Everything is Code

Tagged as Personal, Programming Languages

Written on 2007-05-21 09:41:00

So, we seem to be gradually acquiring a philosophy of code. Definitely not every member of the species is but there's this sort of growing awareness in certain groups that things really are ultimately pretty simple...and also code driven. It's not that information matters, it's that information is matter. The mathematicians might've been the first. It's hard to say but they definitely had some sort of head start towards this thought process\philosophy. Later the rest of the hard sciences started getting involved. Things really kicked off with the advent of Digital Circuits and Computer Science. 0s and 1s could be used to describe or simulate pretty much anything...given enough memory and time. If it's computable, the Universal Turing Machine can do it. Then something happened again, in 1972 Walter Fiers deciphered the complete genome of the Bacteriophage MS2. Genetic sequencing began to take off. Somewhere in this process, when we really began uncovering the power of the genome and the expressiveness of the genetic code our efforts naturally shifted from reading the code to writing it. Increasingly, we are discovering that not only the virtual worlds of the computer but our actual reality are programmable. We can cause chickens to have more wings, we can make E.Coli produce plastic for stitches stronger than those available, caused cows to birth gaurs, and Australia is looking into making Tasmanian Tigers walk the earth for the first time in 70 years by birthing them from wolves. And we have created entirely new genomes. Born that which did not exist. Hopefully, we will soon discover for the inorganic universe what we have discovered for the organic and virtual universes. Maybe one day we will even discover a code which governs the fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetic, strong, weak).

For now, I'm curious about the Genetic Code. Certainly, there is an analogue between the machine code of 0s and 1s and the Genetic Code or As, Ts, Gs and Cs. We could even define A as 0, T as one third, G as two thirds, and C as 1 to draw this analogue out a little further. I would argue that the growth of computer science was fueled by a number of things but lowering the barriers to entry for programming was certainly one of them. That is, nobody codes in binary. Even long ago, everyone coded in assembler. Now, I'm not entirely (or even remotely) comfortable advocating that the emerging industry of genetic engineering try to emulate computer science. There are way too many bugs in our programs. However, linguistically speaking, I'm curious if there is an analogue to higher level languages in computer programming such as Assembler, C, Python, Basic, PHP, etc and if there aren't such languages how one might go about creating them. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
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