Philosophical Issues: What is Life?

Traditional, biological definitions of life include characteristics such as reproduction and metabolism. Such a definition may be too narrow for the future, as stranger forms of life are found. Still, where's the line between life and nonlife? If an uploaded person is alive, then what about a robot (not created from a person, but still very intelligent)? What about a supercomputer? A farm tractor? It seems safe to say that the farm tractor is not alive, but that leaves a lot of room for debate.

Steven Potter's paper, The Meaning of "Life", presents an excellent overview of the topic from a scientific perspective.

philolife.html . . . . . . . . 3/27/95 . . . . . . . Joe Strout