Science

A New Definition of Life

Posted 17 May 2001 at 14:10 UTC by steve Share This

People have argued for years over what it means to be alive. Is a virus alive? A robot? What about an ant? Bernard Korzeniewski, a researcher from the Institute of Molecular Biology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, has proposed a formal definition of life to settle these questions once and for all. Korzeniewski defines life as: "A network of inferior negative feedbacks subordinated to a superior positive feedback". More clearly, this means a cybernetic system that regulates itself and preserves its identity. The good news is that the new definition would allow for viruses, robots, AI, and even yet to be imagined alien life forms to qualify as being alive. The bad news is that being sterile apparently disqualifies biological systems so a lot of creatures previously considered alive (including some humans) may lose that status.

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