As human knowledge has expanded we have become aware that living organisms are very sophisticated information technology. Our bodies – their construction and functions – are controlled by computer -like programs.
Professor Freeman Dyson gives a definition of life at :
“For the purposes of this discussion, life is defined as a material system that can acquire, store, process, and use information to organize its activities. In this broad view, the essence of life is information, but information is not synonymous with life. To be alive, a system must not only hold information but process and use it. It is the active use of information, and not the passive storage, that constitutes life”.
In the 1940’s ,mathematician John Von Neuman attempted to determine the logical requirements for evolution to occur in biological systems. The result was his “universal constructor” .
“Von Neumann’s specification defined the machine as using 29 states, these states constituting means of signal carriage and logical operation, and acting upon signals represented as bit streams. A ‘tape’ of cells encodes the sequence of actions to be performed by the machine. Using a writing head (termed a construction arm) the machine can print out (construct) a new pattern of cells, allowing it to make a complete copy of itself, and the tape”.
Details of the universal constructor may be seen at :
In short, Von Neuman’s universal constructor required a set of instructions , a means of duplicating the instructions, and a capacity to implement the instructions.
In present day information technology the instructions required are termed prescriptive (semantic) information and is typically produced by an intellect as the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy states at :
If we think of genes or cells as literally carrying semantic information, our problem changes. Paradigm cases of structures with semantic information — pictures, sentences, programs — are built by the thought and action of intelligent agents.
Prescriptive information is not only typically produced by an intellect it has never been observed to occur without an intellect..
We are fearfully and wonderfully made by an intellect too incredible to describe .
Take a look.