On Jan 29, 10:34 pm, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:
> So if in your theory life is explainable in terms of a "step from
> organic molecule to biological cell", then why is that one could not
> make a similar step from a synthetic (silicon, say) substrate to a
> synthetic cell?  What is the difference?

There may not be a difference at all. If you can make a silicon cell
that lives and dies and grows by itself, then you might indeed have
synthetic life. The problem is that it would be uncontrollable to the
same extent that it is alive. If we could make computers out of living
tissues or organisms now, we would do it, but they aren't reliable.
They have their own agenda. I don't see why silicon life would be any
different.

> Both the organic molecule
> and the silicon (or whatever) substrate are subject to the same
> electromagnetic (and nuclear etc) forces, so what specifically makes
> life possible with one and not the other?

Gathering from what we see in the universe, either

1. Carbon happened to get lucky first but anything can become alive
under the right conditions. Everything will come to life eventually or
some things will randomly.

or

2. Carbon is uniquely chemically friendly because of it's atomic
properties. Maybe no other atom can substitute. Synthetic life may
never be conscious and DNA is a unique recipe.

3. Life may be a top down phenomena with a cell as it's irreducible
unit, like a language, which uses a particular range of low level
molecular configurations as we use circles, lines, dots, and loops to
form our written language. Life can't make it's complex genetic
spaghetti out of just any substance, it has to be able cook itself al
dente, just as we can't build our computers out of pasta. We could
make synthetic life from another recipe, but it has to be similar to
DNA.

4. Life may be in the eye of the bolder. If we were the size of
Jupiter and lived for billions of years, our scope of perception might
be such that the atmospheres of planets were like waltzing cells or
faces that sum up the content of the entire planet's activities as our
perception sums up our brain's activities. We could be neurons in the
Earth's brain, who knows? In which case, life vs non life is a matter
of perspective - anything can come to life under the influence of the
right stuff.

5. Life may be relative to a point, but have invariant properties as
well. Maybe even at a rate of a thousand years a minute, the solar
system is still too dull to be thought of as life. Maybe it's a
different kind of sensemaking than life. Synthetic life could be life-
like, but never really alive.

6. Comp - Life is a degree of complexity and self-reflexivity in
logic. Intelligence and compassion are just an android away...

Craig

>
>
>
> On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 10:11 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> 
> wrote:
>
> > On Jan 29, 10:20 am, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> OK, I think I understand you a little better. You are a vitalist who
> >> makes life its own ontological primitive.
>
> > No. Life is only a step from organic molecule to biological cell.
> > Neither are primitive. There is only one primitive and that is ense,
> > aka sensorimotive electomagenism. Biology is important to us because
> > we are biological. Animals, people, and members of our social groups
> > are imporant to us for the same reason. Life is as special and not
> > special to the universe as it seems. Now sacred and protected.. now
> > forsaken and cursed.
>
> >> There is a difference
> >> between living things and non-living things, and the gap between them
> >> cannot be bridged. Life is magical, in the sense that it cannot be
> >> explained.
>
> > No. Sounds like you are interested in pidgeonholing me. Viruses and
> > crystals bridge life and abiotic structures. Life is important to
> > living things. That you must admit. If you think that is a mistake
> > that should be corrected, I understand, but I disagree. The
> > significance of survival is not an illusion.
>
> >> I cannot subscribe to such a "theory" because it draws a line where no
> >> more questions can be asked (like religion). Anyway, I think it's more
> >> interesting, challenging, and rewarding to consider possible theories
> >> and explanations of how living things can and do self-assemble from
> >> non-living parts.
>
> > What makes atoms form molecules is the same thing that makes molecules
> > form cells, etc. It's sense. Not just logic or arithmetic or physics,
> > but experiences of worlds.
>
> > Craig
>
> >> On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 2:11 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> 
> >> wrote:
> >> > On Jan 28, 5:20 pm, Terren Suydam <terren.suy...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >> >> I don't understand why you don't allow machine consciousness if in your
> >> >> theory all forces give rise to sense.
>
> >> > It's the other way around, sense experience gives rise to all
> >> > appearance of force.
>
> >> >> What is special about the kinds of
> >> >> "forces" inherent in a biological organism?  It smells like vitalism.
>
> >> > Biological organisms are alive. They eat other living organisms to
> >> > survive. Most matter is not alive and we cannot eat it. This isn't
> >> > some flaky theory, it's just pointing out the obvious. We distinguish
> >> > biology from chemistry for a reason. It's only special to biological
> >> > organisms. They have an opinion about whether they keep living or not.
>
> >> >> What is especially confusing about your position is that you allow that
> >> >> structure puts limitations on subjective experience (I.e. lack of rods 
> >> >> and
> >> >> cones will prevent one from seeing color). Based on that you are already
> >> >> close to comp. It is very hard for non-comp theories to account for the
> >> >> changes in subjectivity that occur in tandem with brain damage,
> >> >> psychoactive drugs, and so on.
>
> >> > The structure and the experience are opposite parts of the same thing.
> >> > If you change one, it can have an influence sometimes on the other.
> >> > Not always though. They overlap and diverge. I can consciously
> >> > breathe, or I can observe that I am breathing. I can control my body
> >> > in important ways, my body can control me in important ways.
>
> >> >> Somewhere in your theory must be an account of the differences between
> >> >> biological cell and a functional silicon-based equivalent, since the 
> >> >> same
> >> >> low level forces are involved in both. Why does the substance matter 
> >> >> when
> >> >> any physical substrate is subject to basic electromagnetic and nuclear
> >> >> forces?  If that silicon version has the proper structure (organization)
> >> >> then why in your theory wouldn't it have subjective experience?
>
> >> > It matters for the same reason that we can't survive on the Moon
> >> > without a space suit. Why are all cells made of carbohydrates and
> >> > amino acids and not silicates and sulfuric acid? Why is 79 protons
> >> > gold but 79 golf balls just a bucket full of balls? Because the
> >> > universe that we see as matter and machines is only the exterior. The
> >> > interior is a universe of private narratives that accumulate over
> >> > time. The carbon based story turned out to be more interesting for us.
> >> > Is it because we're made of carbon or are we lucky that carbon
> >> > happened to be interesting. My hunch is a little of both.
>
> >> > Craig
>
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