Links Sort by: Hits | Alphabetical

Artificial life (often abbreviated ALife or A-Life[1]) is a field of study and an associated art form which examine systems related to life, its processes, and its evolution through simulations using computer models, robotics, and biochemistry.[2] The discipline was named by Christopher Langton, an American computer scientist, in 1986.[3] There are three main kinds of alife,[4] named for their approaches: soft,[5] from software; hard,[6] from hardware; and wet, from biochemistry. Artificial life imitates traditional biology by trying to recreate some aspects of biological phenomena.[7] The term "artificial intelligence" is often used to specifically refer to soft alife. Artificial life studies the logic of living systems in artificial environments. The goal is to study the phenomena of living systems in order to come to an understanding of the complex information processing that defines such systems. Also sometimes included in the umbrella term Artificial Life are agent based systems which are used to study the emergent properties of societies of agents. While life is, by definition, alive, artificial life is generally referred to as being confined to a digital environment and existence. The modeling philosophy of alife strongly differs from traditional modeling, by studying not only life-as-we-know-it, but also life-as-it-might-be.[9] In the first approach, a traditional model of a biological system will focus on capturing its most important parameters. In contrast, an alife modeling approach will generally seek to decipher the most simple and general principles underlying life and implement them in a simulation. The simulation then offers the possibility to analyse new, different lifelike systems. Red'ko proposed to generalize this distinction not just to the modeling of life, but to any process. This led to the more general distinction of "processes-as-we-know-them" and "processes-as-they-could-be" [10] At present, the commonly accepted definition of life does not consider any current alife simulations or softwares to be alive, and they do not constitute part of the evolutionary process of any ecosystem. However, different opinions about artificial life's potential have arisen: The strong alife (cf. Strong AI) position states that "life is a process which can be abstracted away from any particular medium" (John von Neumann). Notably, Tom Ray declared that his program Tierra is not simulating life in a computer but synthesizing it. The weak alife position denies the possibility of generating a "living process" outside of a chemical solution. Its researchers try instead to simulate life processes to understand the underlying mechanics of biological phenomena.