Life. Evolution. Quantum algorithms. A veil of obscurity disguised as light…

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A scenario of artificial intelligence could see the emergence of circumstances in which models of simple organisms could be capable of experiencing the various phases of life in a controlled virtual environment. This is what has been designed by the QUTIS research group at the UPV/EHU’s Department of Physical Chemistry, but the scenario is that of quantum computers: an artificial life protocol that encodes quantum behaviors belonging to living systems.

The models of organism designed were coined as units of quantum life, each one of which is made up of two qubits that act as genotype and phenotype, respectively, and where the genotype contains the information that describes the type of living unit, and this information is transmitted from generation to generation. By contrast, the phenotype, the characteristics displayed by individuals, are determined by genetic information as well as by the interaction of the individuals themselves with the environment.

To be able to regard the systems as organisms of artificial life, the basic characteristics of Darwinian evolution that were simulated by these systems were birth and its evolution, self-replication, interaction between individuals and the environment, which gradually degrades the phenotype of the individual as it ages and ends in a state representing death. The protocol also considered interaction between individuals as well as mutations, which were implemented in random rotations of individual qubits. (1)

Every time one reads such a description of how science managed to emulate something so fundamental as “life” or “death”, he must be very skeptical. For even the slightest hint of science understanding the core elements of our existence must be faced with nothing less than hard laughter.

Scientists playing around with what they do not know.

So many words.

So much effort.

Meaningless.

Do you believe you are your life?

Do you believe you are your death?

You are more than the sum of your cells.

You are more than the atoms that consist you.

As time passes by, we can see that the main promise of the Enlightenment for a better world cannot be kept. The world is not full of light, it is full of terror and death. The world is not more ethical, it is instead colder and more soulless. The world is not understood better. It is now hidden behind a dark veil of ‘knowledge’. A veil which disguises the dark secret we all try to keep from ourselves: That our ‘understanding’ destroys the cosmos we are in.

How can you have an ethical cosmos by calculating data?

How can you have a better world by analyzing theories?

The basis of living good is first of all… the “living” part.

And science has by default given up on this from the time it made the “data” and the “theories” its main goal. Life cannot be lived in theory. Advise cannot be given based just on hard cold data. You cannot know the earth, without making your hands dirty. You cannot touch the stars without crying upon the touch of a loved one.

We have forgotten that science is a verb, not a noun. (as this article here reminded us)

Science in the example above is not the emulation. But the process of trying to understand, feel and touch the very essence of our existence. Science is not the ridiculous idea that you can emulate life with a set of rules. Nor the childish notion of random mutations generating useful original information which can lead to order instead of random chaos. Science is the deep passionate believe that we can somehow reach the truth regarding our self.

Look at that butterfly.

It has come back for you.

To remind you something you once knew.

That the science you believe in is not inside the lab.

That the only thing algorithms can emulate are themselves.

That true scientists are only the ones who are not.

Science will soon realize that it is useless.

Only when it reaches a point where it is really useful.

At some point everything will be successfully emulated.

Including the emulation of life itself.

Which in turn emulates life.

Only to result in the emulation of itself.

And inside an infinite set of turtles.

To keep on searching for that super turtle.

Gradually realizing…

That there was no turtle to find in the first place.

Except the one we started emulating…

Lust for knowledge. The sin of our era…

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A new computational-model reveals that serotonin, one of the most widespread chemicals in the brain, can speed up learning. (1)

Researchers have found that piano lessons have a specific effect on kindergartners’ ability to distinguish different pitches, which translates into an improvement in discriminating between words. (2)

We live in a knowledge-centric world. Wanting to add more and more into the sea of knowledge. While what we should be doing is trying to empty it. And see that it is a bottomless sea. With every knowledge added, a new question arising. With every mystery solved, ten more appearing. Like the Danaides, cursed to complete a feat which is from the beginning destined to fail.

Stop trying to understand.

There is nothing to compute.

There is nothing to discover.

Every time you look at that sea.

You are looking at yourself on the calm surface…

Let the slightest drop fall in and the simplest and deepest of the truths will emerge. The image is distorted. There is no you. There is nothing to see. Dive deep to the bottom of the sea. And see for yourself. There is nothing there. Only the thing you bring with you… Suddenly you are standing dry. Next to a big old tree. You hold water in your hands. You are thirsty. But… look at that small pond. There is a fish in it. You put the water inside… And without knowing it… You kill yourself…

Replicability of results. A problem we choose to ignore.

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Can companies rely on the results of one or two scientific studies to design a new industrial process or launch a new product? In at least one area of materials chemistry, the answer may be yes – but only 80 percent of the time.

The replicability of results from scientific studies has become a major source of concern in the research community, particularly in the social sciences and biomedical sciences. But many researchers in the fields of engineering and the hard sciences haven’t felt the same level of concern for independent validation of their results.

A new study that compared the results reported in thousands of papers published about the properties of metal organic framework (MOF) materials – which are prominent candidates for carbon dioxide adsorption and other separations – suggests the replicability problem should be a concern for materials researchers, too.

One in five studies of MOF materials examined by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology were judged to be “outliers,” with results far beyond the error bars normally used to evaluate study results. The thousands of research papers yielded just nine MOF compounds for which four or more independent studies allowed appropriate comparison of results. (1)

We like to believe science and data are reliable.

But real life has nothing to do with science and data.

Everything changes. There is chaos everywhere.

And yet, we see order. Order not existing out there. But inside us.

There is nothing to replicate.

Nothing stays the same.

It was us from the very beginning.

Seeing similarities in dissimilar situations.

Because deep inside us we know…

That this is the only thing we should be seeing…

Stupid research. The only good research…

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The next CEO of Australia’s leading research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), is in hot water after suggesting the cash-strapped organization spend scarce research dollars investigating water divining, or dowsing.

“I’ve seen people do this with close to 80% accuracy, and I’ve no idea how they do it,” Larry Marshall told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in a recent radio interview. “When I see that, as a scientist, it makes me question, ‘Is there instrumentality that we could create that would enable a machine to find that water?’ … I’ve always wondered whether there is something in the electromagnetic field, or gravitational anomaly,” continued Marshall, who takes up his position in January. (1)

It seems stupid.
It may even be stupid.

But all great advances came from people who attempted to do things which seemed stupid. All great breakthroughs in science came from people who proposed “stupid” new theories.

The existing theories and status quo make everything new seem stupid.
Should we judge the future by the standards of the past?

Empty your mind.
Try to be stupid,
so as to be clever…

Supercomputers, discoveries, un-human science…

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Supercomputers make discoveries that scientists can’t. In May last year, a supercomputer in San Jose, California, read 100,000 research papers in 2 hours. It found completely new biology hidden in the data. Called KnIT, the computer is one of a handful of systems pushing back the frontiers of knowledge without human help.

KnIT didn’t read the papers like a scientist – that would have taken a lifetime. Instead, it scanned for information on a protein called p53, and a class of enzymes that can interact with it, called kinases. Also known as “the guardian of the genome”, p53 suppresses tumours in humans. KnIT trawled the literature searching for links that imply undiscovered p53 kinases, which could provide routes to new cancer drugs.

Having analysed papers up until 2003, KnIT identified seven of the nine kinases discovered over the subsequent 10 years. More importantly, it also found what appeared to be two p53 kinases unknown to science. Initial lab tests confirmed the findings, although the team wants to repeat the experiment to be sure. (1)

Science has for a long time been inaccesible to many.

Now it is becoming inaccessible to scientists as well…

We imagined a world without humans.

We started exploring it.

And now we will stop doing even that…