Created By: fhylMarch 9, 2011 Last Edited By: fhylMarch 1, 2012

Digital Lifeforms

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Do we have that? I haven't found it anywhere.

I'm referring to any form of entirely digital, virtual life-form, with its own "biological" rules dictating reproduction, evolution and such. My prime example is Darwinia (PC game), in which the little digital creatures have been created and have evolved by themselves through the system created by a programmer, have their own individual mind and thoughts, and have developed their own culture.

The idea is that a Magical Computer can hold a virtual world, in which virtual conscious minds exist, and that these virtual minds have no way of knowing they are virtual.

First draft for the final page below. Suggestions welcome : you can edit the entry to correct my syntax and add examples. ---

In an entirely virtual world generated by a Magical Computer, creatures have been created and lead their own life; in time, they even have developed consciousness. While their habitat is a simulation, they have no way of knowing so, and have no counterpart in the real world : they are entire beings in a digital world.

Just as the Mechanical Lifeforms, the Digital Lifeforms trope apply rules of biological matter to other items; here, these rules are applied to informatics.

While it may inhabit the Cyberspace where humans sometimes travel, the Digital Lifeforms is entirely contained in this virtual reality and does not need a physical basis to develop consciousness.

Compare Mechanical Lifeform and Cyberspace.

Examples:
  • Darwinia (PC game) is designed around this very idea : the Darwinians are a digital tribal species in which each creature has its own personality and individual consciousness, as well as a common culture (including language and rituals).
  • Re Boot (Western Animation) : various beings of unknown function inhabit a supercomputer and put up with the actions of a mysterious User, along with fighting anthropomorphic viruses and travelling the Net on pirate ships.
  • Tron (film) : the IS Os, while created as programs, develop a personality (such as having ambition or sense of duty) and emotions.

Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • March 9, 2011
    AXavierB
    I'm not sure, but I think the Data Entity from Haruhi Suzumiya might count. Made entirely of (seemingly digital) information. The cave cricket, which was apparently a subspecies of data lifeform, also counts. It even existed as dormant computer information before it was released.
  • March 9, 2011
    RodrigoVega
    All Digimons ever.. Porygon and it's evolutions in Pokemon.

  • March 9, 2011
    peccantis
    Computer worms and viruses that multiply and spread themselves. One day they will probably also be able to redefine themselves and evolve.
  • March 10, 2011
    Koveras
    The misleadingly named Cyborg from Fahrenheit.
  • March 10, 2011
    Jmacq1
    Would the programs of Tron qualify? It seems to meet all the criteria except that the lifeforms are generally aware of the "users" and seem to generally believe in a world beyond their own...even if it's in a more religious than scientific sense.

    If not the programs themselves, the IS Os would definitely meet the mark, I think.
  • March 10, 2011
    Earnest
    In Odyssey 5, these guys are the antagonists. Mostly.
  • March 10, 2011
    Rolf
    Dwarf fortess? from what I know, this game is extremely detailed on what digital lifeforms has, down to organs.

    Nevermind if this game dont have evolution.
  • March 10, 2011
    spikebrennan
    Conway's Game of Life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_Game_of_Life) is pretty much the canonical example.
  • March 10, 2011
    RodrigoVega
    Reboot.
  • March 10, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    ^yeah, Totally Reboot. Also Digimon, to an extent.
  • March 13, 2011
    fhyl
    Tron seems to fit the pedigree pretty well, as despite the fact they know they are virtual, they still have a consciousness that is entirely contained within the computer. I have no idea about Dwarf Fortress. Sure thing, I don't believe the trope is about having evolution at all : it's more about seeing the usual consequences or rules of life (evolution, culture, consciousness, learning) appearing in a simulated world, and thus having the "higher" aspects of life manifesting themselves without any real, physical life to support it. Thus, if Dwarf Fortress has virtual lifeforms that have emotions or consciousness, they fit my description of the trope. I don't enough about Digimon to say if it fits, but from what I know it seems to. If they exist inside computers as they do when they get out, I think it works.

    The Game of Life, however, does not fit : it's not about emulating life using life-like rules, but rather seeing actual "rules" of life being applied to a virtual world.
  • March 14, 2011
    Speedball
    Mention that Powers As Programs applies literally here.
  • March 14, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Memes. They multiply through "hosts" and evolve over time.
  • March 14, 2011
    batgirl1
    Would Tamagachis and other virtual pets count, or no?

    The Creatures series is completely based on taking care of critters and encouraging evolution.
  • March 14, 2011
    fhyl
    I'm unsure about virtual pets, I guess it depends on which ones. If one kind had an in-universe idea that you should be ashamed of not caring for your pet (because it is supposedly as alive as a dog, despite the fact that in reality it's only a computer program), then yes it counts.

    I don't about Creatures... Reading from the page, it seems to be close, but the question is whether the player is meant to believe, whether in-game or in real life, that these creatures are actually "alive" inside the computer, and thus that a complete format would be like a genocide against these beings.
  • March 15, 2011
    foxley
    All of the inhabitants of Cyberspace in Cyber Chase.
  • March 15, 2011
    arromdee
    The ISOs in Tron Evolution.
  • February 29, 2012
    Catbert
    Do we not have this already? If not, we need it. Anyone want to take it over?
  • February 29, 2012
    Omeganian
    The Technocore in the Hyperion series started that way.
  • February 29, 2012
    Damr1990
    The Cyber Elves on Megaman Zero, you can also use them as Power up, but by doint so you are sacrificing them, in fact, if you use them a lot you may obtain the rank of Elf Slayer, latter games add Cyber Space where some of them can be automatically used without being sacrificed and latter a Reusable Elf(although it never dies on the first place just gives you the ability, it has all the abilities of the other elfs
  • February 29, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • The virtual worlds in the The Avatar Chronicles series. Since the series takes place about two thousand years into the future, technology is a lot more advanced. The beings in the five digital worlds are sentient and even considered equals to human beings - just that their "universes" are wrapped in ours.
  • February 29, 2012
    Shnakepup
    • Features prominently in the Rifters Trilogy. In the future, the internet has become a sprawling, chaotic system of networks dubbed "Maelstrom" where malware and self-evolving computer viruses run rampant. To solve this, anti-malware programs also are able to alter themselves, but this has quickly lead to an escalating arms war between the viruses and the anti-malware. By the time of the first novel, Maelstrom has become a vibrant, wild, and dangerous digital ecosystem that's virtually impossible to actually browse.
  • February 29, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Web Original:
  • March 1, 2012
    Treblain
    • The digital lobsters in Charles Stross's Accelerando. Someone uploads the brain structure of a species of lobster onto the internet, and it immediately becomes a sentient Hive Mind online and contacts the main character to help it claim its rights.
    • Ted Chiang's "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" follows the developers at a company that makes virtual pets called 'digients' that people can raise in a Virtual Reality world. The 'pets' gradually become more and more intelligent even as the company abandons the project.
  • March 1, 2012
    Kossmeister
    The Moriarty hologram becomes one in the TNG episode "Ship in a Bottle."
  • March 1, 2012
    Bisected8
    Related to Brain Uploading, where someone becomes one.
  • March 1, 2012
    Arivne
    possible Image (Megaman X on his Cyber Elf Form) [[quoteright:350: MegamanX Cyber Elf Form
    some caption text

    Edit: This post has been edited by Arivne to change a picture that was breaking YKTTW to a link. Original poster was Damr1990. Damr1990, to put your name back on this post just edit it in any way, such as by deleting this paragraph.

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