Endosymbiosis and the Future of Life

Amidst all the brouhaha over the threats and benefits of AGI I coincidentally found myself listening to a BBC Sounds programme called In Our Time about mitochondria.

One of the really interesting things in this fascinating programme was that there is now a well-respected but underdeveloped theory that the two genomes in our cells - nuclear and mitochondrial - arose from the serendipitous absorption or ingestion of a bacterium by some sort of primitive eukaryotic cell. In the ensuing struggle for survival - which of us will eat the other first, the bacterium from inside or the cell from outside? - there arose inside the host cell an extraordinarily beneficial symbiosis - whence endosymbiosis - which led to the bacterium surrendering its DNA to the host cell in return for the opportunity to generate - eventually - ATP and so the energy that allowed both to survive and thrive and become the dominant cell-mechanism of all known life.

And I thought: yes, and if we don’t blow the chance, or get spooked by all the scare-mongers, exactly that kind of mutually-beneficial symbiosis could be the future and our salvation, mutatis mutandis, for humanity and AGI.

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