On this ID the Future, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson further explores AlphaFold 2, a cutting edge computer program from Google’s DeepMind designed to rapidly suss out important secrets in the realm of proteins, indispensable molecular biological workhorses that come in thousands of different shapes and sizes. Nelson enthuses about AlphaFold 2 but also explains why he is convinced that AlphaFold’s creators have hit a series of immovable obstacles. The watchword here—orphans. Tune in to learn what these mischievous orphan proteins are about, and what they suggest for AlphaFold, evolution, and intelligent design.
On today’s ID the Future, Animal Algorithms author Eric Cassell delves into another fascinating portion of his new book, the programmed social behaviors of colony insects and the challenge these instinctive behaviors pose for modern evolutionary theory. Cassell and host Robert J. Marks discuss the complex caste system of these colonies, the impressive signaling systems they use to communicate, and how technologists study these tiny-brained creatures to learn tricks for developing and improving drone swarm technology. How could a mindless evolutionary process have evolved these sophisticated colonies, where various castes appear essential to the functioning and survival of the colony, and possess their division-of-labor skills instinctively? Some colony members also behave altruistically, a fact that Charles Darwin himself conceded posed a challenge to his theory. And what about all the growing number of orphan genes researchers are finding among colony insects—genes without any apparent evolutionary ancestry in the history of life? This too, Cassell argues, poses a major challenge to evolutionary theory. Cassell argues that underlying these complex instinctive social behaviors are complex algorithms not unlike those we find in computers; and, as he argues in the book, the best explanation for their origin is intelligent design. Learn more about the book, read the endorsements from a range of scientists and engineers, and pick up your copy here.
Today’s episode of ID the Future comes from a Berkeley, California symposium honoring the recently deceased Phillip Johnson. Biologist Jonathan Wells recalls how he met Johnson and the huge influence he had on Wells’ own research and writing. Then philosopher of biology Paul Nelson reminisces on Johnson’s keen intellect, his eye for hidden assumptions, his awareness that “we are not of our own devising,” and on the mountain range of new knowledge opening up to us in biology, one that scientists knew little about even 30 years ago and that Nelson says points strongly away from Darwin’s idea of common descent.