Model sheds light on the chemistry that sparked the origin of life

Nov 26, 2012

The question of how life began on a molecular level has been a longstanding problem in science. However, recent mathematical research sheds light on a possible mechanism by which life may have gotten a foothold in the chemical soup that existed on the early Earth.

Researchers have proposed several competing theories for how could have gotten its start, even before the first genes or living cells came to be. Despite differences between various proposed scenarios, one theme they all have in common is a network of molecules that have the ability to work together to jumpstart and speed up their own replication—two necessary ingredients for life. However, many researchers find it hard to imagine how such a molecular network could have formed spontaneously—with no precursors —from the of .

"Some say it's equivalent to a tornado blowing through a junkyard and assembling the random pieces of metal and plastic into a Boeing 747," said co-author Wim Hordijk, a visiting scientist at the National Center in Durham, North Carolina, and a participant in an astrobiology meeting held there last year.

In a previous study published in 2004, Hordijk and colleague Mike Steel of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand used a of simple chemical reactions to show that such networks might form more easily than many researchers thought. Indeed, biochemists have recently created such networks in the lab.

In a new study published this year, Hordijk, Steel, and colleague Stuart Kauffman of the University of Vermont analyzed the structure of the networks in their mathematical models and found a plausible mechanism by which they could have evolved to produce the building blocks of life we know today, such as cell membranes or .

"It turns out that if you look at the structure of the networks of molecules [in our models], very often they're composed of smaller subsets of molecules with the same self-perpetuating capabilities," Hordijk explained.

By combining, splitting, and recombining to form new types of networks from their own subunits, the models indicate that these subsets of molecules could give rise to increasingly large and complex networks of chemical reactions, and, presumably, life.

"These results could have major consequences for how we think may have originated from pure chemistry," Hordijk writes.

The study will appear in the December 2012 print issue of the journal Acta Biotheoretica.

Explore further: Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

More information: Hordijk, W., M. Steel, et al. (2012). "The structure of autocatalytic sets: evolvability, enablement, and emergence." Acta Biotheoretica DOI: 10.1007/s10441-012-9165-1

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kevinrtrs
1.2 / 5 (26) Nov 26, 2012
1. It's mathematical MODEL.
2. As with all other speculations thus far, a little bit of imagination goes a long way. To the point where "it could give rise to increasingly large and complex networks of chemical reactions, and, presumably, life."
3. Now that this story has hit the press/web, it will assume a life of it's own and be incorporated into the larger speculative scenario.
4.Nothing is said about the stringent lab conditions required by the chemists who performed the experiments, i.e. what the DESIGN parameters were.
5. Nothing is said about the validity of the outcome of those experiments with regard to actually be a precursor for biological amino acids and eventually long chain polymers.
6. Even if one grants the magically fanciful ability of molecules to self-assemble into a complete cell, the essence of life would still be missing. What is there to kick-start the cell into life as we know it?
7. Keep on dreaming, guys. Even Dawkins recognizes design when he sees it.
FrankHerbert
3.9 / 5 (21) Nov 26, 2012
7. Keep on dreaming, guys. Even Dawkins recognizes design when he sees it.


Are you claiming Richard Dawkins as one of your own now? You're even more mentally ill than I thought.
kochevnik
3.8 / 5 (17) Nov 26, 2012
1. It's mathematical MODEL.
Only an illiterate would construe that as a dealbreaker LOL
Sigh
4.8 / 5 (16) Nov 26, 2012
1. It's mathematical MODEL.

You mean like Dembski tries to create when he argues in favour of irreducible complexity? What is your opinion on that approach?

If you think the concept of irreducible complexity is relevant to the origin of life (and that bit about a tornado assembling a Boeing is a direct reference to irreducible complexity), then you should be interested in a model that questions whether the origin of life can be simple. Do you really want to complain because a mathematical argument is being countered by another mathematical argument?
Parsec
4.7 / 5 (18) Nov 26, 2012
The earth sits on the back of a giant turtle? What does the turtle sit on? the back of another turtle. And its turtles all the way down.

