Friday, August 19, 2005

intelligent design and AI...

first let me say that I admire Bush. I admire the money, power, and influence he has. I admire his ability to lead a team and motivate, despite his all too human imperfections. what I don't admire is the policies and ideas that he promotes. oftentimes they are just wrong. if only he had put his pandering talents to good use! his remarks about teaching 'intelligent design' in schools is a good example. an article in the May 30 New Yorker describes pretty well "why intelligent design isn't"... basically there's no science to back it up. read the article first if you want to disagree with me.

so evolution (a very well tested and established theory) is the answer. what are scientists doing with it? I've been reading pretty awesome stuff about artificial life - philosophy and computing intermix to show where our real future may lie. Tom Ray is one of the pioneers in this area who has gone quite far in creating "virtual life" which at some point is equivalent to what the dictionary constitues "life".

in "Recent Developments in Biologically Inspired Computing"
by Leandro Nunes de Castro and Fernando J. Von Zuben states:

according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, life is:

“The state of a material complex or individual characterized by the capacity to perform certain functional activities including metabolism, growth, reproduction, and some form of responsiveness or adaptability.”

Life is seen as the result of a complex material organization that performs some specific tasks. Such a definition does not say anything about this organization; it only considers life as a cluster of properties (growth, self-reproduction …). Such definitions are common. In the field of artificial life, the most famous cluster definition is that of Farmer and Belin, who selected eight criteria (Farmer & Belin, 1992, p. 818):

Life is a pattern in space-time.


Information storage of a self-representation.


Functional interactions with the environment.

Interdependence of parts.

Stability under perturbations.

Ability to evolve.

Ray’s results have been sufficiently impressive to give rise to comments such as:

“From a purely logical point of view, the barrier between life and artificial life seemed to have come down: the universality of life was proven” (Adami, 1998, p. 49).

C. Emmeche examined Ray’s creatures according to Farmer and Belin’s eight criteria (Emmeche, 1994, pp. 43-46):

Ray’s creatures are information structures rather than material objects.

They are able to self-reproduce.

They have self-representation.

They have some kind of metabolism since they redistribute some of the computer’s electrical energy.

They have functional interactions with their environment.

Their components are mutually interdependent and they can die.

They are stable in their environment.

They can evolve.

According to Emmeche, only the properties 2 (self-reproduction is essentially formal; it does not consume any “matter”), 4 (is it reasonable to consider alterations of electromagnetic states as a metabolism?) and 7 (the considered stability is very weak) are not fully satisfied.

The question here is not to say that Ray’s creatures are “quite living,” but to point out that such a construction satisfies many of the intuitive properties of life.

Adami, C. (1998). Introduction to artificial life. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Emmeche, C. (1994). The garden in the machine. The emerging science of artificial life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Farmer, J., & Belin, A. (1992). Artificial life: The coming evolution. In C.G.Langton (Ed.), Artificial life II (pp. 815-840). Redwood City: Addison-Wesley.

so man is the intelligent designer. reminds me of Genesis 1:27 - "God made man in his image". they didn't teach this when I went to school!