The Evolution 2.0 Manifesto

1 All forms of evolution harness identical principles. (Technology, business, music, culture and biology.) Good science is good engineering. Any theory of evolution is a theory of engineering. You can test theory by applying it to technology. You do not understand any system until you’ve built it and it works.

The central question in biology is: “What does a cell know about itself?” Barbara McClintock asked this in her 1983 Nobel Prize speech. Life directs its own evolution.


There are three levels of causation:

  1. Chemicals = Universal laws of physics
  2. Codes = Local rules of language & logic
  3. Consciousness = Agency

Codes come from consciousness, not chemistry. Consciousness encodes information which controls chemistry. Codes are evidence of free will.


Living things are conscious agents. A cell is not merely a machine, it is an agent: a being with a capacity to act. The central axiom of life is consciousness. Definition: “In practice, if a subject repeatedly behaves in a purposeful, non-routine manner that involves the brief retention of information, she, he or it is assumed to be conscious.” -Christof Koch, from Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist.


Darwinian evolution reversed cause and effect three ways:

  1. Darwinism denied purpose, then indulged in endless contradictions to evade the obvious truth: Everything about life is purposeful.
  2. “Evolution by Natural Selection” is backwards. Evolution always occurs first. Otherwise there is nothing new to select.
  3. Darwinism claimed evolution is random events. This too is backwards. Evolution is purposeful response to random events.

These errors constitute the biggest mistake in the history of science.


The Evolution 2.0 Prize seeks to answer the most fundamental question in science that can be precisely defined: How do you get from chemicals to code? Origin of life, evolution, consciousness, free will and AI all converge in this single question.


Computers are not going to ‘wake up’ – and we’re not going to upload ourselves into ‘the cloud.’ Strong Artificial Intelligence does not exist. Strong AI cannot be achieved using traditional computer architecture. Strong AI will exist when someone solves the Evolution 2.0 Prize.


Evolution itself is proof of what all religions have asserted since the beginning of recorded history: Life is purposeful and special. A dead bird is no better than a rock; only live birds can fly. Life has agency. Agency invokes meaning and morality, questions science cannot address. There is no conflict between science and religion. Science asks how; religion asks why. We need both – especially now.

9 If the failures of Darwinism are imported into genetic engineering, the result will be worse than the atomic bomb. Darwinism dumbed down and trivialized nature. Some say we’re smarter than nature, proclaiming that evolution can now be guided for the first time. The truth: Nature is smarter than us. We can heal and repair life… and we must. But attempts to re-invent life will backfire.

Every breakthrough Silicon Valley seeks is found in the cell. If Microsoft knew what one bacterium knows, they would be the most valuable company in the world. One blade of grass is 10,000 years ahead of human technology.

5 Responses

  1. Michael Champion says:

    ” Agency invokes meaning and morality, ”

    Actually, this isn’t fully right. Living things being able to direct their evolution through Lamarckian mechanisms seems indicative of individual consciousness and purpose driven activity, but that doesn’t prove on its own that any actual objective purpose or meaning exist, only that there is at the least subjective purpose. The closest you could get to that I suppose is in saying that people tend to hope for some sort of objective meaning.

    The entire idea of an ‘ought’ is fully separate from what is factual reality. You can’t discover what ought to be based on what is.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean there is no such thing as objective right or wrong, but it means if there is such a thing, it can’t be proved based on evidence, the only way would be to prove it not with observed facts but via coherent and consistent logic.

  2. Michael Champion says:

    “Life has agency. Agency invokes meaning and morality, ”
    Technically, no. Agency and consciousness prove that there is at least subjective morality, and personal attempts to find some kind of meaning. Religion tends to not try to prove any objective morality, though, since religious people usually use divine command theory and say things are right because God says they are. Or that they are right because goodness emanates from God’s nature, when that’s just a logical fallacy. There either is objective good or there isn’t. If there is, it’s an objective truth, so God’s nature is irrelevant. You cannot derive an ought from an is.
    Not even if the fact is God supposedly existing. Objective morality is necessarily separate from any number of facts, including any and all actions anyone does, any and all events, and the state of anyone or anything existing. Otherwise it’s not objective.

    So what I’m asking here, is whether you agree with the idea that you cannot derive objective morality from any set of facts, and then whether you would still go on to say God’s nature causes objective good to exist. If you say that, it’s undeniably deriving an ought from an is, so you seem required to disagree with either God making objective good exist or objective morality not being derivable from the state of the world in any way. But the second option does not seem quite right, as I see no logical way for an ought to be derived from an is.

  3. Hi Perry, your research is quite interesting. I’m curious why you think there is an engineering way to solve point #6. Conservation of information theorems seem to imply no mechanical system can create codes. The only way around information conservation is with a halting oracle, which by definition cannot be reduced to a Turing machine. Additionally, there is no hypercomputational physical process, as far as we know.

    So, my question to you is: what do you think the solution looks like? Do you think it is some sort of DNA code? Do you think it is some sort of vitalism, where a non-physical life force supervenes on the physical world?

    • I don’t know if this is solvable or not. My #1 job is to establish the specification that determines whether it has been solved or not. Thus far no one has solved the design problem in biology.

      While not intimately familiar with your halting oracle model, I get the general idea. I think the solution lies in the nature and source of consciousness. I prefer the term volition to vitalism. I think the cognition that allows cells to re-program themselves in ways vastly superior to any algorithm, and so well that they’re the envy of any human programmer — and the source of life’s origin — are one and the same. And I think it’s rooted in consciousness. In principle, cells are study-able because they are right in front of us doing what they are doing. But we have to re-form our notions of how all of this works.

      I wish you the best with AM-Nat.

    • Eric,

      I conceptualize biological action as a “volitional Turing machine” where the subject receives instructions from the program tape but still get to decide whether to write a one or a zero, based on what it wants. Think of it as a unit of free will, influenced by pressures and constraints.

      You might like this article:

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