[OT] - A turning machine implemented in Conway's Game of Life

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Fri Mar 9 15:00:36 MST 2007

"Daniel C." <dcrookston at gmail.com> writes:
> DNA would work but I was really thinking that you might be able to
> arrange living organisms in such a way that you could input data (in
> some obscure form) and get information out (in an equally obscure
> form).  For example, putting together colonies of ants in such a way
> that when you drop bread crumbs near them in a certain pattern
> (inputting data) they will change their behavior in a way that
> performs a computation.
> I suppose you could say that all biological systems perform constant
> computations regarding how to stay alive, but that doesn't allow you
> to execute arbitrary code using that system.

This brings to mind a couple of things.  First of which is Aunt
Hillary, a character in some of the dialogues in Godel, Escher, Bach:
An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter.  The character is an
intelligent ant colony.  If you have not read the book, you really

Second is Roger Penrose's discussion of the question of whether a mind
is indeed a glorified Turing Machine, or whether it is something more,
in his book, The Emperor's New Mind.  He doesn't believe the human
brain is limited to Turing-equivalence, while Hofstadter does, or at
least he believes that the mind is essentially a computation that
could run on a Turing machine.


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