Von Neumann Universal Constructor Cellular Automata http://people.csail.mit.edu/jaffer/GTOL/constructor

What Is Life? -- Universal Constructors

After Big Game Theory -- Evolutionary Breakthroughs, viruses with ribosomal-RNA, can translate an infinite variety of non-genetic molecules. The genetic material acts as a stored program for synthesis. Synthesized molecules can interact with genetic material, persistently remembering state which can control translation. Thus the organism can perform computation.

The combination of self replication with the computational power of a Turing machine qualifies the organism as a Universal Constructor.

Unlike modern viruses, these viruses carried ribosomal-RNA and any other genes they needed. The Game Theory of Life proposes that these were the first living organisms.

Although not parasites, these hypothesized first life forms are much closer to viruses than to cellular life. Their replication is not a coordinated process like fission.

Can we predict the course of evolution beyond this point? With their fecundity and high mutation rates, these viruses will rapidly evolve new synthesized molecules and species. Mutations occurring over time will explore the domain of genetic and synthesizable molecules. Enzymes and new metabolic pathways will evolve.

But life on Earth incorporated naturally occuring vacuoles somewhere around this epoch. Although membranes are compatible with the nucleotide-game so far, it is quite possible that membranes change the game beyond this point.

Copyright © 2005 Aubrey Jaffer

I am a guest and not a member of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.  My actions and comments do not reflect in any way on MIT.
The Game Theory of Life
agj @ alum.mit.edu
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