Self-Assembly of Nano-Machines: No Intelligence Required?

In my research, I have recently come across the self-assembling proteins and molecular machines called nano-machines one of them being the bacterial flagellum…

Have you ever wondered what mechanism is involved in the self-assembly process?

I’m not even going to ask the question how the self-assembly process has supposedly evolved, because it would be offensive to engineers who struggle to design assembly lines that require the assembly, operation and supervision of intelligence… So far engineers can’t even dream of designing self-assembling machines…But when they do accomplish that one day, it will be used as proof that random, natural processes could have done too…in life systems.. lol

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just watch this video:

The first thing that came to my mind when I debating the self-assembly process was one of Michael Behe’s books The Edge of Evolution. I wanted to see whether he mentioned any known, or unknown, mechanism driving the self-assembly process of nano-machines, like the flagellum…

In the Edge of Evolution Behe uses an illustration of a self-assembling flashlight, which parts possess the many different types of magnets that only fit the right type of part into it; each part having the affinity for the corresponding magnet…something like that…

It’s not clear to me whether Behe questions that the magnetic attraction is sufficient for the self-assembly of the flagellum (I might have to read the parts of the book on the theme again). Behe seems to question the ability of Darwinian processes to be able to evolve the sequence and the fitting process of each part of the flagellum, by random processes of random mutation and natural selection…

This is what BIOLOGOS have to say on the theme of self-assembly of the flagelum:

“Natural forces work “like magic”

Nothing we know from every day life quite prepares us for the beauty and power of self-assembly processes in nature. We’ve all put together toys, furniture, or appliances; even the simplest designs require conscious coordination of materials, tools, and assembly instructions (and even then there’s no guarantee that we get it right!). It is tempting to think the spontaneous formation of so complex a machine is “guided,” whether by a Mind or some “life force,” but we know that the bacterial flagellum, like countless other machines in the cell, assembles and functions automatically according to known natural laws. No intelligence required.1

Video animations like this one (video no longer available) by Garland Science beautifully illustrate the elegance of the self-assembly process (see especially the segment from 2:30-5:15). Isn’t it extraordinary? When I consider this process, feelings of awe and wonder well up inside me, and I want to praise our great God.

Several ID advocates, most notably Michael Behe, have written engagingly about the details of flagellar assembly. For that I am grateful—it is wonderful when the lay public gets excited about science! But I worry that in their haste to take down the theory of evolution, they create a lot of confusion about how God’s world actually operates.

When reading their work, I’m left with the sense that the formation of complex structures like the bacterial flagellum is miraculous, rather than the completely normal behavior of biological molecules. For example, Behe writes, “Protein parts in cellular machines not only have to match their partners, they have to go much further and assemble themselves—a very tricky business indeed” (Edge of Evolution, 125-126). This isn’t tricky at all. If the gene that encodes the MS-ring component protein is artificially introduced into bacteria that don’t normally have any flagellum genes, MS-rings spontaneously pop up all over the cell membrane. It’s the very nature of proteins to interact in specific ways to form more complex structures, but Behe makes it sound like each interaction is the product of special design. Next time I’ll review some other examples from the ID literature where assembly is discussed in confusing or misleading ways.”

To me personally, the self-assembly process, especially that of the molecular nano-machines like the bacterial flagellum, involves much, much more than random motion of molecules and the affinity of their binding sites for one another…

There has to be not only some kind of energy directing force but also some hidden information source to direct that energy…I have a hunch what that could be and there is only one way of finding it out…

Does anybody know what I have in mind? No, I don’t think it’s Jesus …

 

470 Replies to “Self-Assembly of Nano-Machines: No Intelligence Required?”

  1. Allan Miller
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    says:

    CharlieM: Allan: You notice that word “sure”? It is usually used to indicate agreement. Copying design, reverse engineering … I wan’t disagreeing, so I’m not sure why you seem to think I was.

