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Marcel Paans

Owner, PaansNet Websites

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What are the boundaries of life?

Christoph Adami's talk has me thinking about the boundaries of life.. because my first thought was: well, shouldn't life be able to transcend borders and/or limitations through mutation? We evolved from sludge to a point where we even have artificial 'skins' (aka suits) to go diving or into outer space.

Also, a virus can mutate so it can infect other species than the one they've been living in.. from birds to humans, for example.. (at least, those are the ones we -really- care about!)

But then I figured it's all pretty much the same realm, right? Just like his artifical life has no way to 'see' beyond the world that was created for them, it's quite possible that we can't either.. maybe that's we have defined as different dimensions? We can't live in those other dimensions, because we don't have the right building blocks available in this one!

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Closing Statement from Marcel Paans

I'm afraid this conversation hasn't gone far into exploring my initial question. I may not have stated my question in the best way possible. But then, I guess it's a pretty hard concept to convey. It basically wasn't that far away from the Buddhist concept of "your reality may just be a projection". But I tried to be a bit more concrete about it.

Thanks to Adriaan and Vishneswar for responding, and anyone else for reading!

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  • Oct 16 2011: If we look into it a little deeper,we,as human beings are talking about 'What are the boundaries of life?';
    Even among the other biologically defined living species,this question may not arise.This if can
    happen in a species that have already existing on the planet for millions of years ,comparatively
    for a species that are brought forth may take a very long time,Unless you implant the question
    in them?
    If we look at it in another angle ,the food we eat , is got from is formed from inanimate things.
    Lack of certain minerals , vitamins etc. can cause some disease, in so called living bodies.
    So the minerals at elemental level have no life but when ingested and help the functioning
    of the body is alive?
    The 'consciousness', within us is the thing which defines the boundaries of life.
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    Oct 14 2011: Actually, in Christoph Adami's talk, he gives his definition of life: "LIfe is a property of an ensemble of units that share information coded in a physical substrate and which, in the presence of noise, manages to keep its entropy of the ensemble, on timescales exceeding the "natural" timescale of the decay of the (information-bearing) substrate by many orders of magnitude".

    Anyway.. I don't think we need a true definition of life to philosophize about the realm(s) it operates in. Adami's artificial life only exists on his computer. What -if- some sort of life is evolving on the internet? One we don't see because it's something we can't detect nor understand (yet). It surely can't materialize itself in our 'reality'. Could it be aware of what's going on out here, or would it be as blind as we are beyond the confines of our universe?
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    Oct 13 2011: Hi Marcel, maybe it might help to discuss what life is and then talk about the details, like boundaries.. Sounds reasonable?