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What makes something alive?

  1. May 6, 2005 #1
    What makes something alive?

    I mean, if a computer- or something like that- can understand commands you type into it, and interpret those commands, doesn't that make it alive in some way?

    Could non-biological life forms be "programmed" to feel emotions? I mean, don't we just feel emotions because we're programmed by society to feel them anyway? I guess we also feel like them because of chemicals in the brain and stuff, but couldn't artifical life forms feel things the same way- even if the reasons they felt those things were different? And the ways they felt those things were different?

    Would artifical life forms (Eg computers/whatever) not be considered alive simply because they would have no free will? But we (humans) aren't in control of our emotions and lives in general and stuff anyway. We don't have THAT much free will
    Last edited: May 6, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2005 #2
    Free will is the ability to do what you please, not feel what you please. Plants dont have free will yet they are alive. People arent programmed to feel emotion, however they might be programmed to feel a certain emotion instead of another in a given situation.

    I think your confusing interactive with alive, but what does really decide if somethings ailve or not?
  4. May 6, 2005 #3
    well I guess my question now is:

    Is our brain the only thing we could use to live (percieve and interpret, etc), or could we have "artificial consciousness?" Do you think theres a possibility we could turn the brain into something like an artifical consciousness? (Something that wouldn't need blood, etc to run- like a robotic brain)

    I was thinking that we could merge our consciousness (Our brain) with another brain (Another counsciousness) to survive. But that seems like it would be impossible, because there would be so many connections that would have to made. (Among other complications)

    So my next though was: Could we merge our consciousness (our brains) with something like an artifical consciousness, so that when our grey matter dies (or before that), we could live on through that artifical counsciousness? (Artificial consciousness- something that percieves and understands, even can be programmed to feel emotions maybe, etc)

    When I say merge consciousness, I mean make the brain and the artifical consciousness one unit- so that when the brain dies our consciousness lives on.

    I don't think we could survive by merely downloading consciousness transferring it. I think that in order to survive we need to either change what our grey matter is (Eg make it robotic or something) and/or make it merge with something else (Like another person's brain or like a computer)

    I guess what Im asking is:

    Could we merge/expand our consciousness so that when our grey matter dies, we don't? It might be a lot easier to connect our consciousness to something robotic/electronic than it would be to connect it to another brain anyways

    Final Note: Could you connect a part of somebody else's brain to your brain by putting it inside of a section of your brain that was already connected to everything? Or would it be too difficult to even connect to that section?

    Also, what is consciousness? Don't we have to understand what that is before we attempt to merge/expand it?

    What ways could we merge/expand our consciousness?
    Could we change our consciousness into something else (like a robotic brain) without even merging/expanding it with something? Or by merging/expanding it with something?

    Once we've changed our consciousness into something else, or merged it with something else, could we change it back to what it was (or something else) by merging it with something else, or changing it into something else?
    Last edited: May 6, 2005
  5. May 6, 2005 #4


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    From dictionary.com
    Life: The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

    I think it is a good question to consider when a computer can be considered to be alive. A computer does not have metabolism, but it does have electrical circuits, it can't grow or reproduce, but it can respond to stimuli and adapt. I think that it comes close to life when it acquires self-organizing ability and selfishness.
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