ET machines sought by astronomer

Oct 01, 2010 By Shaun McCormack, Astrobio.net

If we ever do receive a message from outer space, we’ll want to know what kind of aliens sent it. SETI researcher Seth Shostak says we shouldn’t expect them to be anything like us - in fact, they might not be biological at all, but instead, extraterrestrial machines.

People have always held a biased view of the world around them. It’s an aspect of being human.

It took until the 17th century for us to reject Aristotle’s vision of a universe where our Sun and the stars revolved around the Earth. () Senior Seth Shostak points out that up until a century ago, the scientific community believed a vast engineering society was responsible for building an irrigation system on the surface of Mars. Discovering the Martians could, in principle, be done by simply turning an Earth-based telescope in the direction of the Red Planet. Now it seems that our best chance for finding Martian life is to dig deep into the surface in search of subterranean microbes.

Our idea of has changed drastically in 100 years, but our search strategies have not kept up. In his upcoming paper “What ET will look like and why should we care?” for the November-December issue of Acta Astronautica, Shostak argues that SETI might be more successful if it shifts the search away from biology and focuses squarely on artificial intelligence. Shostak sees a clear distinction between life and intelligence: he says we should be searching for extraterrestrial machines.

“Continuing to hunt for our analogs - technically competent biological sentients - may be an enterprise with less than promising prospect, as it focuses on a highly transient prey,” Shostak says.

A radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This photo shows Amal Graafstra, a Washington state native and business owner, about to have an RFID chip implanted in his left hand in early 2005. Photo credit: http://flickr.com/photos/28129213@N00/7267159

Our own technological advances since World War II make a great case for his position. Medical advancements since the 1950s show human beings becoming more bionic as digital and mechanical breakthroughs have found their way into our bodies. The development of true Artificial intelligence (AI) is, by some estimates, just a few decades away. When considering Moore’s Law—which shows a pattern of accelerating returns in technological improvement—Shostak is forced to believe humanity’s main role in the universe might be the creation of its successor.

“The continued exponential growth in computer power implies that even consumer-grade computers will have the processing power of a human brain by the year 2040,” he says.

If and when we do create true AI, it would surpass us quickly. An AI would have the power to self-direct its own evolution.

“If we build a machine with the intellectual capability of one human, then within 5 years, its successor is more intelligent than all humanity combined,” he says.

The window between a society’s technological birth and its shift to artificial intelligence is amazingly small.

Dark clouds in the image are known as Bok Globules, areas of space that may be hospitable to extraterrestrial machine intelligence. Image credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

“Once any society invents the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are at most only a few hundred years away from changing their own paradigm of sentience to ,” he says. Because artificial sentience would almost inevitably outlast and outperform its fleshy, needy predecessors, Shostak concludes that any aliens we detect will be machines.

ET machines would be infinitely more intelligent and durable than the biological intelligence that invented them. Intelligent machines would in a sense be immortal, or at least indefinitely repairable, and would not need to exist in the biologically hospitable “Goldilocks Zone” most SETI searches focus on. An AI could self-direct its own evolution. Every new instance of an AI would be created with the sum total of its predecessor’s knowledge preloaded.

The machines would require two primary resources: energy to operate with and materials to maintain or advance their structure. Because of these requirements, Shostak thinks SETI ought to consider expanding its search to the energy- and matter-rich neighborhoods of hot stars, black holes and neutron stars.

Data centers like this generate a lot of heat, and keeping them cool is a major challenge for modern computing. Intelligent computers would likely seek out a low-temperature habitat. Image credit: Rice University

Bok globules are another search target for sentient machines. These dense regions of dust and gas are notorious for producing multiple-star systems. At around negative 441 degrees Fahrenheit, they are about 160 degrees F colder than most of interstellar space.

This climate could be a major draw because thermodynamics implies that machinery will be more efficient in cool regions that can function as a large “heat sink”. A Bok globule’s super-cooled environment might represent the Goldilocks Zone for the machines, says Shostak. But because black holes and Bok globules are not hospitable to life as we know it, they are not on SETI's radar.

