Talk:Artificial life

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Archive (2003-2006), Archive (2007)

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 20 August 2020 and 23 November 2020. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Jnmasur, Jgus716, AsherJ22.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 14:48, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Telling questions[edit]

Is artificial life possible?[edit]

Is artificial life possible? I say it is. I think there will be man-made / manufactured / synthesized objects which are truly alive. Some here have said that such life will not be called "artificial life" but "life". I agree they will be truly alive and deny what those who wish to drop the moniker "artificial" must think "artificial" means: They think it means "not really". Not it doesn't! It means "not naturally occurring". Artificial life will one day exist. What say you? Paul Beardsell 07:35, 13 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The reason that "artificial" will be dropped is because we will come to see no difference, other than the superficial, that is, substrate. In the end, life is life, whatever its origin. William R. Buckley 20:33, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I really wish that this will be the case. But note how the newspapers continue to insist on reporting the race group membership of everyone. There will of course be good reasons to discriminate. Likely at med school doctors will be taught different techniques for different chemical substrates. Paul Beardsell 20:51, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let the bigots speak loudly and often, that the rest of us will know them well. William R. Buckley 07:18, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am being obviously disingenuous here: My real question is what do we mean by "artificial life" when we ask if it is possible. Of course "the study of a.l." is possible. The questions asks if the beasties will ever be manufactured. Paul Beardsell 10:17, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dear Paul, Look at the definition for artificial life: studies systems related to life, its processes, and its evolution through simulations using computer models, robotics, and biochemistry. A mechanical simulator does not have vital biochemical processes. Calling it X-life life does not vest it with it. BatteryIncluded (talk) 03:32, 13 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Can anybody define the exact border between "living" and "dead" ? when u can say ur program, component, robo or anything is Alive? Mketkar —Preceding undated comment was added at 08:58, 2 February 2009 (UTC).Reply[reply]
In life I believe the requirements involve something with genetics, cells, evolution, reproduction, response to stimulus, motion, and growth. In which case software can't be alive by definition since it doesn't involve cells. But the thing with life is that it's a gray process from purely abiotic processes to increasingly complex biotic processes. Something like fire can exhibit lifelike processes, but most of us wouldn't say fire as alive. So basically life is pretty subjective, and depending on your definition will either never be achieved outside biology, or has already been achieved in computers. --Numsgil (talk) 06:43, 4 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What does the phrase "artificial life itself" refer to?[edit]

Another telling question exposing the meaning of the term "artificial life": What does the phrase "artificial life itself" refer to? Paul Beardsell 00:51, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In regards to what? Where are you lifting the phrase from? --Numsgil 04:06, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I lift it from nowhere. It's called English. What do you think is meant by the phrase "artificial life itself"? Paul Beardsell 07:25, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm really confused. Your first paragraph asks if artificial life is possible at all. You respond to yourself with a question of the meaning of a phrase. Seems non sequiter to me. You're asking what is meant from the phase in general? Well, following your non sequiter, I'd say that since itself is a reflexive pronoun used primarily as the direct object of sentences, the meaning is unclear given that you present it as a sentence fragment. It could be part of the sentence: "The dog began learning artificial life itself, without my help at all!" or "Will you learn some chaos theory, or only artificial life itself?" etc. So again, in regards to what? What context are you asking about? --Numsgil 08:25, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is usual to present separate ideas in separate paragraphs. As to which of your two contexts I am asking about, it is the latter. As I have used it and I think you have read it elsewhere on this page: "The study of artificial life" as opposed to "artificial life itself". I am sure you recognise I am trying to undermine your assertion that the study of Artificial Life is not actually about artificial life, i.e. artificial life itself, artificial life forms. Just as I would insist that Numsgil is Numsgil himself, and not the study of Numsgil, however puzzling he may be. Paul Beardsell 10:17, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh.  ;) --Numsgil 11:24, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is the study of non-naturally occurring life a subset of the domain of the discipline ALife?[edit]

