Lloyd's first post after a brief introduction is reminiscent of Stephen Den Beste in his heyday : long, and full of meaty goodness.
Life! You know it when you point at it but you find it difficult to say just what it is. I am going to try to pin down the characteristics of an entity that make you say "That's alive.". I want to look at other systems that have similar properties but which we do not normally think of as alive. Then I will look at the differences between these systems and systems which we think of as alive.Reserve at least half an hour of free time, and Read the whole thing.
As for the Introduction :
I am a statistician who has worked on a wide variety of projects. The majority have been environmental, agricultural or medical but I have also worked on some social statistics. I also have qualifications in biology.Like Computer Scientists, who have to understand at least the basics of the "problem domain" they're working on, be it legal databases or spaceflight, statisticians can't help but "learn by osmosis", absorbing details they need to design experiments and extract meaning from raw numerical data. In summary, He Knows Stuff. Lots of stuff. In detail. About many different areas.
My interests include such things as science fiction (both written and on the screen), role playing games, war games, art, bush walking, good food and wine, comics and reading about all sorts of things.If he serves up his ideas the way he serves up a Prawn and Papaya salad ( Did I mention he's a gourmet chef? And has a conoisseur's knowledge of wine? ) then we're all in for a treat.
My knowledge about some of these things is a bit spotty. Other things I have a good layman's knowledge about. Some of the things above I know a lot about. All in all I have acquired information about an unusual assortment of subjects. This sometimes leads to seeing things a bit differently. Ideas about quite a few subjects have been stewing for a long time and now I intend to serve them up.
I don't always see eye-to-eye with him : but he's on my list of people who have often been right when I've been wrong, and is always worth listening to.
Now I'm going to stop raving on about it, and go read his article in more detail. Food for Thought. Yum.