Justin Lincoln's notational productions. Thoughts, text, images, sounds, and videos.
Biology has been doing this all along. Life relies on digitally coded instructions, translating between sequence and structure (from nucleotides to proteins), with ribosomes reading, duplicating, and interpreting the sequences on the tape. But any resemblance ends with the different method of addressing by which the instructions are carried out. In a digital computer, the instructions are in the form of COMMAND (ADDRESS) where the address is an exact (either absolute or relative) memory location, a process that translates informally into “DO THIS with what you find HERE and go THERE with the result.” Everything depends not only on precise instructions, but also on HERE, THERE, and WHEN being exactly defined.
In biology, the instructions say, “DO THIS with the next copy of THAT which comes along.” THAT is identified not by a numerical address defining a physical location, but by a molecular template that identifies a larger, complex molecule by some smaller, identifiable part. This is the reason that organisms are composed of microscopic (or near-microscopic) cells, since only by keeping all the components in close physical proximity will a stochastic, template-based addressing scheme work fast enough. There is no central address authority and no central clock. Many things can happen at once. This ability to take general, organized advantage of local, haphazard processes is the ability that (so far) has distinguished information processing in living organisms from information processing by digital computers.