Is "Artificial Life" a myth?
Perhaps synthetic life is more appropriate term. I wonder about this because I've considered the question of artificial intelligence recently, especially after reading up on neuropsychology and the sort of assumptions that are hard-wired into us, like functional categorization (not sure if that's the popular term). What I mean by that is, we need our emotions and our gut instinct to compensate for what "intellect" alone wouldn't be capable of. As an author I read recently put it, Star Trek's Mr. Data is a logical impossibility. Without emotions- whether the product of organic or cybernetic processes, Data would have no motivation to put on his uniform or to go to his duty station or to function in humanoid society at all. Think about it: why do we respond to people we don't know if they ask us a question? Most of us respond, even if we have to say we don't know the answer. Why don't we just signal our lack of an answer by not responding? Sure, there are mentally unbalanced people who are the exception to this, and yes, if you make a conscious effort you are perfectly capable of ignoring another person's request, but that involves a conscious effort, unless you simply can't hear that person and aren't intentionally ignoring them.
If we could create artificial intelligence that could interact on a personable level with human beings and could be demonstrated to be both sapient and sentient (having higher level reasoning skills as well as self awareness) would it by design have to possess the ability to perceive (at least emotional) pain? It seems like a sufficiently advanced AI would have to be able to at least mimic the utilitarian drive of seemingly all animal life to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and that would require the equivalent of emotions.
In this thought experiment, then, is there a difference between the "artificial intelligence" I am describing and what we might call "actual intelligence?" Can "actual intelligence" be synthetic in nature? We've already stitched together a synthetic bacterium in a laboratory (covered elsewhere on this site, Mycoplasma laboratorium) based on a known genome. What if we could do the same with a gamete, literally create a synthetic gamete with no biomechanical barriers to fertilization?
Artificial or synthetic life- beyond just intelligence- is hard to define, considering the way that we define a living thing as something more than simply a repeating pattern like fire or crystals or even viruses, whose status as "alive" is certainly debatable. If an artificial intelligence cannot reproduce itself and cannot evolve on its own, can it be considered to be alive?
I would like to find out, personally, if microevolutionary studies have been conducted on laboratorium yet. I'd be very interested to see what they've found.
“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”