Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Jonathan Bartlett: Elon Musk inadvertently tumbles to a big problem in origin of life theory


Self-driving car entrepreneur Elon Musk was actually talking about creating machines, not life, but the principle holds, says Bartlett:


When referring to the process of building a manufacturing plant, he said, “The extreme difficulty of scaling production of new technology is not well understood. It’s 1000% to 10,000% harder than making a few prototypes. The machine that makes the machine is vastly harder than the machine itself.” — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 22, 2020

Indeed, whatever the difficulty of creating life in the lab, making individual prototypes is not nearly as problematic as making “the machine that makes the machine,” which all reproducing living cells can do. That is, the ability of an organism to reproduce is at least an order of magnitude harder that the ability of an organism to just live.

Jonathan Bartlett, “Elon Musk Tweet Shows Why Many Doubt Origin of Life Studies” at Mind Matters News

He goes on to explain that the reason that creating a machine that manufactures or a cell that reproduces is much harder than creating a prototype of either is because it is a search for a search and “successful searches for searches are exponentially less likely to be productive than a search itself.”

Note: The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search, William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol.14 No.5, 2010 is open access.

You may also enjoy:

Can computers evolve to program themselves without programmers? How much computing power would we need to evolve the programmer’s intelligence via Darwinian evolution? Computer scientist Roman Yampolskiy explains why Darwinian evolution in computers wouldn’t likely produce an AI superintelligence.

