The wishful thinking of genetic scientists
Or how to invent a new computer
This is a more detailed explanation of the introduction to the hidden risk of genetic engineering.
The foundation of genetic engineering - the doctrine of the DNA
The plan or program how to build a living creature lies in the genetic structure called DNA and nowhere else. This is the doctrine and mantra of genetic scientists. The DNA is not only the program, it is the computer to operate on itself, too. Moreover it is part of a robot, which actually builds the creature and thus itself. Finally this combined program-computer is able to develop itself through a random driven process called evolution.
The DNA program is its own computer, its own factory and its own programmer
To make things clear, this is not just an analogy, it is real, at least for genetic scientists. While different from a computer as we know it today, the DNA-computer is assumed to be at the lowest level digital and completely based on physical forces, which follow exactly and reproducibly physical laws. So it is thought to be a pure mechanical system mainly driven by the electromagnetic force and thermal motion. There are elements of random in this whole process, for instance quantum effects and starting conditions, but these effects are considered to not hamper an outcome of this program, that lies within the natural bounds of a species. Monovular twins are considered to have the same program and are developing very similar albeit not exactly identical. Only these tiny differences are attributed to random influences. Much bigger differences between members of the same species are deemed to be caused by slightly different programs and not by random.
The implication of this mechanical view is that such a computer should be completely simulatable with a Turing machine, the basic concept of today's silicon computers. From a mathematical point of view it would have to be equivalent to a silicon computer.
Having in mind that a DNA and a silicon computer are considered equivalent, it should be possible to simulate a DNA-computer with an ordinary one. Despite all real intelligence of silicon-programmers not the smallest advance has been made in this area. This genome program is written by pure random, but all brainpower of programmers is not able to simulate or to understand even a small part of it!
There are two different kinds of program runs:
- The larger scale program is the development of a species, the change and adaptation of descendants of its individuals, the rise of the amoeba to the human being. It is the program reprogramming itself which has often been characterized as being astronomical unlikely, because the only programmer is - random. An analogy often used is the chimp hammering on a typewriter and coming up with Shakespeare's Hamlet. To make the analogy complete, after the chimp had finished, a human, playing the role of evolution, would read his Hamlet and rate it success or failure. In the latter case the chimp had to try again. Poor chimp.
- The second program run is complex, diffuse and ignored at the same time: The development of a multicellular individual from its very first moment of life with molecular activity of DNA which causes the building and operation of a cell, which then divides into two cells and so on to a grownup exemplar of its species, finally repeating this process and reproducing itself. We are concentrating on this second program run here.
Characteristics of a real silicon computer are:
- The outcome of a calculation is predetermined. There is no way for a computer to choose to produce an outcome which is not implicitly encoded in the program.
- Computers and programs are extremely sensitive to errors. Only one wrong bit may crash them or may produce a false calculation. Engineers and programmers struggle hard to avoid these errors.
- It is absolutely necessary to prevent errors in the first place. Everything is designed to happen orderly one after the other, everything triggers only what it should trigger, nothing has an unwanted side effect and everything has to withstand influencing forces from elsewhere. Imagine a train running on a railway
track or a clockwork.
- Nonetheless programs can have elements of random included. This can be done with external sources (hardware) or by a subprogram which runs completely independent of the main program and whose output (e.g. numbers) can be considered random for the main program.
- However it is important to let the random in at "uncritical" places only. Places where the run of the program itself is not disturbed and its calculation is not falsified. E.g. choosing a color for some object on screen is uncritical. The random generator would deliver a number, which points to a color in a table, and this color would be used to color the object. But if this random number were added to the memory address from where the next command for the program had to be fetched, the program would immediately crash. It would simply get a wrong command or no command at all, falsely interpreting data as a command.
The speculative DNA-computer mostly as a program:
- It is written by random and memorized in chunks - the genes.
- The complete program is a set of a big number of genes called genome and is materialized in the DNA.
- Not only that there is a huge number of different genes. There is usually not only one gene of a kind, there are more similar ones.
- Individuals of one species have different sets of genes. During genetic recombination there is a new set created as a mixture of both parent sets. Descendants have different sets than their parents. Different sets of genes mean different programs, assembled by random picking of 10 or 100 thousands of parts.
