Chemist Lee Cronin hopes for a breakthrough by getting robots to motor through millions of chemical combinations, looking for self-replicating systems:
Cronin posits an assembly index of 15–20 as the cut-off, which would mean that one molecule formed by chance in a mole of a substance. The simplest amino acid, glycine, has an index of 4, but the energy currency of the cell, ATP has an index of 21, which implies that it was not the product of chance processes. His paper on the topic is open access.
[He also hopes to find proto-life developing on Venus:]
While many researchers believe that natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinism) could cause life to form, it’s worth noting that, prior to the existence of life, there is nothing doing the selecting and nothing to select.
It’s not clear how the robots, themselves entirely a product of design, can help with that one.News, “Will AI chemistry robots finally discover the origin of life?” at Mind Matters News (March 4, 2022)
Takehome: One problem: Before life exists, there is nothing for purely natural selection to select. How the robots, themselves a product of design, can help is unclear.
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