    Charlie: So, even though you wrote that we are the only beings you are aware of that produce designed objects, you are now agreeing that designing objects is not exclusive to humans?

    No.

    I was agreeing that reverse engineering and copying designs were reasonably close concepts. You’ve mixed up two sub-themes.

  2. Allan Miller
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    says:

    CharlieM:

    You were saying that you didn’t know so I was trying to clarify things for you. There may be creationists who believe that everything on this earth was designed by God. I do not believe this.

    and therefore you disagree on the origin of the design, a statement at which you appeared to bristle because you hadn’t said anything about in this thread.

  3. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Mung: To me Paley would be an example of “the classic creationist argument.’

    That makes sense, but I feel dazz (and Allan before that) were alluding to the “classic” argument of the American ID movement. Figures from that movement could be seen making statements very much like “wow, look how incredibly complex that is. We could never make that. Must be designed”. Of course, that statement only made sense if you were aware of the religious undertones. At least Paley was free to just put “Natural Theology” on the cover of his book.

  4. CharlieM CharlieM
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    says:

    Allan Miller: So the individual components have a purpose but the thing itself does not? Building a nest has the ‘purpose’ of making more birds, but birds, a composite of such elements with broadly the same purpose, have no purpose.

    I have a machine that goes ‘bong’ at random intervals, if you’re interested. What’s its purpose? Going ‘bong’.

    I Googled “What is the purpose of birds?” and the first hit that came up was an article entitled, What Do Birds Do for Us?, which obviously talks about their “purpose” in serving human welfare.

    I also Googled “What is the purpose of bird’s nests?” and the first hit that came up here was The design and function of birds’ nests, the abstract of which read:

    All birds construct nests in which to lay eggs and/or raise offspring. Traditionally, it was thought that natural selection and the requirement to minimize the risk of predation determined the design of completed nests. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that sexual selection also influences nest design. This is an important development as while species such as bowerbirds build structures that are extended phenotypic signals whose sole purpose is to attract a mate, nests contain eggs and/or offspring, thereby suggesting a direct trade-off between the conflicting requirements of natural and sexual selection. Nest design also varies adaptively in order to both minimize the detrimental effects of parasites and to create a suitable microclimate for parents and developing offspring in relation to predictable variation in environmental conditions. Our understanding of the design and function of birds’ nests has increased considerably in recent years, and the evidence suggests that nests have four nonmutually exclusive functions. Consequently, we conclude that the design of birds’ nests is far more sophisticated than previously realized and that nests are multifunctional structures that have important fitness consequences for the builder/s.

    I had been thinking that in general bird’s nests serve the purpose of providing a suitable place for birds to lay their eggs, but bower birds also produce elaborate designs in order to attract a mate.The above abstract gives a fuller picture than mine but they basically agree as to the purpose of nests.

    If you wish to continue with the argument that the purpose of birds is to make more birds, then why not take it a stage further and say that the purpose of birds is to provide food for their predators and thus to make more predators.

    I think that asking what is the purpose of bird’s nests is a much more fruitful question than asking what is the purpose of birds.

  5. CharlieM CharlieM
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    says:

    Corneel (to Mung): That makes sense, but I feel dazz (and Allan before that) were alluding to the “classic” argument of the American ID movement. Figures from that movement could be seen making statements very much like “wow, look how incredibly complex that is. We could never make that. Must be designed”. Of course, that statement only made sense if you were aware of the religious undertones. At least Paley was free to just put “Natural Theology” on the cover of his book.

    Can you give any specific examples of the type of statements you attribute to figures from the movement?

    I know that Behe made an argument contradictory to your claim. He based his argument on the design of the bacterial flagellum on a comparison with human design. He reasoned that the flagellar system was made up of components which were comparable to a human designed outboard motor. Components such as the motor itself, a propshaft, universal joint, and propeller, which can all be found in both systems.

  6. Allan Miller
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    says:

    CharlieM,

    Your attempts to establish Design from Purpose get weaker by the post.

