Technology: In Search of Artificial Life

Some scientists believe that things inside their computers are actually alive. What's really scary is that it may be true

They are born. They live their brief life. The fittest of them survive long enough to produce offspring. Over time their descendants evolve, adapting to changes in their environment. Or they fail to adapt and become extinct. They behave, in short, just like living things -- except that they are not flesh and blood but programs that inhabit the memory of a computer.

Can something that "lives" inside a computer really be alive? That is the bizarre question at the heart of artificial-life research, a fast-growing scientific field that seeks to illuminate the nature of life by recreating lifelike behavior in...

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