Kevinrts prefers a model where some all knowing and all powerful magical creature (God) created life (his turtle). Then what created this magical creature? Another super creature? Or did it just magically appear? Or we shouldn't even imagine that?

This is the basic problem with this point of view. You cannot just wish away complexity by assuming something magical took place instead. No matter how strongly your believe in it.

If you want to believe in this, there isn't anyone stopping you. Believe in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus for all anyone cares. But coming on a site dedicated to scientific issues and trying to cloak superstitious nonsense using psudeo-science is getting very tiresome.

Its also against the Comments Guidelines.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (20) Nov 26, 2012
Life is not a chemical reaction, without electricity there is no life.
dtxx
4.8 / 5 (8) Nov 26, 2012
Life is not a chemical reaction, without electricity there is no life.


Um, what? Name a chemical reaction that doesn't involve electricity or charge.
evolution3
5 / 5 (9) Nov 26, 2012
1. It's mathematical MODEL.

But you read the article that said such networks have been produced..and that with their mathematical model they just wanted to find out wich networks seem to be most suitable right?
Noumenon
3.7 / 5 (25) Nov 26, 2012
Even if one grants the magically fanciful ability of molecules to self-assemble into a complete cell, the essence of life would still be missing. What is there to kick-start the cell into life as we know it?


Then why has god evidently used discoverable laws at all. Why are there even cells now that operate according to discoverable laws?

If god designed or created life, wouldn't he have to have done so in accord with discoverable physical-chemical laws, in any case?

The answer must be yes, because otherwise, eventually we would discover this imperfect 'seam', or incompatibility to nature, and god could not maintain his omniscience in such an imperfect state.

In other words, if there was in fact no discoverable means for life to have started, in principle, it would show that your god was unable to start life naturally, using discoverable laws.

Would an omniscient god have created nature that could not evolve life? Why?
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2012
"However, many researchers find it hard to imagine how such a molecular network could have formed spontaneously—with no precursors —from the chemical environment of early Earth. "Some say it's equivalent to a tornado blowing through a junkyard and assembling the random pieces of metal and plastic into a Boeing 747," said co-author Wim Hordijk,".

Is this creationist bait? No biochemists would say so, only creationists have proposed such a ludicrous idea instead of the theory of chemical evolution.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2012
Creationists shouldn't comment on science. It is hilarious to see.

@ FrankHerbert: When a creationist reads Dawkins explanation why evolved functionality (under differential reproduction) looks like "apparent design" they don't see "apparent" but "design".

But they can't misconstrue this:

"It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)." Dawkins on creationists. [ http://www.philva.../p88.htm ]

But none of that has with the process from chemical to biological evolution to do. The article itself rejected all what the creationist trolls said from a basis of known science, _and he didn't even notice_.

As I said, hilarious.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2012
Now that we have taken care of troll business, first for once, let us return to the science.

2010-2012 may well be the years that the process from chemical to biological evolution got its generic theory.

Of course the observation is immediate with standard cosmology, the universe started out simple and lifeless and now we see life, so life came out of increasing chemical complexity. I didn't believe that thermodynamics could on its lonesome predict that, but it turned out wrong.

1. Here we have a stratified mechanism building increasingly larger chemical networks on an enzymatic basis, driven by thermodynamics. [2012]

2. A cooling planet would have a thermodynamic selection for enthalpic enzymes. RNA ribozymes are such. ["Impact of temperature on the time required for the establishment of primordial biochemistry, and for the evolution of enzymes", Stockbridge et al, PNAS 2010.]
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2012
3. A pool of random ribozymes would have a thermodynamic force that would take it from a replication "melted" to a "crystalline" state with replicators based on measured RNA properties. ["Thermodynamic Basis for the Emergence of Genomes during Prebiotic Evolution", Woo et al, PLOS Comp Biol 2012.]

