A Biological Singularity

John Clark (jonkc@worldnet.att.net)
Tue, 22 Sep 1998 02:00:34 -0400

Hash: SHA1

Peter Passaro Wrote:

>The gene you have been discussing is a so called master regulator gene.
>Genes in this category function during the development of organism to call
>for cascades of cell differentiation and structural reorganization. In
>this way they are interesting for the points you have mentioned, but, to
>date, there is nothing that would indicate that there is a higher level

I disagree, I think there is some evidence of a higher level code. The gene Gehring found does not deal with fine structure or gross structure or structure of any kind, it deals with abstract function. It can't have anything to do with construction details otherwise the same thing couldn't cause mouse cells to make mouse eyes and cause fly to cells make fly eyes. Somehow the abstract concept "an eye" actually has meaning to life and that smells like a language.

>The eye signal along with thousands of other developmental regulation
>signals are highly conserved across all animals from worms on up.

It looks that way.

>the cambrian radiation of animal species from which all veterbrates and
>invertebrates arose seems to have happened in an eyeblink of geologic time,
>so, fortunately for molecular biologists, there wasn't enough time once the
>core genetic mechanisms were set up to deviate through mutation.

It's interesting you mention the Cambrian explosion, Davidson, Peterson and Andrew postulate that it happened when life developed an abstract high level language and much more complex life forms became possible. Science, 270 (1995) 1319-1325.

>If we were to design large scale biological structures we would have to deal
>with a number a variables that is staggering, not impossible, but much
>guidance will have to come from the fields of complexity and chaos before
>something like this is even thinkable.

Perhaps, but perhaps not. The language of life must have a command similar to "repeat this construction N times" so changing the size of an organ might not be too difficult. Changing its shape might be only a little more complex. If random mutation and natural selection figured out a way to increase our brain size by a factor of 5 in only few hundred thousand years it can't be that hard.

>mother nature is not efficient by any stretch of the imagination.

Agreed, intelligent design can beat it all to hell.

>my money is on the neurosciences, AI, and nanotechnology to produce
>the kinds of redesign we are discussing.

Yes, those things will probably reach the singularity first, biology is a long shot.

John K Clark jonkc@att.net

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