An easy proof that it is not a subset would be finding one example. The best done so far is HAL 9000. If it is alive then it is a legitimate study of ALife researchers. If not, then it still might be as it may have interesting components relevant to ALife research. But, as it is not alive, then it does not falsify the proposition. I note that Numsgil disagrees with the proposition and uses HAL 9000 as an example to illustrate his disagreement. He says HAL is nothing to do with ALife BECAUSE it is an example of AI. (See next section.) But he denies HAL is alive anyway so no contest. Paul Beardsell 06:54, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

When did I say HAL wasn't alive? You wouldn't happen to be glossing over my posts, would you? --Numsgil 07:29, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You said HAL was alive? If you did I apologise for misrepresenting your view but thank you for the opportunity to make this point (again): HAL is not naturally occurring and therefore is artificial: HAL, if it is alive, is therefore an example of an artificial life form. By definition and tautology. But you have stated that HAL would not be properly the subject of alife (study). I understood you to have meant that HAL is artificially intelligent but not alife (form, example of). Clarification of your view is needed here. Paul Beardsell 23:23, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You come so close to understanding what I'm saying, but you shy away from it. HAL is an artificial life form whose study does not fall within the bounds of Artificial Life. Neither wet, soft, or hard (see article revision I just made for definition of those terms). --Numsgil 06:28, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
All artificial life falls within the bounds of Artificial Life. You yourself say so, elsewhere. Paul Beardsell 06:49, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I say that if an entity is alive and if it is not naturally occurring then it is (a) artificial and (b) life by definition and tautology respectively. As ALife is the study of the components and systems necessary for artificial life (bottom up) and is (or will be) of the beasties themselves (top down) then it seems that all (putative) artificial life (forms) are legitimate targets of research by ALIfe researchers. Indeed, I'm sure all or most ALIfe researchers would jump at the chance. Paul Beardsell 06:54, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Where are you getting your definition of Artificial Life from? It seems oddly incongruent from every [definition] I've ever seen. It's really easy to win a game when you make up your own rules, isn't it? --Numsgil 07:29, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I deny I am doing this. The position we are now at, the position we seem to agree on, however many hoops we have been forced to jump through, is: The study of artificial life (forms) is a subset of the domain of alife research. Correct? Paul Beardsell 23:28, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nope. Neither is a subset of the other. --Numsgil 06:28, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Here you go again. Either you contradict yourself or you redefine the word "include". You said the domain of alife (research) includes the study of alife (forms). Paul Beardsell 06:51, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is HAL 9000 alive?[edit]

Is a body which is intelligent also alive? Not necessarily, I suggest. And is something which is alive also intelligent. No. But does the fact that a body is artificial and also intelligent preclude it from being alive? No. If artificially alive entities are the legitimate study of ALife researchers (and name me one other than Numsgil who says they're not [or won't be when they exist]) then the presence of intelligence by the artificially alive body will not preclude interest from ALife researchers.

Paul Beardsell 06:54, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

When did I say that artificially alive entities aren't the study of Alife? Replicating nanobots would meet this criteria I think. --Numsgil 07:46, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would say that something is alive if its death can elicit empathy from a human audience. It's not a scientific definition, I know, but I think it can be a practical one for exploring synthetic life. --Numsgil 08:10, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When HAL 9000 was systematically disabled by that inferior carbon based life form, light hydraulic oil leaked from the corner of my left Zeiss lens. Paul Beardsell 22:32, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is Creatures?[edit]

Is Creatures artificial life? Or just a simulation of artificial life? Or a tool of ALife research?

