Notebooks

Artificial life

07 Jul 2011 15:41

Patterns form and fall apart.

We have created the homunculus and I
have seen the monstrous being. Forty days
the sperm lay buried in manure
and each day at noon the Master turned his magnet
across it, muttering foreign words.
Then, on the fortieth day
he showed me the resemblance of a man,
but it was transparent, without a corpus.
He told me we should feed the loathsome object
for exactly forty weeks, and all this time
allow it to lie in its bed of manure
in a continual and even temperature,
so that its every member might develop.
This we did, much against my will.
And it grew into a human child,
though much smaller than any born of Woman.
Now, my friends ask me to make one for them
That they may be as horrified as I.
I would do so for their admiration, except that
I am merely the apprentice of the Master,
and I am afraid.

---Evan S. Connell, Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel

"It's life if it dies when you stomp on it"; but then a steam engine or a pendulum, even, is alive. (Actually, W. Ross Ashby used to say things like that in all seriousness.)

See also: Agent-based Modeling; Artificial Intelligence; Biological Order and Levels of Organization; Complexity; Cybernetics; Self-Organization


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