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Artificial Life: A Report from the Frontier Where Computers Meet Biology Paperback – July 27, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Writing primarily for readers with backgrounds in science, Levy focuses on the conceptual edge that artificial-life research defines. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"We used to think we knew what life is [but] not any more. 'Artificial life' has become a strange and exciting frontier of modern science...and Steven Levy makes an ideal tour guide." -- James Gleick.
author of Chaos and Genius
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A note on the metaphysical material in AL that bears on the question of whether present iterations of 'artificial life' are, or whether future iterations may one day be, sufficiently complex that they should be considered true LIFE: throughout, Levy stresses the essential link between an (')organism(') (wet or dry) and its environment. Yet, it seems to me, in discussing the question of the LIFE-status of in-silico 'organisms', he considers the 'organisms' alone. I wonder whether this apparent preference reflects his own bias, or a bias on the part of the scientists he profiles? From the perspective of emergent behavior and the capacity to evolve, etc., AL 'creatures' self-evidently bear a striking resemblance to biological creatures. It strikes me, however, that a key consideration in the wet-life as LIFE versus dry-'life' as LIFE argument -- is that wet-life organisms express emergent behavior and evolve, etc., in environments that are, throughout, rife with other life, whereas dry-'life' 'organisms' do the same in environments that are otherwise sterile (by the standards that A-Life scientists themselves would apply). Some consideration of how environments contribute to the LIFE-status of particular (')organism(')s, and of any definition of LIFE (wet or dry) itself, seems to be of the essence. Yet another thought to pursue -- though doubtless ethologists, philosophers, and A-Life scientists have beaten me there. Proof positive that AL is a highly thought-provoking book. Read it!
About the genetic algorithm. Remember all the fuss about expert systems and artificial intelligence? Well, this is the way ol' Mother Nature figures out how to get things done. Chilling. Terrifying, Interesting. Colonies of light in magnetic and silicate media live, die, reproduce and struggle for survival.
This is the best book of its type I have ever read. It is really, really interesting and Steve Levy puts it all together. Sala'am, Steve Levy (I am making oriental-style bows in my cube right now) Plus is is scary. Not fun scary like Frankenstein, but deep-down scary. The future belongs to RAM creatures.
It's not a masterpiece of literature, but it was interesting enough to forever change my research career.
Most recent customer reviews
It is about artifical intelligence. If you have a computer you will know exactly what I mean.Read more