Live and Let Die: Will there be Life after Biologically Inspired Computation?
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Last modified: April 25, 2006
The relationship between life and computing machines---between living and non-living matter---has caused vivid discussions, much controversy, and lots of mutual inspiration since the early days of computing machines some fifty years ago. But despite much advances on both sides, the gap remains widely open and there is no risk of confusion among artifacts and living organisms. Neither artificial intelligence nor artificial life have lived up to their expectations, while the jury seems to be still out on more modern and modest biologically inspired computing paradigms. A growing interest in unconventional computing paradigms also emphasizes that the last wor has not yet been spoken. The goal of this contribution is to first revisit certain key arguments of the life-machine dichotomy and proposals on how to bridge the gap. Based on observations and gedankenexperiments, we will then sketch hypothetical scenarios of the future of computing and how artifacts might become more lifelike. We will argue that fresh and unconventional metaphors and paradigms beyond today's biologically inspired computation will be needed to address the grand challenges.
NOTE: Invited to the special session "Life and Computation," organized by Hiroki Sayama.