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Life and How to Make It

Steve Grand

ISBN 9780674011137

Publication date: 05/30/2003

Working mostly alone, almost single-handedly writing 250,000 lines of computer code, Steve Grand produced Creatures®, a revolutionary computer game that allowed players to create living beings complete with brains, genes, and hormonal systems—creatures that would live and breathe and breed in real time on an ordinary desktop computer. Enormously successful, the game inevitably raises the question: What is artificial life? And in this book—a chance for the devoted fan and the simply curious onlooker to see the world from the perspective of an original philosopher-engineer and intellectual maverick—Steve Grand proposes an answer.

From the composition of the brains and bodies of artificial life forms to the philosophical guidelines and computational frameworks that define them, Creation plumbs the practical, social, and ethical aspects and implications of the state of the art. But more than that, the book gives readers access to the insights Grand acquired in writing Creatures—insights that yield a view of the world that is surprisingly antireductionist, antimaterialist, and (to a degree) antimechanistic, a view that sees matter, life, mind, and society as simply different levels of the same thing. Such a hierarchy, Grand suggests, can be mirrored by an equivalent one that exists inside a parallel universe called cyberspace.


  • Steve Grand is the creator of what I think is the nearest approach to artificial life so far, and his first book, Creation, is as interesting as you would expect. But he illuminates more than just the properties of life; his originality extends to matter itself and the very nature of reality.

    —Richard Dawkins, The Guardian


  • Steve Grand is co-founder and former Director of Technology at Creature Labs, a firm based in the United Kingdom. He has written and lectured widely on the topic of artificial life and was nominated by the Sunday Times (of London) as one of “The Brains behind the 21st Century.” His latest research objective is to build the world’s first conscious machine.

Book Details

  • 240 pages
  • 5-11/16 x 8-7/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press