Paul Beardsell 07:00, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Potentially all three, potentially none, depending on how you're defining things. Do you need to be involved in a published article to be a tool for research? --Numsgil 07:18, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was wondering what your motivation was to including a screen shot of something that was an example of artificial life (you admit this is potentially true in the preceding paragraph) if, as you claim, the domain of ALife research does not include artificial life (forms). Paul Beardsell 07:21, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I never said that the domain of ALife research does not include artificial life (forms). Perhaps you should try reading what I write from time to time. Might move the discussion along. --Numsgil 07:31, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is you who are evidently not in touch with what you yourself have written! You flip flop on the issue of whether the study of artificial life (forms) is a subset of the domain of ALife research. This above para is the 5th time. The only explanation I can come up with for this is that English words mean exactly what you want them to mean at the time and this changes word by word over time to suit your purpose. E.g. I anticipate that you are about to tell us "include", above, means something other than the common meaning. Paul Beardsell 22:45, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Neither is a subset of the other. I said that there was overlap. Overlap does not imply proper inclusion of one within the other. --Numsgil 06:28, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It has been difficult to ascertain your position. But you used the word "include". Subset. Paul Beardsell 06:58, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This falls in the realm of "put up or shut up". If you believe I am waffling on my position, please quote two instances where I contradict myself. I'll then either agree that I'm waffling, or explain how you've misinterpreted me. It's all on this page, in black and white. Shouldn't be too hard to find, right ;) --Numsgil 10:27, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You make me feel like a bully with your "hit me, hit me" taunts. I pull my punches: Numsgil 13 Jan: "Artificial life the field of study DOES NOT study artificial life forms." Numsgil 18 Jan: "I never said that the domain of ALife research does not include artificial life (forms)." Paul Beardsell 11:30, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My full quote is "Artificial life the field of study DOES NOT study artificial life forms. Supposing you took the strong ALife position, you could say that the agents that alife the field studies are artificial life forms, but that doesn't mean that all or even most of the imaginable synthetic life is studied by artificial life the field. Also, alife the field studies phenomenon that are not alive, no matter how you define life. Things such as genetic algorithms and artificial chemistries are not "alive", or even claimed to be alive." From context it's clear that I meant that Artificial Life does not focus on the study of synthetic life, more than that I meant that the field will never study synthetic life.
By way of analogy, Biology does not study cryptids, though once the cryptid is discovered to actually exist, it becomes the subject of biological study. --Numsgil 11:43, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Now that I think on it, I think the more proper analogy would be between cryptozoology and discovered cryptids, though I'm not sure. This is a complex issue, and I'm at a loss for a good metaphor! --Numsgil 11:56, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In light of the above I intend to change the introductory paragraph of the article to say that ALife includes the study of artificial life (forms) as well as their constituent components and systems. Paul Beardsell 22:45, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

When artificial life forms are widely agreed to exist, will ALife researchers refrain from studying them?[edit]

Artificial life researchers do not refrain from studying things which are alive any more than they refrain from studying things which are not alive. So, to answer your question, no. Which is what I've meant when I said that Artificial Life does not concern itself with wether what it studies is alive or not. --Numsgil 11:51, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is the name of the field studying components and systems useful in building towards artificial life (forms)?[edit]

Synthetic biology --Numsgil 11:48, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Which is a subset of Artificial Life (the study of). See below. Paul Beardsell 12:05, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What is the name of the field working now on building artificial life (forms)?[edit]

synthetic biology primarily. And they're the only ones that are really even close --Numsgil 11:49, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Which is (or is a subset of) Artificial Life (the study of). See below. Paul Beardsell 12:06, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Definition of ALife[edit]

ALife is the study of the components and systems necessary for artificial life and is (or will be, as soon as they are available) the study of the artificial life forms themselves. Discuss. Paul Beardsell 07:03, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Enough said (and please read all four definitions fully). --Numsgil 07:14, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And see also here and here. You have already agreed that no one can claim exlusivity on the meaning of a phrase. Paul Beardsell 07:18, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thumbs up.JPG + Nails.jpg != Thumbnail. It's called a compound word. --Numsgil 07:36, 18 January 2007 (UTC) Also, I never claimed that no one can claim exclusivity on the meaning of a phrase. There are plenty of words with only one definition. Such as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. What I said was the no usage of a word should steal validity from another use. Meaning that word usage isn't a zero sum game. Do not take this to mean that all usages should be treated equally, however. --Numsgil 08:07, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes! But it has been you started of by saying there is no way you would consider the alife (forms) being covered on this page. Even though you have now resiled from the position that alife (study) and alife (forms) are not related, even though you now concede (at times) that the study of alife (forms) is a subset of the domain of alife (study), you continue to resist this. Paul Beardsell 22:49, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Synthetic Life and Biology[edit]

