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Artificial Intelligence + Origin of Life Prize, $10 Million USD

Artificial Intelligence + Origin of Life Prize, $10 Million USD

Where did life and the genetic code come from? Can the answer build superior AI? The #1 mystery in science now has a $10 million prize. Read Overview...

What is the Secret of Life?

Solve the #1 Question in all of Science

Origin of Life is the hardest question in science. No one knows how the first cell came about. But there’s a simpler, more fundamental question: Where did the information come from? An answer will trigger a quantum leap in Artificial Intelligence. This may be as big as the transistor or the discovery of DNA itself. A new $10 million prize seeks a definitive answer.


"Evolution 2.0 is a sign of a shifting emphasis in biology from regarding

life primarily as a chemical system, to looking at the flow of information."

-Financial Times Science Editor Clive Cookson



George Church, Harvard & MITDenis Noble, FRS, CBE, Oxford University   Michael Ruse, Florida State University

George Church

George Church is a geneticist, molecular engineer, and chemist. He is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, and was a founding member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. Developed methods for the first genome sequence. Director, BRAIN Project & PersonalGenomes.org. He is co-author of 509 papers, 143 patent publications & the book "Regenesis". He was also one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2017.

(photo By Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA - Life, Synthetic Life!)  Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Denis Noble

We have Oxford Professor Denis Noble on board as prize judge and technical advisor. He’s one of the top 100 scientists in the UK. Denis was the first person to build a computer model of an organ. It was the heart. He did this in 1960 using punch cards. His discoveries made pacemakers possible. He is a fellow of the Royal Society. He is editor of the society's journal Interface Focus and he holds a Commander of the British Empire medal from Queen Elizabeth. He organized the Royal Society’s 2016 conference “New Trends in Biological Evolution” in conjunction with the British Academy. He is president of the International Union of Physiological Sciences. Denis is an accomplished musician and pioneer of the field of Systems Biology. He is author of The Music of Life and Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity.

Michael Ruse

Michael Ruse is a philosopher of science who specializes in the philosophy of biology. He is director of the Program in the Philosophy of the History of Science at Florida State University and author of numerous books including "Darwinism and Design,” “Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know” and “Science, Evolution and Religion.” He is well known for his work on the relationship between science and religion, the creation–evolution controversy, and the demarcation problem within science. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Bergen, McMaster University, the University of New Brunswick and University College London.

The Mystery

Every cell reproduces itself from digital instructions, stored in DNA. DNA has the same features as modern digital devices: Layers of digital encoding, decoding and data storage; error detection, error correction and repair. Plus an ability to adapt that beggars the imagination.

How do living things repair and heal themselves, adapt to any situation you can imagine, and make choices? The genetic engineering capabilities of cells, which are discussed in the book Evolution 2.0, are not known to most people. But an answer suggests staggering implications for medicine, technology and the environment.

Cells re-engineer themselves, in real time, in hours... even minutes. The reason you have to finish your antibiotics is, germs can hyper-mutate at terrifying speed - then kill you with a vengeance.

How do cells “know” how to evolve? No human software does that. Give software millions of chances and billions of years and all it will do is crash. But life adapts relentlessly. How does it do this? What do cells know that we don’t?

And what about consciousness? In the human realm, only conscious beings create and modify code. Where does consciousness come from? Are cells self aware?

The Evolution 2.0 Prize focuses these issues down to one central question:

How do you get from chemicals to code? How do you get a code without designing one?

Perry Marshall and private equity investment group Natural Code LLC have issued a technology prize to find out.

Does life harness undiscovered laws of physics? Are there unknown emergent properties in nature?

With CRISPR gene editing technology and exponentially accelerating AI, these are questions of burning importance.

If we can unearth the underlying forces that create and propel life, we stand to reap enormous benefits in Artificial Intelligence, engineering, computer science, nutrition, aging, health, cancer research, disease treatment and prevention.

