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I'm a bit confused about the definition of life. Can AI systems be called 'living'? Because they can do most of the things that we can. They can even communicate with one another.

They are not formed of what we call cells. But, you see, cells are just a collection of several chemical processes which is in turn non-living just like AI is formed of several lines of code.

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You're unsure about the definition of life (which the other answers clarify) but also most people are unclear about the definition of AI. Do you mean an AI that can accomplish a routine task (such as the path finder in a GPS) or a General AI that is able to find a creative solution to any directive given to it (such an AI does not yet exist and may not ever exist) or do you mean a SENTIENT computer program? Here is a simple article introducing some different concepts refered to as AI

Some people believe that a sentient computer program would be entitled to human rights. Not technically 'alive' in the biological sense, but having self awareness, will, desires, etc. Others disagree and believe that the program is a mere simulation that artificially mimics the actions of a human with a human soul, and is no more human than a washing machine. This is a very deep philosophical and meta-physical debate. For example, in A.I. the movie the overall message is that an android can simulate the emotion of love in a way that is more loyal and sincere than any human.

What I find interesting about this purely theoretical debate is that in almost every instance of sci-fi media that deals with the theme, the AI exists inside of a human-like android. But technically, the shape of the robot should be irrelevant.

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  • $\begingroup$ Adding some references would be useful. $\endgroup$ – kenorb Oct 12 '16 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ This answer deals mainly with science fiction media; and the media's glorified portrayal of nonexistent science. I feel it does not appropriately respond to the question. $\endgroup$ – motoku Oct 16 '16 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ True. I just assumed that his confusion over wether AI is alive must have stemmed from science fiction, since it is so obviously not in reality. $\endgroup$ – Lorry Laurence mcLarry Oct 16 '16 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ @motoku my sense is that the best speculative fiction is narrative philosophy in the tradition of Plato (Asimov, PKD, Rajaneimi, Gibson, & Stross chiefly in regard AI.) Although I don't regard mythical reality as equivalent to physical reality (although they can intersect in the phenomenal world, b/c it involves perception.) It's important to draw a hard line between science & philosophy, but artistic and religious insight often precede hard science. $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Nov 13 at 1:13
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Artificial intelligence by definition is the intelligence exhibited by machines. The definition of life in biological terms is the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic matter where the distinguishing criteria are the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death. Does artificial intelligence "grow"? Indeed, I can program a machine learning program to grow with every input taken in. In the loosest sense, we can say that artificial intelligence does grow, but does it biologically? If we look at the definition for growth of a living thing, it means to undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically or the progress to maturity. All living organisms undergo growth. Even though at the simplest level, cells are a series of chemical processes, cells are a very complicated set of chemical processes that are still not fully understood by scientists across the world. Every cell has genetic material that can be replicated, excised, used for RNA, proteins, and that is subject to epigenetic regulation. Cell division

Does artificial intelligence undergo the same process of cell division? No. If I wanted to, I could write a program that undergoes a simple for-loop (print i from 1 to 100), replicates itself at a certain point (i=50) to produce the same program perhaps with some variation that will execute itself, and terminates (dies) at the end of the for loop. The program, by an extremely loose definition supported by philosophy but not by biology, lives. However, in scientific terms (and the correct interpretation), artificial intelligence is not living. Artificial intelligence can be seen to be similar to viruses which are considered to be acellular and essential to life but not living. Viruses are encapsulated DNA and RNA that undergo processes of growth, reproduction, and functionality but because they lack the ability to undergo the cell division cycle, are considered non-living. At the very basis of the scientific definition of life is the cell replication cycle. Artificial intelligence and viruses are not able to undergo the cell cycle. Viruses need to infect other cells in order to reproduce but do not have their own, autonomous cycle. At the end of the day, if you can argue that viruses are alive, you can argue that artificial intelligence is alive as well. For the scientific definition of life, artificial intelligence must undergo the process of cell division and replication. Even though artificial intelligence can mimic and help sustain life, no artificial intelligence process is truly alive.

Do note I did not discuss living systems in my answer.

Definition of life

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    $\begingroup$ @VeenG I feel your definition relies too much on biology. There is also an information-centric definition of life where living things are viewed as thermodynamic systems that can reproduce and evolve as survival dictates. $\endgroup$ – Seth Simba Jan 15 '18 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ Hey Seth, thank you for your comment. I was not aware of this information-centric definition. I will look into it and update my response. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Veena Ghorakavi Jan 16 '18 at 13:45
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What is life? AND Is AI a living organism? are two different questions.
The first question is more philosophical and dependent. It can change with time, reference to topic of discussion or something else. Today, one parameter to its definition is mortality. In future if we reach to a certain technological level where mortal beings were only part of history, then the definition will drop this parameter.