This is primarily aimed towards Paul. This article describes something very interesting. I'd say that's a closer mark to what you think Artificial Life is, right? --Numsgil 10:24, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A follow up, this article from NOVA confuses things to no end. They clearly aren't talking about Artificial Life, but artificial life. They also use "synthetic life" in places. Just trying to show some good faith ;) --Numsgil 10:40, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am not arguing that alife (forms) should not be addressed or even overviewed on the same page that documents alife (study). You are. Even though you now concede that alife (forms) are part of what is (or will be) the subject of alife (study). Paul Beardsell 22:53, 18 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Simulated reality[edit]

I've moved the see also to simulated reality to synthetic life, since it would seem to have very little to do with the present field of study, and a little more to do with the life forms which are artificial. --Numsgil 05:56, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Doesn't this lead to need for finding the needle-in-the-haystack, when looking to navigate between topics? This method seems a bit like having links between leaves, and drill-down above the leaves, which drill-down does not include cross-linking of topic hierarchy. I get the degree of relatedness issue but am concerned with freedom of flow between topics, without the concomitant need for Wikipedia readers to know the hierarchy a priori. William R. Buckley 16:49, 21 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My (Numsgil's) Position on synthetic life and artificial life[edit]

I don't have alot of time, so I'm just going to write this here, at the end, since this is the subject of so much confusion.

1. The domain of what Artificial Life studies and what could possibly be called synthetic life overlap, but neither is entirely contained within the other.

A. An example of an overlap would be artificial cells created through synthetic biology.
B. An example of Artificial Life only would be genetic algorithms.
C. An example of synthetic life only could be a bodiless AI, such as HAL from 2001 a Space Odyssey.

2. Partly due to the above, and partly because otherwise the article would be too long, Artificial Life and synthetic life need two seperate articles. 3. Also partly because synthetic life would be at the moment an article primarily on philosophy, and Artificial Life is primarily a grounded hard science, the two belong in seperate articles. 3. A disambiguation link at the top of both articles makes more sense than a dedicated disambiguation page, since it's unlikely that another article needing the artificial life namespace will occurr anytime soon. 4. The artificial life namespace should belong to Artificial Life instead of synthetic life, partly because Artificial Life seems to be the more common usage (I can do some work to verify this if people think it's worthwhile to do so). 5. The synthetic life article should remain at synthetic life because it better allows for a crossover to the synthetic biology article (when synthetic life is created, it will probably first be from work done in synthetic biology. See NOVA site I linked eariler)

I will begin work on expanding both Artificial Life and synthetic life to encorporate some sources, but such work shouldn't conflict too heavily with the outcome of this discussion. --Numsgil 06:12, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

For your POV it to be reflected to the exclusion of other POV's in the article breaks the WP NPOV policy. Paul Beardsell 06:54, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"All Wikipedia articles must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and without bias all significant views that have been published by a reliable source." Thus we must present both Weak and Strong alife philosophy, especially in the intro, to be fair to both. And we need to start including sources. If you don't like mine, find your own! --Numsgil 10:30, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A partial statement of Paul Beardsell's views on what should be in the artificial life article[edit]

(i) There is no difference between synthetic life (forms) and artificial life (forms). If HAL is alive then he is both artificial and synthetic. If he is not an example of synthetic life, then he is not an example of artificial life either. HAL is portrayed as a conscious computer. Whether or not that makes him alive I am undecided about, and affects nothing I have said on this talk page one iota.