    You had to Google the purpose of birds? Really? You couldn’t just make one up yourself? And the answer you found therein somehow gives support to your idea that they were designed – they were designed for us? What was the purpose of birds in the Tertiary?

    The purpose of sunlight is to excite electrons. The purpose of empty space is to have somewhere to stick stuff. Is there anything not-designed? Is there anything without-a-purpose? Or is it all just the Monk’s pale pink – a label shorn of all meaning, because it applies to literally everything?

  7. Allan Miller
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    says:

    Corneel,

    Given that Creationism predates complex machinery by several thousand years, it’s probably safer to say that Paley’s is a classic modern argument.

  8. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Your attempts to establish Design from Purpose get weaker by the post.

    You had to Google the purpose of birds? Really? You couldn’t just make one up yourself? And the answer you found therein somehow gives support to your idea that they were designed – they were designed for us? What was the purpose of birds in the Tertiary?

    I don’t know how much clearer I can be, I do not think that birds were designed for a purpose.

  9. Allan Miller
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    says:

    CharlieM: I don’t know how much clearer I can be, I do not think that birds were designed for a purpose.

    Neither do I. But this is at odds with your belief that the things that get birds to reproduce were designed for that ultimate purpose. Designing nests with a proximal purpose in mind seems an odd thing to do if there is no ultimate purpose. Bower birds need to find a mate. Why? Oh, no reason ….

  10. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller:
    CharlieM,

    As an aside, I wish you wouldn’t fill your posts with extensive quotes you didn’t write. I can’t debate people who aren’t here. I compose posts to order, and you roll up with Ready Meals.

    I provided the links and the quote in order to make my argument that asking if birds were designed for a purpose will not produce a satisfactory answer, but when we ask about the purpose of nests, we can observe who builds them and the use to which they are put. The first question leads to idle speculation, the second something which can be empirically validated and facts can be learned.

    I do not see what is wrong with using the results of scientific research in order to make my case.

  11. Allan Miller
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    says:

    CharlieM,

    Sorry, I just find myself bugged by wading through lengthy gobs of text. A link would suffice, which the reader can follow or not.

    It doesn’t make your case though, scientific or not. When people say ‘design’ in such contexts, they clearly don’t mean a personal God designed it; no more do they mean it was designed by the bird itself. Do they mean what you mean, then? Again, doubtful.

    Nests evidently have a function, which one might call a purpose. But nothing in this rebranding exercise calls for an alternative to Natural Selection as the causal agent behind it, which is presumably where you are headed. You don’t think NS unaided can render an organism adapted to its environment; some vague thing has to wish it, or otherwise cause it, with an unexplained causal gap between conception and execution – between Design and Assembly.

  12. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    CharlieM: Can you give any specific examples of the type of statements you attribute to figures from the movement?

    I was specifically thinking of an interview that Stephen Meyer gave on the The 700 Club. Sandwalk’s Larry Moran linked to it. The video link seems to have expired since, but I recall that he compared organisms to machines and software in that video, only to later deny that humans would be capable of designing organisms themselves. That may be so, but that is not a conclusion that follows naturally from the observation that organisms resemble human design.

    CharlieM: I know that Behe made an argument contradictory to your claim.

    I confess that I am not familiar with Behe’s particular stance on this, but you’ll find the sentiment that organisms have superior design is wide spread among ID advocates. Just look at J-mac’s remark that set off this exchange. Also, I would be interested to learn whether Behe believes humans are capable of recreating living cells (without copying the genetic instructions that are already there). If all cellular components strongly resemble human devices that should be possible, right?

  13. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Allan Miller: Given that Creationism predates complex machinery by several thousand years, it’s probably safer to say that Paley’s is a classic modern argument.

    I doubt that Paley was the first to come up with the argument, but yeah, creationism goes way back.

  14. Mung Mung
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    says:

    Corneel: We could never make that. Must be designed

    Is this where I tell you that is not the argument, you ask me what is, and I tell you to go read Paley?