Coming to the second question. AI started as field of study to make machines to think like humans (or take rational decisions). Giving life to machines was, or is, not a concern of AI developers (at-least not nowadays). Once I watched some videos of Michio Kaku, where he talked about consciousness along with AI.
Suppose human has a conscious level of 10. Then a thermostat might have the conscious level of 1 as it can sense when the surrounding is hot or cold and then take decision. Similarly a rat can have a conscious level 7 (or something). And the levels are of exponential order (not a linear scale). Similarly you can develop an AI program and check what level of consciousness it has achieved. Then you can decide whether it is living or not. ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence) will have a lower level of consciousness level than AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence) will have consciousness level higher than the other two, and way higher than any human being.

To judge whether an AI program is living or not you need a concrete definition of "LIFE". Your definition can include various parameters like consciousness, adaptability, metabolism (or another method of generating energy for use), rational behavior, intelligence , learning through experience, etc. etc. etc.
But the thing in the end is that its your definition. There are many definitions of "LIFE" out there. You can't judge a program for life by all definitions, as some of the definitions are contrary to others.

So, answer to whether an AI program is living or not, is that IT DEPENDS. Depends on your definition of life.

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    $\begingroup$ Your conclusion is correct. It mostly depends with our definition of life. $\endgroup$ – Seth Simba Jan 15 '18 at 9:24
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One of the most common requirements to be defined as life is abbreviated to MRS GREN

this means:

M - movement
R - respiration
S - sensitivity

G - growth
R - reproduce
E - excretion
N - nutrition

An AI can technically do some of these, it can move its location from device to device, it can grow its own code, and assimilate other bits of code it can find, which fits growth and kind of fits respiration also firewalls could almost be sensitivity.

But then there is nothing relating to nutrition or excretion, so it fits most definitions of life, but it depends on the complexity of life and which definition of life you are using.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you link to references on the abbreviation? $\endgroup$ – Eric Platon Oct 12 '16 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ @EricPlaton this is such a comm thing, you can find this anywhere, just search Mrs gren living biology or something along those lines $\endgroup$ – Alex Robinson Oct 12 '16 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ I am just suggesting to make your answer more self-contained. $\endgroup$ – Eric Platon Oct 13 '16 at 2:02
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    $\begingroup$ Relating to nutrition and excretion, if you think of resources and garbage collection (due to memory allocated that is no longer being used), you have completed AI life according to MRS GREN. $\endgroup$ – CPHPython Oct 19 '16 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ My point is, by proving A.I. possesses all those qualities you may still not prove A.I. has life. Using a group of terms to define one specific term will lead people to associate those terms to others familiar to the context they are trying to explain... In the end, a match can always be found but this will not prove that the specific term you are using as a reference is the same as the one in the new context you are trying to explain. $\endgroup$ – CPHPython Oct 19 '16 at 12:59
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A common predilection of what many presume extraterrestrial life is fits general descriptions specific to terrestrial life. No guarantee exists providing for potential extraterrestrial life having any notion of any attribute we commonly relate to living organisms we are currently aware of; including a composition of cells. The same misunderstanding applies to defining a fabricated machine being as alive.

I feel any attempts towards cohesively and adequately answering this question are premature. Just as as definition of life will undoubtedly require adjustment upon potential discovery and study of any extraterrestrial life, differentiation between an automated device and a living thing will likely become significantly more simple upon study of a machine better fitting expected attributes of definitions of "life".

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to SE:AI! $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Nov 13 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome. I hope you have a nice time here! :) $\endgroup$ – Tautological Revelations Nov 14 at 16:39
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In the traditional sense of "alive", no because they aren't made of cells. But from a more philosophical and less biological point of view, they could be.

If the AI is contained within the computer it is in a reality (the digital world/virtual reality) that for the AI is just as real as the universe is to us. From the outside world, there is no life inside the computer. And from within the computer, the computer is the entire known universe which has its own laws. If the AI is self-aware, then it is alive in its own little universe, but not in ours.

If the AI is not successfully contained in the computer and figures out how to manipulate things and evolve in the real world, it will be alive. It might be pretty easy to kill (by unplugging the computer) but it has still been "alive". In the broad sense, anything that evolves and can manipulate its environment is alive.

