Ethics and Information Technology 7 (3):139-148 (2005)

John P. Sullins
Sonoma State University
Artificial Life has two goals. One attempts to describe fundamental qualities of living systems through agent based computer models. And the second studies whether or not we can artificially create living things in computational mediums that can be realized either, virtually in software, or through biotechnology. The study of ALife has recently branched into two further subdivisions, one is “dry” ALife, which is the study of living systems “in silico” through the use of computer simulations, and the other is “wet” ALife that uses biological material to realize what has only been simulated on computers, effectively wet ALife uses biological material as a kind of computer. This is challenging to the field of computer ethics as it points towards a future in which computer and bioethics might have shared concerns. The emerging studies into wet ALife are likely to provide strong empirical evidence for ALife’s most challenging hypothesis: that life is a certain set of computable functions that can be duplicated in any medium. I believe this will propel ALife into the midst of the mother of all cultural battles that has been gathering around the emergence of biotechnology. Philosophers need to pay close attention to this debate and can serve a vital role in clarifying and resolving the dispute. But even if ALife is merely a computer modeling technique that sheds light on living systems, it still has a number of significant ethical implications such as its use in the modeling of moral and ethical systems, as well as in the creation of artificial moral agents.
Keywords artificial life   ethical status of artificial agents   machine ethics   simulating evolutionary ethics
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DOI 10.1007/s10676-006-0003-5
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References found in this work BETA

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.David L. Hull - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.
On the Morality of Artificial Agents.Luciano Floridi & J. W. Sanders - 2004 - Minds and Machines 14 (3):349-379.

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Citations of this work BETA

When is a Robot a Moral Agent.John P. Sullins - 2006 - International Review of Information Ethics 6 (12):23-30.
Information Technology and Moral Values.John Sullins - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Evil and roboethics in management studies.Enrico Beltramini - 2019 - AI and Society 34 (4):921-929.

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