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Artificial Life: Synthetic Versus Virtual

Harnad, Stevan (1993) Artificial Life: Synthetic Versus Virtual At Artificial Life III.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)


Artificial life can take two forms: synthetic and virtual. In principle, the materials and properties of synthetic living systems could differ radically from those of natural living systems yet still resemble them enough to be really alive if they are grounded in the relevant causal interactions with the real world. Virtual (purely computational) "living" systems, in contrast, are just ungrounded symbol systems that are systematically interpretable as if they were alive; in reality they are no more alive than a virtual furnace is hot. Virtual systems are better viewed as "symbolic oracles" that can be used (interpreted) to predict and explain real systems, but not to instantiate them. The vitalistic overinterpretation of virtual life is related to the animistic overinterpretation of virtual minds and is probably based on an implicit (and possibly erroneous) intuition that living things have actual or potential mental lives.

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Published date: 1993
Additional Information: Artificial Life III. Proceedings, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Volume XVI.
Venue - Dates: Artificial Life III, 1993-01-01
Organisations: Web & Internet Science


Local EPrints ID: 253368
PURE UUID: 745677fe-e010-4889-a8ff-15e86123f665

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Date deposited: 26 May 2000
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 09:58

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Author: Stevan Harnad

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