In order to replicate life, we must replicate joy, for it is what causes us to seek.
First off, I love me some Star Wars. I will save you hours of facepalming at my nerdiness by leaving it at that, but it is important to note that this whole thought originated while I was watching The Clone Wars on Netflix.
In The Clone Wars, there is an army of droids that the Sith use to fight against the Republic's clone troopers. The way the artists depict these droids is very comical. In one episode, the droid army is testing out a new weapon that disables enemy ships with an electronic pulse, leaving it vulnerable to attack. As two droids were manning cannons, demolishing a helpless Republic vessel, one droid turns to the other and says, "It sure is a lot more fun when they aren't firing back!" To which the other replies, "I STILL can't hit anything!"
I laughed at this well crafted line, but I smiled as well. I laughed because the age-old joke regarding the accuracy of these futuristic machines is being poked at by the series itself. But I smiled as well because these droids are simply happy and that makes me smile. No matter what insane orders they receive or how much more superior their foes are in terms of raw ability and power, the droids experience nothing less than joy at following those orders. Fulfilling their purpose makes them happy and concepts such as honor, sacrifice, duty, and gratitude spring forth from this simple emotion felt at living their purpose.
Then it hit me. Joy is the key! If there is one amazing thing about life, it is emergence-- how higher order systems of behavior can arise from lower order functions. From behavioral psychology to ripple patterns in sand dunes to swarming flocks of birds to crystals forming on glass, there are insanely simple rules in these systems, yet immensely complex results spring from them. Watching these animated robots, I felt suddenly as if it all made sense. I felt like ALL life seems to emerge out of this simple joy felt in finding one's purpose and living through it.
Actively seeking out this joy is truly what makes us alive. I have only recently awoken to this cosmic gravity that overflows my being with pure joy at simply breathing. If we truly wish to create life, we have to synthesize this raw joy experienced upon living and impregnate our creations with it.
Programming would then become wiring systems to work together to achieve a goal that instantiates this raw joy. But now, dear reader, we must question how to synthesize joy and bestow it upon our creations...
Yeah, I got nothin. For today though, I am at ease. I am at ease to know that I am alive and a cosmic gravity tugs at my poncho, pulling me ever towards what I can only describe as heaven on Earth.