificial life?

Artificial life as defined by Christopher Langton
“Artificial Life is the study of man-made systems that exhibit behaviors characteristic of natural living systems. It complements the traditional biological sciences concerned with the analysis of living organisms by attempting to synthesize life-like behaviors within computers and other artificial media. By extending the empirical foundation upon which biology is based beyond the carbon-chain life that has evolved on Earth, Artificial Life can contribute to theoretical biology by locating life-as-we-know-it within the larger picture of life-as-it-could-be. — (Langton, 1989)”

Artificial life (also known as ‘ALife’) is an interdisciplinary study of life and life-like processes that uses a synthetic methodology, wherein researchers examine systems related to natural life, its processes, and its evolution, through the use of simulations with computer models, robotics, and biochemistry.

Three broad and intertwining branches of artificial life correspond to three different synthetic methods.

  • ‘Soft’ artificial life creates simulations or other purely digital constructions that exhibit life-like behavior.
  • ‘Hard’ artificial life produces hardware implementations of life-like systems and
  • ‘Wet’ artificial life} synthesizes living systems out of biochemical substances.

Alife research efforts are truly interdisciplinary and runs the gamut from biology, chemistry and physics to computer science and engineering. While a large part of Artificial Life is devoted to understanding life as we know it — that is, life on earth — a significant effort concerns the search for principles of living systems which are independent of a particular substrate. Thus, Artificial Life also considers life “as it could be”, exploring artificial alternatives to a carbon-based chemistry.

At present, this subfield is split into two largely independent endeavors: Read more (…)