    Whether or not “we could never make that” is simply not part of the argument. But i’m sure dazz appreciates you playing along. 🙂

  15. Mung Mung
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    says:

    Corneel: I doubt that Paley was the first to come up with the argument, but yeah, creationism goes way back.

    Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity

  16. Mung Mung
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    says:

    Allan Miller: Is there anything not-designed?

    What is stopping the critics of ID from creating their very own “not designed” detection methods and publishing them?

  17. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Mung: Is this where I tell you that is not the argument, you ask me what is, and I tell you to go read Paley?

    And here I was expecting you to produce an actual argument. Silly me

    Mung: Whether or not “we could never make that” is simply not part of the argument. But i’m sure dazz appreciates you playing along. 🙂

    Semantics, semantics. OK, let’s rephrase that: “we could never make that” always seems to follow the argument “it looks like something we would make”, which looks silly.

  18. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Mung: What is stopping the critics of ID from creating their very own “not designed” detection methods and publishing them?

    Define IsItDesigned(object):
    {
    print “probably not”
    }

  19. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller:
    CharlieM,

    Sorry, I just find myself bugged by wading through lengthy gobs of text. A link would suffice, which the reader can follow or not.

    Apology accepted. I presumed that if I provide some text with the link it makes it easier for readers to access if they wish. After all it is just as easy to skip over “lengthy gobs of text” as it is to skip a link.

    It doesn’t make your case though, scientific or not. When people say ‘design’ in such contexts, they clearly don’t mean a personal God designed it; no more do they mean it was designed by the bird itself. Do they mean what you mean, then? Again, doubtful.

    Well in the case of the bower bird it is clear that it is the designer of the bower. They have been filmed, caught in the act.

    Nests evidently have a function, which one might call a purpose. But nothing in this rebranding exercise calls for an alternative to Natural Selection as the causal agent behind it, which is presumably where you are headed. You don’t think NS unaided can render an organism adapted to its environment; some vague thing has to wish it, or otherwise cause it, with an unexplained causal gap between conception and execution – between Design and Assembly.

    I think that when it comes to very multicellular organisms with very complex, well fitted and well coordinated inner systems, invoking natural selection as the causal agent is the equivalent of vague speculation.

    I believe that creatures such as bower birds, for instance, have group identities, and what we witness as instinctive behaviour is the expression of the desires and nature of this “individual group.” And so the multitude of beak types among birds is not the result of diversification due to weeding out of the less suited but they actually appear in their various forms due to the lifestyle followed by the particular group. Finch beaks may vary by a certain amount within the group due to natural selection but they will never become the long beaks like those of spoonbills. natural selection is limited by what the group nature dictates.

    Migratory behaviour makes more sense in terms of group memory rather than some unnamed gene or suite of genes somehow directing an individual from within.

  20. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    Whether or not “we could never make that” is simply not part of the argument.

    For most creationists it seems to be part-and-parcel with the argument Mung. J-Mac is fond of insisting that if we cannot do it in the lab, then it’s not “evolved” and it’s intelligently designed. But J-Mac is not the only one. I have read that from the “institutional” IDiots too.

    Maybe you should try and understand that your position/argument is not necessarily the position/argument of other creationists, let alone an “official” one, if there’s such a thing.

  21. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Corneel: Define IsItDesigned(object):
    {
    print “probably not”
    }

    Is that Bayesian?

  22. Allan Miller
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    says:

    Mung: What is stopping the critics of ID from creating their very own “not designed” detection methods and publishing them?

    What? You’re the ones advancing the hypothesis. Do the work. So far, it seems to be determined by the extent to which one is persuaded by analogy.

  23. Allan Miller
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    says:

    CharlieM:

    Well in the case of the bower bird it is clear that it is the designer of the bower. They have been filmed, caught in the act.

    Well, I’m not exactly stunned to find that bower bird bowers are constructed by bower birds, but it’s nice to have video evidence just to be on the safe side.