Watch Perry's prize announcement at Arizona State University, hosted by Physicist Paul Davies, director of ASU's BEYOND program:


Read Video Transcript HERE

The Problem

Natural Code LLC is a Private Equity Investment group formed to identify a naturally occurring code. Our mission is to discover, develop and commercialize core principles of nature which give rise to information, consciousness and intelligence.

Natural Code LLC will pay the researcher $100,000 for the initial discovery of such a code. If the newly discovered process is defensibly patentable, we will secure the patent(s). Once patents are granted, we will pay the full prize amount to the discoverer in exchange for the rights. Our investment group will locate or develop commercial applications for the technology.

The discoverer will retain a percentage of ongoing ownership of the technology, sharing in future profits of the company, while benefitting from the extensive finance, marketing and technology experience of our investment group. Prize amount as of May 31, 2019 is $10 million. 

Code is absolutely necessary for replication and for life. Code is needed for cells to have instructions to build themselves; code is required for reproduction. Code that has the ability to re-write itself is essential for any kind of evolution to occur.

So… where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Currently, no one knows the answer.

A solution to this problem will become one of the most pivotal scientific and technical discoveries of the 21st century. The winner will receive substantial recognition.

The Challenge Breakthrough

To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing novel, naturally forming information systems, thus opening new channels of scientific discovery.

Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research. This would provide a solution to the most perplexing transition currently faced by the Origin Of Life field, namely the origin of coded information.

How could the genetic code (or any coding system) come into being? This would represent a landmark discovery in the history of science and alter our fundamental understanding of the universe.

What You Can Do To Trigger A Breakthrough

  • Click "Follow" above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.
  • Click "Accept Challenge" above to register for the challenge. You will be notified of any status updates and be able to create an entry to the challenge when it opens.
  • Click on the "Share" button or social media icons above to share this challenge with your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  • Leave a comment in our Comments Thread to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.


Who can participate

The Challenge is open to all individuals and organizations who are legally allowed to participate, and who comply with all the terms of the Challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Selection of Winner

Based on the winning criteria, one prize will be awarded for a total of $100,000. If the discovery is defensibly patentable, the full amount of the prize will be awarded for a total of $10 million. In case of a tie, the winner will be selected at the discretion of the Judging Panel.

Registration and Submissions

All submissions must be received online, via the Challenge website, and all uploads can be in PDF format only. Submission reporting requirements are detailed in Judging.

Challenge Guidelines are subject to change. Registered competitors will receive notification when changes are made, however, we highly encourage you to visit the Challenge Site often to review updates.

Duration of Challenge

The Evolution 2.0 Prize will be open through November 17, 2026. Natural Code LLC reserves the right to end, extend or modify the contest at that time at its sole discretion.

Further details about the prize are available at https://herox.com/evolution2.0/guidelines

**IMPORTANT NOTE** General essays presenting a ‘Theory Of Everything' and metaphysical constructions about the history of life, unfortunately, cannot be considered. Please do not submit materials of this kind. We are looking for entries that offer quantifiable technological progress.


Perry Marshall is an author, speaker, engineer and world-renowned business consultant in Chicago. With a decade of research, he brings a fresh perspective to the 150-year old evolution debate. Bill Gates of Microsoft and the founders of Google revolutionized software and the Internet through their status as outsiders. Similarly, Perry’s book Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design harnesses a communication engineer’s outsider’s perspective to reveal a century of unrecognized research and discoveries. Perry’s books include 80/20 Sales & Marketing, Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, and Industrial Ethernet. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering. He’s consulted in over 300 industries, from computer hardware and software to biotech and health care.


Updates 7

Evolution 2.0, $10 Million Prize, and the Royal Society of Great Britain

June 7, 2019, 5:20 a.m. PDT by Evolution 2.0 Prize

Dear Reader,

The Evolution 2.0 Prize has doubled from $5 Million to $10 Million.

I announced this at the Royal Society in Great Britain on Friday.


The Financial Times of London ran the story Sunday.


See the FT article at www.evo2.org/ft


***Have you ever rubbed eyes and re-read an email to make sure you weren’t hallucinating??***


A week and a half before the Truth Seminar, I got an email from Oxford Professor Paul Flather:


“Hi Perry, I’m the president of the Philosophy Forum at the London School of Economics. Professor Denis Noble and I would like to host a media event featuring the Evolution 2.0 Prize at the Royal Society.”