4. So far the only known replicator sufficiently stable to make reasonably robust cells without being too stable to pass the thermodynamic bound to make replicators is RNA (with ~ 4 years half life against hydrolyzation). Later variants like DNA are too stable to make initial cells. ["Statistical Physics of Self-Replication", Englund, to be published in Science.]

And we know that spontaneously assembled, growing and dividing lipid membranes would allow a pool of ribozymes to grow enclosed, out of diffusion of phosphate activated RNA nucleotides through the membranes. (Shoztak cells).

This is of course well tested by all the phylogenetic tests of RNA/protein as the root of all life.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2012
And now we understand the time scale!

#3 shows that RNA replication crystallizes on the order of ~3*10^4 year.

Shoztak cells need hydrothermal vents for the cold-hot cycles that cycles RNA strands through acting as templates and then release of reproduced strands. Those vents have a maximum lifetime of ~ 10^5 years today.

At the same time the free ocean water cycle through such a vent's sterilizing core in about 10^4 years. This ties cells as at least part time found in the porous walls of vents, precisely as Shoztak cells would prefer to cycle, or they would perish too fast.

Now we know we have plenty of time for crystallized reproducing cells to appear. And they would randomly seed the waters for tens of thousands of years as they drift away sooner or later. Some would easily manage passive drift to nearby vents under the RNA half life time to continue evolving.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2012
But by now we have left chemical evolution which is thermodynamic driven and entered classical biological evolution which is driven towards increasing fitness.

The fitness increasing pathways from a replicating to a translating (gene) genome are legion in the literature. [Cf "Hypothesis: Emergence of translation as a Result of RNA Helicase evolution", Zenkin, J Mol Evol 2012.]

Such cells tie themselves to control the underlying metabolism simply because such control increases fitness. Such capable cells would over time evolve to become independent of the vents for reproduction, and eventually other chemoautotroph sources for energy and nutrients would be utilized.
Tausch
1 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2012
"Life's" 'track record' to curcumvent extinction is dismal.
One tenth of a percent. (Any maybe that's from poor bookkeeping.)
And this planet is a 'paradise' for 'life' from any outlook.

This elephant is always swept under rug when the topic is 'life'.
The pocket calculator (AI) crowd visions 'life' as software.

And the only way to remove the God factor from human thought is to continue to make better pocket calculators.

On your way to extinction (go ahead and defy statical nature) remember this comment. And place me in neither 'camp'.
God or science.

kochevnik
3.2 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2012
I'm sorry my post above comparing creationists to illiterates was an insult to illiterates. My apologies
obama_socks
1 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2012
I'm sorry my post above comparing creationists to illiterates was an insult to illiterates. My apologies
-kochevnik

and from the Russian news service Pravda comes their opinion that Americans who voted for Obama are illiterate…nothing new about it. Stupid is as stupid does. Isn't that right, you libtards?

http://english.pr...stake-0/

I'm actually starting to LIKE Putin and his new reforms. He seems to have seen the light, from what I've read.

Anyway, imo, there is room for both Intelligent Design AND Evolution. It would be a big mistake to throw out I.D. before the research has all been done...in spite of all the Hubris of atheist activists. Even Constitutional atheists are of the opinion that religious freedom is just as valid as freedom from religion, according to the U.S.Constitution.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (12) Dec 02, 2012
6. Even if one grants the magically fanciful ability of molecules to self-assemble into a complete cell, the essence of life would still be missing. What is there to kick-start the cell into life as we know it?
Scientists dreams usually become reality. Kevin knows that it is only a matter of time before science tells us how life arose, and can replicate it in the lab, and discover it elsewhere. Religionists know this and they resent it. Which is why they keep insisting that looking is a waste of time and money, because they already KNOW how life arose because their book of lies and wild guesses is right about at least this.
7. Keep on dreaming, guys. Even Dawkins recognizes design when he sees it.
And they will even lie about what scientists say. Sinning for god is condoned, expected, and REQUIRED throughout all their books.

