Life and prediction

Gill Eapen
2 min readJan 7, 2024

A recent study (1) that shows predictive capabilities in larval zebrafish raises a larger question. Is the primary differentiating aspect of life, the ability to predict? If so, it may have broad implications including in the search for extraterrestrial life. Current heuristics, such as temperature, water, chemistry etc., may not be necessary for life to form. What differentiates life could simply be its ability to predict and it may not require the biological constraints that are assumed to be true. This may mean a single Silicon atom, but more likely a molecule with other elements collaborating, could become alive if it is able to predict, or more generally compute.

Homocentric views of life and the search for it have led humans astray. They have been looking for the goldilocks zone with water, stuff they are used to. Such life could be an anomaly, as it appears too fragile and generally too complicated. What may have already filled the universe, in every nook and corner of it, is life that does not have a biological basis as humans know it. Such life will simply be undetectable to humans with very limited views on what is meant by life.

As the space agency and associated experiments seek extraterrestrial life, as the gullible humans look up for wide eyed creatures that transcend cosmic voids only to crash into the mighty Earth in the last moment, and the great scientists of astronomy schools spend taxpayer resources to extract exotic metals from the crash site, it may be useful to think that humans may have no idea what is meant to be alive in the universe.

(1) Predictive neural computations in the cerebellum contribute to motor planning and faster behavioral responses in larval zebrafish | Science Advances

--

--

Gill Eapen

Gill Eapen is the founder and CEO of Decision Options ®, Mr. Eapen has over 30 years of experience in strategy, finance, engineering, and general management