Life on Earth is the product of evolution by natural selection operating in the medium of carbon chemistry. However, in theory, the process of evolution is neither limited to occurring on the Earth, nor in carbon chemistry. Just as it may occur on other planets, it may also operate in other media, such as the medium of digital computation. And just as evolution on other planets is not a model of life on Earth, nor is natural evolution in the digital medium.
Because AL software synthesis takes place inside of computers, there is widespread misunderstanding about the nature of this work. AL is generally understood by biologists to be computer models or simulations of biological processes, something they are familiar with. Yet the intent of AL work is substantially different.
A simulation is a model of something in the ``real'' world. Thus, in a simulation, there are symbols which represent other objects, and there are rules that determine how the symbols are manipulated. The veracity of the simulation can depend on how accurately the symbols and rules represent the objects and processes that they are intended to model. Biologists generally are interested in computer models only to the extent that they accurately represent organic biological processes.
In its most extreme form, the elements of an AL software synthesis are studied as objects in their own right, not as symbols of something else. Because the elements in a software synthesis are digital, bits and bytes, biologists accustomed only to thinking of life as carbon based, will not inherently be interested. However, if the bits in a computer exhibit life processes, then they should fall under the domain of biology.
This should be possible, if life processes are not necessarily tied to the medium of carbon chemistry. The conception that life is a process, which need not be tied to the single medium of carbon chemistry lies at the heart of both hardware and software syntheses in AL.
The AL researcher does not view the computer as a tool for modeling organic life. Rather the computer is seen as an environment that can be inhabited by non-carbon based life. The work of AL then is to seed this environment with life forms, and to cultivate the system so that it may support ever richer digital life forms.