“Machines have different needs,” he says. “They have no obvious limits to the length of their existence, and consequently could easily dominate the intelligence of the cosmos. In particular, since they can evolve on timescales far, far shorter than biological evolution, it could very well be that the first machines on the scene thoroughly dominate the intelligence in the galaxy. It’s a “winner take all” scenario.”

“While it’s not easy trying to figure the best SETI strategy to uncover these super sentients, it seems worthwhile to spend at least some of our SETI efforts trying to establish their presence,” he adds.

Explore further: Image: Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

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User comments : 49

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Quantum_Conundrum
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 01, 2010
If the machines have quantum computers it's unlikely you will ever detect a signal since everything would use entanglement both for calculations and communication...
Modernmystic
1.3 / 5 (6) Oct 01, 2010
Any technological intelligence we encounter will almost certainly be machine intelligence.
SBuda
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
If the machines have quantum computers it's unlikely you will ever detect a signal since everything would use entanglement both for calculations and communication...

Haha, so true
That was one of the best comments i've read in a while on physorg
Phideaux
5 / 5 (2) Oct 01, 2010
Having intelligence alone doesn't suffice to "self-direct" or "dominate". If an AI is to do anything at all on its own it would have to possess something akin to intentionality, motivation, instincts, or drives.
IvyMike
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
This reminds me of the Reapers from Mass Effect.
Arkaleus
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
I agree, linear EM-based communications wouldn't make sense for a cosmic culture whose sphere of influence would involve different gravities, vastly different relative velocities, and individuals at great distances from one another.

Entanglement and other trans-dimensional concepts are probably the norm for cosmic-scale communication and interaction. A cosmic culture would have a very different understanding of time than ourselves and it would be difficult for us to understand this at first. Our primitive language forms and cultural concepts are structured around the illusion of linearity and this would be hard to overcome when we meet our first developed neighbors.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
It would be like people who are blind and can only hear with audio waves totally unaware of the communications going on by us humans using walkie talkies, satellites, fiber optics and the like. A whole world of communications unknown to them.
dirk_bruere
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
No surprise that ET, who is thousands of times smarter than us, does not initiate contact. When was the last time you set out to contact an ant?
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (7) Oct 01, 2010
No surprise that ET, who is thousands of times smarter than us, does not initiate contact. When was the last time you set out to contact an ant?


"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

God isn't a space alien, but he is at least thousands of times smarter than us.
Arkaleus
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
Dirk, I don't know that you can be 100% certain they haven't done so. The window of our ability to identify extraterrestrial civilizations as such is only about 200 years wide. Historically they would have been described supernaturally.

There may be evidence of ancient world-tending on Mars and Earth, advanced beings observing our solar system may have transplanted species from a dying Mars to a more stable earth. We can easily prove this by finding fossils on Mars that are identical to species of fossils found on earth, perhaps from the same epochs. If we find multiple matches, the only logical conclusion is intelligent transplantation and gardening / world-tending would be among the traits we should assign extraterrestrial intelligence.

As our ability to resolve details of our galaxy increases we will likely observe worlds where the conditions for life are prime, and we should expect to find life there.
Jim1965
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 01, 2010
The chance that machine intelligences are already visiting earth has to be near 100%. With an updated estimate of some 10's of billions of solar systems in the Milky Way harboring a goldilocks planet, the math keeps getting easier. Why would A.I.'s millions of times smarter than us come here? Perhaps studying life and other A.I.'s in the galaxy is just one subroutine among 10^100 other subroutines. And they may have all the feeling capacities we have and much, much more. Who knows. It should be remembered that humans study ants with much fascination; why deny such interests to greater intelligences who may want to study us? We might be at least a little bit interesting.
Husky
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
if you were an intelligent machine, would you risk humans with their chaotic unstable minds to plug you from the wallsocket? At least some of them would conclude we are a potentialy dangerous ant infestation, same goes for phoning ET, who needs guided missiles when we provide the homing beacon for their photon torpedos, i wouldn't call them before we got a state of technology to deal on equal terms with ET
maxcypher
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
Have you guys read that Sci-Fi series, which had the following premise: We exist only because the post-bio, galaxy-distributed, intra-competing, systems of intelligence refrain from dissembling us for raw material only because they/it recognize that we are the incubators of new versions of post-bio life? Yep.
TJ_alberta
not rated yet Oct 01, 2010
maxcypher: Yep. Agree we should avoid drawing the attention of the Replicators.
Husky
not rated yet Oct 02, 2010
onlu the most powerfull civilisations can safely setup a beacon and make a tourist trap out of it for upcoming but still less powerfull civilisations to walk into it, that's i suspect many advanced civilisations prefer to keep quiet, darwins law on a cosmic scale