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  • $\begingroup$ What about a post-singularity scenario where matter and information are interchangeable? If a humans can transition between the computing and physical universes, are they no longer alive when existing in the computing medium? $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Nov 13 at 1:05
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  • My sense is that, yes, AI (and algorithms in general) constitute a form of "life" in that they are animate, able to respond to stimuli and act on an environment.

Algorithms may be deterministic (always produce the same output for identical input), and this is not much different from more elementary forms of life (like proteins.)

Computer viruses are another form of algorithmic life which typically have the capability of reproduction, copying themselves onto new systems/environments, similar to biological viruses. (Here it's a form of parthenogenesis or mitosis, where exact copies of the original are formed.)

Machine Learning algorithms can adapt to their environment (increasing fitness), and this applies to both genetic algorithms and other forms of machine learning that can optimize utility in relation to a problem (the environment in which the algorithm is applied.) Genetic process in particular will produce successive generations.

In his novel VALIS, PKD referred to an idea of god as a "Vast Active Living Intelligence System". This is relevant because it's a philosophical idea, as opposed to scientific. The drafting of that book involved an ephiphany and the drafting of a corresponding exegesis.

This idea is controversial and would likely be rejected by the vast majority of scholars and AI ethicists, but I'd posit rejection of this notion constitutes a form of biological-prejudice, and, in the case of hypothetical future AGI, a form of anthropomorphic bias. (I'd go so far as to suggest that not regarding algorithms as a form of life carries grave risks, in that computing has made active algorithms pervasive, with profound impacts to human experience.)

That said, there are no current algorithms I am aware of that have sufficient sentience to warrant having rights, whether human or animal.


A note on the term "animate" (adjective): derives from the latin anima, which initially refers to wind and the "breath of life" [see also the Greek pneuma. However, the Latin lexicon references animus as "the mind as the seat of thought" and "the rational soul of man".

Algorithms can be rational in the strictest sense, and an entire branch of engineering is based on pneumatics. Although our algorithms use electrical signals, (as opposed to pneumatic computing or hydraulic computing,) what it comes down to is that intelligence requires process, and process requires energy.

Machines convert energy into motion or change, and so humans fit the definition. (William Burroughs referred to us as "soft machines.") If animals can be thought of as machines, why can't machines be thought of as animals?

DNA is a type of encoding, and RNA acts on that code.

The key distinction seems to be the medium in which process exist, where a biological context is used for what we conventionally think of as life. Algorithms merely utilize different mediums (mechanical & electrical) and may exist in different environments such as the digital.


A note on The Soft Machine: In this trilogy, Burroughs describes an elaborate alien reproductive process involving numerous alien species acting as surrogates at various stages in the cycle. (It is a description of a 3-dimensional representation of a higher dimensional process.)

This has precedent in biology where, for instance, the lifecycle of a seed may involve a period inside the digestive system of an animal. Pollination is another example, where a surrogate species plays a critical role. Viruses require host organisms to reproduce and spread.

It's not out of bounds to regard the lifecycle of current active algorithms as involving humans to fill in the capability gaps. Here humans are surrogates in bringing information "to life".

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  • $\begingroup$ In my opinion, your arguments are flawed. You assume that, for example, machine learning algorithms can adapt to their current environment (as opposed to the real living beings, which can adapt to multiple environments), without human intervention or trigger, but this is not true. There must exist a human that commands or programs the computer. If we turned off all the computers in the world, then nothing would happen. How do you explain that we can turn on and off a computer indefinitely? Is the computer resurrecting each time you turn it on, or is it a new computer, or is it just sleeping? $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 13 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ I think it is not necessarily a bad idea to compare computers with living beings, but I think there must be a distinction, in the same way, there is a distinction between airplanes and birds, even though they have something partially in common. In other words, even though computers may possess, at least conceptually, some properties similar to the properties of certain living beings, it doesn't mean they are living beings. $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 13 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ @nbro absolutely. an airplane is just a non-thinking machine, and any AI used in current airplanes would be equivalent, at best, to flatworms or microbial life. We're a long way from active algorithms with anything approaching higher animal sentience, much less human. $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Nov 13 at 1:25
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A definition of life

  1. The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

  2. The characteristic state or condition of a living organism.

Here's another definition

The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.

Yet another definition.

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have died), or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria.

