Humanity has the knowledge needed to stop COVID-19. Just not in a usable form
All problems can be solved, given enough knowledge. So says David Deutsch. So say I.
Stopping COVID-19 requires getting enough knowledge. But it’s more than that. Humanity has that knowledge. It’s just not in a useable form.
Every person who has recovered from a COVID-19 infection enough knowledge to stop it within their own body. It’s just not in a form that we can use to stop it anywhere else.
But that’s just another problem to be solved.
And with enough knowledge, we could solve it.
DNA encodes information. RNA encodes information. Proteins encode information.
A virus is a collection of information encoded in a form that determines its chemical and mechanical properties.
The viral body attaches itself to a cell, then injects an essential part of the information encoded within it into the cell.
That information combines itself with the cell’s reproductive machinery—itself rich in information. The viral information forces the cell to make many copies of the virus, then bursts the cell, releasing the virus.
One copy of the information becomes many copies, with collateral damage in the process.
Knowledge and information
Knowledge, according to the definition I’ve adopted—again courtesy of David Deutsch—is a kind of information.
Specifically, knowledge is information that an environment tends to preserve.
Humans generate and encounter enormous amounts of information, but we tend to preserve the most useful information. And we call it knowledge.
The environment in which a kind of virus survives preserves the information encoded in that kind of virus.
That means that the information encoded in a virus meets the definition of knowledge. Specifically, it’s the knowledge needed to cause the environment to make copies of the virus.
It’s knowledge, without a knower. Still, it’s knowledge.
Proteins encode information.
The information encoded in any protein causes the protein to fold in a particular way.
The folded virus protein lets it attach itself to the cell and inject its payload.
An antibody encodes information that disrupts the mechanism of viral reproduction.
The folded antibody-protein interferes with the folded viral protein so that it can’t attach, or so that it can’t inject.
A successful virus contains knowledge. A successful antibody also contains knowledge.
The creation of antibody knowledge
All knowledge is created by trial and error.
The immune system creates the knowledge in an antibody by trial and error
The immune system produces a protein after protein—according to metaknowledge embedded in the immune system. If a protein succeeds in disrupting the viral reproductive process, the immune system detects this and produces more of that kind of antibody,
Thus, the information needed to disrupt a viral infection is preserved as knowledge.
The knowledge that stops COVID-19
In China, at least 83,000 people (the recovered COVID-19 cases) have acquired the knowledge needed to defeat COVID-19.
Some people died trying. Thank you for your service.
Probably many more people have acquired the necessary knowledge. Those who were asymptomatic and stopped the infection acquired the knowledge. So did those whose symptoms were mild enough to let them discover sufficient knowledge before symptoms appeared.
There may be many ways to stop COVID-19, but we know that some ways exist.
And we know that humanity has acquired the necessary knowledge.
Knowledge without a knower
If an author writes a book, the knowledge in the book does not stop being knowledge if the author and everyone who has ever read the book dies.
Knowledge does not require a knower to be knowledge.
If someone builds a useful machine that embodies their knowledge, the usefulness of that knowledge continues even if the inventor and everyone who ever understood the machine dies.
Knowledge does not require a knower to be useful.
People have the knowledge needed to stop COVID0-19, but they don’t know what it is.
They don’t know how to communicate the knowledge to others.
And they don’t know how to use it.
Nonetheless, the knowledge is useful, if only within their own bodies. ## Part of the problem solved We have the knowledge.
We have to figure out how to get the knowledge into a more useful form.
Humanity has the answer! It’s just not in a form that we can use—yet.
A vaccine is a hint. It helps a person discover the knowledge that they need to neutralize the knowledge embodied in a virus or other parasite.
Maybe there are other ways to get the knowledge.
Maybe there are other ways to get a useful hint.
Maybe quantum entanglement?
I’m open to anything.
It’s just an information problem.
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