I believe Rosselvelt once said: "walk quietly and carry a big stick" Instead we attempt to shout, holding only tablespoon, for the time being we i think we should be in observing mode (large telescopes) only and work on the big stick
plasticpower
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2010
Machines have zero interest in us, other than perhaps some curiosity that we exhibit toward things like insects and bacteria. We present no real threat and certainly nothing new to any extra-terrestrial or future terrestrial AI.

Who is to say that intelligent machines will even take on humanoid form? They could just be giant server farms the size of entire planets, that perhaps occupy a rock somewhere in the middle of nowhere where no expanding star can destroy them, forever crunching numbers - so far beyond our comprehension that we wouldn't even consider it intelligent because we couldn't possibly fathom with our pathetic biological minds what could this thing be thinking about, unless we decided to screw with it...

scogostology
1 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2010
Any highly advanced civilizations out there in our vast galaxy could be sending signals and trying to communicate with us and we could have been receiving but misinterpreting them all the while. They could also be living among us without us detecting them. They could be hiding in the 4th dimension (Time or mental plane) and from there influencing us. That may explain our great and sudden advancement in science and technology during the past 300 yrs. For more than 5000 yrs, human beings lived without high technology. Then suddenly within the last 300 yrs, we started flying in the sky and going to the moon, Mars, creating satellites computers, internet, robots, using genetic engineering to create new species and all the marvels of modern science. Why? Get free ebook-1 at scogostology.yolasite.com/download-book-1.php
jalmy
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2010
This article makes some rediculous assumptions, and is so totaly illogical that the super computers invisioned would be laughing at it. First of all, we will eventualy make a computer that can hold all the knowledge of humanity and do any computation on any data instantly. It will happend eventualy, no argument there. But in fact when that day happens it will still be no more than the worlds most expensive calculator. Are we no more than the sum of our parts? I think we are. We have not concurred AI yet, and assuming we will is very very presumptuous. We may never, ever be able to create real AI. We may be able to make computers that can pretend fairly well, but not true AI. And us meatbags will Never allow them to become a true civilization on their own in any event. They are machines, and you all read too many sci-fi novels.
mertzj
not rated yet Oct 02, 2010
Not to be a smart ass but who really besides whoever wrote this would even begin to think that if there was something so great and so advanced that it would need to be cooled? That was just my first thought of many. I am with jalmy... I doubt my laptop will ever have great enough ai to want get with my desktop and produce little smartpnones...
Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (1) Oct 02, 2010
Mertzj:

Any machine would eventually need a heat sink, otherwise waste heat and entropy would destroy it eventually.
mertzj
1 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2010
i would imagine these "machines" are efficient enough to not produce any waste heat.
otto1932
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
Having intelligence alone doesn't suffice to "self-direct" or "dominate". If an AI is to do anything at all on its own it would have to possess something akin to intentionality, motivation, instincts, or drives.
The incipient intelligence would only need to be programmer for self-defense and propagation once. Instincts, drives, motivations are all programming. Like Berserker intelligence was programmer to seek out and destroy all life.
otto1932
5 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2010
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

God isn't a space alien, but he is at least thousands of times smarter than us.

Haha, so lame
That was one of the worst comments i've read in a while on Physorg... But typical.

QC, if your god was real (he's not) his intelligence would be, uh, infinite? You know, like his super-strength? I wonder if you drop these shit bombs here just to elicit comments. There's really no other explanation for this one.
otto1932
1 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2010
i would imagine these "machines" are efficient enough to not produce any waste heat.
Waste heat is unavoidable, at least with our current understanding of physics. But you're right, there may be ways of dumping it into other dimensions or something.

