Re: SCI:BIO: raw genome length not a good measure of organism complexity

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 20:44:30 -0600

> The most important implication of this estimate is that although the
> mammalian genome contains enough DNA, in principle, to code for nearly 3
> million average-sized proteins (3x10^9 nucleotides), the limited fidelity
> with which DNA sequences can be maintained means that no mammal (or any
> other organism) is likely to be constructed from more than perhaps 60000
> essential proteins.

Joy. Like I always say, my hard drive stores more data than the raw,
uncompressed, comments-and-all human genome, which takes a paltry 750M.

So if 90% of it is comments, unused code, or padding, who cares? The
amount of data needed to assemble a soul still has an upper limit
smaller than my hard drive... even if all that extra DNA is being used
by neurons, which I understand are now supposed to be capable of reading
(though, thank God, not altering) DNA.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.