The Philosophy of Artificial Life
OverviewThe aim of this series is to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available to the university student or the general reader. The editor of each volume contributes an introductory essay on the items chosen and on the questions with which they deal. A selective bibliography is appended as a guide to further reading. This volume offers a selection of the most important philosophical work in the new and fast-growing interdisciplinary area of artificial life; it will set the agenda for future study and research. Artificial life (A-Life) research aims to synthesize the characteristics of life by artificial means, particularly employing computer technology. The essays chosen explore such fascinating themes as the nature of life, the relation between life and mind, and the limits of technology. The first two papers, one of which is the classic A-Life manifesto by Christopher Langton, provide a general overview of the subject and compare it with artificial intelligence (AI); in Part II, the contributors describe examples of A-Life research. Part III discusses various explanatory strategies in A-Life, and relates them to approaches in AI and cognitive science, while Part IV focuses on the concept of life in general. Finally, Part V explores A-Life's relation to functionalism and the feasibility of 'strong' A-Life.