I would agree with your first premise. Artificial life (forms) and synthetic life are synonyms, used totally interchangably. --Numsgil 10:27, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(ii)All artificial life (forms) are in the domain of Artificial Life (study). That does not mean everything in that domain is alive, far from it. Nevertheless, ALife researchers would be fighting amongst each other to get their hands on examples of artificial life (forms) (or, equivalently, synthetic life (forms)). In so doing they would not consider themselves to be changing their field of research.

Are we talking Artificial Life as it could be, or the state of the field this very moment? An important distinction I think. --Numsgil 10:27, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Some say there are already examples of artificial life! Those researchers into artificial life who say this are not standing by the sidelines inviting other disciplines in, nor are they re-printing their business cards. But it makes no difference. Fermat's Last Theorem was in the domain of mathematics before it was proved. DNA was in the realm of molecular biology (and other fields) before the structure was determined. There are countless examples. Another: Those studying manned flight before the Wright brothers got off the ground would never have claimed that examples of manned flight were outside their domain of study. Manned flight was their goal. And, by analogue, researchers into artificial life ... Paul Beardsell 11:10, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Then you're talking about Artificial Life as it could be, right? --Numsgil 11:43, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Another angle on this: (And this is another "telling question".) What is the name of the field of study which studies components and systems useful in working towards artificial life (forms), and which is working towards building artificial life (forms)? Paul Beardsell 11:10, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
And this, quoting William (earlier on this page): As Christopher G. Langton stated at the first alife conference, which I attended, alife is the study of life as we know it within the LARGER context of life as it might be. As it might be! Paul Beardsell 11:15, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Artificial Life as Langton invisioned it, and Artificial Life as it exists today aren't quite the same. The field of study which studies components and systems used in working towards artificial life (forms) is actually synthetic biology. --Numsgil 11:45, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This distinction may have emerged from alife in the thirty years since inception of the field. A telling point would be the inclusion of mechanisms beyond those of protein and nucleic acid chemistry. These two postulated forms of synthetic biology are very different, no? William R. Buckley 17:36, 21 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(iii) Just as mathematics (itself) and (the study of) mathematics are addressed at mathematics in overview (and there are numerous other similar WP examples), so should artificial life (itself) and (the study of) artificial life be addressed in overview at artificial life.

Paul Beardsell 09:20, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the current state of the article.[edit]

