Replication vs Reproduction

Basic Concepts: Reproduction vs Replication – The secret behind every evolving system

In daily language, we might be inclined to use the terms replicate and reproduce interchangeably. However, anyone interested in the emergence concept, knows there’s a delicate difference between them which the whole world is built on!

Most of the people active in the IT industry can guess the difference. Replicator devices copy a data packet exactly as it is. When you need to build a robust system, you have to consider a hardware or software replication system to store the same data in various places. In order to transmit data wirelessly in a long range, you need to install some replicators on the way to replicate the packets and resend them to the next receiver.

replication means building a community of clones

Any replication process has to exactly reproduce the input without any difference, but reproduction process can be done with minor differences. This is the reason that we say humans and other living species are able to reproduce themselves and the term replicate is not usually used for humans and other animals.

Let me restate the difference in other words:

In replication, outputs are exactly the same as the inputs but in reproduction, outputs are just similar to the inputs.

Just imagine if every single cell was replicating itself or if all of the species were replicating themselves. There was not any kind of evolution on the planet: No change, No improvement, No growth, No chance for the emergence of the new species, No life!

As I have emphasized in the definition of the living entities:

Reproduction has unpredictability in its core

But is the story as simple as it seems? Unfortunately not!

In the core of every living cell, RNAs just replicate themselves:

reproduction is an emerged property of a complex system of replicators

If there was not any minor error or mutation in replication at the lower levels, there was no chance for the emergence of reproduction in the higher levels. RNAs and cells are genderless. The concept of the gender just appears in the higher and more complex levels of the hierarchy as a trick to get more distance from replication and get closer to the reproduction.

Considering reproduction vs replication we can say every living entity has to find some way to get closer to the reproduction concept.

This is one of the reasons I am so optimistic about the social networks as a trick for making the cyberspace more alive. Comparing them with the printed content and even digital contents in the websites, social networks are more prone to human and technical errors in quotation and replication, which can move the digital world one step further from the simple mechanical replication process.