.

   According to the way Hawking¹ tells it,

.

   “A living person … has two ‘elements’²: a set of instructions that tell the system how to keep going and how to reproduce itself, and a mechanism to carry out the instructions. In biology, these two parts are called

genes and

metabolism.

.

For a bit more use the DOOR.

.

   [MORE]

.

(continuing)

“But it is worth emphasising that there need be nothing biological about them. For example a virus is a program that will make copies of itself in the memory of a computer, and will transfer itself to other computers. Thus it fits the definition of a living system that I have given. Like a biological virus, it is a rather degenerative form, because it contains only instructions or genes, and doesn’t have any metabolism of its own.  Instead, it reprograms the metabolism of the host computer, or cell. Some people have questioned whether viruses should count as life, because they are parasites, and cannot exist independently of their hosts. But then most forms of life, ourselves included, are parasites, in that they feed off and depend for their survival on other forms of life. I think computer viruses should count as life. Maybe it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive.”

______________________________

   ¹ Stephen Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions (Bantam, 2018, pp 68-69)

   ² Extra fiddling here–quote marks, italics, boldface, paragraph restyling–has been done by adozenseconds.com and is not in the original. We hope it helps in a quick read.