What does being “alive” mean?

There has been a great deal of discussion about artificial intelligence and the potential dangers it poses to humans. Then there have been countless iterations of interpreting via stories moral lock downs such as robot rights, slave robots, artificial will and so on. But the main question regarding A.I. is

when exactly does A.I. become more than just a fancy tool?

My main hypothesis is that artificial intelligence will not be more than a query answering robot unless we factor in it unknowns and inevitable, time based, cycle endings. In particular we need a system who fights for its existence, a system that runs in a scarce resource, competitive environment, even more, a system that cannot access all the answers.

Artificial life is not only intelligent, it has the same goal as life in general: to defeat time because it is threatened by it. And, when we’ll create it, the artificial part will be lost, because, in the end, we’re meant to do it as our next evolutionary action towards time resilience. (more)

In that sense, we could say something is alive if:

  1. the base goal is to preserve low entropy
  2. all actions are determined by a predestined time resilience
  3. it is exposed directly to the effects of time, in particular decay

Even if a being is immortal, all three of above can still apply, and the being is alive.


The goal of any living being is resilience as a form of preserving its status.

the formula of life

where R is resilience, S is status and P is preservation. To ease calculation R, S and P can be integers, but in reality R is a time delta, S is a matrix and P is an algorithm.



Status is a complex notion that sums up genetic, biologic, cultural, societal and other states. Preservation is an algorithm that employs innovation, mutation and other methods of predictive feedback initiation. Both status and preservation change in time based on environment updates.

At birth a living being has P = 0, therefore R = 1.
At the time of death, a living being has S = 0, therefore R = 0.

If we create an A.I. system and aim to make it work above the limitations of a fully determined program, we require the incorporation of the formula of “life” in the main loop. The stability of the main loop must decay due to direct interaction with a physical hardware clock.

A decaying main loop is created by updating a composite variable on every tick of the hardware clock. Say we have a variable made of many parts such as A..n then there is a homeostasis function H that produces a result of a composite variable A..n.

A..n = H(A..n, S, E), where S is state and E is environment

Each part of the composite variable is then injected in the loop as values for various internal parameters. The H function applies data from state and environment to A..n. State is the current execution state and environment is the input of the current execution state from sensors and detectors.

Thus resilience is not embedded in a system, it rises naturally from decay based on external action. The better the preservation the bigger, exponentially, the resilience. The better the status (both complexity and connections, as status is a sum of states) the better the resilience.

If we build an A.I. that is generating questions, not answers, using answers simply to point to new questions awareness should arise by itself, but only in the presence of decay and resilience, otherwise we’ll never know if the system is aware as it has no reason to expose it.