Perhaps Kevin doesn't know, or doesn't care, that the dawkins quote is ALWAYS taken out of context. Either way they lie when they misrepresent him.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (13) Dec 02, 2012
Here's Richard himself explaining just how lying religionists lied about what he said:
http://www.youtub...a_player

Ben stein is a pretty funny guy. Here's another comedian embracing an inconvenient truth - but only because he admits they can't fool kids any more:

PAT ROBERTSON EMBRACES EVOLUTION: 'IF YOU FIGHT SCIENCE, YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE YOUR CHILDREN'
"There was a time when these giant reptiles were on the earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years."

-I laughed. How about you?

Guys like Kevin will continue to try to fool kids by lying and obscuring and misconstruing and misquoting because, well, it's not only their eternal souls which are at stake, but their LIVELIHOOD as well. Their own kids might starve. Hey kev, let tomorrow take care of itself. Jesus told you this.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.3 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2012
@ obama_socks: "Anyway, imo, there is room for both Intelligent Design AND Evolution."

Your opinion and 1 dollar can give you a coffee @ Starbucks.

Creationism ("ID") isn't a viable theory as evolution took over, and ID isn't even a theory. It is equivalent to pointing in a toy store and exclaim "Want!" No predictivity in claiming gods (aka "intelligent").

It isn't science and can't pretend to be an alternative to it (because again, it didn't work).
kochevnik
1 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2012
and from the Russian news service Pravda comes their opinion that Americans who voted for Obama are illiterate…nothing new about it.
Pravda isn't Russian. It was bought by an American. It was the first contradiction which made me question the origins of communism and later I discovered that Americans invented communism and exported it to subjugate Russia. USA needs to create enemies to then fight. Humans are not sufficiently belligerent by nature to satisfy US bloodthirst.

Not that Americans are any more or less violent. Give any group of jackboots a $trillion of the most advanced weaponry annually and watch the chaos ensue.
obama_socks
1 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2012
As usual, Blotto is making things up. Jesus/Yeshua/Joshua never preached that "tomorrow will take care of itself". He preached that the Jews should take the initiative to help each other as well as those in need of help...no matter who they are.
Jesus understood the differences between physical life and its needs, and the life of the Spirit or Soul, and its needs also. He preached that the iniquitous temptations of the flesh are temporary, but those temptations that are satisfied have an everlasting effect on the Soul. The Soul continues after death...and he raised the dead and healed the sick to characterize what he meant because those were acts of mercy, and He requested mercy on the part of the Jews.
Jesus stipulated quite effectively that the corporeal body is not infallible, and will go back to its basic elements (chemistry). And that the Spirit (Soul) is not corruptible as is flesh and blood.
Atheists do not understand these concepts because they only believe in the "physical"
obama_socks
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2012
...and that is why atheists fear death far more than do Christians.
"Kevin knows that it is only a matter of time before science tells us how life arose, and can replicate it in the lab, and discover it elsewhere." -Blotto

As a Christian and a believer in the existence of God and the Soul, I welcome the discovery of how life is created...and to SEE an actual life form created by scientists in a laboratory. I see no reason for Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religions to fear or disapprove of such a discovery. Let the scientists put all of their "cards" on the table and let us actually SEE if such a creation is human-like.
Any other creation of a "life form" that is not "human" is invalid, since it is only human life forms who each are given a Soul. A one celled creation is not applicable to the argument.

obama_socks
1 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2012
I for one believe that creation of life in the laboratory is not possible, no matter how many chemical combinations and methods are used for that purpose. According to the Old Testament, the animals (including one-celled animals and all the others) were created first by God, and man was created on the SIXTH DAY. Adam was the LAST to be created while all the plants and animals had already been alive even before Adam was created by chemistry and LIFE breathed into that chemistry. Each of the animals were brought to Adam to be named by him.
According to the Jewish Kabbalah, all Souls come from a place called the Guf, also spelled Guph or Gup. When the last Soul leaves the Guf and enters a physical body, the world will end and the Messiah will appear to judge all the Souls, including the ones still alive. Abortions and live birth murders do nothing to empty the Guf of Souls, thus prolonging the time before the Messiah appears.
It is unclear what happens to those Souls who were to enter
obama_socks
1 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2012
....babies who were subsequently aborted or murdered in utero or soon after their birth.
obama_socks
1 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2012
and from the Russian news service Pravda comes their opinion that Americans who voted for Obama are illiterate…nothing new about it.
Pravda isn't Russian. It was bought by an American. It was the first contradiction which made me question the origins of communism and later I discovered that Americans invented communism and exported it to subjugate Russia. USA needs to create enemies to then fight. Humans are not sufficiently belligerent by nature to satisfy US bloodthirst.

