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Digital Culture: The New Artifical Life - Essay Example

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Digital Culture: The New Artificial Life Introduction The discussion in Chapter 1 (pp. 3-7) of Christopher Adami’s book Introduction to Artificial Life focuses on how a theory of a living state could be verified through experiments based on the ‘elementary living object’ or the ‘simplest living thing’…
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Download file to see previous pages These characteristics are found in a living state’s elementary objects. This point is elaborated in the ‘concept of mass’ example (Adami 1998, 3-4): For instance, consider what once was considered to be characteristic of mass, namely that it could only be divided into its indivisible parts (the atoms), and that the mass of the sum of parts would equal the initial mass. Apparently, the elementary object in the above example is the ‘atoms’ since they make up the ‘mass’. But it was discovered that these ‘parts’ do not bear the characteristics of the whole system hence making analytic approach improbable. Therefore, the ‘elementary living thing’ was discarded. The ‘elementary living object’ was then replaced by the ‘simplest living thing’. This concept is not based on ‘characteristics’ any more but on ‘principles’. The argument states that “life seems to be a property of collection of components but not a property of the components themselves” (Adami 1998, 4). Therefore, these ‘principles’ are what is regarded as the fundamental feature of a living state. Due to this, generalizations are impossible. Thus, using ‘principles’ rather than ‘characteristics’, the author formulates a ‘principle of living system’ (Adami 1998, 6): Life is a property of an ensemble of units that share information coded in a physical substrate and which, in the presence of noise, manages to keep its entropy significantly lower than the maximal entropy of the ensemble, on timescales exceeding the ‘natural’ timescale of decay of the (information-bearing) substrate by many orders of magnitude. The above statement claims that a living thing is a separate unit; it cannot be generalized in terms of the characteristics of its parts; this discussion of ‘components’, ‘parts’, and ‘systems’ can be related to the concept of digital culture. It has been emphasized that the notion of a predetermined or rigid view of culture requires reinterpretation due to the global exchanges and relationships made possible by information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the 21st century. Just like a living system, culture is a ‘fusion of systems’ where in the cultural interaction process is continuously ‘agreed upon’ among cultures. The statement that “life is an emergent, rather than atomistic, phenomenon” (Adami 1998, 6) resembles some scholars assertion that every culture is independent and dynamic, which implies that cultural transactions facilitate cultural change, just like how experiments change current knowledge or theory (Hillis 1999). Moreover, the change is continuous: the creation of a separate entity is a continuous process of reconstruction. Hence, theories or cultural symbols are an outcome of a continuous reconstruction of scientific theories or cultural identity as the entire system revives and reinterprets itself. Just as life cannot be restricted to the characteristics of its components, cultural meaning cannot be understood from a single solid perspective; it can merely be understood as dynamic and evolving, and it can merely be examined in parts from a crossways or indirect point of view and with a focused mind. Within the current digital, visual, global, and interconnected communication systems, the creation of digital cultural meaning is not unilateral. Instead, it is a continuously fusing diversity of transcultural exchanges (Strehovec 2002). While motorized technology ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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