- Proteins and other molecules built with the help of genes and what is assembled with them during building a creature, have multiple functions. They may be program, computer and construction worker at once. These structures are spatially complex and are having thus different effects on different levels during the long program run of building an organism. There is a gigantic maze of combination effects, side effects and multilevel interdependencies. This multiple interlocking of functional parts is the absolute opposite of how software for silicon computers is designed.
- The interlocking problem is very likely to make the first program run (developing the species) impossible, because every useful mutation is probably accompanied by many errors it would introduce, and thus hugely multiplying the odds against the random programmer
- Furthermore the interlocking likely prohibits that a given program is changeable to even a slightly different program, which still runs correctly. So it is questionable, that the random mixture of genes during genetic recombination can really produce a working program.
The speculative DNA-computer mostly as a computer:
- The process of "running" is considered being done by physical forces.
- During running this program, every next step depends on specific spatial circumstances, the exact position of things involved in the prior step and things having nothing to do with this very part of the "calculation". Both are making up the starting conditions for the next step and both vary dramatically in a random manner. Let's have a closer look at this cardinal problem of the DNA-computer:
- The basic operation of the DNA-computer is a process in 4 dimensions - space and time, which in itself is mysterious. Imagine a box (the cell) in which you throw some magnets, of which some are tied together with rubber bands and springs (parts of DNA and other molecules). There are forces, that attract and repel the magnets. Now you are going to shake the box many times - you are simulating temperature, a random movement, and open it to see what tangle you have formed. Are you expecting an orderly, reproducible result, or are you expecting a total mess, every time you repeat this with a different outcome?
- Genetic scientists have proved, that in a cell DNA will be copied, proteins will get synthesized and some other things, but they have not proved, that the above equivalent of magnets in a box is sufficient to do this. The DNA is a somewhat rigid structure like a factory line. It seems to be plausible that copying a part of it works purely mechanically by electromagnetic forces and random thermal motion. This copying process is thought to work a bit like a zip. It lines up the elements of proteins in the correct order, synthesizing chains of amino acids consisting of nitrogenous bases to precursors of proteins. But as soon as this chain gets folded to the new protein molecule, the building material of life, there is no aligning "hand" of the factory line anymore. At this early point the magnets in a box phenomenon takes over, and the question arises, what mechanism could suppress random influences like spatial starting conditions? Is there something else?
- But these intramolecular processes have to scale to the next levels, to the orientation, concentration and precise location and movement of many different molecules and make them behave orderly. Molecules in a cell are floating around like pieces of vegetables in a soup. This soup is a far cry different from a railroad track, a clockwork or a factory line. Everything can influence, connect, bind and clump with everything, highly depending on spatial starting conditions and the random motion of temperature. Going up to the next levels of organization, to the structure of organelles, cells and further on, we are confronted with this problem again.
- Additionally this whole process is of course sensitive to mechanical and chemical forces and radiation from the outside. Even at the lowest level - which seems to be by far the most robust - it is acknowledged by genetic scientists that during copying DNA it is possible that a bit changes inadvertently.
The mechanism of a DNA-computer has at many places no guide rail structure. A DNA-computer is dramatically influenced by random.
Here is how the silicon computer is constructed regarding random influences at critical places:
- Every part of the calculation is intentionally shielded from random influences with equivalents of guide rails. The simplest of it is the wire. Electrons are only allowed to travel along predefined tracks and only towards the more positive potential. There are silicon gates that can be closed and opened and others that behave like one way streets. Part of this coercing structure is a fully digital calculation, that forces electric signals to be either e.g. 0 or 5 volts. Everything in between will be mapped to one of those voltages which represent the logical 0 and 1, thus smoothing out noise. There are many more mechanisms to force everything in channels. In fact every single part of a computer being involved in its calculation has only one general function and that is being some sort of guide rail.
- The silicon computer perfectly runs a program always to the same implicit encoded outcome.
- No single random operation occurs at a critical place. If it were, the program would crash.
The lack of almost any guide rail structure presents the DNA-computer quite differently:
- A DNA-computer largely lacks any guide rails. It is widely unshielded against random forces (box of magnets, soup of molecules).
- Injected errors get amplified by analog calculation. If initially started small at an uncritical place, they can arrive big at a critical one.
- To correct a bad influence, it would be necessary that in the very next moment of the calculation some sort of guide rail corrected the deviation. Later on would be too late, because of general amplification of errors the noise then would be bigger than the signal. Tiny initial differences of starting coordinates can grow dramatically over time in chaotic systems.
- Thus large unshielded areas result in large critical places.
