Legacy Code

I don’t know much about genetics but I have done some research into it lately. Mostly, I wanted to learn more about how genes mutate and combine to form new genes and see how this relates to the way computer programs are constructed.

Not surprisingly our genetic code does not seem to be very clean or beautiful in the sense that most computer programmers would recognize. Our genome feels more like a website made over several years by dozens of programmers who simply pasted together fragments of javascript in different ways till things seemed to work right.

One gets the impression that If there is an Intelligent Designer, s/he did not go to engineering school. It seems at first glance that if there is a miracle then its the miracle that the code runs at all.

Upon more reflection though I wonder if this view is just hubris. While I might not find what I understand about the code to be asthetically pleasing, nothing suceeds like success. This system has been running for 100s of Millions of years and while it does produce errors, It does more than survive, creating more complexity, adapting to changes, and covering the entire earth.

Not bad for an elaborate Cut and Paste Hack. Maybe the secret is having a REALLY good QA dept.

One Reply to “Legacy Code”

  1. What an interesting thought, and a great blog post. Yes, that’s something I do struggle with, wavering in my belief of God, and in science and the theory of evolution. One can’t help but wonder what the answer really is. But of course we’ll never know. Interesting philosophical starting point for sure.

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