Darwin at the origin of life

In Darwin's model changes occur because individuals with successful traits are more likely to pass their genes to the next generation -- referred to as vertical transfer. However, in microbes, the early forms of life, it has been shown that as much as 10% of the genes are acquired horizontally -- by direct DNA transfer from other organisms and the environment. On this basis it has been argued that horizontal gene transfer was the dominant factor in the early days of the evolution of life.

This could help explain among other things, the universality of the genetic code -- useful for being able to read another person's genes and also the occurrence of similar cellular components that allow for horizontal genetic exchange.

By analogy using computer brands and software programs -- the success of a computer company depends on making superior hardware (vertical transfer). Whereas software success depends on its ability to be run on different computers (horizontal transfer). A successful combination would be great hardware being able to run great open source software.

Darwinian evolution probably became dominant in the later stages when the complexity of organisms reached a threshold where the free flow of genes by horizontal transfer was restricted to preserve the integrity of function.

Back to the analogy, what this may mean for future trends in computer development is interesting to speculate.

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