Tag Archives: body as computation

Life thrives in randomness, creatures die or blow out in the absence of it

Randomness is a manifestation of locality. The world is big and anything works at a local level, asynchronously, and randomness ensues.

I want to advance the following hypothesis about the origin of life.

Life is a manifestation of the computational universality of a collection of chemical reactions.

Indeed, there probably are many small collections of chemical reactions which, coupled with a random chemical reduction algorithm, form a universal computing model.

A proof of principle for this is chemlambda. There are still to discover real chemical reactions which implement the (invisible in chemlambda formalism, for the moment) moves shown at the chemlambda moves page.

But they are so simple that there have to be many, many such chemical reaction.

In a system, in a chemical soup, if it happens to appear these chemical reactions, the following is a game of computation and self-multiplication.

Because universality means, in this particular case, that with non-negligible probability, anything can be achieved.

The role of randomness is tricky. On one side randomness selects resilient creatures. That’s a funny thing, for example in chemlambda good candidates for living creatures are quines.

A quine in chemlambda is a molecule which stays the same in a daterministic world. This gives to the quine molecule a certain resilience when faced with randomness, which makes it to have a life: it may grow, it may decrease, for a time it may play around the deterministic state, and it may eventually die.

This is illustrated in the first battle of microbes demo, where several quines are put together and “fed” with enzymes, which appear randomly, but such that if at a moment there are more enzymes for the moves which increase the number of nodes, then the next time the probability of appearance of such enzymes decreases in favour of those which decrease the number of moves.

So globally it appears as if the the quines compete for the moves and those quines having a greater diversity of possible moves thrive, while the other die.

The 9_quine is the most fragile quine, as you see in the demo many of them die (i.e. they transform into a small molecule which is inert to any reduction).

There is a lot to add about this, for example there are other quines which behave like they adopt the strategy of spores, i.e. they regress to an “egg” state and they flourish later, from time to time, when they have to “compete” with bigger quines.

Of course, all this is in the eye of the observer, it is an emergent behaviour, like the intelligence of a Braitenberg vehicle.

But what if quines are a bit too fragile for life? Maybe there are molecules who grow to an approximately stable configuration, in random conditions, for a time, at least until they self-multiply.

[Have you seen the story of the 16 bubble quine, from egg to motherhood?]

Suppose, just suppose that in deterministic conditions such a molecule would grow slowly, instead of being a quine.

This is consistent with the requirement to be resilient in random conditions, there will be a second part of this post when the demos are prepared.

But it has a curious corollary, namely that such a living creature will blow out, like a cancer, in too calm, too deterministic conditions.

The example I have and play with is a molecule made by two 9_quine and a 5 atoms molecule which, if left single, it grown in a regular pattern, but in the deterministic algorithm, when coupled by some bonds with the two quines, it grows very very slow.

This molecule, under random conditions, display an amazing variety of shapes. But all the runs show the same thing, more or less: that the two 9_quines have a role of taming the growth of the molecule, keeping it controlled, but at some moment the 9_quines die, somewhere in the molecule, in some unrecognizable shape, and after that the molecule reverts slowly to the regular growth pattern (which makes it unsustainable if there are phisical limits to the growth).

So not only that randomness select creatures who can survive (and self-multiply) in random conditions, but it may select creatures who live in random conditions, but who die in deterministic conditions.

Maybe that is why life hates when everything is predictable.

I close this post with the comment that however, there are molecules which arrive at a determined state in random conditions.

This may be very useful for computer like computations. The exmple I have is again the remarkable molecule for the Ackermann function.

See it in this video self-reproducing while it computes.

Apparently some molecules display a huge resilience to randomness. The Ackermann function molecule daughters finish the computation at different times, but they do finish it.



Where’s the ship? (lots of questions part II)

I explain in Lots of questions, part I how Plato and Brazil made me want to switch from math to biology.  Eventually it seems I ended in fundamentals of computing, but there is this strange phenomenon. I can’t figure it how it works, or why, or even if is widespread or rare. I think is widespread, but I don’t have clear evidence about it other than the old saying that people don’t change.

So Plato+Rio gives geometry+biology gives artificial chemistry+distributed computing.


I don’t get how this functions.

Makes no sense.

Now I have a hint that we are the computation,  we execute ourselves during our lifetime, our brains are just part of the seed, part of the program. We don’t really have billions of neurons and cells, everything is just the state of a computation.  Part of the seed is our genetic inheritance, other part of the seed is our geographical and more largely cultural inheritance. We are not separated from the external medium, there is no external medium, exactly like there is no me and the Net, only many actors interacting asynchonously and locally according to some protocols. In the case of real life the protocols are casted in   real molecules, at a finer scale only emerging phenomena of a much faster and wider computation going on, of a geometrical nature. But the principle is scale independent, that is how we manage space (perception and interaction) in our brains.

So we don’t change.

Take this blog, I make from time to time some counts. For the last 3 months gives this. There are 491 posts on chorasimilarity. In the last week 78 of them have been read, last month 219, last quarter 331. This series makes no sense unlese there are very long range relations between the posts, relations which are perceived by enough readers of this blog.

Oh, great!

Two mysteries. The first is that I have no idea why exactly there long time correlations arrive in my writing. The second mystery is why do you perceive them too.

So there is this strange phenomenon, which I can’t explain.

I remark though that there has to be something starts the new computation cycle, the new turn of spiral, the new chamber of the snail shell.

It is stimulation.

Last time was Plato and Rio.

I feel that I lack something in order to tell you more and for me to learn more in the absence of enough external stimuli.

I know I can build really new and also classical stuff, but I loose interest in time without stimuli. That is why I change every few years what I do. It is not rewarding for me to see that after I left a field somebody picks an idea and makes it stronger, it is not rewarding to see that I was right when nobody believed.  Maybe I just have a nose for good ideas which float in the air and I detect them before many others, but I don’t have the right spce and culture position to make them grow really big. You know, just an explorer who comes back home after a lonely expedition and tells you about blue seas and wide skies with strange constellations. Yeah, OK creep. But then, after some years the trend is to go to bath in those blue seas. And where is the creep? Just coming home, telling about that new jungle and the road from there to the clouds.

Stimulation. Trust. New worlds await. Need my ship, now.