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The search for a first cell under the maximalism design principle

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A new design principle is discussed for making a sufficiently complex cell for the creation of the first wet artificial life in the laboratory. The current approach is to attempt a minimal cell, which consists of a liposome that contains a minimal metabolic cycle for self-maintenance and self-replication. Given the lack of success with the minimal cell to date, the authors suggest it is possible to take an alternative approach to building the first wet artificial life form that they have called the first cell. In this article, the concept of the first cell versus the minimal cell is discussed. The new design principle is supported by the following observations that are examined and developed from an Origins of Life perspective:

Finally, the important design question Is life a contingent or deterministic phenomenon? is examined which asks whether a life form is a dynamic product of its surroundings or whether it is the inevitable outcome of prior events, and is discussed making reference to the characteristics of an art installation The Way Things Go. This contemporary masterpiece, which exhibits a long-lasting chain of unrelated causal events, serves as a theoretical model for discussion of evolutionary processes, suggesting that when it comes to designing wet artificial life forms in the laboratory, both contingent and deterministic processes should be taken into account.
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Keywords: artificial life; contingency; determinism; evolution; first cell; minimal cell

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo. 2: Centre for Fundamental Living Technology Department of Physics and Chemistry, University of Southern Denmark.

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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  • Technoetic Arts focuses upon the juncture between art, technology and the mind. Divisions between academic areas of study, once rigidly fixed, are gradually dissolving due to developments in science and cultural practice. This fusion has had a dramatic effect upon the scope of various disciplines. In particular, the profile of art has radically evolved in our present technological culture
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