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He said it: Bill Gates on the genome as software

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Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.” (Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, page 228 (Viking, Penguin Group, 1996, Revised Edition)*

On line here.

*Also: Bill Gates, with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson, The Road Ahead (New York: Penguin Books, 1995), p. 188.

Wonder what he’d say now. Would he break down and cry, erupt into maniacal laughter, or read Darwin’s Doubt?

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8 Replies to “He said it: Bill Gates on the genome as software

  1. 1
    REC says:

    “Human DNA is like a computer program”

    Life is like a box of chocolates

    O my Luve is like a red, red rose

    My love is like a fever

    Love Is Like a Butterfly

  2. 2
    Mapou says:

    Although I agree with the “advanced” part, I would maintain that human DNA is certainly a program, not just “like a program.” No stochastic search mechanism (e.g., Darwinian evolution or naturalist OOL) can ever hope to do anything at all in the space required to search through the genetic material of a single-cell organism, let alone an entire human genome. I keep repeating this because I’m right:

    The combinatorial explosion kills Darwinism and materialism dead.

    It’s simple math, folks. Wake up.

  3. 3
    bFast says:

    No REC. DNA is not a metaphore for computer code, it is a form of computer code. There are lots of computer variants, gazillions of computer languages (I have written a few hundred myself.) All of the digital ones have certain things in common: a stream (or multiple streams) of digital data, syntax. DNA is a stream (per chromosome) of digital data. There is clear syntax that I know of to part of DNA. I strongly presume that whether others know the remaining syntax or not, its there.

    DNA is a data storage device. Its structure is the data. The whole thing is a computer — not a metaphor of a computer, a type of computer.

  4. 4
    Virgil Cain says:

    REC- The genetic code is a real code and not “like a code”. Now what?

  5. 5
    Andre says:

    Engineers know better. We recognise the engineering.

  6. 6
    harry says:

    There are a variety of media used to store digital information: magnetic, optical, semiconductor, paper in the case of the old IBM punch cards, and so on. In the case of life the DNA molecule is used. In all these instances the contents of memory are not the inevitable result of the properties of the particular medium, which is precisely why such media can be used for data storage.

    We can tell when the contents of digital memory have been thoughtfully arranged and when they haven’t. This is because there are a virtually infinite number of ways to arrange the contents of digital memory that are useless gibberish, and, relative to that, an infinitesimally small number of ways to arrange it such that it is “meaningful” or “functional.” If the information contained in digital memory, in the appropriate environment, launches Microsoft Word it is extremely likely that it has been thoughtfully arranged and did not end up that way as the lucky result of mindless processes. It is even more likely to have been thoughtfully arranged if, given the appropriate environment, it launches a living, breathing, thinking human being capable of writing word processing software. This is the case with the digital information in human DNA.

    The coding regions of DNA contain massive quantities of functionally complex, digitally stored, tokenized, precise information:

    – Functionally complex information in that it is essentially the assembly instructions for intricate protein machines used by the cell for metabolism and reproduction.

    – Digitally stored information like that in computer memory, only in DNA memory base 4 is used instead of binary. One of four nucleotide bases (abbreviated A, C, G and T) is contained in each unit of memory, as opposed to a “zero” or “one” in computer memory. Base 4 allows for very densely packed information. For example, in binary, 16 units of memory can contain 65,536 possible values. In base four, 16 units of memory can contain 4,294,967,296 possible values.

    – Tokenized information in that just as in computer memory where each letter of the English alphabet is represented by a unique series of seven 0 and 1 memory unit values, DNA uses a twenty character amino acid alphabet where each “letter” is represented by a series of three A,C,G and T values (a codon). Of course, there is also punctuation; there are codons for “stop.”

    – Precise information in that just as with the English alphabet, as mentioned above, there are a virtually infinite number of ways to arrange the “letters” of the amino acid alphabet that will be meaningless gibberish. Relative to that, there are an infinitesimally small number of ways to arrange the “letters” of the amino acid alphabet such that they specify the correct assembly instructions for an intricate, functional, and useful protein machine.

    If it would be silly to suggest that the contents of digital memory required to launch Microsoft Word could have been composed mindlessly and accidentally, it is profoundly irrational to just assume that the massive amount of functionally complex, digitally stored, tokenized, precise information in the coding regions of DNA got there mindlessly and accidentally.

    Science must first of all be rational to remain science. We know the source of massive quantities of functionally complex, digitally stored, tokenized, precise information is always an intellect. That is a fact. So, currently, the best scientific explanation for the information in the coding regions of DNA is intelligent agency, even if science can’t determine with certainty just how the information was inscribed there or the identity of the “scribe.” Genuine, relentlessly objective, religiously/philosophically neutral science admits this. Science perverted by blind-faith-based atheism (it is impossible to prove God isn’t there — that belief must be taken on faith) is threatened by it.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    REC is like an owl and an elephant

  8. 8
    es58 says:

    “computer program”
    it also seems to contain:
    loaders, schedulers, assemblers, extraordinary data storage and fetching; massive parallelism and multi-programming; functions provided by an operating system (which of course is a “computer program”), all serendipitously arranged, lucky for us

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