David L. ~ b e l *
The Origin o f Life Fonndation, Inc
"Complexity:' "self-organization," and "emergence" are terms used extensively in Iife-oriGn literature. Yet orecise and auantitative definitions of these tenns are sorely lacking. "Emergence at the edge of chaos" invites vivid imagination ofspontaneous creativity. Unfortunately, the p h s e lacks scientific substance and explanatory mechanism. We explore the meaning, role, and relationship of co~nplexityat the edge of chaos along with self-organization We examine their relevance to life-origin processes. The high degree of order and panern found m 'hecessity" (the regularities of nature desnibed by tlme "laws" of physics) @tallyreduce the uncertainty and infommation retaining potential of spontaneouslyordered physical matrices. No asnf-yet undiscovered law. therefore, will be able to explain the high infornlation content of even the simplest prescriptive genome. Maximum complexity corresponds to mndn~nnes when defined 6onm a Kolmogorov perspective. No empirical evidence exists of nndornnes (maximum complexity) generating ahalting wmpu(ational program. Neither order nor demonstrates no ability l compute. o complexity is the key to function. Co~nplexity Genetic cybernetics inspired Turing's. von Na~mann's,and Wiener's developn~ent of computer science. Genetic cybernetics cannot he explained by the chance and neces~ityof physicodynamics. Genetic algorithmic control is fundamentally formal, not physical. But like otherexpressions of lormality, it can be instantiated into a physical matrix of retention and channel h.ansmission usmg dynamicallyinen confiprable switches. Neither parsi~nonicnls law nor cmplexity can pmgram the elficacious decision-node logic-gale senings of algorithmic organization observed in all known living organisms.
Dr. David L. Abel is a theoretical biologist focusing on primordialbiocybemetics. He is the Program Director of The Gene Enmergence Project, an international consortium of scientists pursuing the natural-process derivation of initial biocybernetidbiosemiotic programming and control.
By what natural process did inanimate nature generate: 1. A genetic representational sign/symbol/token system? 2. Decision nodes and logic gates? 3. Dynamically-inert (dynamicallyincoherent) (Rocha, 2001) configurable switch settings that instantiate functional "choices" into physicality? 4. A formal operating system, software, and the hardware on which to r n it? u 5. An abstract encryptioddecryption system jointly intelligible to both source and destination? 6. Many-to-one Hamming "block codes" (triplet-nucleotide codons prescribing each single amino acid) used to reducethe noise pollution of genetic messages? 7. The ability to achieve computational halting in the form of homeostatic metabolism? The heuristic/operationaI value of using computational and linguistic analogies to describe genetic programming is widely accepted. It is nevertheless common to dismiss many of the above-listed parallels with cybernetics as being merely metaphor. Multiple investigatorshave taken a close look at possible limits to this metaphor (Emmeche and Hoffmeyer, 1991, Fiumara, 1995, Konopka, 2002, Lackoff and Johnson, 1980, Lackoff, 1993, Rosen, 1993, Sarkar, 2003, Torgny, 1997). Others have discussed whether semantic information about phenotypic traits actually exists (Atlan and Koppel, 1990, Godfrey-Smith, 2003, Griffiths, 2001, Maynard Smith, 2000, Moss, 2003, Stegmann,2005, Sterelny e a/., 1996, f Wheeler, 2003). Lwoff warned against taking the genetic information and linguistic metaphors too far (Lwoff, 1962). Some claim that the metaphor is misleading (Godfrey-Smith, 2003, Grifiiths, 2001, Kauffman, 1993, Kay, 2000, Keller, 2000, Noble, 2002, Stent, 1981). Rocha (Rocha, 2001, Rocha and Hordijk, 2005) fully appreciates Pattee's epistemic cut (Pattee, 1995b)...