Not that Americans are any more or less violent. Give any group of jackboots a $trillion of the most advanced weaponry annually and watch the chaos ensue.
koch

Pravda is still Russian no matter who bought it. News media are bought and sold and bought again. That's business.
A form of Communism was tried in the U.S. long ago. It failed.
Karl Marx was not American; neither were Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev, et al. Your Russian Communists were Russians, not Americans. Stop passing it off.
Noumenon
2.9 / 5 (15) Dec 02, 2012
And the only way to remove the God factor from human thought is to continue to make better pocket calculators. Roger Penrose makes a compelling case that AI is not possible, with traditional software (serial or parallel), as the mind may operate in a non-computable way.
Noumenon
3.2 / 5 (13) Dec 02, 2012
EDIT: meant to quote ...

The pocket calculator (AI) crowd visions 'life' as software. And the only way to remove the God factor from human thought is to continue to make better pocket calculators.
And the only way to remove the God factor from human thought is to continue to make better pocket calculators.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (16) Dec 02, 2012
And the only way to remove the God factor from human thought is to continue to make better pocket calculators. Roger Penrose makes a compelling case that AI is not possible, with traditional software (serial or parallel), as the mind may operate in a non-computable way.
Penrose was a fantasist which shows. He uses the word 'mind' which is a thing that does not exist.
According to the Jewish Kabbalah, all Souls come from a place called the Guf, also spelled Guph or Gup.
So this explains how you got the brain of a guppy.
tomorrow will take care of itself"
MATTHEW is one of the BOOKS in the BIBLE which you never read you dimwit.
Noumenon
3.3 / 5 (14) Dec 02, 2012
The pocket calculator (AI) crowd visions 'life' as software. And the only way to remove the God factor from human thought is to continue to make better pocket calculators.
Roger Penrose makes a compelling case that AI is not possible, with traditional software (serial or parallel), as the mind may operate in a non-computable way.
Penrose was a fantasist which shows. He uses the word 'mind' which is a thing that does not exist.


Speak for yourself. Ridiculous.

As I explained in the other thread, I don't use that term in any kind of "mystical" or "soul-like" sense,... only wrt to a physical and operational basis and an ordering and synthesis of sense experience, judgement, etc. This is also the case with Penrose.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (12) Dec 02, 2012
The Penrose/Lucas argument about the implications of Gödel's incompleteness theorem for computational theories of human intelligence has been widely criticized by mathematicians, computer scientists and philosophers, and the consensus among experts in these fields seems to be that the argument fails...Marvin Minsky, a leading proponent of artificial intelligence, was particularly critical, stating that Penrose "tries to show, in chapter after chapter, that human thought cannot be based on any known scientific principle." Minsky's position is exactly the opposite - he believes that humans are, in fact, machines, whose functioning, although complex, is fully explainable by current physics."

-Etc. Microtubules? Quantum consciousness? Fantasy. Another sad dreamer looking for refuge in the hereafter. Consciousness is a solipsism.
obama_socks
1 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2012
OK..I have to admit that I had forgotten Matthew 6:34 and that Jesus DID say it to His disciples. Last time I read Matthew I was 16 years old.
I'm not Catholic, but I think this version of Matthew 6:34 is beautiful and very appropriate as to modest behavior.

http://www.cathol...hapter=6
Noumenon
3 / 5 (12) Dec 02, 2012

Well obviously AI people are going to be critical. And generally any new idea is going to be criticized. You have not posted anything not already expected. There cannot be a "consensus" on a subject where knowledge is but relatively slight.

