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I guess it depends on how exactly the energy is put into the system, but most mixtures of chemicals will reach an equilibrium, even if additional energy is pumped into them. If the incoming energy is constant, it may be a different equilibrium than would be attained without the incoming energy (equilibria are necessarily temperature-dependent, for instance).
I'm also not sure how to ascribe how any system "perceives itself"...
You seem to have forgotten that intelligent life is not made up merely of chemical reactions but in terms if electrical impulses as well.
I think I understand what you are getting at Minas. There is a woman who's name I can't recall who was working on some massive arsenic fields up near greenland or somewhere like that (great referencing there) who had discovered an arsenic based life form/s living in the fields which has thrown eveloutionary science into a bit of a spin. As we know, previously, all life was though to be carbon based. So to have a life form (bacterial) on this planet that is composed not of carbon but of arsenic is a major breakthrough and it begs the question. What else can life arise from?Can life spawn from any compound or chemical? Is there more to life than previously considered? Can we synthesise life? As I said I think I know what you are getting at. however I think that the process is so unbelieveably complicated and slow that to synthesise life in a laboratory; jeeze, the cost in time would more than likely outwiegh the benefit. I mean what would we use an arsenic based life form for? To study these lifeforms would be very interesting and may lead to a better understanding of our universe but we may be able to find such lifeforms existing naturally before we manage to build them (as did the woman working in greenland).Perhaps if there was some major benifit such as a gaseous life-form that reproduces and can be used as a never ending fuel source?Or an H20 based life form that can purify and enrich water? I like this discussion, it has a lot of potential.