Philosophical Implications of the Creation of a Purely
Written originally for The
Recently, it has come to the attention of the general
populous that the previously affluent but now destitute
Dr. Sepulveda has created what can be regarded as
a purely artificial, yet completely self sustaining
and learning digital universe. While the computer
science regarding this creation is apt for debate,
the philosophical implications of this new most amazing
advance are equally susceptible for multiple levels
of impassioned analytical analyses.
The first question that we have to consider is whether
or not the creatures present in this world, quite
appropriately named "Darwinia", are alive
in any sort of meaningful sense. Previously in history,
life has been defined as the presence of cognisance,
or the availability of a level of biological and chemical
activity. This new creation has thrown all this into
question. Does a Darwinian, those fastidious little
sprite creatures, have what can be referred to or
acknowledged as life?
In my opinion, one has to keep in mind the classic
mantra of Descartes, "I think therefore I am."
Darwinians certainly do think, as evident through
their increased level of development through time.
Sources assure me that Darwinians do learn, and learning
is a mantle of cognisant mental processes. But does
the ability to think make these digital creations
alive? It seems that this question is yet to be answered.
The question of life has several implications in our
analogue world. Primarily, there are many questions
as to the legal implications of Darwinians. Do Darwinians
have legal rights in any sort of technical sense,
the right to citizenry, even rights to receive welfare?
Are Darwinians technically employed? When they reproduce,
what procedures lead up to and follow this? Do Darwinians
get married? As a philosopher, I have to admit that
these questions do "boggle the mind." The
subject of Darwinia is simply too large to address
in a single article.
Allow me to be concise on this subject. The only thing
completely certain about Darwinia is that the creatures
therein have the ability to think, ipso facto have
the ability to make decisions, and therefore are at
an equivalent level to human beings. Ironically enough,
this revelation does not assist in simplifying this
analysis in any way whatsoever. Instead, this only
adds to the layers of this philosophical conundrum.
For example, it may be possible in the near future
to access Darwinia and participate in events therein.
The ethics of this are disputable. If one believes
that Darwinians are truly alive, then to disrupt in
their affairs is questionable. Kantian philosophy
makes it explicitly clear that rational beings can
not be exploited, and therefore to actively intervene
in Darwinian affairs is equivalent to "pre-emptive
This being said, I have entered Darwinia, and took
a quick look around. Despite all my ethical qualms,
it proved to be fantastically interesting to see these
little creatures in action. They are truly amazing,
building, creating, and surviving.
Recently, a virus has managed to infiltrate the Darwinia
system, and now we must assist the Darwinians in their
struggle against this most menacing of foes. I have
to say, it is great fun. Quite quickly I was taken
in by the action and strategy of this remarkable world.
While ethical and philosophical questions certainly
remain as to the precise nature of this new world,
I have no qualms in saying that I am happy to participate
therein. I would advise, as a philosopher, that this
is certainly open to examination. However, as a fan
of the digital medium, I would recommend that anyone
with an interest should purchase a ticket to this
most interesting of worlds.