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  1. #1
    GoodTaste is offline Key Member
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    we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system

    When I read "we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system", "computer virus is life" jumps out of my mind. I wonder whether you native English speakers have the same feeling when reading it.

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    The question of how to define life is notoriously controversial. Competing definitions abound, some of which include highly specific requirements such as being composed of cells, which might disqualify both future intelligent machines and extraterrestrial civilizations. Since we donít want to limit our thinking about the future of life to the species weíve encountered so far, letís instead define life very broadly, simply as a process that can retain its complexity and replicate. Whatís replicated isnít matter (made of atoms) but information (made of bits) specifying how the atoms are arranged. When a bacterium makes a copy of its DNA, no new atoms are created, but a new set of atoms are arranged in the same pattern as the original, thereby copying the information. In other words, we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system whose information (software) determines both its behavior and the blueprints for its hardware.

    Source (Scientific American)

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system

    The American writer William Burroughs argued that language was a virus long before we had computer viruses.

  3. #3
    GoodTaste is offline Key Member
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    Re: we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertJ View Post
    I don't.

    Do you understand "self-replicating"? Do you understand "information processing system"? (I'll gamble and omit the hyphen and hope it doesn't cause an argument.)

    "... we can think of life (if we wish to) as a self-replicating information-processing system." Information is not software. Software consists of sets of instructions to process information. "Garbage in -----Garbage out" as they say.
    Have you read the report? In which the writer says "In other words, we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system whose information (software) determines both its behavior and the blueprints for its hardware."

    The author unequivocally pointed out that here information and software are interchangeable. The latter is well-organized information.

    As of self-replicating, a computer virus can replicate itself (see virus in Wikipedia).

  4. #4
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system

    The author is making a controversial assertion. Without having read the work, I surmise that he doesn't understand what software​ is.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. #5
    GoodTaste is offline Key Member
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    Re: we can think of life as a self-replicating information-processing system

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    The author is making a controversial assertion. Without having read the work, I surmise that he doesn't understand what software​ is.
    The report is a headline article of renowned Scientific American, which would have gone through reviewing and editing before publishing. I would rather be more careful and not jump to a conclusion.

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