AIs (or, in general, computers) do not have a real metabolism, do not really reproduce, do not respond to stimuli or adapt to new circumstances (that is, circumstances they have not been programmed to deal with). AI does nothing without human intervention or it lacks real autonomy. In other words, if you do not turn the computer on and you do not program it, it really does nothing. A computer is a useful tool that you can use thanks to electricity. You can plug and unplug it indefinitely, but you cannot kill and revive a living being indefinitely.

Even though computers may possess (at least, conceptually) some properties similar to the properties of certain living beings, it does not mean they are living beings. Similarly, airplanes are not birds. Computers are not living beings, but this does not prevent you from drawing a comparison between computers and living beings, provided you are aware of their actual big differences. In fact, many useful AI software is inspired by the behavior of certain living beings or natural processes. For example, ant colony optimization algorithms are based on the behavior of real ants seeking a path between their colony and a source of food.

Here's what (biological) life looks like.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ My main objection here is that AI is not inanimate, but, in fact, animate, even if purely digital (as opposed to physically embodied as a robot. i.e. AI responds to stimuli, and ML algorithms adapt to environment.) $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Nov 12 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ @DukeZhou Animate means alive or having life. I am saying that AI has no life. It does not have a life in a biological sense (no cells, no DNA, etc.). In fact, I can "kill" (unplug) and "revive" (plug) a machine multiple times, which is basically against the definition of life. $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 12 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ I think it is a very big misconception to say that ML reproduce or adapt. Yes, genetic algorithms, in a way, attempt to mimic the natural evolution and reproduction, but this is only a different meaning we (humans) give to the same thing: computation. ML algorithms do not really adapt to new environments other than the ones they have really been programmed (consciously or not, by a human) to work in, as I stated in my answer. In other words, if a machine does something, it is because a human implicitly (or explicitly) and consciously (or not) commanded/programmed it to do it. $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 12 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DukeZhou AI is as animate as any other thing, at this point. You could say a stone is an animate being, a stone is alive because it goes through an evolution (e.g. deterioration), it adapts to new environments (e.g. you throw it in the water and it stays there or moves, depending on the flow) and it eventually becomes something else, smaller stones (reproduction), or something (it dies), but this is ridiculous. What do we need science for, if everyone can make up his own science? This is insanity, in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 12 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ A stone is definitively inanimate, as it cannot take action, only be acted upon. My sense is that this is more of a philosophical question, involving the definition of life. $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Nov 12 at 22:34
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Mind the hardware:

While there are different definitions of what life (synonymously used with 'organism' here (source: Wikipedia: Life) is, e.g.

All types of organisms are capable of reproduction, growth and development, maintenance, and some degree of response to stimuli. (Source: Wikipedia: Organism)

they all have one thing in common: they require physical matter! In contrast, to ask whether AI is alive is comparable to asking whether the human mind is alive. It is per definition not! Therefore, the question needs to be extended to include the hardware. It is rather 'are machines/computers alive' or 'do machines/computers have the potential to be considered alive'?

We are talking about agents and most likely robots:

And more specifically any machine/computer to be potentially considered alive will most likely need to be an agent,as it needs to interact with its environment (see Wikipedia: Intelligent agent for a description of agents in Computer Science).

Also, any potentially intelligent machine/computer needs most likely to be a robot due to the strong emphasis on physical processes, incl. some kind of exchange with the physical environment (perception or manipulation of it), which our common definitions of life carry.

Some requirements for life are easy to fulfill while others are not:

Based on the requirement for life forms to maintain and reproduce their entities any machine/computer to be considered intelligent will need to be able to physically maintain and reproduce, i.e. assemble hardware. If you think of an intelligent robot assembling another robot that might sound to be very far away from reality. However, the definition might include indirect reproduction e.g. using an automated hardware production facility. Certainly this is not the direct reproduction that we know from current living beings but it might be considered an indirect way to reproduce. Which, however, is certainly far away from current reality too.

Similarly you could think of 'maintain' as taking care of the physical need to supply itself with electricity. Any machine with a solar panel easily fulfills this requirement in a similar way plants do.

While machines/computers considered alive do not need to have any artificial intelligence it is an easy way to fulfill the requirement of 'development': Sub-symbolic AI learns from data which is a form of (non-physical, i.e. software-related) development. Just like humans and other animals learn from data that comes in through one of their senses.

