This enthralling book alerts us to nothing less than the existence of new varieties of life. Some of these species can move and eat, see, reproduce, and die. Some behave like birds or ants. One such life form may turn out to be our best weapon in the war against AIDS.
What these species have in common is that they exist inside computers, their DNA is digital, and they have come into being not through God's agency but through the efforts of a generation of scientists who seek to create life in silico.
But even as it introduces us to these brilliant heretics and unravels the intricacies of their work. Artificial Life examines its subject's dizzying philosophical implications: Is a self-replicating computer program any less alive than a flu virus? Are carbon-and-water-based entities merely part of the continuum of living things? And is it possible that one day "a-life" will look back at human beings and dismiss us as an evolutionary way station -- or, worse still, a dead end?
About the Author
Steven Levy is the author of Hackers, which has been in print for more than 15 years, as well as Insanely Great: The Life & Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything. He is also Newsweek's chief technology writer and has been a contributing writer to Wired since its inception. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.
"We used to think we knew what life is [but] not any more. 'Artificial life' has become a strange and exciting frontier of modern science...and Steven Levy makes an ideal tour guide." -- James Gleick.