That was a surprise.


The Royal Society was founded in 1660. Isaac Newton is among their past presidents. His death mask is under glass in their lobby.


Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday and Albert Einstein debated their theories in its corridors. Arguably the most prestigious scientific institution on earth.


One would not expect a Chicago business consultant with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nebraska to be invited to speak at the Royal Society.


But… Oxford professor Denis Noble, “The Martin Luther of Evolutionary Biology,” knows me well. He’s a fan of my book, and a member of my prize judging panel.


Because the prize aims to uncover mysteries of life that have deeply puzzled scientists for centuries, Denis felt it worthy of an event.


The prize, which seeks the origin of the genetic code, IS a “bottom of the swamp” absolute fundamental question.


And there is nothing so powerful as a great question.

Denis has long insisted traditional science is too dismissive of the elegant, holistic, intentional properties of life. Life is not just molecules and chemicals. It possesses information and agency - a will to live.


We do not presently understand what this is or how it works.


Because Denis figured out the cardiac rhythm that made pacemakers possible, he’s one of the most respected scientists in the UK.


He has a Commander of the British Empire medal from Queen Elizabeth. So his opinion carries weight.


I’ve been bursting to tell you this news… but had to keep it under my hat until now. (And getting this invite a week and a half before my biggest seminar this year… my goodness, it’s been INTENSE.)


There’s more…


The prize had been $5 million since my announcement at Arizona State in 2017. I had raised backing to $9 million as of May 2019.


I was telling myself: If you can get $1 million more, you can double your prize to $10 million at the Royal Society...”


While prepping for a 3-day Seminar, I flew into action. I circled back to a bunch of people who’d turned me down. Wasn’t getting anywhere.


I visited my mastermind group (sort of like Roundtable, except it’s where I get MY teeth kicked in) and told them the news.


Spontaneously, someone offered, “How about we form an LLC and all go in together and get Perry over the hump?”


Eight hands went up. Deal was done.


Then an hour later my phone rang. A good friend says, “Hey what are all these texts I’ve been getting from you?”


I explained. He said, “I’m in.”


That filled slot #11, fully subscribing the investment pool for the Evolution 2.0 Prize.


The next day another investor wanted in - and went on our waiting list.


Two weeks later, we were in London making the announcement.


A video of the event will be coming soon, via Voices From Oxford.


Again, the Financial Times article and a photo from the Royal Society is here:




The official prize page is at






You may be asking: “Why should I care about this anyway?”


First, “Where we come from” is a very, very important question.


Hitler, Stalin and Mao used evolutionary theories to fuel their agendas. Which is easy to do if you get it just a little bit wrong. And we’ve been getting this wrong for a long, long time.


Arguments about evolution are as ugly as abortion, gay rights, immigration and gun control.


In the USA we’ve had a war between the scientific narrative and the religious narrative for a century. It’s time we heal that rift. NOW.


Because today we’re faced with exponentially growing AI; and the ability to edit DNA as easily as sticking a picture in a blog post.


If we don’t get this straight - and soon - we’re gonna land ourselves in serious trouble.


EVERYBODY needs to start caring about this. It WILL affect your children and grandchildren. It’s only a question of whether it will help them or harm them.


Second, entrepreneurs everywhere can learn from this project. It is Exhibit A of patience, persistence and consistency.


I began raising money for the prize in 2012.


It is a very strange investment, it doesn’t resemble any other. So it was hard to explain.


It was especially hard to explain back when there was no book, no endorsements, no famous scientists… just a few blog posts and an idea on a napkin.


As Felix Dennis explains in his book “How to Get Rich,” there is NO substitute for raising money. You can’t hire it done. No avoiding it if you have a big project.  


It’s kind of like selling pots and pans or Cutco knives - you make a list of names (rich people of course) and go see ‘em.


Simple as that. Humble and dirty and necessary.