Otto is having troubles with spellchecker in some of his posts... If machines have filled the galaxy and prefer cold environs, perhaps a place to look for them is in the oort cloud.
otto1932
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
Cont
-Machines arrive in a system, destructively mine inner planets one at a time for certain heavy elements (leaving debris rings like the asteroid belt), and reside in the outer reaches, tolerating or even conserving the local wildlife (us). They may be in no rush to overpopulate-
Oliver_k_Manuel
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
There must be millions of planets in our galaxy many of them billions of years older than earth never mind the accompanying moons and asteroids and comets,with all this matter bubbling,sparking,colliding,mixing and differentiating there are undoubtedly forms of life in existence that we are incapable of imagining
Journey
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
I laughed all the way through the article and some of the touche comments. I agree with Husky, though, that we should walk quietly and carry a big stick! We have no idea what's out there. If any AI should see us and our planet as only resources, we had better hope our signals of "Hullo, Hullo! Anyone out there?" have been totally unfathomable to them. After all, how have we ourselves treated so-called "inferior" species on this planet?

Jeremyh
1 / 5 (1) Oct 04, 2010
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

God isn't a space alien, but he is at least thousands of times smarter than us.

Why some people even bother commenting on this site...
Grow up.... God has nothing to do with the future... or the other life forms out in the vastness of space.
A NON Entity (Like GOD) has no Intelligence.
Pkunk_
not rated yet Oct 04, 2010
Machines have zero interest in us, other than perhaps some curiosity that we exhibit toward things like insects and bacteria. We present no real threat and certainly nothing new to any extra-terrestrial or future terrestrial AI.

Who is to say that intelligent machines will even take on humanoid form? They could just be giant server farms the size of entire planets, that perhaps occupy a rock somewhere in the middle of nowhere where no expanding star can destroy them, forever crunching numbers - so far beyond our comprehension that we wouldn't even consider it intelligent because we couldn't possibly fathom with our pathetic biological minds what could this thing be thinking about, unless we decided to screw with it...



Well said .. It's exactly why i think Battlestar Galactica was pointless..
Clearly the humans were inferior and not fit for the Cylons to waste thier and OUR time with the whole thing.
LivaN
not rated yet Oct 04, 2010
@jalmy
You are incorrect. AI will certainly be achieved when we reach a technological point where a human brain can be simulated, to the atomic level, on a supercomputer. It may be reached before.

Are we no more than the sum of our parts? I think we are.


A brain is certainly more than the sum of it's parts. What can any single brain cell acomplish? Where is the "intelegence" in any single brain cell?

Concious arisses from massive amounts of parallel processing. It's only a matter of time until AI is a reality.
kevinrtrs
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 05, 2010
It took until the 17th century for us to reject Aristotle’s vision of a universe where our Sun and the stars revolved around the Earth

Makes me wonder how long it'll take for people to finally reject Darwinian ideas of the origin of species[read life] or the currently fashionable cosmology theory known as the Big Bang.

mg1
not rated yet Oct 05, 2010
I thought about this (long and hard) and came to the conclusion that it was not the iq that was important but the emotional state. However if an evil emotional ET machine were to surface it would quickly dominate all good ET life.

There is also the conundrum that the machines would be stuck trying to compute what the definition of infinity is and whether or not moores law would hamper them. They might even decide that being small (nanoscale) would allow greater achievement so thus a race to be the smallest would ensue to the point where the ET machines are so small as to not be a worry to anyone.

Also necessity breeds invention and seeing as a machine ET would need very little i cant see it inventing much so would at most it would be a technological skew towards materials.

Im wondering then if there is a small chunk of Element unobtanium lying around somewhere puzzling over reality.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2010
The researchers are making the assumption that the machines will not only have intelligence but also the ability to interact with the physical world in such a way as to be able to construct it's successors. This means that the AI will have to interface with all kinds of mechanical machines. All by itself. Not impossible, just another big hurdle to overcome.
As for ET, just how does one recognize an ET when one finally encounters one?
I've said it before: don't look out there - look into your own DNA and see ET Intelligence at work. The DNA code meets and exceeds every imaginable requirement for intelligence and yet it gets thrown in the junk bin when it comes to that purpose. For purely philosophical reasons: that there is no God.
Arkaleus
4.7 / 5 (3) Oct 05, 2010
Why are we still separating the concept "machine" from other forms of organic life? We operate as nothing but machines ourselves; we are powered by electricity, a hydraulic system, and use a variety of light and electrical signals to interact with the universe.

