Natural selection isn’t nearly enough to explain how life created so many innovations so fast. Fortunately for us, writes SFI External Professor Andreas Wagner in a new book, Nature had something else up her sleeve: robustness.
Even in organisms with relatively few genes, the number of possible combinations of those genes is unimaginably enormous — many, many orders of magnitude greater than the number of hydrogen atoms in the Universe. Even 3.7 billions years isn’t enough to search all those possibilities at random and find all the forms of life we have today.
In Arrival of the Fittest: Solving Evolution's Greatest Puzzle (Current Hardcover , October 2, 2014), Wagner shows how robustness, long a subject of interest at SFI, helped solve the problem. Metabolic systems, protein interactions, and gene regulation networks share a particular kind of robustness: even drastic changes to the underlying structure leaves their operations unchanged. For example, the complex of chemical reactions that metabolize glucose in E. coli can overlap by as little as 20 percent and still function perfectly well.
Read a review of Wagner's book by Mark Pagel in Nature (October 1, 2014)
Real talk: Between diminishing stores and oil wars, fossil fuel-dependance is officially a bad deal. In the future, as these resources get scarcer, we're going to have to figure out how to live in a little more harmony with Mother Earth. Here are 21 houses that are already doing it right: eschewing the power grid for solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources.
h+ Magazine Redefining the Coming Singularity – It's not what you think h+ Magazine Hays and I believed that these four ages, the systematic differences between cultures at these four levels of cultural evolution, are based on differences in...
According to a new report that looks at how continuing improvements to artificial intelligence and robotics will impact society, 'robotic sex partners will become commonplace' by 2025. A large portion of the report also focuses on how AI and robotics will impact both blue- and white-collar workers, with about 50% of the polled experts stating that robots will displace more human jobs than they create by 2025.
Predicting the future is hard and risky. But predicting the future in the computer industry is even harder and riskier due to dramatic changes in technology and limitless challenges to innovation. At the beginning of my term as 2014 president of IEEE Computer Society, with help from more than a dozen technology leaders, we set…
The Iris+ looks pretty cool. Just dream of practically anything you'd like a drone to do, and chances are the new 3D Robotics quadcopter will do it. Autonomous flight? Check. Longer flight time? Check. Dynamic LED lights for directional awareness? Check. Crazy-ass "Follow Me" function? Check.
The Internet of Things is a new paradigm that will revolutionise the world of computers, offering widespread automation and connectivity of devices, systems and services, including the emergence of Smart Grids. Over the next decade, it is forecast to mushroom into a trillion dollar market.
Viv was named after the Latin root meaning live. Its San Jose, California, offices are decorated with tsotchkes bearing the numbers six and five (VI and V in roman numerals). Ariel Zambelich When Apple announced the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011, the headlines were not about its speedy A5 chip or improved camera. Instead…
Given the number of children that starve each day, dwindling planetary resources and the coming transhumanist era, it might be time to consider restricting human breeding, argues futurist Zoltan Istvan