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At Mind Matters News: Will AI chemistry robots finally discover the origin of life?


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.

You may also wish to read:

Elon Musk tweet shows why many doubt origin of life studies. Musk was talking about the origin of machines, not life, but the principle is, perhaps surprisingly, the same. Creating a machine that manufactures or a cell that reproduces is much harder than creating a prototype of either. It’s a search for a search. (Jonathan Bartlett)


Is life from outer space a viable science hypothesis? Currently, panspermia has been rated as “plausible but not convincing.” Marks, Hössjer, and Diaz discuss the issues. Famous atheist scientists have favored panspermia because there is no plausible purely natural explanation for life on Earth that would make it unnecessary.

You regularly eat banana peels? Silver Asiatic
BA77 The metabolic pathways diagram ... very nice ... poor Darwinist ... i have heard it so many times ... ‘complexity proves nothing ...’ and Creationists are the stupid ones ... When you look at the diagram, how on earth, can a rational educated 21st century person think, that there is no intelligent agency behind it ? Is it really some atheist conspiracy ? This is sick ... martin_r
Seversky, you are so confused ... it is no longer funny ... martin_r
Of related note to the insurmountable thermodynamic/information hurdle facing a purely chemical Origin of Life scenario, (including the present 'robotic chemical lab')
“The difference between a mixture of simple chemicals and a bacterium, is much more profound than the gulf between a bacterium and an elephant.” (Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, NYU) Brian Miller - Thermodynamics, the Origin of Life, and Intelligent Design – video – November 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAXiHRPZz0s&list=PLS591mpvSTo3vP8g1BNfIMh3wUyrrWzQA&index=10 "No system without assistance ever moves both toward lower entropy and higher energy which is required for the formation of a cell.” – Brian Miller, Ph. D. Did Life Start by Chance? Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Harold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. http://members.tripod.com/~Black_J/chance.html 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. https://docs.google.com/document/d/18hO1bteXTPOqQtd2H12PI5wFFoTjwg8uBAU5N0nEQIE/edit “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 “Hard Problem” of Life - Sara Imari Walker and Paul C.W. Davies - June 23, 2016 Excerpt: ,,,in the same way that Chalmers identified qualia as central to the hard problem of consciousness. To that end we propose that the hard problem of life is the problem of how ‘information’ can affect the world. In this essay we motivate both why the problem of information is central to explaining life and why it is hard, that is, why we suspect that a full resolution of the hard problem will not ultimately be reducible to known physical principles.,,, ,,, There are some indications for a potentially deep connection between information theory (which is not cast as a physical theory and instead quantifies the efficacy of communication through noisy channels), and thermodynamics, which is a branch of physics(5) due to the mathematical relationship between Shannon and Boltzmann entropies. Substantial work over the last decade has attempted to make this connection explicit, we point the reader to [22, 20] for recent reviews. http://arxiv.org/pdf/1606.07184v1.pdf Information and Thermodynamics in Living Systems - Andy C. McIntosh - 2013 Excerpt: ,,, information is in fact non-material and that the coded information systems (such as, but not restricted to the coding of DNA in all living systems) is not defined at all by the biochemistry or physics of the molecules used to store the data. Rather than matter and energy defining the information sitting on the polymers of life, this approach posits that the reverse is in fact the case. Information has its definition outside the matter and energy on which it sits, and furthermore constrains it to operate in a highly non-equilibrium thermodynamic environment. This proposal resolves the thermodynamic issues and invokes the correct paradigm for understanding the vital area of thermodynamic/organisational interactions, which despite the efforts from alternative paradigms has not given a satisfactory explanation of the way information in systems operates.,,, http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789814508728_0008
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.
Supplemental notes:
Dr. James Tour - (Problems with) Abiogenesis Theory - (9 hour lecture series) - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKLgQzWhO4Q 0:00 Reasons for this Series 26:39 Episode 1 - Introduction to Abiogenesis 50:45 Epsode 2 - Primordial Soup 1:03:53 Episode 3 - Hype 1:53:25 Episode 4 - Homochirality 2:19:51 Episode 5 - Carbohydrates 3:05:17 Episode 6 - The Building Blocks of the Building Blocks 3:22:20 Episode 7 - Peptides 4:14:08 Episode 8 - Nucleotides, DNA, and RNA 5:05:57 Episode 9 - Intermediate Summary 5:15:37 Episode 10 - Lipids and the Cell Membrane 6:01:00 Episode 11 - Chiral-induced Spin Selectivity 6:33:12 Episode 12.1 - Cell Construction and the Assembly Problem 7:46:54 Episode 12.2 - Cell Construction and the Assembly Problem 8:34:55 Episode 13 - Summary & Projections Synthesizing Life in the Laboratory: Why is it not Happening? –by George T. Javor – July 26, 2021 Excerpt: Even though in living cells each reaction is pushed toward equilibrium by an enzyme (so as to forestall the possibility of slower, random non-biological chemical events), if any of the hundreds to thousands of chemical