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Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life by Eric Charles Steinhart (auth.)

By Eric Charles Steinhart (auth.)

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Sample text

By contrast, a body that depends on life-support equipment for its breathing or metabolism is not self-contained. Putting all this together, some but not all processes have these four features: (1) every stage in the process is an organism; (2) the process runs some biological program; (3) the stages persist by self-updating; and (4) the process is primarily self-contained. Any process with these features is biologically continuous. A life is a biologically continuous process; it is a biologically continuous computation; it is a series of self-updating organisms.

The pipes involved in the lives of cells are updating pipes (see Section 11). These pipes are composed of the if-then rules in the cell-program. Since updating pipes link 3D cells into biologically continuous 4D cellular lives, it will be helpful to look at them in more detail. Updating pipes define successors. If an updating pipe runs from some previous cell to some next cell, then that next cell is a successor of the previous cell. The successor relation among cells is defined in terms of the successor relation among the configurations of cells.

The mind is the visceral hardware that runs the mind-program. While the mind is concentrated in the neuro-immune system, it is also distributed throughout the rest of the flesh. The mind penetrates every cell in the body; the mind is a subtle network that permeates and animates the flesh; the flesh is saturated with mentality. Thinking occurs in every cell in the body at the molecular level; the flesh boils with carnal thought. However, the mind is not the entirety of the body. Many parts of the body are not parts of the mind (for example, the lipids in cell walls; the water in cells; the cellular molecular networks involved in only metabolism or shape).

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