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Human Life in Constructor Theory

Thinking about history of humanity
Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:In_Thought_…_(3020466221).jpg

The conventional assumption is that the history of humanity began at 3,150 BC. Before drawing a new starting line for the history of mankind, let us look briefly at the whole history of life on Earth. Later, we will look at a biological evolution, which led to the emergence of the genus Homo. The life existence could be explained by a new, so-called, constructor theory.

How to Get From Physics to Biology?

There are two main views on life origin and development. The first one is based on the idea of an intelligent (God’s?) design. The second one is the opposite. It denies such a design. The development of life, at least on Earth, without design could be explained by biological evolution. The theory of such evolution was presented by Darwin and Wallace and was deeply modified and enhanced later. However, an evolution theory does not explain why life originated.

We know, to the best of our knowledge, the laws of physics in our Universe. Those laws mostly explain how atoms, molecules, galaxies, stars, and planets were formed and function since their emergence. Using an initial condition for those objects and laws of physics we can predict the next states of these objects. But those laws of physics alone could not explain living things, or parts of living things, like cell, which replicate itself with a huge accuracy and, therefore, live in generations to come.

The laws of physics do not entertain the possibility of life. In other words, there was a big, unexplained gap between physics and biology.

New Theory In Town!

That gap was closed in 2014. Two years earlier, in 2012, David Deutsch, a quantum physicist at the University of Oxford, proposed the so-called constructor theory. That is a radically new fundamental theory.

It formulates science in a completely different way from the conventional fundamental physics. Constructor theory expresses physical laws exclusively in terms of which physical transformations are possible or impossible, and why. Per the new theory, all laws of physics can be expressed entirely in this way. Later, David Deutsch and Chiara Marletto published several articles on applications of constructor theory in different areas.

In 2014 Chiara Marletto published a paper “Constructor Theory of Life”.

Is It Possible to Be?

Constructor theory is the one, which underlies classical physics, quantum physics, general theory of relativity, and other physical theories. Constructor theory works at the level of laws that constrain the laws of physics. It is no wonder that it is hard to get a grasp on this new theory. So far, it did not trickle down very much from its authors to most physicists, other scientists, philosophers, poets, and the general public. But it will!

Constructor theory is a theory of transformations between input and output states. In this theory, those transformations are called tasks. Every such task is either possible or impossible. Any task, that is not forbidden by the laws of physics, can be achieved with arbitrarily high accuracy given the requisite knowledge. It is a binary choice: either the laws of physics forbid it, or it is achievable. When it is possible, then a constructor for it can be built with arbitrary accuracy and reliability. A constructor is an entity that can cause the task to occur while retaining the ability to cause it again. The medium, in which the knowledge could exist, may differ.

Possibility of Self-Productive Life

The key to the way a bacterium performs its own self-reproduction (under laws that do not contain the design of biological adaptations) is the same as the key to the way, say, a car factory constructs a car. In both cases there is a recipe—a bit of information—that has the ability of directing a construction process, of causing a task to be performed because it contains the knowledge about how to perform it by following elementary, non-specific steps.

In the case of the bacterium, it is the DNA sequence of the bacterium and, in the case of the car factory, it is the sequence of elementary steps to assemble a car out of elementary components. This particular kind of information, this recipe, can also have an exact characterization in constructor theory, as knowledge: it is information that can act as a constructor—i.e., an object that can cause transformations and retain the property of causing them again.

It turns out that, under our laws of physics, in order for any transformation to be achieved, knowledge must be brought about in order to make a certain transformation performable to higher and higher accuracy.”

That knowledge can come out of no knowledge. That explains the origin of life from no-design laws of physics. It worth mentioning that in this theory there are no such details as where and how exactly life could originate. In other words, our planet and the history of life on it are not singled out. Moreover, the possibility of life existence is just one special case. There are many others known to us, or unknown yet, special cases, like the possibility of the existence of car factory, or self-replicating robots with AI.

Knowledge Got a New Life

Two other details are also essential for our topic. Chiara Marletto put it this way: “One of the ways knowledge can come into the world is by natural selection out of no knowledge. Another way is by humans creating it.”

In other talk Chiara Marletto said: “It’s an interesting insight from constructor theory that the only way knowledge can be created under these laws of physics is by a non-directed process of trial and error correction steps. This is true of both natural selection and of the knowledge-creating process that occurs in people’s minds.”

It is important to note, that, per conductor theory, information, or a given task, does not rely on a specific constructor. Any suitable constructor will serve. Any media, carrying out the knowledge, will serve too.

Bring It On – Life Based on Physics

Constructor theory has many applications. Its use to explain how life is possible is just one special case. However, that case has a fundamental implications for humanity and history of mankind. For the first time in the history of humankind, in 2014, appeared the theory explaining the possibility of life existence from laws of physics that themselves contain no design. That raises a thousand-of-years-long discussion about life existence at an entirely new level.

Per Chiara Marletto, “In Darwin’s theory of evolution, you do explain the existence of the appearance of design in the world without the existence of a designer – i.e., without the existence of any intentional design process . . . What you do is to explain how it is possible that they can arise in our world given the underlying, no-design, laws of physics.”

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By victortorvich

I'm a scientist and a writer. My upcoming book is “Subsurface History of Mankind”.

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