Dr. Bruce Damer

School

University College Dublin

Year

2011

Keywords

origin of life, computational simulation, stochastic hill climbing

Thesis Title

THE EVOGRID: An Approach to Computational Origins of Life Endeavours

Abstract

The quest to understand the mechanisms of the origin of life on Earth could be enhanced by computer simulations of plausible stages in the emergence of life from non-life at the molecular level. This class of simulation could then support testing and validation through parallel laboratory chemical experiments. This combination of a computational, or “cyber” component and a parallel effort investigation in chemical abiogenesis could be termed a cyberbiogenesis approach. The central technological challenge to cyberbiogenesis endeavours is to design computer simulation models permitting de novo emergence of prebiotic and biological virtual molecular structures and processes through multiple thresholds of complexity. This thesis takes on the challenge of designing, implementing and analyzing one such simulation model. This model can be described concisely as: distributed processing and global optimization through the method of search coupled with stochastic hill climbing supporting emergent phenomena within small volume, short time frame molecular dynamics simulations.

The original contributions to knowledge made by this work are to frame computational origins of life endeavours historically; postulate and describe one concrete design to test a hypothesis surrounding this class of computation; present results from a prototype system, the EvoGrid, built to execute a range of experiments which test the hypothesis; and propose a road map and societal considerations for future computational origins of life endeavours.

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Bio

I am Dr. Bruce Damer, an independent scientist working on one of the big questions in human inquiry: how did life begin? My colleagues around the world and I use the latest tools of chemistry, geology, and computing to inform visionary thought experiments to try and crack the code of creation. If we can derive this code, we might be able to spark Copernican revolutions in evolutionary biology, philosophy, complexity science and technology. Learning about our deepest common ancestor might even provide us a new spiritual foundation as we come closer to a true understanding of our nature and place in the universe.

I’m also deeply interested in the intersection of the visionary experience with major discoveries in science and technology. Albert Einstein and other scientists have been called mystics for their ability to receive “downloads” containing worked-out solutions to complex problems. To invite these downloads in my own life and work, I have honed a form of mental practice I call the “Endo Way” (for endogenous or internal) which can be synergized with the addition of the “Exo” (exogenous, coming from outside). Some of those Exo factors draw from the age-old sources of plant medicines, some from brand new laboratory tech and personal practices. As I have for so many years, I will continue bring to you the latest from the visionary, psychedelic and embodied realms. These are perhaps some of the most powerful tools for the 21st Century and I believe they are essential for our survival and the reshaping of ourselves and our world for a sustainable, long future.