Call for Papers
by Dr. Cliff Pickover used by permission
Rethinking Life: Scientific and
Workshop at Alife 9 Conference
Sunday, 12 September 2004
Organized by Mark Bedau
Motivation: The nature of life is an age-old issue that
has proved remarkably difficult to resolve. It is considered
a grand challenge of artificial life (Bedau et al. 2000). Fifteen
years ago the advent of soft artificial life (computational
systems with life-like properties) gave the issue a new face
and generated new unresolved controversies. Wet artificial
life (novel life forms synthesized biochemically) is now on the
horizon (Szostak, Bartel, and Luisi 2001, Rasmussen et al. 2003),
prompting yet another re-examination of what life is. One of
the motivations for this workshop is to rethink the controversies
about life in the light of the new developments in wet artificial
life. At least since the time of Aristotle the nature of life
has engaged both scientists and philosophers, but these two communities
work largely in isolation from each other. Building bridges between
them would surely benefit each. The new developments in wet artificial
life are bound to galvanize the general publics attention
and spark a variety of reactions. Scientists and philosophers
have both an opportunity and a responsibility to provide informed
and thoughtful reflection about life to the public. Promoting
this process is a second motivation for the workshop.
Scope: The questions to be addressed by this workshop
- How should we understand the question What is life?
- Why, if at all, is this question interesting?
- How should we go about answering it?
- How will we know when we have found the answer?
- What today are the key open problems about the nature of life?
- What are examples of important recent progress on the issue?
- What special role can soft or wet artificial
life play in resolving it?
- What role should philosophy play?
- What are the social and cultural implications of rethinking
the nature of life?
Format: The bulk of the workshop will consist of a series
of 30 minute presentations, each followed by 15 minutes of discussion.
A round-table discussion with audience participation will close
the workshop. Participation: The workshop speakers will include
both scientists and philosophers. Most speakers will be invited
but interested parties are welcome to send an extended
abstract (3 pp.) to the organizer.
The invited speakers (*confirmed) include:
Chris Adami, Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences
Mark Bedau*, Department of Philosophy, Reed College
Carol Cleland*, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado
Claus Emmeche, Center for the Philosophy of Nature and Science
Studies, University of Copenhagen
Peter Godfrey-Smith, Department of Philosophy, Harvard Unversity
Takashi Ikegami, Department of Physics, University of Tokyo
Norman Packard*, ProtoLife S.r.l.
John McCaskill, Biomolecular Information Processing,
Ruhr University of Bochum
Barry McMullin, School of Electrical Engineering, Dublin City
Kelly Smith*, Department of Philosophy, Clemson University
Elliott Sober, Department of Philosophy, Stanford University
Eors Szathmary, Institute for Advanced Study, Budapest
Jack Szostak, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Susan Fox Kellert, Science, Technology, and Society Program,
Publication: Workshop participants have the opportunity
to publish a paper in the Artificial Life IX Workshops Proceedings.
The deadline for submission of camera-ready copy for this Proceedings
is 5 August 2004. The organizer intends to publish a report on
the workshop in the Artificial Life journal.
Organization: The workshop is organized by Mark Bedau.
Voice: (503) 517-7337
M. Bedau, J. McCaskill, N. Packard, S. Rasmussen, C. Adami,
D. Green, T.Ikegami,
K. Kaneko, T. Ray. Open problems in artificial life. Artificial
Life 6(2000), 363-376.
S. Rasmussen, L. Chen, D. Deamer, D. Krakauer, N. Packard,
P. Stadler, M.Bedau.
Transitions from nonliving and living matter. Science
303 (2004), 963-965.
J. Szostak, D. Bartel, P. Luisi. Synthesizing life. Nature 409 (2001), 383-390