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It wasn't until the advent of molecular theory that scientists could understand why nitric acid, which has many of the properties of water, is nonetheless not water.Molecular theory clearly and convincingly explains why this is the case: water is HO -- two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. A good theory of life would do the same for the cases that you mention, such as computer programs.I like the fact that this account attempts to deal with the origin of the cooperative schema.Q: Do you think there could have been multiple origins of life, or that life could have come to Earth from somewhere else?The key to formulating a general theory of living systems is to explore alternative possibilities for life.I am interested in formulating a strategy for searching for extraterrestrial life that allows one to push the boundaries of our Earth-centric concepts of life. How many hairs does it take to turn a "bald" man into a man who is "not bald? The fact that there are border line cases -- that we can't come up with a precise cut-off -- doesn't mean there isn't a difference between a bachelor and a married man, or a bald man and a man who is not bald.
Yet most researchers seem to assume that if they can make sense of the independent production of proteins and RNA under natural primordial conditions, the coordination will somehow take care of itself.
Q: In the category of what is "alive," would you exclude what you call the "borderline" cases - viruses, self-replicating proteins, or even non-traditional objects that have some information content, reproduce, consume, and die (like computer programs, forest fires, etc.)? Language is vague, and all terms face borderline cases. These difficulties don't represent profound difficulties; they merely represent the fact that language has a certain degree of flexibility.
So I don't think that entities like viruses provide very interesting challenges to definitions of "life." On the other hand, I don't think that defining "life" is a very useful activity for scientists to pursue since it is not going to tell us what we really want to know, which is "what is life." A scientific theory of life (which is not the same as a definition of life) would be able to answer these questions in a satisfying way.
Merely defining "life" in such a way that it incorporates one's favorite non-traditional "living" entity does not at all advance this project.
Q: What is your favored theory for how life could have arisen on Earth -clay crystals, RNA world, membranes, or some other option?
You want to learn English that you can different aspects of your life.