Sunday, 12 May 2013

And The Lord said unto John, "Come forth and receive eternal life," but John came in fifth and won a toaster.

Simplest self-replicating organism (mycoplasma genitalium) has 580073 base pairs (ATCG, 4 values, can be stored in 2-bits). Obviously it has finite complexity associated with it, and in terms of information it can be stored in about 142 kBytes, something downloaded by modern cheap consumer internet connections in a fraction of a second. Human DNA consists of about 3 billion base pairs, and there are certain plants that have as much as 50 times longer DNA than humans. Obviously simply in terms of the organisms ability to replicate itself their genomes are highly redundant, change a few nucleotides here and there and it'll still live.

Now of course the naive argument goes that since all the possible combinations of a 500 kbp (kilo-base-pair) genome is rather large, ~10^300000 being the number of different possible "programs" (but still finite might I point), then there must have been a designer. This of course is fallacious in many ways, but for the sake of argument, lets say the probabilities were correct. What does this have to do with a designer? Does it get us anywhere? After all, who designed the designer? The most important question would be still unanswered and it would be simpler to just answer the question in the first place, how did this unlikely organism come about.

Another perhaps interesting thought related to this number is that perhaps we shouldn't look at it in such a way at all. Even if the worst case estimate was correct, perhaps it would simply tell us something about the size of the multiverse, the number of different multiverses that must exist. After all, we must find ourselves in such a universe where life came about in order for us to be able to think about questions such as this.

In practice these numbers would be brought down to lower value due to many reasons such as certain configurations being much less likely than other, also the universe possibly having many suitable planets for life, and possible many different types of life that could exist, some perhaps even pure energy rather than organic matter.

Something else which is somewhat related...

Given a low level programming language such as C, a simple self-replicating computer program can be as short as the following:

main(){char *c="main(){char *c=%c%s%c;printf(c,34,c,34);}";printf(c,34,c,34);}

Self-replicating computer programs are called quines:


It seems that someone found an interesting example of self-replicating machine in a simple rule based "universe" - the game of life. Coincidentally this machine consists of a number of game-cells which is on the same order as the number of base pairs in the simplest organic self-replicating organism.

Seems to me that the effective search-space is unlikely to be very large if a human being can so easily find such a program. That is of course background dependent. Never the less, wouldn't it be impressive if we could simply simulate the emergence and evolution of intelligent life in a simple computer program. Evolution we perhaps already can to some extent and I doubt emergence is very far either. What will their excuse be then?


Most of mankind take themselves and life way too seriously in my opinion and I don't really like such people too much. Also, by the words of the late great comedian George Carlin, people are stupid, full of shit, and fucking nuts.

I have no absolute faith in anything, not even that the sun will rise tomorrow, it's just that it is very unlikely that I'm wrong about it based on my knowledge about physics and history. You make the best choice you can based on your limited facts. That is the best thing one can ever hope to do.

God is not a good model for any phenomena. It has no predictive power which would exceed simpler theories.

Mankind should plan ahead a bit more. Perhaps progress will be stopped due to shortsighted use of non-renewables. We might learn one day that we have wasted all resources on mostly unimportant and unproductive things like ipads etc. when we should have saved them for scientific research. Maybe the society should have regulated the use of non-renewables so that they last at least 100 generations of humans during which time they would have discovered the science needed to free themselves from scarcity, but now... perhaps one day we find our society collapsing when we simply run out of everything. Not to mention that we should have probably regulated procreation as well.

We are born, we live and we die. What is there to tell?

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