3 Martin_r
Darwinian clowns infested the whole world with a very very absurd theory.
Sad but true. The problem is not with evolutionary science. The problem lies in materialists/ atheists trying to convert it into a metaphysics. Evolution = theory. Evolutionism = philosophy (and a very absurd one). Truthfreedom
Darwinian clowns infested the whole world with a very very absurd theory, perhaps it worked in 19th century, but today ? What is wrong with all these Darwinians ? There are lot of very clever people among Darwinians … Why do they claim such crazy absurd things ?
Because it's not a theory, it's a religion. Darwin desperately needed to remove God from his worldview. He shoved God from his throne and sat himself down there as god. The pinnacle of his imagined process. Now they say: "I believe that the four fundamental forces, time, and energy are sufficient to produce all that I see around me." They deny the power of His Word (information) that turns the above from chaos into the order that we see. Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Hebrews 1:3a The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Latemarch
As to:
The extreme difficulty of scaling production of new technology is not well understood. It’s 1000% to 10,000% harder than making a few prototypes. The machine that makes the machine is vastly harder than the machine itself. — Elon Musk - September 22, 2020
I think that Jonathan Wells has a good illustration that gets this point across quite well,
Why the Design in Living Things Goes Far Beyond Machinery - Jonathan Wells - February 15, 2019 Excerpt: Awe-Inspiring Design An organism, however, in contrast to an isolated structure, rearranges its parts over time. An organism imposes organization on the materials it comprises, and its organization changes throughout its life cycle. To see how remarkable this is, imagine a machine familiar to most of us: a laptop computer. If a laptop computer were a plant or animal, it would start out as a protocomputer consisting of perhaps a few transistors, a little memory with some software, and a battery on a small circuit board. Then it would obtain materials from its surroundings to fabricate other components, and it would make its circuit board larger and more complex. Along the way, it would find ways to recharge its own battery. It would also write more programs. After reaching maturity, the laptop would run its programs by itself—imagine keys on the keyboard going up and down as though pressed by some unseen finger. If components were damaged, the computer could repair or replace them while continuing to operate. Eventually, the computer would fabricate one or more protocomputers, each capable of developing into other laptops just like it. A lot of design goes into laptop computers. How much more design would have to go into making a laptop computer that could do all the things listed above? No one knows. But such a computer would certainly require more design, not less. And the design would be radically different from human design, because, after the origin of the protocomputer, the design would be intrinsic rather than extrinsic. So the inference to design from molecular machines is robust, but it’s only the beginning. There is design in living things that far transcends the machine metaphor — and it should inspire awe. https://evolutionnews.org/2019/02/why-the-design-in-living-things-goes-far-beyond-machinery/
And indeed, a supposedly 'simple' cell is far more complex than any factory, much less any machine, that man has ever built. As Michael Denton explained,
"To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the portholes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings with find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus of itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometer in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell. We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly, complex pieces of molecular machinery, each one consisting of about three thousand atoms arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation. We would wonder even more as we watched the strangely purposeful activities of these weird molecular machines, particularly when we realized that, despite all our accumulated knowledge of physics and chemistry, the task of designing one such molecular machine – that is one single functional protein molecule – would be completely beyond our capacity at present and will probably not be achieved until at least the beginning of the next century. Yet the life of the cell depends on the integrated activities of thousands, certainly tens, and probably hundreds of thousands of different protein molecules. We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction. In fact, so deep would be the feeling of deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of late twentieth-century technology. What we would be witnessing would be an object resembling an immense automated factory, a factory larger than a city and carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth. However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours. To witness such an act at a magnification of one thousand million times would be an awe-inspiring spectacle.”? - Michael Denton PhD., Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, pg.328 - 1985
As Martin_r, (and engineer himself), stated, this simply is "engineering SCI-Fi". Moreover, not only do Darwinists not have any clue how such a self-reproducing factory, i.e. a 'simple' cell, can possibly come to be in the first place, Darwinists also have no evidence that such 'engineering SCI-Fi' in a simple cell can gradually evolve, and/or morph, into other fundamentally different self-reproducing factories. As Alan H. Linton - emeritus professor of bacteriology, explained 'Bacteria are ideal for this kind of study, But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another,'
Scant search for the Maker - 2001 Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms. - Alan H. Linton - emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=159282
