Against the global replacement: On the application of the philosophy of artificial intelligence to artificial life

In C. G. Langton (ed.), Artificial Life Iii: Proceedings of the Workshop on Artificial Life. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley (1994)
This paper is a complement to the recent wealth of literature suggesting a strong philosophical relationship between artificial life (A-Life) and artificial intelligence (AI). I seek to point out where this analogy seems to break down, or where it would lead us to draw incorrect conclusions about the philosophical situation of A-Life. First, I sketch a thought experiment (based on the work of Tom Ray) that suggests how a certain subset of A-Life experiments should be evaluated. In doing so, I suggest that treating A-Life experiments as if they were just AI experiments applied to a new domain may lead us to see problems (like Searle’s “Chinese room”) which do not exist. In the second half of the paper, I examine the reasons for suggesting that there is a philosophical relationship between the two fields. I characterize the strong thesis for a translation of AI concepts, metaphors, and arguments into A-Life as the “global replacement strategy.” Such a strategy is only fruitful inasmuch as there is a strong analogy between AI and A-Life. I conclude the paper with a discussion of two areas where such a strong analogy seems to break down. These areas relate to eliminative materialism and the lack of a “subjective” element in biology. I conclude that the burden of proof lies with the person who wishes to import a concept from another discipline into A-Life, even if that other discipline is AI.
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