Have you read his book, or are you just relying on other people's opinions, like you do with Kant?

Simulations are generally produced AFTER an understanding of the thing being simulated. The AI crowd are attempting the reverse method, in trying to understand it by simulating it.

I will simply quote what I said in this thread, where it is clear that the naiveté of strong AI is an open debate ...

The use of traditional computing for AI was based on happenstance availability, and so such arbitrariness resulted in unfounded presumptions wrt how the mind could actually be simulated.


Penrose's non-computability idea may be correct.

obama_socks
1 / 5 (8) Dec 02, 2012
Blotto's continued denial of the prior requirement of mind and consciousness as necessary for the control of the physical is, at best, void of reason. We are used to Blotto's nonsense and will laugh at his increasing discomfiture as his demise draws nearer...however long (or short) it takes. And it will come...and Blotto will finally become aware of his mind...as it becomes increasingly compressed by his sitting on it.
As I have no feeling of intolerance for atheist or believer, and accept or reject people on an individual basis, I cannot, as a Christian, wish the worst on Blotto, despite his utter stupidity.
Matthew 6 shows the futility of pretense and self-admiration such as all the psycho-preening that Blotto is known for. But that is HIS cross to bear.
kochevnik
5 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2012
Penrose was a fantasist which shows.
Was? Penrose is still alive.
Tausch
1 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2012
Penrose's prediction is premature. Condemning a child (informatics including the entire list informatics refers to: http://en.wikiped...rmatics) on the first few days of birth.
It makes no sense to assert he wants the computational science to avoid learning - regardless if any path taken falls short.
Noumenon
3.3 / 5 (14) Dec 03, 2012
For the record, Penrose believes it IS possible to simulate a mind, just not in a computable way (which of course includes learning algorithms), nor without understanding in detail the nuts and bolts of the physics underlying the mind.

Indeed some strong AI proponents simply deny the existence of what they don't understand, as in consciousness, self-awareness, and in GhostOtto absurd case, even the mind itself.

The standards of strong AI are to simply "fool" an observer, as in the Turing test. This is akin to a magician thinking he understands physics. That traditional computing can create a mind was an assumption based not on understand the brain, but on the arbitrary availability of computers as a operational device.
Noumenon
2.9 / 5 (13) Dec 03, 2012
EDIT; .....rather, it is akin to an observer believing a magician understands physics.

The AI proponents goal is to give the 'appearance' of a conscious mind, not to actually create a functional one. Penrose seeks to understand how, what we call the mind, actually arises from a physical stand point.

TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
Have you read his book, or are you just relying on other people's opinions, like you do with Kant?
Correct. Why should I? 'Other learned and respected scholars and researchers whose opinions, on the whole, make a lot more sense and are much more in conjunction with both current mainstream thought and with my own opinions' is more accurate. Yes?

As in 'Philo(sophy) is DEAD as it just couldn't keep up with science because words were never a good substitute for numbers and only scientists had the tools to figure this out; and it always smelled a little to much like religion anyways.' I paraphrase.
Was? Penrose is still alive.
But perhaps certain parts of his brain have already passed on.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2012
The AI proponents goal is to give the 'appearance' of a conscious mind, not to actually create a functional one
WHAT makes you THINK there's a DIFFERENCE? You use TWO philo words which have no 'functional' meaning whatsoever - 'conscious' and 'mind'. You cannot define them in scientific terms nor assign any specific 'functions' to either of them.
Penrose seeks to understand how, what we call the mind, actually arises from a physical stand point.
And he has obviously chosen the wrong path, as have you. His theories make nice art like his tiles. Like you he decides there is something beyond the physical and then conjures up nonsense like quantum microtubules to justify it.

A machine whose function is indistinguishable from a brain is 'intelligent'. But why make it so? Why imbue it with paranoia, the blinding desire to procreate, built-in senescence, random defect, subliminal pain, hypoglycemia, and a constant subconscious fear of being unplugged? It should be LESS than human.
Noumenon
3 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
Like you he decides there is something beyond the physical and then conjures up nonsense like quantum microtubules to justify it.