I am happy, as Paul notes, with what I produced. I do want to get the generalisation contained in Jay's copy, respecting the variety of models, soft, hard, and wet. I like the capitalisation note. I do not want to change the form. I will continue to discuss the content. Paul, don't be so quick to throw out an improvement just because it is buried in other text that you do not like. We now agree on what the subject is (the field, its subject matter, any products produced - examples of living beings of other than natural origin), we can find a way to agree on article structure. Mine is just a suggestion. By WP rules, it would seem the vote of 2 to 1 restricts direct contravening alteration. That does not mean that discussion is out. Jay, let me see how we can keep comity. William R. Buckley 07:29, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm unsure what improvement I have discarded which you think should be kept. Please, edit boldly! Also, whereas I have sometimes thought agreement is close, I do not see unanimous agreement on a central issue: What is in the domain of ALife research? Paul Beardsell 08:58, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Apparently someone else understood my argument, for the soft, hard, and wet are back in the opening paragraph. All in all, I think the progress is good. There is debate, even heated, without a lot of acrimony. I think you guys (Paul and Jay) are a bit too argumentative but, you have also shown moments of comity. That is what we should have, comity, so that agreements can be made, and so that others later will not be so quick to undo our work. William R. Buckley 18:53, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The first paper I had published was written together with James R. Hauser, a physics professor of mine at CalPoly SLO. I was then a student of the department, and he was a tenure-tracked assistant or associate professor. Jim was a very smart man, and perhaps the best mentor I ever had - and this is not to deny any similar praise I might give to Bruce Weber, formerly of CalState Fullerton. But I digress. The point is that Jim and I spent over two years writing, and rewriting, battling over wording and content. The result was a very fine piece of writing, which became the cover story of the publication in which it appeared. Moral: The quality of the output is related to the quality of the input, and enemies can't work together. William R. Buckley 18:53, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you look carefully at my edit, what I was doing was including a reference, which hitherto has been a mythological entity! I would suggest that we start to bring references into the article. If we have opinions, there should be valid references to them, right? The hard, soft, and wet description was pulled straight from the reference I added into the opening paragraph. The reference was an eye opener for me, and should probably be so for you (plural) as well. The definition I used was a combination of those from's, which itself pulls from about 2 or 3 different dictionaries. Nothing I added was POV, quite the contrary. It was purposely ambigous and all referenced. Can you say the same? --Numsgil 10:27, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As to your question, if you read this article (or even just skim the sub topics) it gives a very reasonable overview of what ALife research is up to. And this way you get a reference and avoid the problems of artificial labels ;) Especially read "Box 2", which is a list of the emphasis of modern ALife research, which pretty much sums up my understanding of the field. --Numsgil 10:57, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, now I get to complain (if only in jest). What the hell happened to my capital L? In the Bedau paper referenced by Numsgil, we have the construction
"Artificial life (also known as ‘ALife’) ..."
So, again I ask, where is my capital L? William R. Buckley 18:42, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I wasn't sure how to handle this. I've seen Alife, ALife, and alife all used by various people at various times. I would say that ALife is probably the "most" correct, but I think alife and Alife are more common (ALife looks weird, I think). It seemed odd to me to do something like: "also known as ALife, Alife or alife", since the only difference is capitalization. The opening sentence is already overly complex I think, I'll try to slim it down. If you can think of an elegant way to address this point, that would be great. I was writing at like 4 in the morning, so my mind was a little soft ;) --Numsgil 05:53, 20 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As suggested, only in jest. Well, probably, anyway. I do agree that ALife, Alife, alife, and Artificial Life is a bit long ... worded. It is bad enough to see the list of the alternatives. Perhaps a note about various capitalisations for the first two letters of the compound word, and this as a footnote. Do we get to include footnotes in WP? What is written is probably the best of alternatives (save that footnote), so long as we stay consistent. In looking at the lower half of the article, I notice one sentence that include ALife. I am all for simplification, even to the exclusion of a label that does get used in the field. So, at the very least, we should bury a note about the various expressions of the name. Of course, readers should be sufficiently flexible that ALife would not cause mental discomfort. William R. Buckley 05:58, 21 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A footnote seems an excellent idea. I've seen them done in other articles before. I'll try to figure out how to set something up. --Numsgil 21:59, 21 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Synthetic biology and (the study of) artificial life[edit]

We're told that there is no difference between "synthetic life" and "artificial life". The "study of life" is called "biology". "Synthetic biology" is then the "study of artificial life", which is (or, if you like and for the sake of argument, is part of**), "Artificial Life (study)". Therefore "synthetic biology" and "Artificial Life (the study of)" are the same. (From **: Or, possibly, "synthetic biology" is part of "Artificial Life (the study of)". When asked what the name of the field is which studies something is called and the answer given is X, and X is a subset of Y, then Y is also a correct answer. Paul Beardsell 12:03, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Numsgil kindly provided this ref.

