Saturday, July 10, 2010

Origin of life computer programs

I've been reading an outstanding book on the origin of life called Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer. It analyzes all the attempts to explain the origin of live purely by chance/natural selection/necessity.

I'm now on a section in which describes and critiques the numerous computer programs which have been designed to show how life could have originated by chance/natural selection/necessity alone (programs often hyped as proving that life could have originated by chance/natural selection/necessity alone). At one point the author who is a biologist provides an anecdotal insight on these programs:
"One of my friends is a retired forty-something programmer, who was formerly one of Microsoft's elite architect-level programmers. He also has a special interest in origin of life and evolutionary algorithms. He said something interesting to me about these programs: 'There is absolutely nothing surprising about the results of these algorithms. The computer is programmed from the outsed to converge on the solution. The programmer designed the code to do that. What would be surprising is if the program came didn't converge on the solution. That would reflect badly on the skill of the programmer. Everything interesting in the output of the program came as a result of the programmer's skill--the information input. There are no mysterious outputs.
(NB: The quote is from chapter 13. I'm quoting from my iPad so I don't have the exact page number)

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