Moreover, ancient bacteria spores recovered from amber crystals and salt crystals, which are tens to hundreds of millions of years old, have been 'revived', and have now been compared to their living descendants of today. To the disbelieving shock of Darwinists, “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.”
The Paradox of the "Ancient" (250 Million Year Old) Bacterium Which Contains "Modern" Protein-Coding Genes: Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ; - 2002 “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/19/9/1637
Moreover, in terms of morphology, billion year old bacteria "surprisingly looked exactly like modern species," and the similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times,”
Static evolution: is pond scum the same now as billions of years ago? Excerpt: But what intrigues (paleo-biologist) J. William Schopf most is lack of change. Schopf was struck 30 years ago by the apparent similarities between some 1-billion-year-old fossils of blue-green bacteria and their modern microbial counterparts. "They surprisingly looked exactly like modern species," Schopf recalls. Now, after comparing data from throughout the world, Schopf and others have concluded that modern pond scum differs little from the ancient blue-greens. "This similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times," says Schopf. As evidence, he cites the 3,000 such fossils found; http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Static+evolution%3A+is+pond+scum+the+same+now+as+billions+of+years+ago%3F-a014909330
Here are a few more references to drive this point home:
AMBER: THE LOOKING GLASS INTO THE PAST: Excerpt: These (fossilized bacteria) cells are actually very similar to present day cyanobacteria. This is not only true for an isolated case but many living genera of cyanobacteria can be linked to fossil cyanobacteria. The detail noted in the fossils of this group gives indication of extreme conservation of morphology, more extreme than in other organisms. - per bob705 blogspot Scientists find signs of life in Australia dating back 3.48 billion years - Thu November 14, 2013 Excerpt: “We conclude that the MISS in the Dresser Formation record a complex microbial ecosystem, hitherto unknown, and represent one of the most ancient signs of life on Earth.”... “this MISS displays the same associations that are known from modern as well as fossil” finds. The MISS also shows microbes that act like “modern cyanobacteria,” - per cnn Geobiologist Noffke Reports Signs of Life that Are 3.48 Billion Years Old - 11/11/13 Excerpt: the mats woven of tiny microbes we see today covering tidal flats were also present as life was beginning on Earth. The mats, which are colonies of cyanobacteria, can cause unusual textures and formations in the sand beneath them. Noffke has identified 17 main groups of such textures caused by present-day microbial mats, and has found corresponding structures in geological formations dating back through the ages. - per odu edu
Shoot, Darwinists don't even have any evidence that it is possible for a single protein molecule of that 'self-reproducing factory' to evolve, and/or morph, into a completely new protein molecule, much less do they have any evidence that it is possible for that self-reproducing factory to evolve, and/or morph, into another fundamentally different type of self-reproducing factory. Ann Gauger and Doug Axe have found that Darwinian processes would need a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish a seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that requires just a few mutations.
When Theory and Experiment Collide - Douglas Axe - April 16th, 2011 Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied. http://biologicinstitute.org/2011/04/16/when-theory-and-experiment-collide/ "Enzyme Families -- Shared Evolutionary History or Shared Design?" - Ann Gauger - December 4, 2014 Excerpt: If enzymes can't be recruited to genuinely new functions by unguided means, no matter how similar they are, the evolutionary story is false.,,, Taken together, since we found no enzyme that was within one mutation of cooption, the total number of mutations needed is at least four: one for duplication, one for over-production, and two or more single base changes. The waiting time required to achieve four mutations is 10^15 years. That's longer than the age of the universe. The real waiting time is likely to be much greater, since the two most likely candidate enzymes failed to be coopted by double mutations. We have now addressed two objections raised by our critics: that we didn't test the right mutation(s), and that we didn't use the right starting point. We tested all possible single base changes in nine different enzymes, Those nine enzymes are the most structurally similar of BioF's entire family We also tested 70 percent of double mutations in the two closest enzymes of those nine. Finally, some have said we should have used the ancestral enzyme as our starting point, because they believe modern enzymes are somehow different from ancient ones. Why do they think that? It's because modern enzymes can't be coopted to anything except trivial changes in function. In other words, they don't evolve! That is precisely the point we are making. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/12/a_new_paper_fro091701.html
And as David Berlinski and company further explained, "random searches in sequence space that start from known functional sequences are no more likely to enter regions in sequence space with new protein folds than searches that start from random sequences."
