International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

2nd Edition, as published by Charles François 2004 Presented by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Vienna for public access.


The International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics was first edited and published by the system scientist Charles François in 1997. The online version that is provided here was based on the 2nd edition in 2004. It was uploaded and gifted to the center by ASC president Michael Lissack in 2019; the BCSSS purchased the rights for the re-publication of this volume in 200?. In 2018, the original editor expressed his wish to pass on the stewardship over the maintenance and further development of the encyclopedia to the Bertalanffy Center. In the future, the BCSSS seeks to further develop the encyclopedia by open collaboration within the systems sciences. Until the center has found and been able to implement an adequate technical solution for this, the static website is made accessible for the benefit of public scholarship and education.


ARTIFICIAL LIFE (The Seven Commandments of) 1)

The following is a shortened synthesis of the subject as presented by C. EMMECHE (1994, p.17-22)

"In its ambitious version, the concept of artificial life encompasses the following ideas.

"1. The biology of possible… artificial life deals with life as it could be… Biology today is only the biology of actual life. It must become a biology of any possible life-forms.

"2. Synthetic method. Where traditional biological research has placed emphasis on analyzing living beings and explaining them in terms of their smallest parts, the artificial-life perspective attempts to synthetize life-resembling processes or behavior in computers or other media.

"3. Real (artificial) life. Artificial life is the study of humanly created systems that exhibit behavior characteristic of natural living systems… They are designed by us. The behavior however is produced by the artificial life itself.

"4. All life is form. Neither actual or possible life is determined by the matter of which it is constructed. Life is a process, and it is the form of this process, not the matter, that is the essence of life.

"These four theses are related" .

There are moreover "three additional commandments about the way in which artificial life must be constructed:

"5. Bottom-up construction. The synthesis of artificial life takes place best via a principle of computer-based information processing called "bottom-up programming": at the bottom many small units and a few rules for their internal purely local interaction are defined (This is the real programming). From this interaction arises the coherent "global" behavior at the general level: a behavior not previously programmed according to specific rules.

"6. Parallel processing. While information processing in a classical computer takes place sequentially … the principle for information processing in artificial life is based on a massive parallelism that occurs in real life. (Note: i.e., reflecting the simultaneous activity of many individual elements).

"7. Allowance for emergence. The essential feature of artificial life is that it is not predesigned in the same trivial sense as one designs a car or a robot. The most interesting examples of artificial life exhibit "emergent behavior".


  • 1) General information
  • 2) Methodology or model
  • 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
  • 4) Human sciences
  • 5) Discipline oriented


Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

To cite this page, please use the following information:

Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]

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