(extracted from: “Open Problems in Artificial Life” Mark A. Bedau, John S. McCaskill, Norman H. Packard, Steen Rasmussen, Chris Adami, David G. Green, Takashi Ikegami, Kunihiko Kaneko, Thomas S. Ray., Artificial Life 6 (2000), 363-376)
The following is a structured list of key open problems in artificial life. Some goals involve practical synthesis; others involve theoretical analysis. The aim is not necessarily to make each problem wholly independent of the others; some problems overlap or complement others, which may help to triangulate the deeper issues. The challenges are classified under three broad issues: the transition to life, the evolutionary potential of life, and the relation between life and mind and culture. The challenges falling under the third issue are necessarily more speculative and openended, so this whole list may best be viewed as ten challenges plus four areas of investigation. Moreover, some of the questions about mind and culture interweave scientific and nonscientific issues. Those issues are still important, though, not least because addressing them is probably the best way to clarify what in this area can be known scientifically.
This list of challenges could be extended, of course. Some fundamental questions are missing, the most notable being the nature of life itself. This question is presupposed by a number of the problems listed, however, and answering any problem will necessarily involve resolving anything it presupposes. Stating each challenge precisely enough that progress toward its solution can be unambiguously measured is often beyond our grasp.
However, where ambiguity remains, the discussion and evaluation of potential solutions can significantly clarify the challenge and contribute toward its eventual solution, in part by identifying and solving precise subproblems of those challenges. The authors are also aware that this list under-represents some areas in which artificial life plays a significant role, such as robotics, games, and art. In addition to promoting work on the issues listed here, the authors seek to prompt others to identify and publicize additional fundamental challenges. Discussion about whether to add new challenges to the list will itself facilitate progress throughout the field and we purposefully avoid the bias that would be introduced by citing what we think is the most important work on each topic.