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Suicidesoldier#1's avatar

Fanatical Zealot

What is life? According to the generally contrived definition, the main basic components of life are:

Response to stimuli

But what if we created a robot that could do all these things? Homeostasis, organization, growth, adaption, response to stimuli, and reproduction? We could theoretically create a robot with an advanced AI, capable as say, an insect, maybe even better, that could do all these things, including building new ones of itself, transforming the surrounding materiel around it.

But does life in fact require all these things? A parameter of life is often the presence of cells, single units capable of doing a tremendous amount of work. Does this require micro structures, and self contained units with organelles? Well theoretically, nanobots could do this. A nanobot formed structure could be just as intelligent or more intelligent as a human, and break things down at a molecular level, absorbing them, and then transforming things into new cells, essentially, and then make more of itself. It could even be programmed to change in response to it's environment, or it's offspring. Would this be life?

One could say that anything artificially created isn't life. But then we have to consider things like clones, or if humans say, replicated life in a laboratory, with the same general processes, or if they made a new creature from the ground up, such as a dragon, from raw biomass.

Suddenly this definition of life is too broad. Could a robot be life?

Or does life require the presence of organic components? Carbon for instance, just as with graphene and buckypaper, could be utilized to create nanobots, that would be almost entirely carbon based. This in turn, would still be "organic".

Is it carbon based life with homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli, and reproduction?

Or is there something more? What is life?
Embden Meyerhof's avatar

Invisible Businessman

I'm afraid this is one of those questions with no answer due to ethical reasons.
For example, some people consider a sperm to be alive, others don't. The same goes for a blastocyst, in its early stage it isn't considered to be life even though it should classify as such, however it does count as alive once it goes into gastrulation. Otherwise, emergency contraceptive pills would classify as being abortions since it pretty much let's the implanted blastocyst die.

For something artificial that has all the components of life look no further than a computer virus.
It has homeostasis since it regulates itself depending on its response to stimuli (which it also has), as well as obviously great means of adaptation.
It can grow, reproduce (to the annoyance of many), and it has an organization.
It's pretty similar to cancer, if you think about it.
JediDillon's avatar

Interesting Seeker

"You make a living by what you earn; you make a life by what you give."

- Winston Churchill
creating those robots who could do all those things would be bad. We already are those robots. If you think about it a little bit, we don't decide things. Our decisions are basically given from our parents, hormones, then the place where we live in, then the friends we meet,experience... All those and more are the things that affect us to making our decision. We basically are those robots.
Suicidesoldier#1's avatar

Fanatical Zealot

Baby don't hurt me, no more. ninja
Lychee Bae's avatar

Unforgiving Warlord

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Maybe we need a ref for the definition?

We are too far away from creating such advanced AI... don't expect to see anything close to it before you die.
Nerdologist's avatar

Enduring Seeker

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If it fits the definition of life, 'tis life.

Ain't nothin' but a word. The definition of "life" will probably continue to broaden as we discover the characteristics of earlier precursors to modern living organisms.
Rephy's avatar


"You make a living by what you earn; you make a life by what you give."

- Winston Churchill

Those mozzies making a life off malaria xd
Malaria making a life off the despair of it's victims.

They earned a mighty reputation, but neither live nor care for it.
deep damage's avatar

Unholy Glitch

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Leonardo Da Vinci made the very first robotics leap and was 500 years ahead of his time. He himself made that robot with pistons and springs as well as a system of pulleys. Life if you look into it from the biblical sense, as sciences often too "spit in gods face" or so as they say. We understand that the "Tree of Knowledge" gave us intelligence, but before we could have the "Tree of life" God intervened. To stop us before we became like that of gods. So in turn we are demi-gods. But to your statement, Life is exactly what you stated. But Life can be anything from Leonardo Da Vinci's
Lion or Robotic Knight. To A.I. Intelligence we create. It makes no difference.
People like to put labels on things; alive, not alive, mammal, reptile, blue, green.

We draw lines to separate out those categories, but that doesn't mean that the categories themselves have any meaning outside of our own minds, or even that the division we have labeled actually exists.

Things are what they are independent of what we call them, and reality is under no obligations whatsoever to respect our categories.
PUSS KING's avatar

Hygienic Gawker

A robot which exhibits all signs of life will be considered to be alive. For one thing, to grow and reproduce and metabolise it would need to be made from living cells or tissues anyway, as the traditional view of a robot made of metal and microchips could not accomplish these things.

It would certainly rock the scientific world for life to arise that doesn't trace a lineage back in the evolutionary tree. There's already ground being made in the possible existence / creation of life completely independent of natural history, particularly with XDNA molecules.
It's an anomaly of self-replicating and evolving chemistry
BF-dragontshd-40's avatar

Obsessive Genius

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Life is a bunch of quantum jumping around that have a lot but finite paths. At least, that is how Stephen Hawking defines it. But if that is true, conflict arises.
What is life? According to the generally contrived definition, the main basic components of life are:

Response to stimuli

The answer to "What is life" depends on a point of view.

The list you mentioned as "basic components of life" is true with regards to observation of living organisms. There is also the cultural perspective of life that is defined by influences, or rather instilled into, a population of people. Then, I suppose there is the individual demographic of a person's lifestyle that inevitable affects their perceptions of their purpose in life and the meaning of living for reasons conceived through judgements.
Asurendra's avatar

Dangerous Lunatic

An emergent property of complex chemical interaction.

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