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Researcher: Biology transcends the limits of computation


Life starts out, says Perry Marshall, as information, not chemicals:

Abstract: Cognition-sensing and responding to the environment-is the unifying principle behind the genetic code, origin of life, evolution, consciousness, artificial intelligence, and cancer. However, the conventional model of biology seems to mistake cause and effect. According to the reductionist view, the causal chain in biology is chemicals > code > cognition. Despite this prevailing view, there are no examples in the literature to show that the laws of physics and chemistry can produce codes, or that codes produce cognition. Chemicals are just the physical layer of any information system. In contrast, although examples of cognition generating codes and codes controlling chemicals are ubiquitous in biology and technology, cognition remains a mystery. Thus, the central question in biology is: What is the nature and origin of cognition? In order to elucidate this pivotal question, we must cultivate a deeper understanding of information flows. Through this lens, we see that biological cognition is volitional (i.e., deliberate, intentional, or knowing), and while technology is constrained by deductive logic, living things make choices and generate novel information using inductive logic. Information has been called “the hard problem of life” and cannot be fully explained by known physical principles (Walker et al., 2017). The present paper uses information theory (the mathematical foundation of our digital age) and Turing machines (computers) to highlight inaccuracies in prevailing reductionist models of biology, and proposes that the correct causation sequence is cognition > code > chemicals.

Marshall P. Biology transcends the limits of computation. Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2021 Oct;165:88-101. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2021.04.006. Epub 2021 May 5. PMID: 33961842.

The paper is open access.

