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Re: 'not an artist' article

Erik wrote:
> On 05-Jul-2000 Steve Baker wrote:
> > Erik wrote:
> >
> >> Has the genome project released any technical documentation? I remember
> >> hearing
> >> that they had completed something, mebbe it was just the human DNA? Fruit
> >> flies
> >> were figured out quite a while ago (14 genes iirc). Since they are examining
> >> what we are trying to emulate, maybe we should look at their results and see
> >> what they found the basic building blocks to be and how they find them
> >> attached. I'm sure the most natural results would come if we could use
> >> nature
> >> as a blueprint :)
> >
> > Yikes!
> >
> > Do you have any *idea* how far that is from being possible?
> >
> >
> of course not, I just like talking :)
> I'd imagine that quite a few of the 'simpler' have very limited sets of genes,
> and fairly controlled patterns. Take atomic assembly at the first state of
> excitation, there is a very simple and definite way that atoms are put
> together, and given just 2 numbers you can accurately model a stable atom. You
> can also easily model interactions between atoms that create molecules.
> There're a lot of different atoms (check a periodic table), and a HUGE number
> of molecules.

The critical point where it would all (hypothetically) fall apart - even presuming
we had the compute power to do it - is that we currently have no good algorithms
to predict how a protein will fold into a 3D structure given only it's chemical

Since much of protein chemistry is largely determined by key-in-socket type
mechanical contact - we are essentially screwed.  Knowing the list of A's,
G's, T's and C's will (with a lot of work) get you the chemical formulae
of the proteins - but there is no way to figure out what those proteins
actually *do* in the resulting critter unless you have prior knowledge
that a protein found with such-and-such formula is known (experimentally)
to cause some specific effect in the creature in nature.

I believe that there is a prize offered to anyone who can write a program
to predict protein folding in sensible amounts of time - it's a huge prize -
maybe a million dollars.  If you can do this - you are in the wrong business!

In any case, the number of genes for a real critter is way more than 50. For
a human, they expect to ultimately discover somewhere between 20,000 and
500,000 depending on who you listen to.  They have only found like 10,000
of them - and of those, there are only a few hundred that they know the
functions of.

For a program like biomorphs, a couple of dozen genes is all we could
really afford to implement.  That's enough to describe a 2D monochrome
fractal - but THAT is enough to draw pictures of trees, planes, insects,

Anyway, this is all rather a red herring - we could be talking about
evolving convincing polygon meshes for bicycles...the fact that we are
using a genetic algorithm to create the triangle mesh we want -
which happens to represent a living creature that evolved using a
genetic algorithm - should be regarded as a coincidence.

We don't have 50 million years to wait - and we don't care whether
we have the details of anapurinol synthesis in bone marrow exactly
right for our 8 foot tall purple mutant penguinoid.


Steve Baker   HomeEmail: <sjbaker1@airmail.net>
              WorkEmail: <sjbaker@link.com>
              HomePage : http://web2.airmail.net/sjbaker1
              Projects : http://plib.sourceforge.net

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