- The DNA-computer is plagued by a vast number of random influences at critical places.
Silicon and DNA-computer are considered being mathematically equivalent. This means they are equally sensitive to random operations at wrong places. That leads us to the conclusion:
The genetic program is no program at all. It is doomed to crash as soon as it starts.
This would hold true even if the influence of random on this combined program-computer were decreased by a huge factor. If you were describing a computer scientist such a computer (while hiding that you are describing life) he would laugh at you.
A very direct view reveals the same, the emperor without his clothes. A computer is literally nothing but guide rail structure assembled in a way, that everything arrives at the right place at the right time. And the DNA-computer lacks exactly this essential component, the very ingredient that makes a computer being a computer.
Genetic scientists ignore the possibility that their primary dogma is false.
For them the genome and the described mechanical process being the whole program of life is a sure thing, something as sure as 100%. A scientist who denies the possibility of falseness of his assumptions is no scientist. Scientific advance can only be made with overcoming a wrong thesis. If a fundamental law (as scientists often falsely call what they better should call working hypothesis) is by their definition correct, they can't find out the real truth.
Don't get me wrong here, I am not saying that I am absolutely sure that their premise is wrong, I am only saying that there is a chance of 10% or 50% or 90% or whatsoever that they are wrong. The speculative DNA-computer is a highly complex system, it is hard to imagine how it could work. You can only analyze and observe small parts of it and have to mainly operate with models, so proofs for one or the other side are very hard or impossible to make. But genetic scientists choose to close their eyes facing all the damning evidence against their idea and define their premise as true.
The morphogenetic field
If life is not programmed this way, there has to be another way of assuring that organisms of each kind develop like they ought to do. Given genetic observations, it seems to be clear that the DNA has something to do with part of the process of life, namely the protein synthesis, it is just not the complete story. To put it bluntly, the essence is missing.
There have been ideas like the morphogenetic field for filling this gap. A field which acts like a mold, remembering forms and being able to form a developing molecule, cell, organ or complete creature. Conversely forms of objects are forming the field, there is an interdependency of form and field. Such a forming field would be an universal kind of guide rail, the cardinal element missing in the hypothetical DNA-computer. There is some indication for such a force field, but its existence is unproven up to now, it is just a speculation but nonetheless a plausible theory represented by scientists like Rupert Sheldrake. An additional element to this theory would be that the DNA is something like an anchor for the morphogenetic field.
A morphogenetic field of a species could be associated with its DNA.
The DNA would have two tasks in this model: Anchoring the field and being the printing press for proteins. A multicellular organism has myriads of the same gene sets. They could be a stable hook for the field. Even a single cell has the whole genome of the species in it and could activate "the right" field. Manipulating DNA means possibly two things:
- The individual development of the material owner of the DNA and its descendants gets changed. That part is acknowledged by genetic scientists, but the influence works differently than they think.
- The development of its species or even other species' gets changed.
Other species may be affected, because in genetic engineering the injected gene often comes from another species, or simply because the field is spanning around all species in an unknown manner. And exactly that is the big danger of genetic engineering. Manipulating the genome of some animals or plants may not only change these individuals or their descendants.
DNA manipulation may change the building plan of arbitrary other living or future creatures.
Such change of the morphogenetic field may neither be locally nor racially isolated. And it may have some threshold beyond which living organisms are affected, so that effects are not seen yet, or not being recognized as caused by genetic manipulation. The conclusion is simple, it can not be ruled out that genetic engineering will cause a global disaster.
Genetic engineering may kill or degenerate the human or other species'.
Imagine you want to use an elevator and the operator tells you the chance that the rope breaks is only 10%. Would you enter the elevator? Of course not. Even if the chance were only 1 to 1000 that the elevator crashes, it would be not wise to risk that.
Frankly, the morphogenetic field and a species and space gapping effect of manipulating DNA are speculative. But the current view of genetic scientists is speculative, too. It is highly unclear if their basic premise is true. And that makes genetic engineering irresponsible regardless of the validness of the specific alternative theory of morphogenetic fields. Given what stands at risk - life - it is simply stupid to gamble on an elevator, which may crash when you could take the stairs.
Stand up against DNA manipulation and genetic engineering!
One way to act is to spread the word by linking to the introductive article at www.visoracle.com about the hidden risk of genetic engineering from your website or to blog about it. Just because no one talks about it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The danger is real - do something!