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

Nicholas Leippe nick at leippe.com
Mon Mar 12 10:30:19 MDT 2007

On Monday 12 March 2007 10:17, you wrote:
> On 3/12/07, Nicholas Leippe <nick at leippe.com> wrote:
> > Yes.  In response to:
> > > 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.
> >
> > A biological virus, imo, does exactly that--it runs arbitrary code in the
> > host's system.
> Ahhhh, okay, I thought you didn't know what a virus was.  That's a
> cool way of looking at it.  Makes me wonder if you could construct a
> custom-made virus that would do whatever you wanted to the host.

There has been research into this exact concept.  Gene therapy is where they 
use a benign virus to deliver a specially crafted payload (instructions) to 
alter a person's DNA.  Pretty clever way of curing a genetic disorder. On the 
flip side, there are some obvious other uses for this sort of technology that 
are probably getting funding under the radar--gene therapy is in practice no 
different than genetic augmentation. There have been movies about it already.

> By the way, did you know that a large part of the human genome is made
> up of virus DNA?  Apparently it's common for us to get infected with
> viruses that are benign and eventually just become part of our genetic
> makeup.  There are actually some important functions (I don't recall
> which) that depend on some of the viral genes we've got.

That's cool.  I didn't know that--but now learning that, it doesn't really 
surprise me.

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