Document Detail

A New Criterion for Demarcating Life from Non-Life.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  24402034     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Criteria for demarcating life from non-life are important for deciding whether new candidate systems, either discovered extraterrestrially or constructed in the laboratory, are genuinely alive or not. They are also important for understanding the origin of life and its evolution. Current criteria are either too restrictive or too extensive. The new criterion proposed here poses that a system is living when it is capable of utilizing active causation, at evolutionary or behavioural timescales. Active causation is produced when the organism uses an estimate of its own Darwinian fitness to modulate the variance of stochasticity that drives hereditary or behavioural changes. The changes are subsequently fed back to the fitness estimate and used in the next cycle of a feedback loop. The ability to use a self-estimated fitness in this way is an evolved property of the organism, and the way in which fitness is estimated is therefore controlled and stabilized by Darwinian evolution. The hereditary and behavioural trajectories resulting from this mechanism combine predictability with unpredictability, and the mechanism produces a form of self-directed agency in living organisms that is absent from non-living systems.
J H van Hateren
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2014-1-9
Journal Detail:
Title:  Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere : the journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1573-0875     ISO Abbreviation:  Orig Life Evol Biosph     Publication Date:  2014 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2014-1-9     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8610391     Medline TA:  Orig Life Evol Biosph     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
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