The only issue in your reasoning is at the end when you say that "the study of artificial life" is (or is part of) Artificial Life. This seems to be a semantic argument instead of one based on evidence. To be honest, my understanding is that synthetic biology could have been considered part of (wet) Alife by Alife advocates, but that those involved in synthetic biology prefer to distance themselves from Alife. Why don't you tell the people on the synthetic biology page that they are just a subset of Artificial Life, and see how they take it? --Numsgil 12:16, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you read through the articles, and watch the clip, from that NOVA site, you'll find a conspicous absence of any reference to Artificial Life (ie: the field). --Numsgil 12:17, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Search this site for the phrase "synthetic biology". The problem with claiming that the attempt to create synthetic life is a proper subset of the field of Artificial Life is that those attempting to synthesize life don't think so! --Numsgil 12:23, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This appears to be the main site for synthetic biology. Haven't been able to find a reference for Artificial Life yet... --Numsgil 12:26, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If I had to guess, I'd say what's likely to happen is that "wet" alife will entirely be absorbed into synthetic biology, because that's where the grants and research journals are that potential wet Alife-ers are going to want to use. Artificial Life will eventually be 100% synonymous with in-silico. Just my impression anyway. --Numsgil 12:30, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Just wondering why it's being called "Alife"? Did one of the editors come up with it or is that actually the common usage? I bring this up because Artificial Intelligence is not called "Aintelligence", so it seems strange to be calling it "Alife".

It should be called Artificial Life unless other people actually refer to is as "Alife".

In my humble opinion. =-)

Lordvolton 20:54, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have seen it been called ALife. The most obvious reference I can think of are the annual conferences by the International Society of Artificial Life. ALife X was the most recent. You can check out [1] --Numsgil 15:12, 8 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It really is referred to as ALife all over the place including in print. If you abbreviated to AL it could be misread as AI and not many people would guess at what the L stood for. MattOates (Ulti) 14:23, 22 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, as the field is becoming more and more familiar with laypersons, the acronym AL is becoming recognisable, too. William R. Buckley 18:12, 22 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Image Change[edit]

Is there any reason why we have removed the image of Creatures replaced by Braitenberg vehicles. imho Creatures has as much or more technology and relevance to alife than Braitenberg. If Braitenberg is mentioned in this article, stuff like Conway's Game of Life should also be given a mention! Is there not room for more images and maybe even a gallery in this article? MattOates (Ulti) 08:33, 12 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi everyone. I changed the image because it has a fair use license, which i don't think is acceptable on this article because the article is not about Creatures (the game) but about something related to it. We should try to strive for as many free images as possible accompanying the articles. I tried searching for a good free alternative and the Braitenberg image seemed like a nice alternative, however, if you have another image (such as Conway's Game of Life, of which there is certainly some kind of free image for available), please feel free to change it or add it. Huskyoog.jpg Husky (talk page) 00:13, 13 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It would be nice to have several images which change with every load. Is such a mechanism available? The topic is broad, and the images should be representative thereof. William R. Buckley 02:33, 13 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't think so. However, you could make a collage of some photographs, such as done for the accompanying image for the article Religion. Otherwise, i think Conway's Game of Life would make a good candidate for a single image. Huskyoog.jpg Husky (talk page) 13:41, 13 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Links to 'artificial intelligence' in other Wikipedias[edit]

It seems to me that the numerous links to pages in other language Wikipedias which relate to 'artificial intelligence' and not 'artificial life' (added by robots?) are not correct and should be removed. I have fixed the Esperanto one by creating an article for A-life in the Esperanto Wikipedia and changed the link. Can others do similar with other links, or delete them if inappropriate? Do other people agree? Bofoc Tagar 14:47, 1 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clean up content[edit]

Hey everyone, I think this article could do with a real clean up, and present some hard factual information, instead of the very subjective and spurious content that is presented currently. There is a lot of POV towards alife being some ephemeral field devoid of any relation to AI when this is really not the case. Alife is based upon current research in scruffy bottom up AI, and the current comment that AI is traditionaly top down is complete nonsense, that was true 50 years ago! The include of the list page is really horrible and makes the article feel very bitty, I suggest we just put a link to the article as with Digital organism. I would appreciate some discussion about what should be in this main article on alife as I've started to do some edits that could be controversial already ;) If anyone has some nice references to seminal papers in the field please post some {{cite}} blocks here. Thanks MattOates (Ulti) 21:02, 20 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wet alife needs its own article[edit]

There is little genuine overlap between computer alife and wet alife. Wet alife needs its own article.--SallyForth123 05:41, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree, and it does have its own article :] Wet alife MattOates (Ulti) 07:14, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

More often?[edit]

Quoting the article:

"Program-based (section)

These contain organisms with a complex DNA language, usually Turing complete. This language is more often in the form of a computer program than actual biological DNA."

