Week 7: Artificial Life

In the lecture last week, we talked about remote sensing and surveillance. Much of the reading this week was focusing on artificial life. “Artificial life has been provocative for mathematics, and the biological, physical, and social sciences research fields”. The main question that made people so interested in artificial life is of its algorithmic and mathematical inquiry. “Can the patterns of biological life be sufficiently understood that researchers could write algorithms to represent these rules and simulate life?” What defines life? And can it also be carbon based or is it possible for humans to create life? Artificial life is confronting researchers on these philosophical questions.

According to Wilson, “artists are intrigued by the challenge to create artificial life-forms that simulate the behaviors of biological life or that evolve and self-propagate as a result of experience”. From my understanding, I believe artificial life can be a great way to express art. Creating life-forms by using algorithms and codes to modify original behaviors is something very creative and interesting. For example from the artworks of Louis Bec, he created “hypozoological” systems by combining the background of zoology, art and philosophy. I agree with his statement “art is a free zone to build on concepts of life to conjure up alternative systems”. With the artificial life tension, it allows new ways to understand life and the potential generatively of imagination.louis bec

Modeling the creations of artificial creatures is a critical operation because it helps researchers to process emotional, imaginative information in an artistic way just like logical or rational information in a scientific way. Artificial life is a great way to combine arts and science in a beautiful way.

What I also found fascinating is the relation between artificial life and artificial intelligence.AI Currently there are projects utilizing knowledge of artificial life and intelligence to create robots. However the way artificial intelligence is presented in our popular culture is always dangerous and that is not the case. Like what Professor Bratton said in his recent article featured in NY Times, what “we need is a less parochial and narcissistic, one that is based on more than simply looking for a machine version of our own reflection”. Artificial intelligence is being produced and developed faster than we think, therefore it is very important to be aware of what kind of artificial life we are creating. Not all artificial intelligence are harmful or with possible threat to human extinction. We just have to be knowledgeable of our technology creations and how we want to create these artificial lives.

Wen Kuo


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