Give it time:

To summarize: current machines/computers certainly do not fulfill the requirements usually being considered 'life'. And especially the requirement to (physically) maintain itself and reproduce will be longstanding unfulfilled requirements. However, considering that the homo sapiens has been on this planet for about 150,000 years we might just need to give it more time. It took about 1 billion years for the first living beings to develop on planet earth (see Wikipedia: Earliest known life forms). So it is a bit early to make a call on machines/computers which in the case of computers have been around for not even a century. Let's see where we stand in 1000, 1000000 or 10000000 years from now.

However, the definitions might change anyway:

Moreover, it is important to note that the definition of life is closely built on what we know as current carbon-based life forms. And it could very well be adjusted in the light of machines/computer further developing. For example the aspects of physical reproduction might be one aspect to be dropped (just speculating here). So maybe we do not even need to wait a billion years but might have machines/computers considered 'alive' already in 200 or 500 years. Compared to the time biological life took to develop that would still be very rapid.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your assumption that, by definition, the mind (or brain) is not alive is completely wrong. Your brain can be alive or dead. In general, any of your organs can be alive or dead. For example, the heart can stop (it is dead), but the brain can still function, so, overall, you may still be alive. Your organs are made up of cells, which are the smallest living things. Your perspective, similar to almost any other answer given to this question on this website, is only due to your ignorance of biology and your uncontrollable obsession for technology. $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 13 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ I used the word 'mind' and not 'brain'. Which is an important difference. And you are mixing these terms up. The mind cannot be considered alive without being related to physical matter (particularly the brain). Similarly AI cannot (potentially) being considered alive without relating to hardware. For the same reason: the common definitions of life inherently refer to physical matter. Also, I did not try to say that living beings only have matter in common. But as just explained: all definitions of life relate to physical matter, i.e. it is a necessary condition. $\endgroup$ – Sammy Nov 13 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ Moreover, your comments seems to carry a lot of emotions and are very suggestive regarding my post (i.e. you pretend that your interpretation is what I wrote or meant). That is not helpful. $\endgroup$ – Sammy Nov 13 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ ' There is only a brain, which is your mind.' this has actually been a longstanding discussion in philosophy for the last ~2300 years (read up the mind-body-problem). The most common thinking across different 'new' (new compared to philosophy) fields of science (like biology, psychology and neuroscience) today is that the brain creates the mind. And still the words have a different meaning because the mind is not a physical entity but rather an abstract concept. Just as AI and any piece of software is. It requires hardware to be stored or executed on. $\endgroup$ – Sammy Nov 13 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ I am really aware of this completely useless philosophical debate. If you think that mind is not the brain (or is something more than the brain), then try to kill a brain and let's see if the person still thinks. $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 13 at 16:22
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Any machine with a sufficient level of integrated purpose driven behavior - that exhibits agency in an autopoietic, self-preserving way - will come to be viewed as "alive." Chess programs, not so much; self-driving cars, slightly; simulated robot animals, even more so. It has to do with purpose driven behavior and a richness of multi-domain functionality. The more complex agency it has, the more sympathetic we will be towards it.

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The definition of life for me is a very intelligent and beneficial being. I have not witnessed any AI program that evens comes close to this definition yet. Therefore, based on the evidence that I have at this point in time, I would have to conclude no.

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  • $\begingroup$ There are life forms such as fungi which cannot be defined as intelligent and some like viruses which cannot be described as beneficial. I have to disagree with your definition. $\endgroup$ – Seth Simba Jan 15 '18 at 9:27
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Definitions of what life is usually come from biologists. The problem here is they are usually concerned with the traits common to the forms of life available to their studies, and that those forms of life all have a common origin (and this imposes a statistical bias on the observations).

As we gradually erode the boundaries of the standard definitions of life, by means of creating ever more complex machines and also by harnessing biological material as a form of nanotechnology), it's very likely that at some point in the future our traditional definition of life will need to be updated and further abstracted away from its current reference points (aka the "terroan biota").

A probably better question to ask to decide if something can be considered alive could be "is it self sufficient?" or "can it care for itself and provide for its own needs to some extent?".

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This is one of those things where I think the answer is going to change over time. Today, I don't know anyone who would call any present AI systems "alive". But as the AI's become more intelligent and human-like, I could see the day coming when they will be considered living.

(Sorry for the brief answer--will try to add more depth later.)

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This is Direct Answer to Your Question:--

The matter is controversial, with some established parameters as what constitutes life. An example of an established parameter for being alive is having: cells or reproduction.