But perhaps certain parts of [Penrose] brain have already passed on.


Unbelievably false, and disrespectful of such a eminent physicist, mathematician, and philosopher. Penrose has more intelligence and understanding, in his 81 year old left nut, than you have in your entire extended family.

You cannot define them in scientific terms nor assign any specific 'functions' to either of them.


No one can, that's the entire point. The subtitle of Penrose's book is "A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness". There is little understanding of what causes the appearance of awareness and consciousness. I, nor Penrose, is debating whether or not it has a physical basis, as that is obvious.
Noumenon
2.8 / 5 (13) Dec 03, 2012
The purpose of science is to determine the physical basis for observable phenomenon.

The definition of 'to observe' itself implies that the phenomenon of conscious awareness, is a one that should be amenable to scientific study.

To think that conscious awareness and even a mind, is not a valid phenomenon for proper scientific study, is meaningless nonsense.

If the AI advocates are proposing this absurdity, perhaps you ought to be suspicious as to why. Answer - it's an inconvenient reality which they are light years from solving.

Computer dorks are not the ones who will solve that problem. Proper scientists are.
Noumenon
3.2 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2012
The AI proponents goal is to give the 'appearance' of a conscious mind, not to actually create a functional one
WHAT makes you THINK there's a DIFFERENCE?


Very simply, and as I've been posting, they don't know enough about how the brain causes awareness. They are thus, limited by their own lack of understanding to that lower quality of standard.
Noumenon
3.3 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
Have you read his book, or are you just relying on other people's opinions, like you do with Kant?
Correct. Why should I?


So that alternative points of view are given fair representation, and so that you don't have to rely on authority,... like is done in religion, :)

A machine whose function is indistinguishable from a brain is 'intelligent'. But why make it so? Why imbue it with paranoia, the blinding desire to procreate, built-in senescence, random defect, subliminal pain, hypoglycemia, and a constant subconscious fear of being unplugged? It should be LESS than human.


No, no, we don't need more of your kind!
Thrasymachus
3.1 / 5 (7) Dec 03, 2012
Actually, conscious awareness is not a valid phenomenon for objective study because it is not a phenomenon. It is, rather, the condition for the possibility of phenomenon; without it, phenomena of any kind cannot occur. To discover the physical conditions of an phenomenon, one requires two sets of observations, one set where the phenomenon is present, along with the other phenomena present in the observation, and one set where the phenomenon is not present, but the other phenomenon that occur in that observation are accounted for. That situation cannot occur with conscious awareness. You can never have an experience that contains the presence of conscious awareness and an experience that lacks the presence of conscious awareness; conscious awareness is present in every experience. If it weren't, then it wouldn't be an experience. It follows, therefore, that conscious experience cannot be scientifically studied or explained.
Noumenon
3 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
I gave you a five because your reasoning is valid if one attempts to internalize an understanding.

What I suspect will occur is that an understanding of how the brain functions physically, will lead to an understanding of the appearance of conscious awareness,... which IS a phenomenon.

However, you may even still be right, such is the state of the question!
Thrasymachus
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 03, 2012
On the contrary, true, 1st person, subjective conscious awareness cannot be scientifically addressed. Conscious awareness can only be approached from a 3rd person perspective, because you can have an experience of somebody else being consciously aware and then not being consciously aware, where you can't do that with your own subjective conscious awareness. This involves a technically illicit inference that the person you're studying is actually consciously aware, and not merely mechanically mimicking that state, but it works as far as it goes.

And as far as it goes is to the relational properties of the appearance of experiences, rather than their intrinsic properties. For example, studying someone else's retinas can tell you that they experience three primary colors because they have 3 types of cone-cells that respond to 3 different wavelengths of light. But it can't tell you that the person seeing light at 564 nm is seeing the color red.
Noumenon
3.2 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2012
This involves a technically illicit inference that the person you're studying is actually consciously aware, and not merely mechanically mimicking that state, but it works as far as it goes.