Right of Reply: Our Response to Jerry Coyne - September 29, 2019 by Günter Bechly, Brian Miller and David Berlinski Excerpt: Indeed, Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak has shown that random searches in sequence space that start from known functional sequences are no more likely to enter regions in sequence space with new protein folds than searches that start from random sequences. The reason for this is clear: random searches are overwhelmingly more likely to go off into a non-folding, non-functional abyss than they are to find a novel protein fold. Why? Because such novel folds are so extraordinarily rare in sequence space. Moreover, as Meyer explained in Darwin’s Doubt, as mutations accumulate in functional sequences, they will inevitably destroy function long before they stumble across a new protein fold. Again, this follows from the extreme rarity (as well as the isolation) of protein folds in sequence space. Recent work by Weizmann Institute protein scientist Dan Tawfik has reinforced this conclusion. Tawfik’s work shows that as mutations to functional protein sequences accumulate, the folds of those proteins become progressively more thermodynamically and structurally unstable. Typically, 15 or fewer mutations will completely destroy the stability of known protein folds of average size. Yet, generating (or finding) a new protein fold requires far more amino acid sequence changes than that. Finally, calculations based on Tawfik’s work confirm and extend the applicability of Axe’s original measure of the rarity of protein folds. These calculations confirm that the measure of rarity that Axe determined for the protein he studied is actually representative of the rarity for large classes of other globular proteins. Not surprisingly, Dan Tawfik has described the origination of a truly novel protein or fold as “something like close to a miracle.” Tawfik is on Coyne’s side: He is mainstream. https://quillette.com/2019/09/29/right-of-reply-our-response-to-jerry-coyne/
Thus, despite the fact that Darwinists have not one iota of evidence that it is possible to change a single functional protein into a fundamentally new functional protein, they still continue to believe that it is possible to randomly change, not only protein molecules, but also to randomly change a self-reproducing factory itself, i.e. a 'simple' cell, into a fundamentally new type of self-reproducing factory. To believe that such is even remotely possible, as Darwinists do, is simply insane! What is wrong with these people? Not only are Darwinists ignoring the science, they have also, apparently, completely lost their common sense in the process of believing Darwinian evolution. Quote and verse
"It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense.” - G.K Chesterton - “The Oracle of the Dog” Romans 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
Elon Musk should invest all his money into research of how the cell 'prints' 3D objects. No 3D-printer is needed, no filament-tape is needed, no power grid is needed .. this is an engineering SCI-FI... and obviously, Elon Musk now recognizes it too ... martin_r
Moreover, i bet, that Elon Musk has no idea how complex the cell is ... i bet, he never heard of DNA proofreading/repair machines (among other things). Like many lay people, Elon Musk only scratched the surface when speaking about a cell. But obviously, Elon Musk begins to understand ... martin_r
Elon Musk is an engineer. i am an engineer too... We engineers knows ... Biologists (Darwinian clowns) don't know... they never made everything ... All what they have is an absurdly absurd theory... Darwinian clowns infested the whole world with a very very absurd theory, perhaps it worked in 19th century, but today ? What is wrong with all these Darwinians ? There are lot of very clever people among Darwinians ... Why do they claim such crazy absurd things ? Thanks for this great article at MM, finally, some very clever people (e.g. Elon Musk) start to realize the technological sophistication of the cell ... Anyway, let me add to Elon Musk thoughts.. What most people don’t realize, is, that when you look at any species, there are always multiple layers of design for example – a hummingbird Layer #1: the design of the humming itself – the shape of the body, the shape / geometry of the wings, its weight, the frequency of its wing-flaps … in other words, lots of sophisticated design features need to be met so the hummingbird flies as it flies including the hovering-ability. Layer #2: the design of hummingbird step-by-step self-assembly (biologists call it – the development). Because, as you may know, there are no workers, no parts / materials suppliers. There is nobody who assembles a hummingbird together. This self-assembly is an fully automated process, even in 21st century – an engineering SCIFI. (Layer #2 - This is what Elon Musk was referring to) Layer #3: the materials the hummingbird’s body is made of. All sophisticated materials, perfectly developed and adjusted to fulfill its function. What is remarkable, all these sophisticated materials, some very lightweight and strong, are developed at species’s body temperature, no fire of thousands of degrees is needed. Material-engineers can only wonder… Layer #4: the design of automated maintenance / repair processes. Almost everything gets repaired. Broken bones, eye’s cornea, the skin,, even DNA molecule gets repaired… I am sure that a biologist could provide a very long list of what gets repaired. I never understood how Darwinists imagine the evolution of any repair-process. How an unguided natural process with no foresight can ever recognize a problem (e.g. broken leg). How does unguided natural process know, that this leg needs to be repaired, when, and in what way. Any repair process is an undeniable proof of design. i am sure that there are many other layers of species’ design … somebody may add to mine… martin_r
"A search for a search" is meaningless wordsalad. Elon is simply admitting that he should have listened to the previous EXPERIENCE of carmakers instead of arrogantly trying to use THEORY to build a factory. In the current holocaust we're seeing the horrible results of ignoring 500 years of EXPERIENCE in public health and arrogantly using bizarre delusional murderous THEORIES, which had never been imagined before, let alone used. Experience survives. Theory kills. EVERY SINGLE TIME. And when you follow experience, the road inevitably leads to God. polistra
Materialists can try to say hocus pocus. Truthfreedom

Leave a Reply