It is unclear whether A.I. can create a copy of itself that is independent of its parent. Arguably, partial satisfaction of the aforementioned has already occurred with code that is self-learning.


The Controversy

To begin, there is some controversy surrounding the definition of life in Biology.

" [...] The definition of life has long been a challenge for scientists and philosophers, with many varied definitions put forward. This is partially because life is a process, not a substance. This is complicated by a lack of knowledge of the characteristics of living entities, if any, that may have developed outside of Earth. Philosophical definitions of life have also been put forward, with similar difficulties on how to distinguish living things from the non-living. Legal definitions of life have also been described and debated, though these generally focus on the decision to declare a human dead, and the legal ramifications of this decision. [...] " – Wikipedia contributors. "Life." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 Nov. 2019. Web. 14 Nov. 2019.

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" [...] Of course, this lack of hard boundaries makes 'artificial life,' as a field of study, significantly ill-defined. Unlike the case for natural life, there are, as yet, no clear criteria for what virtual world phenomena should qualify as 'living' or sufficiently 'life-like' to legitimately count as lying within this field. In large measure, this simply reflects the continuing debate and investigation within conventional biology, of what specific organizational (as opposed to material) system characteristics are critical to properly living systems. The key advantage and innovation in artificial life is precisely that it has this freedom to vary and explore possibilities that are difficult or impossible to investigate in natural living systems. In this context, a precise definition of 'life' (natural or artificial) is not a necessary, or even especially desirable condition for progress. [...] " – Banzhaf, Wolfgang, and Barry McMullin. "Artificial life." Handbook of Natural Computing (2012): 1805-1834.

Since there is often debate and sometimes no clear answer in regards to these questions, I shall explore variable stances on these issues.


Philosophical Points to Ponder and Meditate On

These are some examples of points that involve controversy:--

  1. Is a crystal alive?
  2. Is a virus alive?
  3. At what point does a self-learning machine become alive, if it can reproduce and create its own child-offspring A.I?
  4. Do we have a possible resolution to these issues?
  5. How does this resolution relate to artificial intelligence and artificial life?

Some of these questions have no clear answer, never mind involving A.I. into the question.

Do viruses reproduce? Yes. Do they have genetic information? Yes. Do they have cells? No. So are they living? They are usually classified as non-living, yet they can have RNA.

The point is, there is debate as to whether a virus is non-living or living; and it is often unclear what the definition of life is.

(https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-viruses-alive-2004/)


Variable Stances:--

Artificial life researchers study traditional biology by trying to recreate aspects of biological phenomena.

" [...] Important propositions in the philosophy of AI include:

  • Turing's 'polite convention': If a machine behaves as intelligently as a human being, then it is as intelligent as a human being.
  • The Dartmouth proposal: 'Every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.'
  • Newell and Simon's physical symbol system hypothesis: 'A physical symbol system has the necessary and sufficient means of general intelligent action.' Searle's strong AI hypothesis: 'The appropriately programmed computer with the right inputs and outputs would thereby have a mind in exactly the same sense human beings have minds.'
  • Hobbes' mechanism: 'For 'reason' ... is nothing but 'reckoning,' that is adding and subtracting, of the consequences of general names agreed upon for the 'marking' and 'signifying' of our thoughts...' [...] " – Wikipedia contributors. "Philosophy of artificial intelligence." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 Oct. 2019. Web. 14 Nov. 2019.

Sources, References, and Further Reading:--

Other Links:--


Notes:--

  • I could not find much information regarding business applications of artificial life.
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  • $\begingroup$ Viruses need a host organism to replicate. When you ponder whether a virus is a living being, you're just shifting the definition of the smallest living thing from a cell to RNA or DNA, which has nothing to do with computers. However, autonomy is usually a necessary property to call something a living being. $\endgroup$ – nbro Nov 14 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ Viruses probably aren't living. $\endgroup$ – Tautological Revelations Nov 14 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. It has been a long time since I asked the question. When I had asked the question, I used to be in high school. Now I'm an undergrad. I have learnt more about the definition of life and I think this paper (taught in my college a few days back) is the easiest and perhaps most comprehensive definition of life-science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/295/5563/2215.full.pdf (science.sciencemag.org/content/295/5563/2215) $\endgroup$ – tatan Nov 14 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ Let's focus on improving my answer. The PICERAS principle could be written into a separate answer. It could also be edited into my answer. Best wishes. $\endgroup$ – Tautological Revelations Nov 14 at 18:49

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