Are there any cases where it is not in the form of a computer program?

Wanderer57 (talk) 20:07, 1 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sure you can use trees or lists of tokens/objects/functions similar to genetic programming. However, I think we should change the wording to "most often" or just "are often" to improve the grammar. Possibly drop the tight relation to DNA, DNA does not work like a formal language giving out commands, this should be made explicitly clear instead of just saying it's not biological DNA. MattOates (Ulti) (talk) 09:06, 2 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Chris Langton, Richard Dawkins and Artificial Life[edit]

Larry Yaeger and I discussed the historical context of this article in the News section of;

With regards to the omission of Richard Dawkins, Chris Langton and a historical overview of the field. Also with the difficulty maintaining Jeffrey Ventrella and his related work. Hats off to Numsgil for his work to-date and I continue to make pleas for folks in the artificial life community to make needed changes to this article. I just wanted to note the discussion here and also thank all those who are working to improve this entry. --Barbalet (talk) 10:41, 10 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

An obvious observation.[edit]

In regards to biological life, regardless of how that life comes into being it is not artificial life.-- (talk) 06:09, 30 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your observation is not particularly interesting, or important. William R. Buckley (talk) 12:49, 31 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tag is in the wrong place![edit]

The current tag says the "article may confuse some readers, so check the talk." In fact, the article is clear and well written, it's the talk that's a confusing mess. Editors that are fine writers and have done a great job on the article itself, were quibbling about semantics thereafter. I'd remove the article tag, the hair splitting on semantics has done nothing to damage the article itself. Anyone agree or disagree? Additional note: the field has been significantly updated since this article, and an outstanding overview can be found in The Allure of Machinic Life: Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New AI by John Johnston. Phoenixthebird (talk) 01:17, 1 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also, going over the tone of some of the discussions suggests one of the "5 pillars" -- WP:Civility Phoenixthebird (talk) 03:01, 1 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"commonly Alife or alife" - citation needed, really?[edit]

It's in the 1986 paper. 3rd word. Although it was admittedly spelt "A-life" there. Also, the website for the International Society of Artificial Life is --TSeeker (talk) 07:41, 9 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


See Talk:Synthetic_life#Contradiction -- (talk) 04:55, 26 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In the "Software-Based" section of the article, there is a mention of a program called "DOSE", launched in 2012, but there's no actual page for it, nor there's a source, and the incredibly vague name makes it impossible to look for it over the internet. If anyone knows what this is, can someone care to make an article, put a link or cite a reference? That is to make it useful for a regular user.

Concheria (talk) 18:07, 19 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

DOSE seems to be a Python library for a-life research, described in this paper: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:18, 8 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Most notable "e-den"[edit]

I wonder why this one .. [2] .. never got any attention and isn't mentioned as notable neither here, nor in History_of_artificial_life. It's based on executable (& random mutating) dna +(!) neural net; + orgs have distinct freely combinable body parts (skeleton); + it takes place in a distinct world (grass, stones, orgs remainders as food and/or obstacle); senses (hear distance to other orgs and border of world) and even the possibility of communicating are involved; also mating is possible.   From simple trivial scratch, organisms evolve e.g. to herbivores and carnivores (indeed chasing those herbivores) in upto hundreds of generations without dying out, but rather evolving to fitness under given circumstances.   It is not deterministic (like e.g. evolve 4.0 or a cellular automaton, as random is involved), but dynamic to evolve diversity in any of its given parameters.   ..   Guess it got outperformed by "creatures" and it's too much old-fashion graphics at the time and simply didn't get the promotion it would have deserved and still does .. aside "framsticks" it is upto today imho the best that I found. [signed: DE:Benutzer:RoNeunzig ] -- (talk) 12:37, 29 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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