What is Life and How did it Begin?

Astrobiologists from University of Washington discuss “What Is Life and How Did It Begin?” in a moderated panel discussion + live audience Q&A.
tonight (June 14 at 9 pm)

Registration is required but it’s free

Register here

Do you have any idea whether or not there would be a transcript published after?

I’ll try to find out.

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Sounds great. I’m registered.

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It looks like you’ll be able to watch it later on youtube! I’ll post a link later

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Here you go: What is Life and how did it begin?

I thought the program was great and very understandable. And the panelists were diverse: male and female, white and Asian.

First topic: Nasa definition of life.

Problem: There is no reason why life would be restricted to the medium of chemistry alone. Though, it might be a good working definition for NASA as it looks for life out there. After all, we know that life is possible in the medium of chemistry so that would be a good place to look for it.

Another problem is that Darwinian evolution isn’t really sufficient. That is just a learning process which we have employed in computer algorithms and I don’t think that makes those computer algorithms alive. So… I see no reason why it would not be possible to have a chemical system with something which resembles Darwinian evolution but is not alive. For example, I think you can make a chemical version of one of these computer algorithms.

So after we have removed the restriction to chemistry, what is missing from that definition? And what does this expectation of Darwinian evolution consist of?

  1. It needs to be a product of self-organization rather than design.
  2. It must be a non-linear, far from equilibrium process which will amplify quantum indeterminacy and thus be capable of unpredictable choices (sometimes referred to as bifurcation).
  3. It must employ a learning algorithm and an information storage mechanism.

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