Re: Genetics, nannotechnology, and programming
Skye Howard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sat, 23 Oct 1999 19:48:02 -0700 (PDT)
- "Robert J. Bradbury" <email@example.com>
> On Fri, 22 Oct 1999, Skye Howard wrote:
> > what about engineering some of those artificial
> > to create artificial structures- for example, an
> > of some kind that would be inherited.
> Unless you put the AC into the germ line cells it
> not be inherited. However doing this is what Greg
> and John Campbell are proposing. (By puting an AC
> into the first cell of an embryo, it will be
> inherited by the
> germline cells as the fetus develops.
> As far as ACs creating hard nanotech structures it
> doable. Think, teeth & bones & sea shells. However
> since these are patterned on the scale of eukaryotic
> cells (10 micron scale) and the smallest we could
> probably go
> is bacteria (1 micron scale), it is doubtful you
> get a cell to make a nanoassembler without a *lot*
> work designing new genes that would self-assemble
> an assembler.
True... in fact, what could be done is that the work
would be performed by upper scale evolved machines
and/or actual small scale devices.
> > I mean, for example, you could enter the
> > specifications into a computer as the "desired
> > and then running it through one of those genetic
> > algorhythm programs. What better application for
> > genetic algorhythm programming than genetic
> > engineering?
> This is similar to what I have proposed in my
> scheme. If you have a description for something and
> SETI@Home type distributed program that can generate
> random collections of atoms and do genetic evolution
> of the designs until they meet the criteria
> specified by
> the description.
Not *that* far into programming yet, but it does seem
an interesting idea- if I could get some help setting
it up from someone who knows more about both biology
and programming than I do- in fact, I'd be damn near
useless on most of these matters until I get out of
school, since I would be busy all of the time and also
drastically lacking in some areas while clued in in
others... in fact, I would leave such a program design
open, if anyone wants to do so without me. I would
love to run something like that on my computer!
> So, I could use this to "evolve" an "atomic" rivet
> or an enzyme with a known structure-function. I
> use it to evolve a nanoassembler because we don't
> a complete description for a nanoassembler. (So the
> genetic evolution algorithm has no way of selecting
> the design "successes").
Yes- but we have *parts* of the design, don't we?
Maybe if there wer a design that implemented more of
the cell's sorts of machinery it could be both more
stable (tried and tested kind of dependability) and
more easily engineered.
> > A) Genetic engineering of mechanical devices
> > jumps on nannotech using cell replication
> > (inheritable implants?)
> Almost everything going on inside cells involves
> "mechanical" devices at the molecular scale. The
> reason enzymes work is that they position molecules
> in close mechanical proximity and apply directed
> (chemical or mechanical) to drive reactions forward
> faster than they would normally occur.
*grins* That they do.
> It is best to keep separate 5 things:
> (1) molecular nanotechnology (atomic or small
> molecule manipulation)
> (2) self-assembly (molecules that put themselves
> (3) self-replication
> (4) easily programmable nanoscale machines
> (5) wet/soft vs. dry/hard nanomaterials
> (6) self-modification
maybe intelligent self modification- another one of
those horror story outcomes is possible, of course,
but an AI with a nannotech body would be very
powerfull in a lot of ways... though I might trust a
human who had uploaded a little more... *shrugs* I'd
have to meet them both and see which one seemed to be
more likely not to do something dangerous.
> Cells do 1-3 with wet nanotech. What nanotechnology
> is all
> about is doing 1-4 with dry/hard nanomaterials
> meaning you have
> to solve 1 & 2 with an entirely new toolset and
> process. We are trying to compress what nature took
> few billion years or so develop into a couple of
One of the advantages of computers is that operations
that happened originally at incredibly high sub-light
speeds will now be played out in the near light speed
domain of electrons and silicon, or as the case may
be, quantum computers, or whatever other devices might
be used as computers in the future...
> It worth noting that *most* of the economic benefits
> attributed to nanotechnology can be obtained by
> (3) and perhaps (2). The degree to which (4) is
> for this is open to discussion. Having (1) with
> hard nanotech
> materials is only the frosting on the cake.
True- in fact, we are already taking advantage of
things that could be considered nanoscale machineswe'
ve had patents on oil eating bacteria, for examplealso
there are things like the new field of gene
therapy, which could more closely be caled
nanotechnology- you are, after all, using machines
that have fine properties ranging into the
> enough, I think it is (4) combined with (6) on top
> (1-3) in hard nanotech that raise all of the really
> outcomes frequently discussed on this list. What
> are suggesting in genetic evolution of hard nanotech
> comes dangerously close to that. It depends
> on whether you have "safeties" in the selection
> criteria that only select variants that are not
> dangerous to their operating environment.
Hopefully these safeties will be defineable in terms
that a computer could understand... or the computer's
program refined so that ift could understand these
dangers as we do.
It might be interesting if you could create an
artificial environment where you could test such
things. For example, if you had an artificial human
body existing on some kind of programmed level, you
could instill these devices into it and see if all of
the simulated functions could continue... this would
be a ways beyond modern technology, though, because
an artificial computer model of a genome and the full
animal generated therefrom, not to mention more
processing power and memory space than a medium sized
country, might be necessary:)
> > b)applications of genetic algorhythm programming
> > genetic engineering.
> This is already done without the "programming".
> There are routine
> experiments that are done in biotech labs where they
> "evolve" better
> enzymes or tools for specific purposes. It simply
> involves methods
> to create millions or billions of variants and then
> the best of the bunch, mutating those and repeating.
> Generally it is called "directed evolution" or
> similar and you can probably find dozens of articles
> it in Medline.
> Since in biology working with "billions" is easy
> while in
> computers it is still pretty difficult, biology will
> be a better approach than computers for a few more
True, but best to start working on the programming for
when the time *IS* ripe, right? it would be an
interesting project to play with... but maybe not
more than, say a hobby, until something is feasible.
Besides, with experiments on growing neurons and the
work on leech neurons in the works, our own minds
might be a useful tool for doing such a thing:) Though
there are other ways in sight that look better, of
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