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Agency of the Cell: Convergence between Origin of Life, Evolution, Cognition and Cancer

Presented at the American Association of Cancer Research “Evolutionary Dynamics” Conference, Tampa, Florida, March 2022.

Abstract: All cells exhibit agency and evolve purposefully. This is why cancer has outwitted doctors for 100 years and why Stage 3-4 patients are no better in 2022 than in 1930. Evolution was presumed to be random and purposeless, yet all cells possess cognition (Shapiro 2020). Cell behavior is normally algorithmic, but uniquely responds to novel situations. This is what makes evolution (and cancer) possible.

Cognition—sensing and responding to the environment—is the unifying principle behind the genetic code, origin of life, evolution, consciousness, artificial intelligence, and cancer. Thus the central question in biology is: What is the nature and origin of cognition?

A solution to the origin of the genetic code, for which the presenter’s organization offers a $10 million prize, announced at the Royal Society in 2019, is an unsolved cognition problem. This choice is a non-deterministic action of a free agent with sensory capacity and memory. It is not computable from prior states. As well as reading and reacting to its environment, it anticipates future threats, chooses goals and reasons inductively. Computers do none of these things.

This new model explains the futility of reducing most diseases to a single random or algorithmic component, and suggests we should treat cancer as an autonomous purposeful agent with unique identity and capacity to choose.

Poster Session PDF

References

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Conflict of Interest Disclosure: I have the following relevant financial relationships to disclose:

The presenter is founder and shareholder of Natural Code LLC, a firm offering $100,000 for discovery of a natural process that generates code from non-living material without direct human agency. The investment group offers $10 million to secure patent rights to said process. The prize specification is at www.naturalcode.org.

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Perry Marshall

NASA Jet Propulsion Labs uses his 80/20 Curve as a productivity tool. His reinvention of the Pareto Principle is published in Harvard Business Review. His Ultimate Guide to Google Ads is the best-selling book on internet advertising. A business strategist and electrical engineer, Perry founded the largest science research award in history. The $10 million Evolution 2.0 Prize will be judged by scientists from Harvard, Oxford, and MIT. Seeing that existing financial incentives favor prolonging cancer rather than curing it; and realizing the medical profession has incorrectly defined the disease in the first place... he chose to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the problem.

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