    But no, it is not clear that the bower bird is the designer of the bower. This is just assertion and counter-assertion. If all bower birds of a given species build bowers of the same type, is it just some weird kind of coincidence that their bowers all look much the same, or that they build them at all?

    To take something non-artefactual, what about pheromones? Do moths design them? They serve a similar purpose to bowers.

    I think that when it comes to very multicellular organisms with very complex, well fitted and well coordinated inner systems, invoking natural selection as the causal agent is the equivalent of vague speculation.

    What about when it comes to other organisms? After all, even the simplest cell is complex. ‘Natural selection cannot make that’, you declare. Well, ‘nor can design’, say I. Impasse.

    I believe …

    I believe that the world is controlled by hamsters.

  24. Mung Mung
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    says:

    Allan Miller: I believe that the world is controlled by hamsters.

    Which kind?

    http://www.petwebsite.com/hamsters/hamster_species.asp

  25. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Mung: Is that Bayesian?

    Nah, it uses basic parsimony. So far I have used it on stones, trees and the bacterial flagellum. Works fine. It seems to flunk on watches though.

  26. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Let’s see whether we are all on the same page. In my mind, design involves the planning of construction. The mindless (or instinctive) execution of such a plan doesn’t count as design, and I would call that assembly/ construction.

    Example: Let’s say I design and build a robot A. Given access to construction materials, Robot A can run a routine in which it constructs a precise copy of itself. Let’s call that Robot B.

    Question: was Robot B designed? If so, was it designed by me or by Robot A or perhaps both or somebody else altogether? What is the decisive factor in making that call?

    I am sure I am going down a well-trodden path here, but what the hay.

  27. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    says:

    I see that gpuccio has a post up at Uncommon Descent that, I guess, relates to self-assembly. It’s a very long article with great pics and some overuse of superlative (nine amazings) language. The presentation of the science is interesting and seems, as far as I would know or can tell, accurate. But the final conclusion is the usual default to “Intelligent Design”. Number 13, the last of his numbered conclusions:

    To me, this is one of the most beautiful examples of coordinated, irreducible functional complexity: an implementation of design that can only inspire deep awe and wonder.

    I don’t know if anyone thinks gpuccio’s piece is worthy of an OP here.

  28. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    says:

    Corneel,
    We’re OK ‘cos Fox’s (others may have had the idea – but what the hay) Law says no entity can construct another entity more intelligent than itself! 🙂

  29. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Alan Fox: The presentation of the science is interesting and seems, as far as I would know or can tell, accurate.

    Perhaps, but it starts off with a real howler:

    Metazoa, or multicellular organisms, are one of the amazing “novelties” in natural history. At some point, single eukaryotic cells begin to be organized in a new, incredibly complex plan: a multicellular organism.

    Yup, Metazoa is all multicellular organisms. We wouldn’t be forgetting any would we?

  30. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    says:

    Corneel,
    Is it… plants? 🙂

  31. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    Alan Fox: plants?

    Among other things. Multicellularity independently arose a few dozen times in eukaryotes and a couple of times in bacteria as well (all without any collagen-based ECM, if I am not mistaken) . But I just keep getting this image of gpuccio typing these sentences sitting next to a lifesize Ficus.

    It’s quite striking. I guess it somehow comes with the pro-ID mindset.

  32. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    says:

    Corneel:…a couple of times in bacteria as well…

    Oh dear the contrast between my ignorance and other’s knowledge keeps cropping up! Until you pointed this out I assumed a multi-cellular bacterium was an oxymoron. I googled this paper and I’ll be reading it shortly!

  33. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Well, I’m not exactly stunned to find that bower bird bowers are constructed by bower birds, but it’s nice to have video evidence just to be on the safe side.

    But no, it is not clear that the bower bird is the designer of the bower. This is just assertion and counter-assertion. If all bower birds of a given species build bowers of the same type, is it just some weird kind of coincidence that their bowers all look much the same, or that they build them at all?