Another lesson is: you work and work and work and work and most of the time you see VERY little progress…


…then it’s like a baseball game, because when things DO happen, they move VERY VERY FAST. The game can turn in the blink of an eye.


This project moved further in three weeks than in the last five years. I’ve now got editors of major science journals contacting me.


95/5, baby.


Please do not forget how many light years peer reviewed science “normally” is from entrepreneurs, engineers and business people. But gaps can be bridged. And we must bridge them.


This also illustrates the incredible importance of knowing the right people - and physically going to where they are to meet them in person.


I had exchanged emails with Denis Noble long ago, but the action didn’t begin until I flew to London for a conference he organized in 2016.


This was not a job for marketing departments. This was a time for pressing the flesh and live conversations. There is NO substitute.


If you’re not pressing the flesh with real people, you’re making a big mistake, friend.


If you, like me, are working on something near and dear to your heart and desperately important - and no one else seems go ‘get it’ - I UNDERSTAND.


So press forward. Make that phone call, send the email, arrange the luncheon, write the book, shoot the video, go to the meeting, see the person.


Take the next step you can make, whatever it may be. And the next. And the next.


Do not stop.


And remember: Today is only the beginning.


Seize the day.


Perry Marshall


P.S.: Subscribe to the Evolution 2.0 Podcast at



At London’s Royal Society, Oxford Professor & prize judge Denis Noble announced the $10 million Evolution 2.0 Prize with Perry Marshall

What a 1300 year old Epic Story tells us about Evolution

Sept. 10, 2018, 1:51 p.m. PDT by Evolution 2.0 Prize

How do you get to the bottom of an impossibly murky topic and find the
truth... in ANY topic or department of your life?

A 1300 year old story from Medieval English tells us how. In a private
meeting with entrepreneurs from around the world - my $26,000 per year
Roundtable group, I explain how the ancient story of Beowulf teaches us
how to solve scientific technological and business.

Listen on the Evolution 2.0 Podcast, available through most of the major
platforms including Stitcher and iTunes:




Science’s Unruly Earth Mother spouts off

Sept. 4, 2018, 11:31 a.m. PDT by Evolution 2.0 Prize

Referred to as “Science’s Unruly Earth Mother”, a “vindicated heretic”and a
“scientific rebel”, Lynn Margulis was one of the most provocative scientists of
our time.

Throughout her career, Margulis’ work aroused intense opposition. One
grant application elicited the response, “Your research is c***, do not

Margulis was not a religious person. Nevertheless the famous atheists
Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne couldn’t stand her. Coyne wrote a “good
riddance” blog post about her after she died.

Why did she hack off so many people? Why was she so threatening?

Over the last 50 (!) years her work has been systematically validated and

In this interview, my friend James MacAllister, who knew her personally,
describes this force-of-nature personality.

Listen on the Evolution 2.0 Podcast, available through most of the major
platforms including Stitcher and iTunes:




Evolution 2.0 Podcast is now streaming!

Aug. 27, 2018, 9:39 a.m. PDT by Evolution 2.0 Prize

Major Announcement!

The Evolution 2.0 Podcast is now LIVE. It’s available through most of the
major platforms including Stitcher and iTunes:



Several shows are already available for immediate listening!

* Recording of a talk I gave at my private $26,000/year Roundtable meeting
on “Getting to the bottom of the swamp.” What does the 1300 year old epic
Beowulf tale tells us about evolution - and solving ALL thorny, ugly

* James MacAllister gives a riveting account of the uppity, table-turning,
polarizing renegade scientist Lynn Margulis. (My favorite Lynn quote: “I don’t
consider my ideas controversial. I consider them right.”)

Subscribe to the podcast and rate us on iTunes!


* The podcast archive includes a highly abridged Evolution 2.0 Audiobook. A
condensed summary of the full version on Audible. Great introduction if
you’re new to Evolution 2.0.


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

July 11, 2018, 1:57 p.m. PDT by Evolution 2.0 Prize

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers wrote a fantastic article about the Evolution 2.0 prize. Check it out here: 

IEEE Article

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