Several weeks ago, I posted some thoughts I had been having regarding a physical description of Life.
Shrodinger posited negative entropy to explain the weirdness of Life, and Luigi Fantappiè hung his hat on it. Weird as Life is, for obvious reasons, the notion of an effect influencing the cause seems an odd way to explain things, although it has been used to explain the dynamics of some quantum systems (i.e. pilot waves, Feynman propagators in QED).
So I have been thinking on it more.
Here's where I am at, using thermodynamic definitions of "work" and "system":
A Possible Definition of Life:
A system that performs work that selects for future states that sustain the system.
A Possible Origin of Life:
For a system that performs work, work that results in states that sustain the system will be selected for.
A Possible Origin of Consciousness:
For a system that performs work, work that biases future work to that which results in states that sustain the system will be selected for.
In short, maybe Life can be defined by the type of work a system performs. To the extent that a system performs work that sustains the system, it is Life.
After having that definition, it occurred to me that the Origin of Life could simply be attributed to the fact that system-sustaining work would be preferentially selected for as compared to systems that did non-sustaining work.
Then, taking it a bit farther, it occurred to me that if a system could perform work that selected for the work it did, it could alter its self-sustaining strategies. Of course, this type of system would outcompete systems that did non-adaptive self-sustaining work. It also seems a lot like thinking.
I'm not done, but I do think I have made some progress.
Thoughts are welcome.