[ExI] simulation as an improvement over reality

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Dec 27 11:02:37 UTC 2010

On Sun, Dec 26, 2010 at 07:34:35PM -0600, Max More wrote:

> I like to use a neologism like "vitology" for the study of  
> life-in-general, while reserving "biology" for the more or less familiar 
> chemical forms of life. Postbiological life forms would indeed be living 
> complex systems, but I wouldn't call them biological if they were based 
> on entirely distinct physical platforms.

If you recall Artifical Life (later shortened to ALife), then there is
at least one precedent. 


> Looking at terminology, "biology" is the study of living organisms, but 
> it has always been about the living organisms that we've been familiar 

Not that Wikipedia is normative in any way, but http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life

Life (cf. biota) is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that 
have signaling and self-sustaining processes (biology) from those 
that do not,[1][2] either because such functions have ceased (death), 
or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate.[3]

In biology, the science of living organisms, life is the condition 
which distinguishes active organisms from inorganic matter.[4] 
Living organisms undergo metabolism, maintain homeostasis, possess 
a capacity to grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce and, through natural 
selection, adapt to their environment in successive generations. 
More complex living organisms can communicate through various 
means.[1][5] A diverse array of living organisms (life forms) 
can be found in the biosphere on Earth, and the properties common 
to these organisms—plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, 
and bacteria—are a carbon- and water-based cellular form with 
complex organization and heritable genetic information.

So the "biology" and "biota" parts are covered. "Post" denotes
a succession, such as current life to prebiotic life, which is
now extinct, at least on this planet.

This *is* life, but not as we know it.

> with up to now. It's not a crucial matter, but my preference is to 
> reserve "biology" for the wide range of life forms we're already come 
> across, but not stretch it to cover entirely different substrates and 

Well, there's also astrobiology.

> platforms.

We would also have to remove evolution from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_algorithm
and genetic from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_algorithm
and probably neologize neural networks, too, and such.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820 http://www.ativel.com http://postbiota.org
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