It's time to reconsider The Matrix film series.
Are the films based upon a brilliant, genuinely significant scientific idea - that artificial intelligence, once invented by humans, could evolve, making itself more complex without human intervention?
Or was The Matrix simply a marriage of convenience between pseudoscience, special effects, and a cheesy plot?
Unlike the majority of my friends, but in good company with several prominent philosophers, I tend to side with the former: The Matrix series does, in fact, raise some really fascinating questions, that merit further discussion.
What is a living organism, anyway?
Organisms are nothing more than machines made by genes, to protect the genes that built them. Genes are essentially self-replicators, molecules capable of making more copies of themselves. According to Richard Dawkins' Selfish Gene theory, the entire history of evolution on earth can be viewed as the struggle of genes to survive, by making more and more complex and varied bodies to inhabit.
Why shouldn't A.I. have the potential capacity to evolve? A.I. is based upon the idea of an algorithm that is designed to change its responses based on the input it recieves. Some video games now contain A.I. that can "learn" a user's pattern of behavior and adapt, making the game more challenging.
Theoretically, an algorithm capable of producing A.I. could lead to the evolution of changes that were never envisioned by the programmer.
The only other necessary ingredient is time.