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Sounding the Limits of LifeEssays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond$
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Stefan Helmreich

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164809

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164809.001.0001

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An Archaeology Of Artificial Life, Underwater

An Archaeology Of Artificial Life, Underwater

(p.35) Chapter 3 An Archaeology Of Artificial Life, Underwater
Sounding the Limits of Life

Stefan Helmreich

Sophia Roosth

Michele Friedner

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how scientists working on Artificial Life have understood their practices as situated historically. It first considers the practice of finding genealogies for Artificial Life, arguing that such a search for ancestors carries acute historiographical and epistemological dangers. It then comments on computer simulations that fashion the computer as a kind of fish tank into which users can peer to see artificial life forms swimming about. It also discusses a different realm of modeling, that of cognition in Artificial Intelligence. The chapter concludes by suggesting a mode of imagining history that it calls an underwater archaeology of knowledge. In an underwater archaeology of knowledge, representational artifacts become mixed in with portraits of the world, requiring new sorts of narrative disentangling and qualification.

Keywords:   computer simulations, Artificial Life, genealogies, artificial life form, cognition, Artificial Intelligence, underwater archaeology, knowledge

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