02 MAR 2019 by ideonexus

 Hawking Considers Computer Viruses Life

A living being like you or me usually has two elements: a set of instructions that tell the system how to keep going and how to reproduce itself, and a mechanism to carry out the instructions. In biology, these two parts are called genes and metabolism. But it is worth emphasising that there need be nothing biological about them. For example, a computer virus is a program that will make copies of itself in the memory of a computer, and will transfer itself to other computers. Thus it fits the...
Folksonomies: life
Folksonomies: life
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20 NOV 2018 by ideonexus

 Seeing Organizations as Biological Systems

There’s a continuing struggle between complexity and robustness in both evolution and human design. A kind of survival imperative, whether in biology, engineering, or business requires that simple, fragile systems become more robust. But the mechanisms to increase robustness will in turn make the system considerably more complex. Furthermore, that additional complexity brings with it its own unanticipated failure modes, which are corrected over time with additional robust mechanisms, which ...
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- Other takeaways: Resilience, rather than efficiency. Holism, rather than reductionism. Plurality, rather than universality. Pragmatism, rather than intellectualism Experimentation, rather than deduction Indirect, rather than direct approaches

27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 The Myth of the Solitary Villain

The more sophisticated and powerful a technology, the more people are needed to weaponize it. And the more people needed to weaponize it, the more societal controls work to defuse, or soften, or prevent harm from happening. I add one additional thought. Even if you had a budget to hire a team of scientists whose job it was to develop a species-extinguishing bio weapon, or to take down the internet to zero, you probably still couldn’t do it. That’s because hundreds of thousands of man-year...
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27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 Prolongation of Human Infancy

Prolongation of Human Infancy.—-Nevertheless, as Professor Butler has recently pointed out, the doctrine of the prolongation of human infancy, which Professor John Fiske has so ably shown to be part of the theory of evolution, was anticipated by Anaximander of Miletus, who flourished about 565 b.c. Professor Butler’s discovery, however, was itself anticipated by Burnet in his Early Greek Philosophy (95, p. 74) by a couple of years. Burnet, after quoting the Theophrastean account of the sp...
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12 JAN 2018 by ideonexus

 Neurons Use Viruses to Share Information and Learn

When genes are activated, the instructions encoded within their DNA are first transcribed into a related molecule called RNA. Shepherd’s colleague Elissa Pastuzyn showed that the Arc shells can enclose RNA and move it from one neuron to another. And that’s basically what retroviruses do—they use protein shells to protect their own RNA as it moves between cells in a host. So our neurons use a repurposed viral gene to transmit genetic information between each other in an oddly virus-like...
Folksonomies: dna neurons virus microbiology
Folksonomies: dna neurons virus microbiology
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21 NOV 2017 by ideonexus

 Evolutionary History Through Macro and Micro Observations

Everything in the cosmos has a history. The old dichotomy between the "historical" sciences (like geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology) and the (for want of a better term) "functional" sciences (like physics and chemistry—some would call them the "real sciences") was always supposed to be that fields like physics study dynamic processes and discover immutable laws of interaction among particles composing the cosmos—while the historical sciences study, well, history—the suppose...
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27 MAY 2017 by ideonexus

 Star Trek: The Motion Picture as a Meditation on Cybernetics

Consider for a moment just how many times Star Trek: The Motion Picture lingers upon the important act of a man entering -- or connecting to -- a machine. We watch Kirk's shuttle pod "dock" with Enterprise after a long, lingering examination of the ship. We see Spock, in a thruster suit, "penetrate" -- in his words, "the orifice" leading to the next interior "chamber" of V'Ger. This terminology sounds very biological, doesn't it? Consider that Spock next mentally-joins with V'Ger, utilizing a...
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21 APR 2017 by ideonexus

 Law, Education, Religion are Names We Give to Adaptation

The changes in the conditions of human life during the last twenty or thirty thousand years have been mainly brought about by the acceleration of invention through increasing co-operation and the release of material and social power. There have been no doubt climatic and geographical changes, but their share has been relatively less important. The essential story of history and pre-history is the story of the adaptation of the social- educated superstructure of the animal man to the novel pro...
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