Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

B Should we search for non-biological "life"?

  1. Oct 28, 2017 #1

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I am very interested in Astrobiology and just came across this 7-year old abstract by Seth Shostak (of SETI):

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576510002195

    There is a lot of emphasis on searching for biological life outside of our solar system, especially with the abundance of "habitable zone exoplanets" discovered by Kepler.

    But in view of projections that we will be able to assemble self propagating AI here on Earth in the coming few decades, wouldn't it be possible that our search may well be for extraterrestrial AI in addition to search for biological life? And if so, what would we look for, if not for biochemical signature of life?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2017 #2

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Good idea.

    Quite possibly, but I am glad that you still mentioned "in addition".
    Most of what you mentioned in your post is discussed in a book I've read 'The Future of the Mind" by Prof Michio Kaku. It is an extremely engaging book. Will answer your question.

    Very good question. I don't know.:smile:
     
  4. Oct 28, 2017 #3

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Many thanks. I will look for this reference.
     
  5. Oct 28, 2017 #4

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  6. Oct 28, 2017 #5

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It's not the only book by this author...
    :)
     
  7. Oct 28, 2017 #6

    fresh_42

    Staff: Mentor

    The title is a contradiction in itself. Life and biology are synonymous. We could talk about non carbon based life, but non-biological life doesn't make sense.
     
  8. Oct 28, 2017 #7

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Ha, good one. I dod not notice.
     
  9. Oct 28, 2017 #8

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yes, I know, I have two of books already, Physics of the Impossible, and Physics of the Future.
     
  10. Oct 28, 2017 #9

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Nice.
     
  11. Oct 28, 2017 #10

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Life based on future conscious AI is non-biological.
     
  12. Oct 28, 2017 #11

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    AI conscious future life would be non-biological. You will notice I put the word life in parentheses ("Life") within the title of my posting.
     
  13. Oct 28, 2017 #12

    fresh_42

    Staff: Mentor

    In this case, we have to rename either life or biology. I'm quite sure the ancient Greeks haven't thought about AI. And I don't think it should be called life. AI don't have a metabolism, and oil and energy probably won't count, at least I don't consider my car engine as alive. And the intelligent part of it is debatable, too, because finally it is only especially clever programmed. Is a chess computer that learns from previous made bad moves alive? In any case, this would be a matter of philosophy. βίος, however, means life.
     
  14. Oct 28, 2017 #13

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I think we are discussing intelligence...
    Do we know the definition of 'life'?
     
  15. Oct 28, 2017 #14

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Obviously, a car engine or database or computer program are not alive because they lack to self propagate their information. There is a lot of talk about future AI with consciousness, meaning that such entities will be self aware and self replicating. That would be "life" because it passes along "information" to future generations. On Earth we have biological life based on carbon. In other worlds, there may well be non-carbon life, but still biological (meaning that it could evolve like life on Earth evolved). AI "life", on the other hand, would be of non-biological origin, but still able to pass on its information base to future generations.

    The reason I posted this is to seek views and answers to my question: "wouldn't it be possible that our search may well be for extraterrestrial AI in addition to search for biological life? And if so, what would we look for, if not for biochemical signature of life?".
     
  16. Oct 28, 2017 #15

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Modern textbooks of Life Science define life on Earth as the property of an entity that:

    (1) Has inherent information base (DNA) that is self propagating and able to pass its characteristics to future generations.
    (2) It is able to accumulate raw material from its environment
    (3) Generate energy from its environment
    (4) Use that energy to reassemble raw material and build more copies of itself based on its information base (DNA in case of carbon-based life on Earth).
     
  17. Oct 28, 2017 #16

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Or consciousness.
     
  18. Oct 28, 2017 #17

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Original...
     
  19. Oct 28, 2017 #18

    SciencewithDrJ

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Actually, what I am after is to explore ideas on how we go about detecting extraterrestrial AI, in addition for search for biochemical signature of life, on other worlds. Would it be only radio signals as SETI is doing now?
     
  20. Oct 28, 2017 #19

    ISamson

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Probably. But also radiation or something.
     
  21. Oct 28, 2017 #20

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    We certainly might encounter sentient or non-sentient extraterrestrial AI. As for what we should look for, it depends on the exact circumstances of the encounter and the details of our respective civilizations. However, I feel it will be fairly obvious that we've found AI and not biological life if we are able to make "close" contact. If we're simply eavesdropping on transmitted signals it will probably be difficult to tell whether these are from AI or from biological lifeforms using communications technology.

    We know our definition of life, because we've defined it. But what you're probably asking is whether or not that definition is accurate. That we cannot know. Not in the near future at least.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Should we search for non-biological "life"?
Loading...