"Life as Algorithm"

In Jenny Andersson & Sandra Kemp (eds.), Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature: Futures. Oxford, UK: (2021)
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This chapter uncovers the complex negotiations for authority in various representations about futures of life which have been advanced by different branches of the sciences, and have culminated in the emerging concept of life as algorithm. It charts the historical shifts in expertise and representations of life, from naturalists, to mathematical modellers, and specialists in computation, and argues that physicists, game theorists, and economists now take a leading role in explaining and projecting futures of life. The chapter identifies Richard Dawkins and Max Tegmark at the forefront of the concept of life as algorithm: the first inspired by game theory as a means to study evolution; the second proposing that a materialist basis of life could place humans and artificial intelligence on an equal footing. Through close reading of their respective texts, the chapter demonstrates that both thinkers consider life as an algorithm programmed to achieve success in survival and reproduction.
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