My brain is thinking, and even though I have not
reached a conclusion at the end of “part 1”, I have
decided to start a “part 2” as it, even though it is
going to the same category “life”, it will be from
a different perspective.
What is a life? is one of the questions I’ve asked
in previous post, and I would like to look into that
subject in this post.
When we look at wikipedia, it presents us this list
- Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature.
- Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.
- Metabolism: Transformation of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components (anabolism) and decomposing organic matter (catabolism). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.
- Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of anabolism than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter.
- Adaptation: The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the organism’s heredity as well as the composition of metabolized substances, and external factors present.
- Response to stimuli: A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to complex reactions involving all the senses of multicellular organisms. A response is often expressed by motion, for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun (phototropism) and by chemotaxis.
- Reproduction: The ability to produce new individual organisms, either asexually from a single parent organism, or sexually from two parent organisms.
I am aware there are alternative definitions. But
looking at these definitions, one could argue that
a single (human) cell is not alive, when it’s
separated from the body. And how would we think
about organ donation? Is a donor organ alive? As
it’s not part of a life-form, and, on itself,
“cannot survive” (if it were alive), or, maybe better said,
doesn’t have the properties on the list presented above.
Now, I am going to invite the mosquito, discussed in previous
post again. I want to look at one property of the reproduction
cycle of this little bastard. The insect bites and sucks blood. It
required the blood for it’s reproduction.
Why am I telling you this. My point here is, the reproduction cycle
depends blood. Blood which is available in other lifeforms. So,
even though this isn’t a problem with the defined above, I would
like to point out this fact, as it might play a role later.
I guess you’ve heard about a story, seen a movie, read a book, in
which computers take over the world. Some say, once computers
get too intelligent, when we’re created an artificial intelligence, smart
enough to think for themselves, they might take over the world.
I think they did, a long time ago. Technology is alive. No, the
computer on your desk, but technology as a whole.
Well… let’s look at reproduction…. no, your computer isn’t
going to get a bunch of little computers, no, that is not going
to happen. But, I said, look at technology as a whole. All the
chips in your computer… or any other electronic device.
Where do they come from? Well??? Technology! right?
And even though those machines that build the chips for
you computer are operated by humans…. a mosquito also
needs other lifeforms to reproduce, right?
Did I just say, the machine is operated by humans, well, I
think that answers the question response to stimuli with
Let’s look at Adaptation and growth. Well… is
technology doing this? I say it does. Even though,
technology is invented by humans, and it only does so
because humans make it do so. Technological “progress”
has been a constant, and it seems to “grow” at increasing
rate, adapt to new desires from it’s creators, the humans.
Metabolism might be a trickier one. Technology doesn’t eat,
does it? Well… the definition is created to define organic life.
If I want to include technology as a whole into the definition
of life, I might have to play a little with the definition. But a
power plant does a conversion of energy (coals, etc. into electricity)
which is used to power many kinds of technology.
Organisation, again, the definition speaks about organic life here,
and the concept cell might be seen as a parallel to your computer,
cellphone, dvd-player, etc. I asked before, is a single cell alive?
Or is it only considered alive in context of the lifeform? If the
second is the case, I would say, every piece of technology is
like a cell in the organism of technology.
Homeostasis …. regulation of the internal environment.
But what is the internal environment of technology?
Maybe we need to be a little more specific to explain
this? Maybe we shouldn’t consider technology as a
single organism, but as a class of organisms to show
this? On a ‘cell-level’ I can say, the power supply of
my (insert random electronic device) regulates the
voltage to a certain level. I can say it’s a switching
power supply, and it will switch faster or slower
depending on the load, in order to maintain the
same voltage level.
And in this whole story, I haven’t even mentioned
the internet. A network of millions of computers,
connected together. Routers determining the
route of a packet to travel, and if that route is
blocked, autonomously decide for an alternative
route. Routing protocols, in which routers inform
each other of who they can speak to. et cetera.
Now, has technology taken over the world???
Then answer me this question. What if all technology
would say “no” and stop working. Of course,
technology, as it is today, doesn’t have a mind
of it’s own, and can’t decide it doesn’t feel like
servicing humans anymore. But what if… what
if all technology would stop working. We depend
on technology, and therefore, it controls us, and so
it has taken over the world, a long time ago…