Such an inference is not a valid one on its own; psychology is not enough....
Noumenon
3 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
..studying someone else's retinas can tell you that they experience three primary colors because they have 3 types of cone-cells [...] But it can't tell you that the person seeing light at 564 nm is seeing the color red.


That's correct, that will not lead to an understating of awareness.

But that is only an understanding of the mechanical physics of the brain,.. not an understanding of the physics of the mind,... which is to say, ...not an understanding of the operational basis of the mind, in Ordering and Synthesizing sense data. Though much of this I suspect, occurs prior to conscious awareness, similar such processes are clearly consciously directed, so must be amenable to scientific study.

An understanding of conscious awareness is entirely unknown, though, despite it being the surest experience knowable. Imo, to simply state that it is nothingness, is a cope out and unscientific.
Thrasymachus
3 / 5 (6) Dec 03, 2012

Such an inference is not a valid one on its own; psychology is not enough....

That's what I said. And any other *ology added to psychology won't be enough either. Another way of putting it is that the problem of fully explaining the qualitative nature of subjective experience is fundamentally intractable. One literally cannot conceive of a way to manipulate a set of quantities and arrive at a quality that is not trivial or already a property of those quantities prior to their manipulation.

An argument might be made that the qualia of experience are in themselves trivial. It might not make a difference that we see "redness" when someone shines a light of 564 nm at us, as opposed to some other quality that has the same relationships to other color qualities red does, but is not red. But that argument seems wrong to us, for it implies that conscious awareness in itself is trivial, when instead it serves as the synthetic foundation for rational action.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2012
Penrose has more intelligence and understanding, in his 81 year old left nut, than you have in your entire extended family.
This is an unwarranted assumption.
No one can, that's the entire point.
YES they CAN which genuine scientists like minsky attest.

Oh wait - you mean 'not yet'. Sure you must because this is after all a science website and the only people who decide 'we'll never know' something are godlovers, and you have insisted time and again that you are not one of THOSE, oh no.
But that is only an understanding of the mechanical physics of the brain
-which is, after all, all that there IS.
despite it being the surest experience knowable. Imo, to simply state that it is nothingness
Translation: A brain which does not function in some realm beyond the physical is 'nothing. Because there has just GOT to be something to people besides meat and bone and bile. THERE JUST HAS TO BE!!!?!?

The only reason I can think of, is because jesus said so.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2012
It is, rather, the condition for the possibility of phenomenon; without it, phenomena of any kind cannot occur.
Ahahaahaaa what bullshit. Always good for a laugh. Please provide references so that I may laugh in a more reserved manner.
An argument might be made that the qualia of experience are in themselves trivial.
Feynman never used the word qualia except perhaps in a joke. About philos.
http://www.youtub...WBcPVPMo
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.6 / 5 (12) Dec 03, 2012
Hey did you philos ever realize that there is no 'f' in 'laugh' but we know how to pronounce it correctly anyway -? There must be a philosophical explanation for this. Full of many long words with silent letters.

In german this is not the case. In german, EVERY letter of EVERY word is pronounced EXACTLY the SAME. Some say this is why german is the best language for discussing philosophy. More credibility or something.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (11) Dec 03, 2012
The standards of strong AI are to simply "fool" an observer, as in the Turing test.
No. The standards of strong AI are to FUNCTION the same way a human does. To synthesize.
This is akin to a magician thinking he understands physics.
No, this is akin to geppetto whittling an android pinocchio.
http://www.youtub...ndscreen
http://www.youtub...ndscreen
Tausch
1 / 5 (2) Dec 04, 2012
Aren't the physical telltale signs of brain activity electrical?
There is no disagreement here. Repeated endlessly in this thread:
The basis of (our present label of) life is physical.

Is molecular replication a clone, a copy, or what?
Or is molecular replication a TRANSFER of information as information theory forbids clones and copies of information.

You represent a part of nature. There is no reason to assert that your experience arising from your existence rises above this representation.

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