Nature can now be influenced to a large extent by technology, and many new lifeforms emerge, either biological or digital. It seems that everyone will soon be able to design his or her own digital 'companion'. But what should this 'companion' look like, how should it function and why should we design it at all? Is nature itself not good enough at designing life, and is what we call 'nature' not already designed by ourselves? What are our motives to design 'nature' in its biological, mechanical and digital form?
Since a few years, artists and scientists have been investigating 'artificial life' - the process of creating and studying life forms, mostly as computer programs. Through software, plants, animals and social structures are designed that can develop and behave according to rules defined in this software. They can procreate and die.
The fundamental question is the question of how to define the concept of 'life'. Since the first rock paintings to Terminator II and Jurassic Park, artists have attempted to find convincing definitions of life. Here also technology has become a defining factor.