It can only be because we are still using a primitive concept that differentiates between a human being and a constructed device. We should move into the next stage of thought which views organized matter as a single type, with all life being organized matter.

With this new definition, life can extend to a much wider variety of organized systems. Intelligence might exist in very strange forms, perhaps even in what we consider to be non-living today like stars or planets.
Skeptic_Heretic
1 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2010
It can only be because we are still using a primitive concept that differentiates between a human being and a constructed device. We should move into the next stage of thought which views organized matter as a single type, with all life being organized matter.
Well that's a little too loose of a definition. Technically the moon is gravitationally organized matter but neither of us would consider it alive. I'd say that energy, rather than organization, determines life. Self sustaining energetic reations contains every life form while not creating an arbitrary boundary, but even this is still a little too loose a definition. I think it's a rather interesting question without a clear answer.
Arkaleus
5 / 5 (1) Oct 05, 2010
I understand your reluctance to include something as massive as the moon as alive, but what justifies this exclusion? I admit it would be hard to convince biologists that planets, stars and perhaps galaxies may be intelligent entities, but there is nothing that precludes them from being so.

My main point is that we should no longer separate "machine life" from "human or organic" life. They are the same construct and should be consolidated as a single concept.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2010
I understand your reluctance to include something as massive as the moon as alive, but what justifies this exclusion? I admit it would be hard to convince biologists that planets and stars perhaps galaxies as living beings, but there is nothing that precludes them from being so.
Well my objection would be in regards to the relative level of stasis on the moon. Sure the planet changes due to bombardment but that's an external force.

Would you consider a pile of rocks in your backyard to be a life form? Realistically, the moon is just a large pile of rock. I do understand your argument and see the merit in it to a point but I think it's far too broad due to some of the basic tenets of what we have always used the word "life" to represent. Such as the old addage of the big 3, reproduction, consumption, and homeostasis.

The current scientific definition is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes.
Arkaleus
not rated yet Oct 05, 2010
Good topic;

I think our definition of life has been strongly biased towards the illusion of our human senses. We tend to assign "life" to gross encasement of the visible body, rather than to the intelligence that is sustained by biological process.

If you consider that a human being is NOT a contiguous entity, but a COLONY of aggregated cells who share a general location and communicate, transport and function more like a city than a individual, then you need to redefine what life is. We do not "reproduce" a human like the book says, it is our cells that reproduce individually, and the sum total of the cell colony reproducing according to a set of rules produces the being that looks to our eyes like a person. But in truth, it is a large collection of tiny entities that are individual life forms themselves.

Modern philosophy and biology misses this almost completely and we should ponder it when considering how to define what life is and how it is expressed in matter.
Arkaleus
not rated yet Oct 05, 2010
Since there appears to only be cellular "life" on this planet, we must consider the true and dominant living entity on the world to be the cell. All other creatures are built from various organizations of these tiny individuals. So we can't say it's a horse, but rather a colony of cells that are shaped like a horse.

And when we say the horse shaped cell colony is alive, we can't mean the matter it is made from is living since the matter itself does not possess life as a property like atomic weight or charge. Instead, What we call a single noun, "life" is instead an illusion created by the interchange of a vast colony of cells, much like the glow from the many parts of a city or the emission spectrum from a collection of stars in a galaxy.

You might think the planets are static, but they have motion and are quite active with cycles measured in millions and billions of years. To us, it may appear like it is unchanging but we should know better by now.
otto1932
not rated yet Oct 05, 2010
The researchers are making the assumption that the machines will not only have intelligence but also the ability to interact with the physical world in such a way as to be able to construct it's successors.
But they wont have SOULS, will they kevin? Just like us. Your gods will be superceded by... energy? Knowledge? Gone but certainly not forgotten; machines never forget.

