Clarification on software solutions

Neil Caithness March 6, 2018, 3:07 p.m. PST
Dear Perry

I’d like some clarification please if you can?

The more formal statements of the challenge specify “a purely chemical process”, or “a process by which chemicals self-organize”, or “… successful solution … would mean that chemicals alone …”. Most specifically in (12) “that its process of origin can be observe (sic) in nature and/or duplicated in a real-world laboratory …”, and in description “A Winning Team Must Produce a Physical Encoder, Message, and Decoder That Self-Organize”.
The defining feature is that the solution must be by way of chemical or physical demonstration.

But elsewhere, “the Sponsor is looking for a formula or transformation process”. “Can Siri ‘wake up’?”, “We believe this will be very attractive to Apple, Google, etc...”. Denis Nobel is quoted as saying “If [the code] was inevitable, what algorithm could achieve that? That must be one of the biggest challenges there could be in science.”

These and many other statements indicate that an algorithm, or simulation, demonstrated in software would equally qualify.

Can you clarify if this is the case? Would a solution implemented purely in software, but demonstrably executable on a computer to show the autonomous origin of coded messaging, along with the instance tables, and that fully meets all of the other substantive requirements, except for being a chemical demonstration, and that further is indeed patentable, would this qualify as a valid solution in your definition of the challenge?

Personally I believe that would be equally valid, and valuable, and is in no way some kind of short-cut. If you do agree would you be prepared to amend the brief to make it clear?

Thanks very much. I look forward to your reply.

Best regards
Neil Caithness

Evolution 2.0 Prize moderator March 12, 2018, 12:29 p.m. PDT
@Neil Caithness
I interpret Denis Noble's use of algorithm as metaphorical or analogous. What I believe he is trying to say is that if nature contains something like an algorithm which is not digital code but which produces digital code we don’t know what it is. Maybe a better word than algorithm would be process or law of physics.

A pure simulation on a computer without a physical demonstration will not technically qualify as solving the challenge. In any scenario that I can personally imagine, getting code from a computer program would be considered cheating. Having said that, computer simulations may be extremely useful in designing the experiment.

I hope you are able to achieve a breakthrough.


Neil Caithness March 12, 2018, 3:25 p.m. PDT
@Perry Marshall
Thanks for the reply. Pity, it's a solution to a technical problem (i.e. the autonomous generation of code, and therefore patentable). It is also well expressed as an algorithm.

Guess I'll have to take the patent elsewhere (Oxford University Innovation, I have others filed by them :-)

Marilena Papaioannou May 18, 2018, 1:37 a.m. PDT
Dear Perry,

Sorry to intrude to the conversation by the way... But as I understand the challenge, you expect from someone to achieve something that took millions of years to be established. What I mean is that ok, maybe you can create a random nucleotide sequence from just chemicals, but in order for this to become a "code" (that actually means something) took God knows how many years of evolution. Because in order for just one DNA sequence to make sense, you need a lot of others that code the components of the whole gene expression procedure (and there are a lot!). And it took TIME for all these to happen. That we don't have in our lifetime. So in my opinion maybe it is possible to create a program simulation (which would be extremely limited of course, with the current technology) but I will be astonished if someone actually accomplices the challenge using chemicals. It will be like creating life with a way easier method than it was actually created! And in my opinion, it would worth way more than five million!!!
Just some thoughts on the subject, don't know if I have n't understand something correctly.

concepter Sept. 22, 2018, 9:46 a.m. PDT
You're right when you say that a possible solution would have no price: other than $ 5 million and a participation in society, I would keep the whole company!

However, it is now clear that they would not be able to reward software, but it would be fair to make it clear in the specifications, otherwise all those who have some good software idea would instantly burn it!

Keep the secrets, and water in your mouth!
Or talk to me that I have some suggestions.
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