Astrobiologists, amongst other biological scientists, have not yet settled on a standard definition for what they consider to be life; this is because there are so many loopholes and exceptions to each new definition-theory that we come up with. To a FAR lesser degree it is almost like trying to come up with a standard definition of a hamburger. Is it two separate bread buns with a beef patty in the center? What about protein style at In-N-Out where the buns are replaced by a lettuce wrap? Veggie burgers don’t use beef patties. Then there are some people out there that would consider a hot dog to be a variation on a hot dog, which would mean the “two separate bread buns” definition is out. I think “life” should be sort of an umbrella term for all things that, through time, develop under a sort of Darwinian evolution.
According to this this theory, computer software would be an example of life, but it wouldn’t be the same category of life that biological organisms would be in. I also believe that both single cellular and multicellular organisms can be considered life, but wouldn’t really be in the same category. Why go through the trouble of defining life as an umbrella term for things like machines? I may be wrong, but I believe the point of narrowing down on a definition of life is so that we can determine whether other planets are inhabited by other life. Just like we discussed in class, computer software is applicable to Darwinian evolution because it may change the way it acts based on our preferences and it protects itself against the ever-changing computer viruses.
Just because a computer is man made out of metals, plastics, and silicone doesn’t mean it can’t be considered life. The artificial intelligence being created today is almost good enough to pass the Turing Test. The Turing Test is done with two humans and a machine that runs on artificial intelligence. One of the humans (the test subject) is meant to interact with the machine and another human. The machine is then said to have passed the test if the test subject cannot clearly determine which is the human and which is the machine. If a machine can fool a human into thinking that it is itself human, how can we not say that it is alive? The greatest argument towards this is the way that biological life on earth stores and processes information, which would be another form of life. The difference is that biological life stores and processes digital information with the behavior of RNA and DNA. Computers store information in the form of 1’s and 0’s process it differently than that of biological life, which is the greatest argument against why computers cannot be considered life.
In one of our readings, one of the earlier definitions or theories of life is whether or not the organism or object could display life-like behaviors, which I think can be relevant to what I believe life to be. One hundred years ago, if people were to talk to advanced artificial intelligence today, they would be absolutely stunned to realize that they weren’t speaking to a human; and one hundred, or likely less, years from now, there will be artificial intelligence that would easily fool us. Many people may disagree with a definition of life that includes computers, but what they can’t disagree with is that computers are nevertheless a bio-signature. We can always narrow down our search to the definition of life, but what would we really have to gain from the definition of which we can never be completely sure of?