Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

There is a limit to how messy origin of life can be


Recently, someone asked whether, in a recent article at Mind Matters News, Fazale Rana means to say that “there are instructions baked into the laws of chemistry that would lead to the inevitable rise of life”:

The article concerned the use of AI to sift through masses of data:

Origin of life studies have been hampered by the fact that, most often, the researcher is identifying a single, comparatively simple idea, whether it is RNA world or hydrothermal vents, that is supposed to make all the difference. But nothing ties the researcher’s favored idea into the thousands of other factors is any systematic way.

Could Big Data, which can factor in millions of pieces of information, help? Rana tells us that the Polish Academy of Sciences has developed a computer algorithm called Alchemy that came up with some “rather intriguing results.

News, “Has a computer algorithm discovered the secret of life?” at Mind Matters News

The results Rana is referring to: “In other words, there appear to be constraints on prebiotic chemistry that inevitably lead to the production of key biotic molecules with the just-right properties that make them unusually stable and ideally suited for life.”

AI detects patterns and the main question is, are they actual patterns or artifacts? In this case, they are probably actual patterns because they correspond to outcomes.

In principle, that doesn’t make the rise of life inevitable. But as with events in history, we may see patterns that help us understand. The don’t do any work, as such:

The Stairway To Life: An Origin-Of-Life Reality Check by [Change Tan, Rob Stadler]

Rob Stadler, co-author with Laura Change Tan of The Stairway to Life, writes to say,

The Wotos et al. paper on the ALCHEMY algorithm was certainly written with a strong bias to encourage adoption of abiogenesis.

They completely brushed aside the reality of how “messy” origin-of-life chemistry rapidly becomes.

Starting with only 6 very simple molecules (arguably pre-biotic), their simulation produced, after only 7 generations of chemical reactions, 36603 different molecules that are not related to life and only 82 different molecules that are found in living organisms.

This ratio is far from encouraging. Origin-of-life chemists have the nasty habit of including only a few pure reagents in their solutions, then claiming victory when they produce something biotic. I’d like to see them place 36603 types of interfering molecules in their flask along with 82 desired biotic molecules, and then hope that the reaction produces something closer to life!

A similar result was found in the Murchison meteorite: it contained “tens of thousands of different molecular compositions, and likely millions of diverse structures,” which “suggests that the extraterrestrial chemodiversity is high compared to terrestrial relevant biological- and biogeochemical-driven chemical space” [Schmitt-Kopplin, P., et al., High molecular diversity of extraterrestrial organic matter in Murchison meteorite revealed forty years after its fall. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2010. 107(7): 2763–2768.]

AI will probably provide evidence for design in nature but before it does, it will doubtless spike the origin of life hype market for a while.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips – origin of life What we do and don’t know about the origin of life.

UB, See @4-7 They finally got it all figured out! ;) jawa
@5 addendum “ These specific discrimination are thought to have been incorporated and extended over time as new amino acids joined the genetic code” “it is therefore conceivable that aaRS specificity towards the cognate amino acid and tRNA developed simultaneously.” “ One can only speculate whether a simultaneous emergence of two different aaRS classes and secondary structure formation allowed to incorporate these early – but highly similar – amino acids into the genetic code.” “ GluRS and AspRS might have been the first Class I and Class II representatives, with other aaRSs evolving from them” “ It is likely that GlnRSs6 and AsnRSs7 mutually co-evolved from the evolutionary old GluRSs and AspRSs through recent gene duplication and were distributed via horizontal gene transfer (HGT)” “ The emergence of TrpRSs and TyrRSs is considered to have happened at a later stage of evolution. ” “ PheRS supposedly evolved from the same precursor as TrpRS and TyrRS” “ The two aaRSs are likely to be of common origin” Hmm… Once upon a time… […] And they lived happily ever after… jawa
UB, Would you like to comment on the posts @4 & @5? Thanks! jawa
@4: “The amino acid binding sites of ancient aaRS precursors could have created a much broader recognition space, which was gradually gaining more complexity upon the addition of new amino acids to the translational system.” “...the hypothesis that peptides and RNA coexisted and complemented each other from the very beginning...” “...the recognition space of aaRSs seems to be not yet fully explored, i.e. there are “blank areas” (Fig. 5). Whether these spots are tangible to the enzymes by binding site evolution can only be speculated.” “Beside the requirement of new codons and engineered ribosomes with broader substrate compatibility, the choice of an appropriate aaRSs·tRNA pair is of great importance. The major goal at the aaRS level is hereby to engineer specificity towards the new substrate but not to interfere with canonical aaRSs.“ “...might be interesting targets for directed evolution of binding sites.” “engineer”? “directed evolution”? Hmm... Once upon a time... [...] And they lived happily ever after... jawa
This paper reminds me of something that UB has kept repeating here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69100-0 jawa
Um, I'm not sure what industry YOU work in, but in DoD, there is really only ever 1 (ONE!) piece-of-crap design. And The Government POURS money on the piece of crap until SOMEBODY says they think "the team" might be able to produce a "production version". The contractor then produces a "demonstrator", which has no particular relation to what an actual production version might be, but a bigger budget is approved for next year. After several years of pouring money down a rat hole, the project reaches the "put up or shut up" phase. And of course there ARE projects that are so GROSSLY mismanaged that they get cancelled. But of course THAT makes the GOVERNMENT managers look like idiots.... so SOMETHING gets approved for "production". On VERY rare occasions, by the grace of God, the production model does NOT catch fire and explode, which is the criteria for "success", and the item is "approved for production". mahuna
There's one aspect of the typical human design process that really hasn't been considered in the ID version. In real industrial design of anything from furniture to houses to cars, designers compete to churn out hundreds of 'blue-sky' ideas, and then managers and marketers SELECT INTELLIGENTLY from the hundreds. Designers can produce awful and non-functional designs. Some of them escape into the product stream from time to time, like the '62 Dodge or the Chevy Vega. The key to a functional and successful product is in the INTELLIGENT SELECTION, not the design. God's studio seems to have dozens of designers churning out all sorts of weird possibilities. The QC end of the studio usually picks successful and functional designs, but some '62 Dodges escape into the product stream. Sometimes the weird stuff and the proper stuff gets used simultaneously inside the same critter, as alternate organs or alternate lifecycles. polistra
Once again it appears that our base reality had to be fine-tuned from the very beginning so that evolution and life can get started, let me reverse that, life and then evolution. I hope that old man with the white beard, who handed down his origin story from on high doesn’t get angry that I put his evolution second. But I really like the admin of reality, he’s really good at getting his program to do shit for itself AaronS1978

Leave a Reply