Artificial Life

Artificial Life is the part of Artificial Intelligence which tries to reproduce the processes and typical behaviour of living beings.

But an Artificial Life system could be much more than this. We can build artificial beings with the aim of solving the problems we are interest in, and with the ability of learning and cooperating among themselves until they obtain the desired result.

Therefore, Artificial Life (AL) can be considered a programming method one step beyond the Object Oriented Programming (OOP) , being the AL a particulary case of the OPP. That is, if an object is an element that encapsulates data and procedures, an Artificial being is an element that encapsulates one aim, senses, possible actions and beliefs. To this to her we can to call Programming Guided to Agents.

In many fields of study it is outline the possibility of to accomplish simulations for to attempt to predict or to help to the take of decisions about of certain aspects of the world real. There is two forms of to focus these simulations.

The majority of the simulations they are of the first type. The formulations classic of the shot parabolic they can it be understood as models of simulation of the reality, that they have seen proven a and other time usefulness. Aspects as the rubbing with the air, or other aspects more subtle as the relativity of the time, that influence in the shot parabolic real, puden it be incorporated to the model initial, mejorándolo, until it be adjusted to the reality of form sufficient.

Though the first position is very útil for the great majority of problems, exist other for it that is very difficult or little útil that position. Such is the case of the analysis of the behavior of a fluid in a net of pipelines, phenomena macroeconómicos or ecological. The simulations that here it is try they are of this second type. The great advantage of these simulations is that the effort human it is center in the definition of characteristic simple, that tend be more easy of to detect and formalizar that the aspects to high level that require the first type.

Ejemplos de Vida is a program wrote in Visual Basic 5.0 that allows us to study some artificial words. The source code is available and it is free. It has a virtual world with ants.

A problem that the simulations of artificial life have, is that we don't know if they are or not models excessively simplified of the great complexity of the real world. This is due it is not possible to determine when a pseudorandom function is good enough to accept the results obtained in a simulation. For now the only thing we know is that if we use a wrong pseudorandom function, easily predictable, we won't be able to rely in the results. At end, what everybody does is just this: not to rely in the results.

Pseudorandom functions are used in Artificial Life to avoid the representation of those aspects that result too complex to represent. This is about a mental process that all of us make every day, for example, to say that there is a 50% of probabilities to have a boy instead of a girl. When we can not know the complicated mechanisms that determine a process, as the determination (we mean natural) of sex, we aply the calculation of probabilities, that means that we assign a confidence to an event in function of the number of times that it has produced previously.

It is curious that quantum physics assert, and not without polemics, to have found an authentic generator of random events in our real world. If it's true, the implications would be astonishing: we would have found finally something in our universe without a cause, something whose behavior does not depend of anything that have happened in our universe... it would be something as the door to what remains outside and one more indicium that our universe can be understood as something seemed to a computer that is accomplishing a simulation of "Artificial Life" for "something" superior.

In the other hand, there are aspects of Natural Life that seem they never will be imitated by Artificial Life. For example, artificial entities can not feel pain or pleasure (much less happiness, envy, jealousy, pride or sadness).

Maybe we could build one day robots that behave as human beings, but will we be able to make them to feel? It doesn't matter now the answer to this question, the matter is: if we even could, ¿Why to make it? Well, then Why nature has done it with us? Is actually easier for Nature to build beings that feel, than to build beings that behave as if they felt?

A computer can "see" with a camera, "hear" with a microphone... the problem is in WHO sees and hears. This is more clear in the pleasure and pain concepts. It is not about building a program capable of react to a stimulus, the same as we take our hand out of the fire. It is not about to handle a variable called pain or pleasure, with a value from 0 to 100. It is about to make someone really feels that pleasure or pain. And for so much, the problem is that of finding how to create identity, the "I", the "somebody".

It is suggested in many science fiction books that it exists a threshold of complexity in any machinery, that one time it is traspassed, it provides a conscience-identity. To simple sight it can seem as a little trustworthy theory, and it is more frequent to appeal to another spiritual component , a supernatural one. But both suppositions can be joined.

The increase of complexity has not necessarily to be the conscience, maybe complexity CALLS (invokes) to certain supernatural component, located in another universe, another plane, perhaps it exists another component different from the material that produces what we know as conscience. In the same way from a complex matter-body (brain) it is obtained something not material, conceptual (mind, intelligence, thought), it is possible that from increasing mind's complexity, to be produced the birth of something beyond of thought (identity, spirit).

It wouldn't be rare that we were waiting to much about the programs of Artificial Life, and about the Artificial Intelligence in general. Is easy to imagine the shake that had to feel the first mathematicals when they handle for first time the concept of infinite. Have they compliment the revolutions that such time they predict? The concept of infinite is imprescindible for the modern math, and certainly, there has been revolutions, and large advances, though we haven't seen the infinite yet.

Ok, anyway, it seems our Artificial Life programs lack of something to be really alive, that's for sure. There are two posibilities. Or the individuality that feels pleasure or pain emerge from evolution, by its usefulness, the same as the eyes and other attributes did, and then the ants that move in the screen have actually the possibility to feel (if they aren't feeling already) since they are actually evolving, and that what Asimov proposed about robots undistinguishable from persons will become truth in the future, (what is, by itself, fantastic),... or feelings require of an individuality formed by "other substance" and we are something more than the product of evolution beginning in DNA chains. Maybe that substance can only be handled at will in another universe, where these "souls are stored and assigned "... or maybe they are an unknown part of this universe and it would be possible to discover them, and this is far more fantastic

In reality, remains a third possibility. In the previous paragraph its discuss if the ants of the simulations feel or not, taking as reference of "to feel" the human feelings. But is possible that our criterion of "to feel" it will be very limited. The posiblities of "to feel" could be for so much of the "individuality that sit", more than we we could never imagine, such as describe Suzette Haden Elgin in "Old Rocking Chair's got me".

This not only seems to be esoteric: it must be esoteric. The knowledge of the optical, for the blind of birth, only can be esoteric, and we are propossing the hypothesis that the man is blind of birth. But the creatures created by the man, the machines, the robots, or the cyborgs, they could not only to arrive to feel as the man; they will could reach higher.

[ Introduction by Manu Herrán ]
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The Cellular Automata like the "Game of Life" of Conway, are the most simple examples of Artificial Life.

In Automatas as analogies of our Universe it describes the work with analogies between our real universe and simulated universes in the creation of hypothesis about the time, the space, the life and the random.

The article "Agents Self-taught ¿Future or Reality?" (about 6 pages) describes how is it possible to make an Artificial Life system with multiple agents able to learn how to solve any kind of problem by themselves.

In Gods, Men, Demons and Machines In Gods, Men, Demons and Machines topics of scientific interest in computation that pertain to religions are discussed, as those of the machines that self-reproduce; the machines that learn; and the relation man-machine

The tamagotchi and my son ¿Who is the pet of who? In this document it is analyzed the influence in children of life simulations in such toys as the Tamagotchi.


"Si yo supiera que lo que dibujara
iba a cobrar vida cuando acabase el dibujo,
no me atrevería a dibujar nada.
Jamás me atrevería a dar vida a algo
a lo que no pudiera defender
de esos impacientes lápices de colores"
Cecila, en El enigma y el espejo, de Jostein Gaarder