    I think we’re arguing semantics here. But I do think it highlights the difference between instinctive behaviour determined by the group and the actions of individuals within the group. The urge to build bowers is instinctive, but the actual construction depends on the whims of the individual bowerbird and the available materials. I don’t really care if we describe bowerbirds as designers, architects or builders.

    To take something non-artefactual, what about pheromones? Do moths design them? They serve a similar purpose to bowers.

    Individual moths do not design pheromones but they do build them, just as they build muscles, bones and feathers.

    On the subject of pheromones, how do you think that they change by the process of natural selection? They are species specific, so presumably a change in the female’s signalling pheromone would need to be accompanied by an equivalent change in the receiving apparatus of the male moth if there is to be any mating.

    What about when it comes to other organisms? After all, even the simplest cell is complex. ‘Natural selection cannot make that’, you declare. Well, ‘nor can design’, say I. Impasse.

    I believe that the world is controlled by hamsters.

    I am not looking at design as a creative force, I am looking at designs as patterns in nature.

    I would say that rather than making anything, natural selection changes the composition of groups in line with prevailing conditions. Individuals vary within groups and natural selection changes the distribution of this variation.

    I’m sure hamsters do their bit, And they do construct cosy little nests with the chamber being of a hollowed out spherical design 🙂

  34. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Corneel:
    Let’s see whether we are all on the same page. In my mind, design involves the planning of construction. The mindless (or instinctive) execution of such a plan doesn’t count as design, and I would call that assembly/ construction.

    Who knows what is going on inside the mind of a bowerbird?

    Are these crows executing mindless instinct here?

    New Caledonian crows use mental pictures to twist twigs into hooks and make other tools, according to a provocative study that suggests the notoriously clever birds pass on successful designs to future generations, a hallmark of culture.

    Corneel:

    Example: Let’s say I design and build a robot A. Given access to construction materials, Robot A can run a routine in which it constructs a precise copy of itself. Let’s call that Robot B.

    Question: was Robot B designed? If so, was it designed by me or by Robot A or perhaps both or somebody else altogether? What is the decisive factor in making that call?

    I am sure I am going down a well-trodden path here, but what the hay.

    It was all designed by you. You designed the processes and their products.

  35. CharlieM CharlieM
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    says:

    Alan Fox,

    Thanks for the link Alan. There is a load of info to take in there and I’m sure an OP would stimulate a fair amount of discussion and debate.

  36. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    CharlieM: Are these crows executing mindless instinct here?

    Those blackbirds are a smart bunch, and I am willing to grant you that they are capable of designing tools with some nifty purpose in mind. But I am not sure I am willing to extend that argument to bowerbirds, pufferfish or spiders. At the very least I would require it to be shown that they are building structures according to a preconceived plan (“Hey, why don’t I build one of them webs”). Optionally, they would be building it with some purpose in mind (“I am gonna make a web so I can catch some of those juicy flies”). Reasonable?

    CharlieM: It was all designed by you. You designed the processes and their products.

    Agreed, because Robot B was built according to the plan that I made. Was that your consideration as well? I believe you considered things to be designed if you could see their purpose. What is Robot B’s purpose?

  37. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: The urge to build bowers is instinctive, but the actual construction depends on the whims of the individual bowerbird and the available materials. I don’t really care if we describe bowerbirds as designers, architects or builders.

    The problem with that position for ID is it opens up design to non intelligent processes such as evolution.

  38. Mung Mung
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    says:

    Alan Fox: Until you pointed this out I assumed a multi-cellular bacterium was an oxymoron. I googled this paper and I’ll be reading it shortly!

    And people say Darwinism in science is dead.

  39. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Corneel:
    Let’s see whether we are all on the same page. In my mind, design involves the planning of construction. The mindless (or instinctive) execution of such a plan doesn’t count as design, and I would call that assembly/ construction.

