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What’s your definition of an ‘advanced lifeform’? Do we ‘ugly, ugly giant bags of mostly water’ make the grade? Or would you reserve that term for a being more like Q?

Thanks to Charlotte P, Dr. Greg Little, and Red Pill Junkie.

Quote of the Day:

Data: Doctor, what is the definition of life?
Doctor Crusher: That is a BIG question. Why do you ask?
Data: I am searching for a definition that will allow me to test an hypothesis.
Doctor Crusher: Well, the broadest scientific definition might be that life is what enables plants and animals to consume food, derive energy from it, grow, adapt themselves to their surroundings, and reproduce.
Data: And you suggest that anything that exhibits these characteristics is considered alive?
Doctor Crusher: In general, yes.
Data: What about me? I do not grow. I do not reproduce. Yet I am considered to be alive.
Doctor Crusher: That’s true. But you are unique.
Data: Hmm. I wonder if that is so.
Doctor Crusher: Data, if I may ask, what exactly are you getting at?
Data: I’m curious as to what transpired between the moment when I was nothing more than an assemblage of parts in Dr. Soong’s laboratory and the next moment when I became alive. What is it that endowed me with life?
Doctor Crusher: I remember Wesley asking me a similar question when he was little, and I tried desperately to give him an answer. But everything I said sounded inadequate. Then I realized that scientists and philosophers have been grappling with that question for centuries without coming to any conclusion.
Data: Are you saying the question cannot be answered?
Doctor Crusher: No – I think I’m saying that we struggle all our lives to answer it — that it’s the struggle that is important. That’s what helps us to define our place in the universe.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Quality of Life episode.
This quote was mostly found in a 2008 forum thread’s heated argument over whether on not several sci-fi creations, especially Transformers, are ‘alive’.