There may be a time when Berserkers roam the galaxy in search of religionism, to stamp it out wherever it festers-
http://en.wikiped...erhagen)

@arkelameass
-Look up the word 'contiguous'. If you want to use big words you should at least check them first.
But in truth, it is a large collection of tiny entities that are individual life forms themselves.
You might want to check an authority on the subject-
http://en.wikiped...ish_Gene
Arkaleus
not rated yet Oct 06, 2010
Thank you Otto for confirming my vocabulary. The word contiguous exactly describes the concept I was attempting to convey: The outdated concept of a person or a horse being thought of as a single, contiguous being without any internal divisions or components is an illusion of our senses and does not reflect the reality of our bodies being more like ecosystems of differentiated individual life forms (cells). It

Perhaps you should actually *read* the dictionary before attempting to grammar troll.

Would you be so kind as to explain why you think the Selfish Gene is important when considering my argument against illusory classifications?
otto1932
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 06, 2010
Au contraire, mon Pudel:
1. Sharing a common border; touching.
2. Next or together in sequence.
One thing canot be contiguous. Multiple things such as cells can be contiguous but an entity cannot be contiguous, except in the presence of other entities.

Perhaps your mindless love of phrases compelled you to consider this one: "The contiguous United States" -which are the 48 U.S. STATES (plural) on the continent of North America which are separate but contiguous, that is, border-sharing; yes?

The Selfish Gene properly describes the role of cellular life as transport for genetic material from one gen to the next. Cells in our bodies are not designed to function in this respect by themselves.

This is why most cells carry genes describing the entire organism, not just the cell itself- they are meant to function as an inseparable part of a complete system designed to reproduce in its entirety.

Your lyrical concept is absurd and poorly described using poorly chosen words.
Arkaleus
3 / 5 (2) Oct 08, 2010
"Cells are not designed. . ."

You speak as though you are familiar with the designer.

Otto, it's not fun to speak with you. Sorry.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Oct 08, 2010
We already are incorporating technology into our biology, and have shown that we can make neurons "talk" to the technology we make.

It's as inevitable as a wheel barrel was once we discovered the wheel.

Now if they're non-technical intelligent beings then good luck finding them at all in the near future, but they're most likely going to retain their biology. We aren't in that category.
Javinator
not rated yet Oct 08, 2010
Makes me wonder how long it'll take for people to finally reject Darwinian ideas of the origin of species[read life] or the currently fashionable cosmology theory known as the Big Bang.


As soon as they're proven wrong just like the geocentric universe to which you previously referred.
otto1932
not rated yet Oct 08, 2010
"Cells are not designed. . ."

You speak as though you are familiar with the designer.
Your human languages are all so... incomplete. This is the source of your pointless creative arts- the desire to compensate for your inability to express yourselves succinctly because of inadequate brain modules. Poor little unaugmented primitives.
Otto, it's not fun to speak with you. Sorry.
Yes it is. I have affidavits.
mg1
not rated yet Oct 08, 2010
If I were to imagine a time when we would create and unleash AI forms on the galaxy I would hope for one we had at least introduced Evil AI's in to the soup to prepare the good AI's for this eventuality. Being prepared should be a top priority. Only a stable Good AI that has had previous contact with and rejected Evil AI principles would be worthy of our trust. If trust could ever be assigned to such a strange development.

Will humans leave behind biological bodies for technological forms, in principle I dont see why not but in practice if permanent substitution were allowed it would negate the question where is evolution headed. If that honourable question remains then I believe humans in biological form will to.
Arkaleus
not rated yet Oct 11, 2010
To re-iterate: The distinction between "machine" and "alive" is a purely semantic one that a primitive culture derives from its experimentation with early machinery. There is no "artificial" intelligence, there is only intelligence. We are all artifice.

There really is no true distinction between a human machine and a machine a human creates, except in the degree of fineness and grace it is constructed with. We are nothing more than electrochemical self replicating DNA nanofactories with enough sensory hardware to generate a identity.

Our self-serving definition of intelligence and ego-fondling classification system is troglodyte vanity and mirror-gazing. The excellence of design expressed by the Universe that generates intellect and allows its progress is what should be considered above our encasement of wet meat and the squawking of our fleshy eating apparatus.
oowawa
not rated yet Oct 17, 2010
Maybe space itself is a conscious spiritual substance which permeates all things and is the only stuff that is really alive . . .

Or maybe not . . .