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham

In his paper Marshall notes that a bit of information reflects a choice.
Biology transcends the limits of computation - Perry Marshall - Oct. 2021 Excerpt: Table 2 Computational Choices Information is measured in bits, not kilograms, meters, seconds, joules, or other physical quantities. A bit is a record of a choice. All codes and communication systems reflect choices (Pattee, 1969). A 64-Gb USB stick holds 549,755,813,888 bits, which yield 2^549,755,813,888 choices or degrees of freedom.,,, Negative Information Entropy or Negentropy In “What is Life?” Erwin Schrödinger introduced the term ‘negentropy’ or ‘negative entropy’ (Schrödinger, 1944). He states, “It is by avoiding the rapid decay into the inert state of ‘equilibrium’ that an organism appears so enigmatic ….What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy.” Negative entropy is necessary to create information (Schrödinger, 1944) Negentropy is extensively discussed in the literature, and after 75 years, the consensus has barely changed (Davies, 2019) from Schrödinger's views. Choice is negative information entropy (i.e., the opposite of noise) because it converts uncertainty to certainty, order out of chaos.,,, Negative information entropy is measured in bits, just as in information transmission. Coin toss = 1 bit of entropy Choice between two sides of a coin = 1 bit of negentropy,,, 5. Discussion 5.1. Choices by definition are not computable Choice is intrinsic to information theory (Shannon, 1948), where one bit of information is a choice. This paper takes as axiomatic that choice is not an illusion. This axiom is ubiquitous and essential in society, from consequences for committing crimes to the ability to propose and debate mathematics and scientific laws. I have not arbitrarily defined codes, goals, inductive reasoning, and evolution as choices, and presumed them to be non-computable. The very definition of choice and the observed behaviors of agents dictate that they are necessarily non-computable. Thus, there is a vast chasm between life and non-life, and things as “ordinary” as language and abstract mathematics do not exist, and in principle cannot exist, without cognition (Pattee, 2012). This chasm is an inevitable consequence of Gödel, Turing, and Shannon. It is interesting to compare this with proposals by Chalmers (1995) and others that consciousness is an “irreducible fundamental property of mind with its own laws and principles” (Walker et al., 2017). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079610721000365?via%3Dihub
In regards to life, and for comparison sake, when working from a thermodynamic perspective, it is found that 10^12 'choices' had to be made in order for a bacterium to come into existence, and in order to explain the "negentropy" of a 'simple' bacterium,
Biophysics – Information theory. Relation between information and entropy: - Setlow-Pollard, Ed. Addison Wesley Excerpt: Linschitz gave the figure 9.3 x 10^12 cal/deg or 9.3 x 10^12 x 4.2 joules/deg for the entropy of a bacterial cell. Using the relation H = S/(k In 2), we find that the information content is 4 x 10^12 bits. Morowitz' deduction from the work of Bayne-Jones and Rhees gives the lower value of 5.6 x 10^11 bits, which is still in the neighborhood of 10^12 bits. Thus two quite different approaches give rather concordant figures. http://www.astroscu.unam.mx/~angel/tsb/molecular.htm
,,, Which is the equivalent of about 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. 'In comparison,,, the largest libraries in the world,, have about 10 million volumes or 10^12 bits.”
“a one-celled bacterium, e. coli, is estimated to contain the equivalent of 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. Expressed in information in science jargon, this would be the same as 10^12 bits of information. In comparison, the total writings from classical Greek Civilization is only 10^9 bits, and the largest libraries in the world – The British Museum, Oxford Bodleian Library, New York Public Library, Harvard Widenier Library, and the Moscow Lenin Library – have about 10 million volumes or 10^12 bits.” – R. C. Wysong - The Creation-evolution Controversy 'The information content of a simple cell has been estimated as around 10^12 bits, comparable to about a hundred million pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica." - Carl Sagan, "Life" in Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropaedia (1974 ed.), pp. 893-894
Thus since Bacterial cells are about 10 times smaller than most plant and animal cells.
Size Comparisons of Bacteria, Amoeba, Animal & Plant Cells Excerpt: Bacterial cells are very small - about 10 times smaller than most plant and animal cells. https://education.seattlepi.com/size-comparisons-bacteria-amoeba-animal-plant-cells-4966.html
And since there are conservatively estimated to be around 30 trillion cells within the average human body,
Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body - 2016 Abstract: Reported values in the literature on the number of cells in the body differ by orders of magnitude and are very seldom supported by any measurements or calculations. Here, we integrate the most up-to-date information on the number of human and bacterial cells in the body. We estimate the total number of bacteria in the 70 kg "reference man" to be 3.8·10^13. For human cells, we identify the dominant role of the hematopoietic lineage to the total count (?90%) and revise past estimates to 3.0·10^13 human cells. Our analysis also updates the widely-cited 10:1 ratio, showing that the number of bacteria in the body is actually of the same order as the number of human cells, and their total mass is about 0.2 kg. https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002533
Then that gives us a rough ballpark estimate of around 300 trillion times 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. Or about 300 trillion times the information content contained within the books of all the largest libraries in the world. Needless to say, that is a astonishingly massive amount of 'choices' that had to be made in order to explain the "negentropy" of a single human body. Of course the burning question becomes, "Who" can possibly have the towering intellectual capacity within Himself to make all these free will choices that are necessary to explain the "negentropy" of a single human body?" Might it be too obvious to point out that God has always been held to have such towering "intellectual capacity" within Himself?
Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent God: Definition & Overview Excerpt: Omniscience means all-knowing. God is all all-knowing in the sense that he is aware of the past, present, and future. Nothing takes him by surprise. His knowledge is total. He knows all that there is to know and all that can be known. https://study.com/academy/lesson/omnipotent-omniscient-and-omnipresent-god-definition-lesson-quiz.html
Moreover, although Darwinian atheists will, or course, not like the answer one bit, Christians have been postulating that life has an author for 2000 years now. Long, long, before DNA and "negentropy" was even known about.
Acts 3:15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
So once again, as far as empirical science is concerned, the Christian is, once again, found to be sitting quite comfortably, whereas the Darwinian atheist is, once again, found to have nothing, even less than nothing, as far as the scientific evidence is concerned. Oh well, so much for the oft repeated Darwinian claim that they are just being 'scientific' in their atheistic beliefs.,,, For Darwinists, it turns out that their atheism comes first and foremost, and the science itself is a very, very, distant second in regards to their a-priori atheistic belief.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.
Of supplemental note:
Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – Part II - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSig2CsjKbg
The basic point is good. Life starts with volition and goal-seeking and negative feedback. Those never arise spontaneously from inanimate matter. But he's conflating "technology" with digital computers running software. Analog technology uses inductive logic and loose reasoning, and uses negative feedback in the same way as living things.. polistra

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