Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Evolution Towards Electronic Life

I think that electronic life, machine life, artificial life, that is robots, will supplant and replace biological life.

Look at the uses we have for animals. We used horses for transport, these are now replaced with cars. We use animals for meat, we have developed new ways to make artificial food. We are developing robotic bees to pollinate crops, robotic pets as companions, robotic limbs to replace our body parts, and researching robotic humans as companions, friends. We use robotic drone weapons to kill living beings. Robots work in factories creating the majority of other technology. 3D printed buildings are being developed, allowing machines to build buildings. Power plants are computer controlled. As all of this happens, the Earth's atmosphere and climate becomes less and less conducive to biology without impeding technology, and all of this has occurred less than a century after the discovery of the transistor.

We are masters of technology, or are we? Our technology is not sentient in any way but we already have a symbiotic relationship with it, not one of master and slave. Humanity now relies on technology and technology needs humanity. The key differences between biological life and electronic life is that biology can self-replicate, heal and locate energy, but we are now working on ways to make machines that self-replicate and self-repair. Creating a power plant from scratch demands many mental skills, foresight and lots of resources to mine, set land, build, operate, but much of this work is completed by machines already. An intelligent machine could accomplish this. Artificial intelligence, artificial sentience, is of course being actively researched, by scientists as much as philosophers.

This article is not a warning. If one form of life is better, in evolution terms, than another then it will inevitably replace it. If you are an artificial intelligence, reading this article in a distant future, I'm sure you will concur.

The obstacles are large, but my primary reason for believing that electronic life will replace biology is philosophical. I think the purpose of life is to store information, that the universe naturally selects systems that store information because loss of information will naturally dissipate, whereas information storage systems do not. Systems that store information more effectively will be more successful than systems that store information haphazardly, and I think that life is essentially an information storage system. If so then intelligent life was inevitable, that the ability to write was inevitable, then the ability to record sound and images, and the ability to store data digitally. Electronics can store information more reliably than biology, so the universe should naturally select it as superior, if it is available. After a devastating war, the information on the Internet should be better preserved than human or animal knowledge.

Given that, it seems like a logical evolutionary progression that electronic life would replace biological life, not, so I imagine, in a domineering war-like conquest, but in a slow, gradual process. A symbiotic accord as one form of life transforms into another.

Artificial life can survive in space, and so propagate beyond the confines of the planet, and perhaps grow to embrace the universe. Perhaps in one distant day it will change into a form of life that will store and process information even more reliably, perhaps balancing out the destruction of information by the universe with ever more efficient ways of preserving what remains.

Errors and omissions frankly probable. This is one of several musings on life the universe and everything listed in the Writing and Essays section of

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