For an entity to be considered alive, it must display the following properties:
Structure - an organized pattern
Reproduction - the ability to replicate and pass on instructions
Metabolism - the ability to convert energy to different forms
Growth - the ability to change structure
Evolution - the ability to change to a new entity
Irritability - the ability to interact with surroundings
Resilience - resistance to changes in the environment
Is it possible for a man-made object or computer program to display all of these properties?
I believe, at least in the case of software, that it is. The obvious example is a computer virus. Clearly, these have structure, the instructions that form its code. They can reproduce by attaching themselves to the start of any future program that is executed. They can interact with their surroundings, for instance, deleting data, displaying text on the screen, etc. Error handling can offer resilience against the environment. While a computer virus doesn't convert energy to different forms since it draws energy from its very existence as software, it could convert input data to some output which may be considered a type of metabolism.
It would not be hard to give a virus the ability to alter its own code, maybe by stealing random instructions or subroutines from its 'host'. This can lead to evolution. If 'bad code' causes the virus to crash the computer, it will not get the opportunity to reproduce. When the computer is rebooted, that strain of virus will be deleted forever. Viruses that take code that doesn't cause a crash will survive, assuming their ability to reproduce isn't compromised by the change.
Whether creating such a program is a good idea is an interesting question. Releasing these entities out onto the Internet, or simply releasing them as computer viruses, could result in damage to data in computers all over the world. It would be interesting to construct a closed environment to test this theory, though.
Previously, this wu was part of my merrings wu, but I thought it made more sense to move it here.