    I, on the other hand, view the assembly/construction aspect of producing a design as a vital aspect of the design process, the transfer from the abstract to the limitations of the material world , resources, imperfections , serendipities.

  40. Corneel Corneel
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    says:

    newton: I, on the other hand, view the assembly/construction aspect of producing a design as a vital aspect of the design process, the transfer from the abstract to the limitations of the material world , resources, imperfections , serendipities.

    Are you complicating things again? 😀

    Just to make sure I understand: you are not referring to just the assembly process, but to using the feedback to adjust the resulting structure, right? Say a spider that makes her web fit to some particular nook?

  41. Mung Mung
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    says:

    The first way design fails is due to lack of it.

    – Sandi Metz

  42. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: I, on the other hand, view the assembly/construction aspect of producing a design as a vital aspect of the design process, the transfer from the abstract to the limitations of the material world , resources, imperfections , serendipities.

    One of the advantages of an agile methodology. Or so they say.

  43. CharlieM CharlieM
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    says:

    Here is a short video with some good representations of processes happening at the cellular level. It’s only 9 minutes long, but for those who can’t spare that amount of time I’ve linked to the section of video that shows the “nano-motors” transporting their loads along the microtubules, <a href="here .

    I’m curious to know people’s opinions on the following:

    Other than the scale, what are the differences (fundamental rather than incidental) between the actions of these “nano-beings”, leaf cutter ants transporting their loads to and from their nests, bowerbirds bringing items to their bowers, or humans moving packages around for distribution?

  44. Mung Mung
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    says:

    …object-oriented software fails when the act of design is separated from the act of programming. Design is process of progressive discovery that relies on a feedback loop.

    – Sandi Metz

  45. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Corneel:

    CharlieM: Are these crows executing mindless instinct here?

    Those blackbirds are a smart bunch, and I am willing to grant you that they are capable of designing tools with some nifty purpose in mind. But I am not sure I am willing to extend that argument to bowerbirds, pufferfish or spiders. At the very least I would require it to be shown that they are building structures according to a preconceived plan (“Hey, why don’t I build one of them webs”). Optionally, they would be building it with some purpose in mind (“I am gonna make a web so I can catch some of those juicy flies”). Reasonable?

    Yes it is reasonable to say there are different levels of intelligence and awareness between these creatures. So you wouldn’t disagree that there has been an evolution of consciousness?

  46. BruceS
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    says:

    Mung: And people say Darwinism in science is dead.

    You really seem to like harping on that equivocation.

  47. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    …object-oriented software fails when the act of design is separated from the act of programming. Design is process of progressive discovery that relies on a feedback loop.

    – Sandi Metz

    So evolution = agile when there are no user stories, only user testing with a good enough/fail binary test feedback.

  48. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox:
    I see that gpuccio has a post up at Uncommon Descent that, I guess, relates to self-assembly.

    I have not read that post but why does self-assembly have to involve new design? It’s a separate thing: self-assembly is replication only AFAIK.

  49. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Corneel:

    CharlieM: It was all designed by you. You designed the processes and their products.

    Agreed, because Robot B was built according to the plan that I made. Was that your consideration as well?

    Basically yes. The designer and the builder need not be the same entity. It was in the case of Robot A, but not in the case of Robot B. architects normally leave the building of their designs to others.

    I believe you considered things to be designed if you could see their purpose. What is Robot B’s purpose?

    No I would consider anything with a pattern to be designed. I think of everything from spiral galaxies to frost patterns on a window pane as natural designs. So I like to discuss the source and cause of designs as well as the designs themselves.

  50. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: I have not read that post but why does self-assembly have to involve new design? It’s a separate thing: self-assembly is replication only

    Self-assembly doesn’t involve design. Self-assembly is consequent upon the inherent properties of molecules: their physical properties, their chemical properties, how they attract or repel, where with what strengths, react with water, in water, pH, ionic concentration and so on. None of this can be designed; it gets taken advantage of in design processes like adaptation.

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