processes could actually reach equilibrium, an irreversible metabolic block would result. Multiple such equilibriums would kill the cell. However, in live cells there are no isolated reactions and the problem of equilibrium is avoided. Rather, chemical events are linked into pathways, so that the products of reactions do not accumulate, but immediately react with another substance. The end products of metabolic pathways are either utilized immediately or they are secreted from the cell. Moreover, regulatory systems such as “feedback inhibition” help maintain homeostasis.,,, Building artificial cells in a modular fashion will inevitably result in the onset of chemical equilibrium within each module. Once equilibrium is reached, the artificial cell, figuratively speaking, “runs into a brick wall”. It is no longer capable of growth or accomplish any net chemical process.,, Until the construction of cell-like structures harboring metabolisms in homeostatic non-equilibrium states become reality, the most sophisticated efforts of synthetic biology will come to naught. https://www.grisda.org/synthesizing-life-in-the-lab?mc_cid=5a79992abf
As to "chemical events are linked into pathways, so that the products of reactions do not accumulate", here is, according to a Darwinist, a ‘horrendously complex’ metabolic pathway diagram of a 'simple' cell:
ExPASy - Biochemical Pathways - interactive schematic http://biochemical-pathways.com/#/map/1
I showed that particular metabolic pathway diagram to a Darwinist once when he asked me for ANY evidence of intelligent design in biology. His response upon seeing that diagram was to go into ‘denial mode’ and say something along the lines of, ‘Just because it is ‘horrendously complex’ does not prove it was designed.’. ,,, To which I responded something along the line of, “Well such ‘horrendous complexity’ certainly does not support the VERY extraordinary Darwinian claim that such ‘horrendous complexity’ can possibly be the result of ‘selected chemical accidents’ either! Intelligent Design is, by far, the better conclusion to draw from such 'horrendous complexity'! bornagain77
Martin_r Bob, one more thing … could you give me an example of a food which prepares itself? I am curious …
How's working : https://twitter.com/TheMarieOakes/status/1499243917224644611 same like evolutionists( mom- authority ,ignorance and hypocrisy) and their apprentices(son-blind respect for a hypocryte : "experts say" ) that repeat like parrots without having an understanding whatever authority says. The result? "food which prepares itself" :lol: Lieutenant Commander Data
Bob, one more thing … could you give me an example of a food which prepares itself? I am curious …
Indeed you are but that's beside the point. How about bananas? They grow without any human assistance and mass produce themselves in bunches. They come in a durable and biodegradable packaging and, even though we had nothing to do with their "design", according to some "experts" they are perfectly shaped for grasping by the human hand. Seversky
All the ingredients of life are known and exist in labs all over the world. Take a cell and puncture it. It ceases living. But every ingredient for life is still there. Does it then have to be modified in some way (temperature, pressure, or some appropriate catalyst) for it to regain life? This should be a good place to start. But they don’t. Why? What disappears when the cell wall is punctured that was there before? jerry
Bob, one more thing ... could you give me an example of a food which prepares itself? I am curious ... martin_r
Bob, How hard could it be to create life from no-life? You are a funny guy ... Obviously, it is pretty hard, and, it might surprise you, but after 150 years of Darwinism, no OOL- researcher came even close ... they have got nothing ... no progress at all ... zero ... martin_r
As to:
The outcome is analysed and then an algorithm helps the robot choose how to proceed. In this way, the robot can hunt through vast swathes of chemical space to see if any self-replicating systems emerge. Cronin thinks this automated strategy could overcome the biggest hurdle facing chemists in this field: “To remove the bias from the experimenter and see how evolutionary principles manifest in simple chemistry.”
"helps the robot choose"??? But algorithms don't 'choose' either, but are deterministic mathematical models that are the result of prior human, free will, choices. i.e. "algorithms don’t “write themselves” but are "the outcome of thousands of human (free will) decisions.",,, "as algorithms get more complicated",, "there is actually more opportunities for human beings to influence the final product.",,,
- Greg Coppola to Tucker Carlson: "algorithms don’t “write themselves” Excerpt: "Basically, any software launch reflects the outcome of thousands of human decisions. If you made different human decisions you would get a different result. And so, if you see a resulting end product that seems to encode a bias of one sort or another, there must have been that bias in the process that produced the end result. Because, like I say, different human decisions that went into the process would produce a completely different result.",,, "In my experience, as algorithms get more complicated and more advanced, that only means that they have more human decisions going into them. So there is actually more opportunities for human beings to influence the final product.",,, "If people aren't able to think critically about all the information that they are being given, especially if there is this kind of illusion that maybe somehow technology exists in a world that is completely apart from humans. That somehow you can create a computer that will think for itself and be free of any human biases, then people can be easily misled or manipulated." - Google Insider, Greg Coppola, Talks Political Bias at Google On Tucker Carlson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu5-VQuFU_g Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test - Douglas S. Robertson Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information. http://cires.colorado.edu/~doug/philosophy/info8.pdf
Besides algorithms themselves being the product of prior (biased) human decisions, robots themselves are, obviously, also the product of human decisions (i.e. intelligent design). In fact, I hold that finding a robot on a beach, (mindlessly churning out chemical experiments, hunting through "vast swathes of chemical space", trying to find a self-replicating molecule), makes Paley's watch argument seem very tame in comparison.
"In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. ... There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. ... Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation. — William Paley, Natural Theology (1802)
As to this comment from the article:
For one thing, life cannot be simply reduced to chemistry. That is because in a universe where everything is running down (entropy), life violates entropy via self-replication. Something is happening which goes beyond chemistry so if Cronin finds it, he will probably not be finding only chemistry.
Of related interest to that comment is the fact that RNA catalysts with partial self-copying capacity have already been 'designed', "after, not before, the information problem has been solved." (Stephen Meyer)
Stephen Meyer Responds to Fletcher in Times Literary Supplement - Jan. 2010 Excerpt: everything we know about RNA catalysts, including those with partial self-copying capacity, shows that the function of these molecules depends upon the precise arrangement of their information-carrying constituents (i.e., their nucleotide bases). Functional RNA catalysts arise only once RNA bases are specifically-arranged into information-rich sequences—that is, function arises after, not before, the information problem has been solved. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/01/stephen_meyer_responds_to_flet.html
Moreover, even if Darwinists found a self-replicating molecule, their belief that natural selection will then somehow kick in and magically overcome the second law of thermodynamics is, at best, a misguided belief on their part. Spiegelman's Monster is a clear example that their belief is misguided
Spiegelman's Monster Spiegelman introduced RNA from a simple bacteriophage Q? (Q?) into a solution which contained Q?'s RNA replicase, some free nucleotides, and some salts. In this environment, the RNA started to be replicated.[1][2] After a while, Spiegelman took some RNA and moved it to another tube with fresh solution. This process was repeated.[3] Shorter RNA chains were able to be replicated faster, so the RNA became shorter and shorter as selection favored speed. After 74 generations, the original strand with 4,500 nucleotide bases ended up as a dwarf genome with only 218 bases. This short RNA sequence replicated very quickly in these unnatural circumstances. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiegelman%27s_Monster
In further note to natural selection being unable to overcome entropy, (as is falsely believed by Darwinists),, also see, Sanford; "Genetic Entropy", and Behe; "Darwin Devolves"
Genetic Entropy – (via John Sanford and company) ?http://www.geneticentropy.org/#!properties/ctzx Darwin Devolves - Michael Behe https://michaelbehe.com/books/darwin-devolves/
Of supplemental note: Regarding information as being independent of matter and energy readily explains why life can be so far out of thermodynamic equilibrium.
Information and Thermodynamics in Living Systems - Andy C. McIntosh - May 2013 Excerpt: The third view then that we have proposed in this paper is the top down approach. In this paradigm, the information is non-material and constrains the local thermodynamics to be in a non-equilibrium state of raised free energy. It is the information which is the active ingredient, and the matter and energy are passive to the laws of thermodynamics within the system.,,, http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/pdf/10.1142/9789814508728_0008
Bob, you got it all wrong ... when you want to cook something, among many other things, you need to add energy, right? The right amount, and the right sort of energy ... Otherwise, the cooking won’t even start, or, you get a mess... Also, among many other things, the cooking needs to know when to stop, right ? no designer needed? Really? When you believe in miracles, then probably not ... martin_r
How hard could it be to create life from no-life? Not much different from food that prepares and cooks itself. Not like you need a designer to make it happen. BobRyan
As if the self-replication is the only problem for OOL research .... But i see where this is heading ... Darwinists desperately need something to mislead lay public.... Then, Cronin can say - look! it self-replicates = life Moreover, DNA does NOT self-replicate ... so i don’t entirely understand what is this guy trying to prove .... it is still the same nonsense .... Nothing changed ... Szostak, Cronin ... the same nonsense ... PS: i bet, that even involving so called AI, Cronin won’t find anything usable ... But one thing is really disturbing ... all these Darwinists are clever, well educated people... they pefectly know, that in order to create life, hundreds of parts have to work in concert ... but they still BELIEVE that life somehow emeged naturaly ... this is really disturbing .... such clever people .... it is a shame.... martin_r

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